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Old 2013-02-01, 07:14   Link #1
Witch of Uncertainty
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Drawing pad

Hey guys. I have been drawing for a while (I am nowhere near pro), and thought I maybe should get a drawing pad, and I have been looking around for a bit, but I have no idea how "good" it needs to be. I don't want to use a lot of money on it, since, after all, I'm not a pro.
Does anyone have any reccomendations? Or at least know what sort of specs I should be looking after?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 2013-02-01, 07:51   Link #2
Seitsuki
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Auckland, NZ
The go to provider for pads is generally Wacom, who (the last time I checked anyway) produce three lines of tablets.

The Cintiqs are absolutely drop dead gorgeous but they cost an arm, leg and both kidneys so are probably not what you want.

The Intuos line is also rather geared more towards professionals, with far more DPI than most people (me included) will ever likely need. The latest out is 5, but 4 or even 3 are still perfectly functional and viable if you search around. I currently use an Intuos4 medium, and it's been more than enough for everything so far.

The Bamboo series is the cheapest, but if all you want is an alternative input option to the mouse is probably the most suitable for you. A word of warning: size is very important as it can get very uncomfortable trying to draw with a small surface.
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Old 2013-02-01, 09:45   Link #3
Witch of Uncertainty
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Join Date: Jun 2010
From the sound of it, the Bamboo should do the job for me. I am in no way professional. :P Maybe I'll upgrade once I improve. ^^

Thanks for the help!
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Old 2013-02-01, 11:40   Link #4
Moresca
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Join Date: Jul 2009
What Seitsuki writes summarizes it essentially. Although there are other vendors which might be a tad cheaper, the Wacom tablets are (at least in my opinion) the most widespread, refined and user-friendly option.

Since you just start out and do not know for sure if you really want to convert to digitally drawing/painting, Wacoms basic "Bamboo" line will most likely fit your needs nicely. It will take some time to get used to drawing "blind" because you have to watch your screen and cannot look at your hand while drawing. So for this evaluation time the basic model is fine; if after a while you know for sure that you are feeling comfortable using a tablet. you can always upgrade to something more pricey later.

One of the advantages of the rather steeply priced Wacom "Cintiq" is that they come with their own screen. It actually feels more natural to draw directly on the screen like you would do on paper or a canvas. The "Intuos" and "Bamboo" are tablets where you draw on the tablet surface but only see what you do by looking at your external display - which might feel strange at the beginning.

Also be aware that you will need an image editing software too that works well together with your tablet. The most common are of course Photoshop (not ideal for painting, since it is more geared to editing tasks), Painter (which imitates the actual "painting"-feel and workflow a lot better) or as a cheaper alternative ArtRage (not as many features as Painter). There is even more software out there and each has its fans like e.g. "Paint Tool SAI" (a Japanese software) or "Manga Studio" which is more geared towards comic/manga artists. Some of them have nicely priced versions with cut down features for amateurs and steeply priced versions intended for professional artists (the budget line of Painter would be "Painter Essentials", for Photoshop "Photoshop Elements" and for Manga Studio "Manga Studio Debut"). These are all that I have used, so I can't say something about Gimp or others.

But back to the tablets. The main difference between the Wacom "Bamboo" and the pricier "Intuos" are their pressure points. The tablets react to pen-pressure and imitate what you would do with your pencil: hard pressure = thick line, low pressure = thin/fine/subtle line. While the Bamboo has 1024 pressure levels it reacts to, the Intuos has 2.048; also the Intuos reacts to pen tilt - the Bamboos do not.

For the Intuos there are lots of different nibs to use while for the Bamboos there is only one nib, if I remember right. It is nice to be able to exchange your nibs e.g. from a pencil-feel one to a marker-feel one. But they also wear off fast and you need to buy new ones rather often (at least the Intuos 5 nibs wear off fast; the Intuos 4 nibs seem to last a bit longer for some strange reason *shrug*). The Bamboo nibs are quite durable.

The tablets also differ in the number of Express Keys they come with; it is nice if you can bind shortcuts from your software (like a "mirror" or "rotate" or "change brush size" command) directly to your tablet so you do not have to simultaneously use your keyboard and tablet for functions you need all the time. The Intuos have more keys and a very handy touch ring. The Bamboos are more frugally equipped with these features.

Which tablet-size you prefer to work with is a personal choice I think. Contrary to Seitsuki I prefer the small versions; I don't like to cover a lot of space with my arm and shoulder while drawing and tend to get cramps from that. I prefer to use only my wrist on a small space.

So what to suggest? You might want to check out the different Tablet&Software bundles for the Bamboo Fun Pen&Touch on the Wacom site. The tablets are very decent and you get some useful software on top. If you decide to invest more, look up the Intuos 5 line. Or maybe try and get a used Intuos 4 if there are still some of them around?
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