You might have thought about replacing your mouse with some other device that functions as a mouse. Your best bet is using a graphics tablet to swap your mouse with.
There are many reasons someone might go through the trouble of swapping a mouse for tablet. Whether you’re suffering from wrist pain, fear developing carpal tunnel, or are just looking to improve your workflow, a graphics tablet could come in handy.
This article isn’t going to go through why you should get a graphics tablet but another common question, can a graphics tablet replace a mouse?
When I say ‘replace’ I’m talking about doing functions like click and drag, navigating through websites, scrolling, playing games on your PC, drawing, editing, selecting, basically everything a mouse is able to do.
A graphics tablet can replace a mouse but it needs a lot of getting used to as it has a learning curve.
That and also because a graphics tablet’s primary usage isn’t the same as a mouse, it is mostly used by artists for digital art.
Another popular use for graphic tablets which might surprise you is to play a game called OSU! Which is a famous point and click game.
Who Uses Graphic Tablets?
Graphic tablets have started to become increasingly popular amongst all kinds of users. Here are just a few;
Animators and Illustrators
Illustrators create graphics, icons, illustrations and deal with visual aspects of design. Animators bring life to those illustrations and graphics by animating them frame-by-frame.
Graphic tablets are most commonly used by Animators and Illustrators.
In my article, Is it Necessary to Have a Graphics Tablet? I covered several careers in which a graphics tablet is used and how important it is in that specific field.
I noticed that animators and illustrators depend on a graphics tablet as most of their work consists of precise hand movements and repetition. They need that “pen and paper” feel to be productive, produce high-quality work consistently and thrive in their field.
A graphic designer uses visuals to communicate a message in a way that is appealing to viewers.
The graphic design field has a lot of various fields of study however, for simplicity sake most designers work with print so we’ll stick to that.
In graphic designing, a tablet can help you:
- Improve your workflow as you would be able to navigate through tools and applications a lot faster
- Use brushes more effectively and get consistent strokes
- Improve precision and flexibility in your workflow
This is great as most designers have to go back and forth in Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign
Most designers, including myself, never really thought that a graphics tablet can make you a better gamer.
Gamers use non-display graphic tablets in FPS and point-and-click games. It helps them make more precise selections and clicks which is crucial for FPS shooter games like CS:GO and Fortnite.
OSU!, a famous point-and-click game, requires a player to be extremely quick to navigate through the screen and make accurate clicks which a mouse usually lacks.
Is a Graphics Tablet Better Than a Mouse?
A graphics tablet has a number of benefits that outweigh the mouse but that doesn’t mean a mouse is totally useless. Both graphics tablet and mouse have their own specific use cases. A graphics tablet may be better for doing design or artwork and moving faster on the screen as your pen will be able to quickly reach one end of the screen to the other. However, if you’re working with multiple monitors or don’t want to go through the trouble of learning how to use a pen over a mouse, a mouse may be a better option.
Below we discuss some advantages of using a tablet and pen instead of mouse to give you a better idea of what to choose.
Pen Tablet VS Mouse: Advantages of Graphics Tablet Over a Mouse
Precision and Accuracy
Majority of people tend to agree that a graphics tablet with a good-quality stylus is more precise and accurate compared to a mouse.
The best thing about a tablet is screen mapping. Your clicks and selections will be accurate with a tablet as it detects the width of the screen which allows you to click anywhere on the tablet and it will function the same way on a laptop.
With a mouse however it moves in the direction where you want it manually. This can make your pointer inaccurate as it does not detect the exact screen of the PC but continues where you left off.
A major benefit a graphics tablet has over a mouse is the pressure sensitivity.
A mouse just allows you to click and drag meaning you don’t have any control over the pressure of your strokes. Graphic tablets come with a stylus that can be configured and detect the amount of pressure being applied giving you smoother consistent strokes.
This also gives graphic tablets the feel of a pencil in which the harder you press the thicker your strokes are and the lighter you press the lighter the strokes are.
Creatives working with effects can use pen pressure to their advantage as they can even control the splatter of brushes, the harder they press the wider the splatter becomes. This can be useful to create textures or for retouching photos.
Another advantage a tablet has over the mouse is tilt sensitivity.
Tilt sensitivity is when the tablet detects the angle of the brush giving you various strokes the further you tilt your pen. This is something the mouse lacks as you would either have to use a different set of brushes or none at all.
