What is a graphics tablet?
Also called interactive pen display, a graphics tablet allows you to hand-draw graphics and images directly onto a computer. You can also trace, capture data or handwritten signatures. The graphics tablet or interactive pen display has a flat screen drawing surface and a programmable pen, sometimes called a stylus or digital brush. Linked to another computer via USB connection or wireless, you are able to do so much more, quickly, easily, accurately and without strain using the accompanying programmable pen than with a mouse or trackball. The increasing range of graphics tablets and wide format graphics tablets means you can find one to suit your individual needs and requirements.
What size graphics tablet should you buy?
Consider not only what you want to do using the graphics tablet but exactly how you will want to do it. How do you as an individual work? Do you illustrate with small or large brush strokes? What movements do you make with your arm and hand? What is more natural for you the user as well as your job requirements. Professional illustrators often desire a larger flat screen drawing surface but some find it easier to work with smaller graphics tablets. A larger screen may be more useful if you navigate between several documents, images, applications or monitors simultaneously or if you prefer working on a larger scale but it is also correspondingly more expensive.
Most graphics tablets sizes correspond to computer screen monitors in terms of their aspect ratio. Small graphics tablets sizes start at 15.75 x 9.84cm and large graphics tablets at around 17.8 x 22.9cm wide format graphics tablets as large as 51.84 x 32.40cm are also now available. When deciding on the ideal size, also bear in mind the space the graphics tablet will occupy and your working area. Tablet sizes and their actual measurements can be very different. For example the Wacom Cintiq 24HD display area is 518.4 x 324.0mm but the footprint is 769.3 x 463.74 x 64.0mm.
What to look for in a graphics tablet pen?
Graphics tablets come with a programmable pen. The number of functions or effects it is possible to pre-programme will depend on the graphics tablet model and the pen. Make sure you choose a pen or pens that feel comfortable and natural when you use it. Attached or wireless? If you pen is wireless, make sure you get a pen holder, sometimes offered free with the graphics tablet. If you have gone to all the trouble of pre-programming your required functions, you do not want to lose it! If you choose attached, ensure it is fixed to the graphics tablet on the side that suits you best. If your pen requires batteries, make sure you try it out with battery as this will affect the overall weight. Whilst it is easy – the press of a button - to switch from one pre-programmed function to another on your graphics tablet pen, you may find it saves you time to purchase extra pens to change from one set of effects or functions to another, especially if there are a number of functions you require frequently. Also if there will be more users, they may work better with pens of a weight or tip thickness. Graphics Tablets connectivity
Most interactive pen displays or graphics tablets have a USB interface which allows you to swap devices and data easily and quickly to many computers. Bluetooth is also an option and gives you the freedom that wireless affords. Older computers may require a serial interface and a separate power connection and you should also check that there are no conflicts with other devices.
Pressure level or pressure sensitivity
How sensitive to pressure is the surface of the graphics tablet? Pressure levels range from 256 to 1024. The higher the pressure-sensitivity on the surface of the graphics tablet the closer it will feel to pen and paper. Applying pressure when using the graphics tablet pen can make a difference to such things as colour shade or vividness, thickness and or opacity of lines and the like.