When I got my first graphics tablet, over 10 years ago, I was not entirely sure what I wanted it for, if I am totally honest. I was trained as a traditional artist and just wanted to “have a go” at producing something on my PC. The model I had was quite rudimentary, a slow serial cable connection, tiny drawing area and a pen that just replaced my cursor on the screen, but it opened a whole world and experience to me that I never thought I would find.
If you are thinking about buying a graphics tablet for yourself (please read our reviews) and are a bit on the fence as to why you might want one, then this list of 7 reasons why you need to buy a graphics tablet might help you fall off the fence in the right direction.
1. Pressure sensitivity.
One of the main reasons why people move from drawing with a mouse to using a Graphics Tablet is the lure of being able to use a pressure sensitive pen. The first tablets did not have these features and only allowed you to move the cursor around the screen, providing an alternative, natural and more comfortable method of drawing.
Fast forward a few years and Wacom introduced the first pressure sensitive tipped pen that allowed you to generate a paint stroke or line in applications such as Photoshop that were thin or lighter at one end, thicker in the middle as you pressed harder and then tapering off towards the end. This natural look allowed for greater freedom and expression to be used with tablets and is one of the main reasons why people switch to using them today. Without this, you would not be able to produce as expressive markings on screen and your images would look less lifelike.
2. You get that natural feel.
It is quite unlikely that someone who wants to buy a graphics tablet is not already using some sort of artistic skill on the computer that they want to fine tune by using the tablet. Moving away from using the mouse to drawing in a more natural feeling is the main reason you need to buy a graphics tablet. Once you have made the switch, you will never go back to drawing with a mouse.
3. Graphics tablets are cheaper than you think.
Graphics tablets used to be quite expensive, but with Wacom, the industry leader, offering a wide range of products aimed from the home to the digital studio, it is more accessible and affordable to all. Products like the Bamboo range from Wacom come in at under $100 and certainly don’t scrimp on the technical aspects either. There are other manufacturers too, but Wacom is the brand to choose if you are looking to buy a new tablet.
4. Better for you.
Using a mouse all the time, especially to produce fine detailed work or intricate drawings can lead to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) affecting your wrist and forearms. Using a graphics tablet to draw onto your PC or Mac is a more natural method that will produce less stress to your body overall. You can reposition your tablet at whatever angle you want to get it in the best position for you (I have mine on my lap, propped up with some pillows, for example) but with the mouse, you are relatively fixed in one position.
5. Easy to switch
If you are a traditional artist, painting with watercolors, oils or drawing with pencils and charcoals and have decided to make the jump to creating digital artwork, you need to get a graphics tablet to make that transition as easy as possible. If you decide to just use a mouse, you will most likely become frustrated and annoyed as you will lose that direct input you have had before. However, a traditional graphics tablet is no match for one of the pen display models, such as the Wacom Cintiq, where you draw directly on to a LCD panel, seeing the strokes appear under your digital pen. For the ultimate transition between real materials and their digital counterparts, this is the product you need.
6. It’s fun!
Using a graphics tablet is like a breath of fresh air when it comes to editing images, digital painting and using programs like CAD and Photoshop. Using a mouse can be a struggle at times. After all, how many times have you encountered a few crumbs on your table that your mouse struggles to cope with (even with an optical version). The newer tablets are all coming with touch sensitive areas too, which means you can draw with one hand and pinch to zoom and rotate with the other. It brings all the benefits of the iPad to your favorite graphics program. Once you have got the hang of it you will never go back!
7. They are not just for drawing!
After you plug in your new graphics tablet, the pen effectively becomes your mouse pointer. If you are a Windows user, you can use it to navigate a document, browse the internet and even sign your name and annotate PDF files. There is so much more you could do with a graphics tablet than just draw. Companies often provide a set of games on the CD that accompanies the product that allow you and your kids to play too.
My favorite use for my graphics tablet when it is not being used for creating a new image for my digital portfolio, is to play Angry Birds with it! Using the pen gives me a much finer control over those lovable little creatures.
I could probably ramble on all day about the benefits of using a tablet and the reasons why you would enjoy using one. There are many reviews on this website and I would recommend that you read them and then click through to where they are being sold and read the other customer reviews for the bigger picture. Sure, not everything is perfect, but you will get a sense for why people bought their tablet and why they are enjoying using it. The reasons you need to buy a graphics tablet may be more obvious than you think!