As a traditional and digital artist for many years, I have looked at a number of inexpensive drawing tablets. Drawing tablets for digital artists and general computer users do not have to cost a fortune. There is some truth in the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ but there are many drawing tablets on the market today that are relatively cheap and have some great specification, functionality and build quality.
Like many things today, the drawing tablet also comes in all shapes and sizes but what should you look for in a cheap drawing tablet for your computer?
Size of the tablet
This needs to be taken into consideration, as with being a digital artist then a larger tablet like the Adesso PC drawing tablet with a large surface area, will allow more freedom of movement and will not feel so restrictive. If general computer work is you goal, then a smaller compact drawing tablet might be the route to take. I know that with drawing tablets you can have a small device and still work freely due to the software, but I come from a traditional painting background and a larger drawing tablets suits my needs and is something to consider.
The drawing tablet pen
This is often overlooked but the pen / stylus is the item you will hold, possibly for long periods of time. With this in mind, make sure it is comfortable, as if not it can become very noticeable.
Cheap drawing tablets do suffer from pens that feel cheap and poorly made but that does not mean they are not effective. I use an Adesso graphics tablet that is classed as a budget drawing tablet but it works fine and you can see the evidence of this in my digital dragon art.
Just be sure that the drawing tablet pen is comfortable for your particular uses, or see if your particular drawing tablet can be used with a different pen.
The all important pressure sensitivity and resolution
The pressure levels refers to the sensitivity to pressure on the surface of the tablet and usually ranges from 256 – 512 to 1024 and beyond. This sensitivity controls the line thickness and the higher the pressure sensitivity the more responsive and natural the computer drawing tablet will be. Combine this with a drawing tablet that has an overall high resolution and you have a good combination for digital art.
If digital art is really your goal, then I would advise that you buy a drawing tablet that has no less than 1024 pressure sensitivity and an overall resolution as high as your budget will allow. At the moment, I personally use the Adesso drawing tablet which is ample for my digital art.
Wireless or not?
There are a number of drawing tablets on the market today, which are both wireless and wired. The Genius Mousepen M508W, the Wacom Graphire graphics tablet and the Genius Mousepen are all good inexpensive drawing tablet and unbiased reviews can be seen over at drawingtabletreviews.com
Personally, as a digital artist, I prefer the wired versions as I want the drawing surface in front of the screen, which for me, seems like common sense. There are advantages to having a wireless drawing tablet, as it offers even more freedom on how you can control and use the input device, something you might want to consider.
PC or Mac based computer systems
Many drawing tablets on the market today have drivers available for both Mac and PC based system, but for your own piece of mind I would always check she small print on the box and that it is compatible with your computer system.
Many drawing tablet in the market today are either wireless or have a USB connection. There are still many computers out there that do not have a USB connection or the USB connection are all being used. When choosing your drawing tablet, just be aware of how you will connect it to your computer.
I have mentioned this point as I have used drawing tablets on a number of laptops and portability is something to consider if you are on the go a lot. Many drawing tablets will fit nicely into the laptop bag for easy transportation and protection, but it’s something worth considering if you are using a laptop or intend to be moving the drawing tablet on a regular basis.
Drawing tablet build quality
When buying a cheap drawing tablet, the build quality is always something to consider. With drawing tablets in the lower price range, the build quality is something to check. I have looked at many drawing tablets in my time and apart from the really cheap models, the build quality can be fairly good.
Your hand and arm might be resting on the drawing tablet for long periods of time, so check the material is not to fragile. Will the surface of the tablet mark and damage easily, as this will make areas of the tablet hard to draw on. Simple things that you need to consider but at the price range we are looking at there needs to be some acceptance the drawing tablet might not be as robust as more expensive models.
I think you will be surprised as to how good some of the build quality can be on lower priced items. This, combined with very good fuctionality can make them a great first time drawing tablet.
The points above are something you need to consider when buying a cheap drawing tablet but the individual user will need to use the input device for long periods of time. Think about what you want to use the drawing tablet for. Is it digital art where you will need a larger drawing tablet, or will it be a mouse replacement? No matter which drawing tablet you decide to buy it will be a fun device to use and they don’t have to cost a fortne.
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