Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you know that there are many devices for digital artists on the market. For some, price plays a role, for others system properties are the key, and there are also those who just want the best of the best out of principle. We will go through several types and take a look at their advantages and weaknesses, the investment and the possibilities of use.
Graphic tablets (pen tablets) for connection to a PC
The most basic and probably the lowest investment to get started is a graphic tablet that we connect to a computer. A board that you put instead of a mouse pad and paint while looking at the monitor. The pen communicates with the tablet itself and is pressure sensitive and immediately draws the location of the lines in microseconds. It uses a magnetic system and therefore it is not necessary to recharge the pen. Wacom calls this patented technology EMR, precise electromagnetic resonance. If you want to read more about this technology, then here. Quite often, these tablets can be used for basic tasks in the system instead of the regular mouse.
Pen tablet price
The largest manufacturer of these tablets is Wacom. It has many different types differing in the size of the active area, the resolution of the sensing layer, the pressure level, etc. If we look at online shops, for example, the price starts at EUR 50 and continues up to some EUR 500. In general, the more expensive, the more sensitive and therefore more accurate. However, these are the specifications that you have to go through and decide what you require from the device.
Strengths and weaknesses
- An inexpensive investment for a beginner
- Lightweight, portable
- No need to recharge the pen
- Drawing on the tablet and watching the monitor at the same time does not work for everyone
- Mostly plastic surface gets easily scratched
- When transferring, we always need a computer to connect it to
I have one tablet from the Wacom Intuos collection. I tried to paint a few times in Photoshop, but this type of device is not for me. Maybe after weeks of use, I would get used to learning to work better between my hand/pen and my eyes/ monitor, but I'm the type of person who needs to paint on something and see it right under my hands.
Tablets with display (artistic)
We will stop by Wacom again as it is the largest manufacturer of pen tablets and tablets with display for artists. These devices are a stand-alone units with high performance, graphics support and high resolution. Wacom has a collection of Cintiq and Mobile Studio (the main difference is that MobileStudio Pro is a full-featured Windows machine, while Cintiq should be connected to a computer), where you can purchase devices with a display of up to 32". Cintiq is compatible with Windows and MacOs. These tablets have a lot of extra features and conveniences, as well as pens, but they are expensive, and you can also buy holders that allow you to work really professional. Another manufacturer is Huion with the Kamvas series, where prices are in the lower levels.
Price of a tablet with a display
The price starts at around EUR 400 and can climb up to EUR 4000. Of course, it depends on the functions, display resolution, etc., and since Wacom is a professional standard with advanced tools, we can't expect any crazy low investment. As for Huion the price starts at around EUR 200.
Strengths and weaknesses
- Stepped-on machine, separated unit
- High resolution, professional creation
- It is possible to buy a lot of accessories such as holders, etc.
- In some cases, less portable due to size and weight
- Very financially expensive
- "Extra equipment"
Classic tablets with Android, Windows, iOs or transformation laptops
The vast majority of people today have a tablet at home. Many of them support a pen or stylus, and there are painting apps on each platform. However, we will look at tablets and laptops, which their manufacturers classify as tablets for digital artists. I will not list specifications here, but rather a list of those that are worth a look if you want to have a full-fledged tablet / notebook with all the features and still devote yourself to drawing at a good level.
- Microsoft's Surface Pro or Go, price between 450-1500 EUR
- iPad Pro, price between EUR 1000-1300
- HP's ZBook x360, price between EUR 1100-3300
- Dell XPS 15, 2 in 1, price around EUR 1500
- Samsung Galaxy Tab from the S series, price between EUR 350-800
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, price between EUR 800-2500
As you can see, the prices vary and it all depends on the equipment and the brand. If you prefer a full-fledged multifunction device, I recommend a classic tablet or a rotary notebook. There are a lot of programs and applications, but if you want to focus on digital art and painting to the fullest, be sure to do a research on specifications and apps for the platform, find out how good is the support for the pen and how sensitive it is.
Strengths and weaknesses
- Multifunction devices
- Affordable from some brands
- Support for artists is not always high
- Pens, pressure support and comfort when drawing are sometimes frustrating
- Some professional features are missing
The most financially expensive but very professional and maximally equipped device(s). I would include Mac Pro (which looks like a potato grater) and Surface Studio. I will not engage in a hateful discussion between Apple fans and other platforms fans, but these two devices focus mainly on artists from multiple spheres.
The most trampled device from Apple. Powerful enough for any digital creation. The prices are between EUR 5000-50.000. It depends on the configuration which you can choose yourself. The price can then climb by several tens of thousands more.
Surface Studio 2
The best creative studio. Let your ideas flow with amazing colors, nimble graphics, faster processors, intuitive tools and a stunning, adjustable 28” display. Very good equipment is the Surface Dial, which is adjustable for quick access to tools, color changes, etc. The price is between 3500-4500 EUR.
When Surface Studio 2 came out, I had the opportunity to play with it for a while at an exhibition in a wholesale of electronics. I have to say that this device fascinated me and working with it is amazing. However, one would have to get used to working with Surface Dial, which is again a bit different experience. Even so, I still keep that in mind for the future…
Whatever equipment you decide on, be careful when choosing and researching. After all, there is a lot of money spend in this industry and none of us would like to invest in a machine, which will eventually stand in a corner of the table with a layer of dust.
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