A graphics tablet or interactive pen display unit is an input device that allows you to draw using a pen or stylus on to a surface or active area and have those markings be transferred to the computer screen.
How does the tablet work?
Rather than using a mouse to draw in an application such as Photoshop, you can sketch freehand using a traditional pen and have the image appear on the screen in front of you. You can use different brush types, sizes and thicknesses. Programs like Adobe Photoshop provide a full range of colors and transparencies too.
Unlike older models, when the pen or stylus is lifted from the active area of the graphics tablet, the device still knows where it is located. When you then reapply the stylus to the tablet, the cursor on the screen moves in unison so that you are able to move freely around the canvas or document as if it was a piece of paper.
There are many reasons why you as an artist might want to transfer to using a digital medium. With the advent of the Internet and digital publishing, the format and tools used to create publications have changed rapidly sometimes leaving the artist behind with out-dated skills.
A Graphics Tablet will remove the barrier between the your hand and the computer.
Using a normal computer mouse for freehand artwork or drawing is not possible and results in jagged or irregular lines and images. In comparison, a graphics tablet will allow you to create flowing, fluid freehand designs and strokes as if you were working on paper.
How does a graphics tablet connect to my computer?
The tablet or pad will connect to the computer via a USB cable, serial cable or wireless Bluetooth connection and will come with software, drivers or application plugins that allow the device to work properly.
The software will also allow you to define parameters such as how sensitive the device is or how the stylus behaves under certain conditions.
Most modern graphics tablets also have buttons that allow you to create custom functions or macros that can easily be selected as you draw.
How much do graphics tablets cost?
The graphics tablets and pen input display devices come in a variety of sizes and are supplied targeted towards a range of people.
At the lower end of the market, the graphics tablets have a smaller active area and are more suited to younger or less experienced artists and creative people. These devices are cheaper and are usually under $100.
At the other end of the spectrum are the interactive pen display devices which combine a graphics tablet and a TFT monitor to allow the user to draw directly onto a screen. There are also larger models available for functions such as architecture or drafting.
These obviously cost much more money.
If you can use a pen or pencil to draw, then you will be able to use a graphics tablet too.
They are simple to install and easy to use and allow you freedom to create all manner of digital artwork. They can also be used for handwriting recognition and document annotation.