If you’re a digital artist that relies on using a drawing tablet, then you know how annoying pen lag can be.
I have collected together information on why drawing tablets lag. Then, I have given you some tips to fix the problem. I hope this will help your workflow can be as smooth and lag-free as possible.
What is drawing tablet lag?
Drawing tablet lag can show as delayed cursor movements. The pen input can cause your drawing to trail off. Lines break, or the strokes may appear slow, appearing behind where you are drawing.
Even though this does not cause any major problems, it sure is annoying!
Ideally, you want to see the pen or brush marks appear as you draw them. Not seconds (or even milliseconds) later.
Why is my drawing tablet lagging?
There can be many reasons why this is happening.
These are a quick summary of the most common causes:
- You have software driver problems
- You need to restart your computer
- Update your operating system (Windows/OSX)
- Check your CPU and memory usage
- Check how complex your drawing is and limit it, if possible
- You need to reset your drawing app settings
- Your pen/stylus nib is loose or damaged
- Your drawing tablet is dirty
1. Update or reinstall your drivers
The main cause of lag when drawing on a graphics tablet is a faulty software driver. If the drivers were not installed or if they are corrupt or out of date, it can cause slowness or lag.
Check your tablet manufacturer’s website for any updates on drivers.
Follow the instructions to remove the current drivers. Then disconnect your tablet, reboot your computer and then then reinstall the drivers.
The process should be like uninstalling a program on your computer. Make sure you uninstall the driver before installing it again.
Reboot, and you should be good to go.
The process of uninstalling may seem like a hassle at first but it’s easy if you follow the instructions.
2. Reboot your computer
If you are like me, you suspend your laptop rather than shutting it down each day. Rebooting your computer will cause it to reload all its drivers and clear down memory. This will help refresh any programs you have currently open. It will also get rid of any buggy issues with frozen or hung apps and services.
A reboot might not fix everything. But if other methods haven’t been able to solve the issue this could help reduce any lag in your drawing tablet.
3. Update your operating system
Your operating system (Windows, OSX or Linux) may need to install updates to fix drawing tablet lag. The software that runs on your computer may not be compatible with the newest drivers. This can make it difficult for any connected devices (such as a drawing tablet) to run well.
Updating an operating system is usually quick and easy. Head into the Settings and check for any updates.
Make sure you reboot afterwards too.
4. Check your computers RAM and CPU usage
Any external device will take up processing power. But, if your computer and tablet is running slow or laggy, it might be because your CPU is too busy to do anything else.
To free up some of this power, close any unnecessary programs that are running in the background.
There may be an option in the computer power settings which will allow you to set less used apps to use less power.
5. How complex is your drawing?
If you are using lots of layers and filters, this will take up more processing power on your computer.
Try turning off layers until you find one that fixes the lag. Then add them back in one-by-one to see what is causing it.
Too many gradient colors or textures happening at once can slow down your drawing tablet. Large image files can make your app and tablet run slow too.
Try to delete or merge layers to reduce the amount of memory and CPU you are using. This will mean you can’t edit them again, but it might stop your pen cursor lagging or sticking.
6. Reset your software preferences
In apps like Photoshop, your preferences can become corrupted. To fix this, close out the app and go to File > Reset Preferences.
This will set Photoshop back to its default settings. This means you don’t have to fiddle with every setting to fix it.
But, doing this will reset all custom preferences for specific tools in Photoshop. This is quite a drastic option.
Also check out my How to fix Wacom pen pressure problems for more information on resetting.
7. Check your pen nib is ok
A loose or broken nib could be your issue. Check and screw your nib into place. On most pens, you can replace the nib with a new one if it’s damaged.
It is possible that your drawing tablet came with some spare nibs, so you should be able to replace them.
If a new nib doesn’t work, then your pen might be running out of battery and needs to recharge.
Plug in the charging cable for a few hours with no drawing on it until it charges back up.
The pen running low on battery is one possibility if lag spikes or appears without warning.
8. Clean your drawing tablet surface
It is possible that you’re drawing tablet has gotten dirty and needs cleaning. It’s easier than it sounds, but there are a few steps involved in the process:
First, grab some compressed air or an old toothbrush. Use them to remove any dust and dirt particles from the drawing surface.
Once all these are off, use a lint free cloth with some screen cleaner on it to clean your drawing tablet.
A dirty drawing tablet can interfere with how well you draw. It can cause your pen to disconnect in a random way.
As you have read, If your tablet is lagging, it could be an issue with a few different things. But, before you start running diagnostics on your device, try drawing something simple.
If things are still bad when using less complex drawings then try cleaning the tablet. Dirt could be causing interference in tracking along with other issues.
Give these tips a shot next time your pen starts dragging across paper!