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What is a Graphics Tablet?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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A graphics tablet is an input device used by artists to allows them to draw a picture onto a computer screen without having to use a mouse or keyboard. It consists of a flat, touch-sensitive pad and some sort of drawing device, usually either a pen or stylus. Also referred to as a drawing tablet or drawing pad, the tablet is most suited for artists and those who want the natural feel of a pen-like object to manipulate the cursor on their screen. The smooth flow of this input device can be refreshing for people who find the mouse to be too jerky, and repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome are less likely when using this tool.

A range graphics tablet sizes are available, from smaller 3 by 4 inch (7.6 by 10.2 cm) models to larger 7 by 9 inch (17.8 by 22.9 cm) ones. There are even larger models, up to the enormous 14 by 14 inch (35.6 by 35.6 cm) tablets targeted towards professional designers and architects. Size is the major factor in determining the cost of a tablet, however, and a shopper should expect prices to ramp up dramatically at the high end of the size spectrum.

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A good range of pressure sensitivity in the drawing surface of a tablet is also something that buyers should look for. High pressure sensitivity, ideally at least 512 levels, allows the user to control a number of aspects of a drawing, including color and line thickness, simply by pressing the stylus more or less heavily, mimicking drawing with an actual pen.

The stylus included with a graphics tablet is also an important consideration for the consumer. Some are corded, while others are tether-free. Corded tablets do not require batteries, but many people find that the cord severely limits their range of motion. A good stylus will also have function buttons on the side, so that the user can perform common actions, such as switching a tool in a drawing program from paint to erase, without having to use the mouse or keyboard.

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Discuss this Article

euphemia
Post 15

I prefer the huion tablet because it's really cheap and the quality is good.

orangey03
Post 14

@StarJo – My hands get really tired and achy after a day of using a mouse. I'm thinking of investing in a graphics tablet to help with this. Even though I don't draw, I think it would be neat to wield a pen instead of a mouse.

kylee07drg
Post 13

I used a 6x8 graphics tablet while trying to draw a flower, and it did not work well for me at all. My hand is pretty shaky, and the thing was so sensitive that it responded to every little jerk of my fingers, even the ones I'm usually unaware of having.

I can draw much better with a mouse. I like being able to grip it firmly with my whole hand and drag it where it needs to go. The mouse is so fat and solid that it doesn't pick up on little shakes here and there.

StarJo
Post 12

If you prefer holding a pen instead of a mouse, you might want to try a cheap graphics tablet. I have a writer friend who likes the feel of a pen in his hand, and he got a graphics table and stylus even though he never draws with it. He just uses it to move the cursor around the screen.

Oceana
Post 11

I had the opportunity to use a professional graphics tablet at a seminar, and it was an amazing product. I was impressed by how quickly and accurately the stylus responded to my motions and pressure.

I could never afford one of these for myself, but I see why a graphics artist would want one. You could do things with the tablet that you could never do with a mouse, because you have the advantage of precision.

anon295944
Post 8

Why would you use it?

anon239300
Post 7

Does a graphic tablet show your screen of the actual pad?

anon181991
Post 6

I have Illustrator CS5. can i use the Graphics tablet or install it to my pc? how? any idea?

anon69377
Post 4

what does a graphics tablet do?

anon57583
Post 3

My digital tablet is making my artwork a lot easier to do. I suspect most of the brains of the thing is in the pen itself. The pen is wireless, and takes one battery.

It sends out a wireless signal about which buttons have been pressed, and the pressure on the tip. This signal is picked up by the pad, at different locations which determine the position of the pen by triangulation (like GPS). For artwork requiring hundreds of small strokes, or fine contour control, the digital tablet beats a mouse any day. But your hand can get cramped and sweaty. It's a lot easier to use a mouse and keyboard.

The only thing that makes it worthwhile as an input device is art.

anon54916
Post 2

i think that a graphics tablet is a very useful piece of equipment and that everybody should have!

anon8977
Post 1

how does a graphics tablet operate?

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