Photoshop allows you to create custom brushes in that screen you also have an option to adjust the angle of the brush but you would have to make multiple of these and select/deselect them each time.
A drawing tablet is more portable than a mouse as it can be carried around and used anywhere. It’s true that a mouse can be carried around too but you would need some kind of hard surface to use the mouse on. For a drawing tablet you can place it on your lap, table, bed or chair and it will still work how it’s supposed to.
Another portability issue that comes with a wireless mouse is that you would have to charge it from time to time. This can be tedious when working on lengthy projects or having hours long gaming sessions. On top of this, many mouse require cells to function which can die in between sessions causing more frustration (though this isn’t too much of an issue.)
Modern drawing tablets come with EMR styluses. These don’t require any kind of batteries or charging as they are wirelessly charged from the tablet through electromagnetic frequencies. This means you can use these tablets without interruption for long periods of time. The brand that has been the most successful in implementing this is Wacom.
When it comes to speed there are pros and cons of each.
If you plan on using a graphics tablet for creating artwork for digital art, illustrations, or designing and animation, then you should get a tablet. However, I’ve seen the mouse feels much more natural to me when doing other stuff like browsing the net or scrolling through Facebook.
While using a tablet you are much more productive as you can,
- Quickly access apps
- Quickly move back and forth from programs
- Edit/create strokes faster
Overtime, as you learn to adapt to the tablet you might find it more intuitive to use for things other than designing. It takes time and little by little you’ll find yourself replacing your mouse completely.
Many people develop wrist pain overtime when using a mouse for long amounts of time. The way your hand rests on the mouse causes it to tire overtime which can lead to a range of pain in the wrist and cramping in the hand.
It’s not common to be in serious pain because of this but it does lead to mild cramping and muscular pain.
A tablet allows you a full range of motion with your arms and wrists which can help lower the risk of wrist pain. You might already be accustomed to holding a pen. Styluses come in all shapes and sizes and you can use which seems most comfortable to you and has a good grip.
This allows you to use the tablet for long sessions without your hands getting tired.
Graphics tablets have express keys or programmable buttons on them which you can use as hotkeys. This means rather than pressing CTRL+C to copy something you could just press a button and it’ll do it. That’s just one example, depending on which tablet you go for you could have up to 16 different express keys.
Take a look at the Wacom Intuos:
The Wacom Intuos tablet is commonly used to replace a mouse because of its precise, battery-free pen and the 4 express keys on the top of the tablet. With such a tablet, you’re able to conviniently switch between tabs and screens, quickly swap between different tools, and perform other functions which you can’t do with a simple mouse.
You can also take a look at this fantastic video from PiXimperfect discussing 7 reasons a graphics tablet is better than a mouse:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a Wacom Tablet Replace a Mouse?
Yes a Wacom Tablet is one of the best tablets to replace your mouse. All Wacom tablets come with a battery-free EMR stylus and a precise pen which give you much more accurate clicks from your pen. Just make sure to get one that comes with programmable buttons so you can use them as hotkeys for your workflow.
You can also use the Xencelabs tablet range which could act as a good alternative to Wacom tablets. They often provide a lot more accessories as well as much more express keys, including a remote that could skyrocket your productivity and give you a much more efficient workflow.
Is Drawing Tablet Better Than Mouse?
Yes, a drawing tablet is better than a mouse as it maps your computer screen on the pad which makes it easier to navigate your screen and move your pointer faster. With a drawing tablet, you don’t have to constantly lift and move your hand like you would with a mouse. Since all your actions on the tablet reflect on your device, you end up getting rid of a lot of the extra movement.
Is a Stylus Better Than a Mouse?
Yes, a stylus is better than a mouse for things like scrolling, dragging, or clicking because it’s a lot more comfortable. Since you’re not restriced to a specific range of motion and can move your arm a bit more freely, a stylus ends up offering a more ergonomic feel and control over your pointer.
To conclude, it is possible to replace your mouse with a graphics tablet as it is very much capable of performing all the functions of a mouse. It does need some getting used to as there is a learning curve for first-timers but once you get comfortable you will have more precision, accuracy and a faster workflow with a graphics tablet.
Ibrahim Ahmed is the founder and CEO of Mediacaterer – an Art & Design blog covering the latest news, tips, guides, and product reviews for beginners, intermediates, and professionals. He’s a self-taught graphic designer and writer hoping to help aspiring artists and designers make it big in the industry