I remember when I was a beginner to digital art and graphic design, because of how exciting it was. However, a thing that really stumped me and a lot of other beginners are the different tools available – especially the infamous drawing tablet. Should I get a drawing tablet as a beginner? Will it be worth it or just a waste of money? Will it help me draw better? Etc.
A drawing tablet is definitely worth it for beginners as it feels more natural to draw on and can really help you in your professional career. There would naturally be a learning curve as it is difficult to get the hand-eye coordination right the first time round but it will feel far better than using your mouse to draw in the long run.
Although owning a drawing tablet is great, as a beginner, you shouldn’t buy an expensive one as it would be better to first learn the fundamentals on a cheap one to see whether or not it is for you. I’ll tell you some budget options and about some fields that don’t require you to have a drawing tablet in this article.
What is a Drawing Tablet?
A drawing tablet is a device that connects to a computer and is drawn on using a pen stylus. Artists use drawing tablets to draw digitally as it is far better than using a mouse and keyboard. There are two main kinds of tablets, display and non-display.
- Display tablets have a screen and are easier to use and draw on – these would be easier for beginners but are expensive.
- Non-display tablets don’t have a screen and require good hand-eye coordination as what you draw on the tablet appears on the computer screen.
Since non-display tablets are the primary choice for most beginners, I’ll stick to explaining those.
How Does a Drawing Tablet Work?
A drawing tablet is connected to a computer through a USB cable. The user uses the stylus to draw on the tablet which sends signals to the computer making your strokes appear on the screen.
The main functions of a drawing tablet are:
- Pressure sensitivity – The stylus has sensors in it which detect how much pressure is applied on the nib. The harder you press the thicker your strokes get and the lighter you press the softer your lines get. The accuracy of the pressure depends on how much pressure levels the tablet has.
- Tilt functionality – Just like pressure the stylus can also detect how much as tilt a person adds to their strokes. This is a useful feature to draw varying strokes and shading as when drawing on paper you tilt the pencil to get lighter and thicker strokes.
- Programmable buttons – The drawing tablet and pen have several buttons that can be programmed to do specific tasks quicker. Most artists map these buttons to Zoom in or out, Undo, and change Pen Size/Type.
- Software and drivers – Most modern drawing tablets are plug-and-play meaning once you connect your drawing tablet with your computer it should start working. However, to get more control over your tablet you would want to install the appropriate software such as drivers for you pen. This will allow you to customize the pressure, tilt, strokes, and other features.
The best drawing tablets would offer you the optimal settings. This includes 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt functionality, several programmable buttons, and advanced drivers to maximize your pen’s capabilties.
Pros and Cons of a Drawing Tablet
It would help to know what the advantages and disadvantages are of buying a drawing tablet to make a better informed decision.
Below is a table summarizing some of the benefits and drawbacks of a drawing tablet.
|Pressure sensitivity||Learning curve|
|Programmable buttons||Not suitable for general use|
Recommended Reading: For more information on what to look for in a drawing tablet check out my buyer’s guide
Do I Need a Drawing Tablet?
As I previously stated there are some fields where a graphics/drawing tablet is not necessary. These are usually fields which don’t primarily rely on drawing accurately.
If you are a graphic designer, you don’t need a drawing tablet to design banners, posters, and logos. I’ve designed a lot of posters, menus, and stationery with a simple mouse and keyboard.
If you need to draw digitally, a drawing tablet is a must-have, as it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to draw using a mouse. It is still possible to draw with a mouse but it’s not ideal and having a drawing tablet is much more natural and efficient.
Should I Get a Drawing Tablet?
Yes! It’s totally worth it for beginners to get a drawing tablet and start practicing on it. Sure, there’s a learning curve that could make it difficult to use at first but once you keep practicing you’d be thankful you did.
Also, if you choose to be a professional digital artist or animator you would need to learn how to draw using a pen tablet as it is the industry-standard. Almost every employer would expect you to be fast and able to draw consistently – and you would need a drawing tablet to achieve that.
Best Drawing Tablets for Beginners in 2023
Wacom and Huion have been the industry-standard for a long time and for good reason. Both are highly reputable and well-known brands with high-quality drawing tablets and advanced features. Below I go over the budget options that they offer – which I think would be the best for beginners.
If you want a more detailed overview of the drawing tablets check out my article on the Best Drawing Tablets for Beginners.
When beginners tap into digital art they might get confused by the vast selection of drawing tools available to them – the most common being a drawing tablet. Most beginners would definitely benefit from having a drawing tablet and learning how to draw digitally on it however, not every field requires it. Some niches such as photo editing or poster design can be professionally done without a drawing 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