3 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Drawing Tablet 1


In this age it’s obvious that you don’t want to waste a pile of paper while you are creating your comic book characters. Before we come to the first question when it comes to using a drawing tablet let’s take a look at Mark’s short video:

Maybe you wonder why I asked you to watch this video as Mark is not using a pen tablet at all. That is exactly my point and the first question you should ask yourself:

Do I need a drawing tablet?

You see, the problem with starting a hobby or a new profession is always the same: as soon as you gather knowledge about it or develop the necessary skills, it can become a pretty expensive experience. Wouldn’t it be a pity if you spend your hard earned money on equipment that will gather dust two weeks after it arrived in the mail? Or worse: end up unused in the trash after you find it two years later on the book shelf beside the unread How-To-Draw-Books.

My friend Nathanael Gassett started his career as a photographer with not too expensive material and his equipment grew with his skills and needs. I think this is something to think about before spending money.

We could make it short and say ‘Yes, if you start with digital drawing using your favorite graphical program you need a pen tablet as it’s hard to draw with a mouse.’ and ‘If you just start drawing at all, first train you skills before going digital.’

This brings us to the next serious question you should ask yourself:

Can I draw with pencil and paper?

The beauty of your work lies of course in the eyes of the beholder. No question about this.

If you are satisfied with your analog drawing skills, you are ready for the next step. If not you should first try the old fashioned way for a while and then jump into the digital part of the art. Please don’t take this as a rule. You decide for yourself what you are doing. This is just an advice that may help you to avoid a disappointment.

Often overseen is the learning curve that comes with the use of a graphic tablet. Though the touch and feel of my Wacom tablet is like real paper and a pen, the handling was a little annoying in the beginning.

You know that it feels normal to look at your screen while you handle your computer mouse, but you can imagine that it’s a total different piece of cake if you look at your screen while you are drawing with a pen on a tablet that is lying in front of you.

Thus, If you haven’t already nurtured your drawing skills you will have two learning curves to overcome. Keep that in mind.

The finished image in the video above is by the way the result after giving it the final touch in Photoshop. Honestly, I never heard Mark Crilley mention if he is using a drawing tablet in combination with this software. Chances are that he does.

Once you made your decision to purchase a pen tablet the next question comes up.

Which drawing tablet do I need?

I always like to compare it with cars. If you drive from A to B in a Hummer or a Mini Cooper doesn’t really matter as long as the cars are in a good technical condition.

The purpose of a car is just to do that. Bring you from A to B. If you prefer some luxury while you are on your way, you go for a more expensive car with more buttons.

Anyway, let me assure you that you will reach your destination with both cars. The same is true for the graphic tablets.

I just have experience with the Wacom Graphics Tablet of the lower price range. I use it for the drawing only and while I work in Manga Studio or Photoshop I although navigate through the menus with it. Even the small surface is still large enough as you can easily zoom in and out in your graphic application. In my opinion size doesn’t really matters in this case. Especially not if you just starting out.

But there are some more reasons for my purchase:

  1. I don’t need to buy a scanner to get my analog drawing into my computer.
  2. I don’t need to waste tons of paper. You know that inking can be a mess with real ink.
  3. You don’t have to buy pencils, pens and ink.

Altogether this will save you enough money to justify the purchase of a low priced graphic tablet in a short period of time.

Before you consider a pen tablet of the upper price range like the Wacom Intuos4 you should also take a look at the working space you have at home.

My personal advice is to start small and be sure that digital drawing is really something you want to do for a longer period of time. Do it like Nathanael and let your equipment grow with your passion, skills and your needs. The most artists started their careers that way.

I just mentioned Wacom here because of my experience. I highly recommend to take a look at other brands as well before taking a final decision.

I hope you find this considerations useful and I’m looking forward to read your opinions on the subject in the comment section. Thanks for the re-tweets and sharing this.

Happy drawing!


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One thought on “3 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Drawing Tablet

  • Nathan Sterken

    i have the intuos 4 and love it. I was so happy today becuz the update msex4 really changed the quality of the tablet. For everyone here: if u have ms debut 4 or msEX4 they have a problem properly communicating with the waccom tablets and also a few program bugs. go to smithmicro.com, either go to suppport or downloads, look for updates and you want either the latest update for windows or mac. download and extract the files. then, open the files and it should have a simple text read me file explaing how to go about installing the update. make sure to download the proper one from the site. the update is great and amazingly manga studio works a whole better overall after the update. im so happy!