When picking a graphics tablet for photo editing & retouching. There are many things to look for, like pressure sensitivity, the number of hot keys on the tablet & the size of the tablet (and specifically the active area). If you have extra cash, you could even get a tablet with tilt sensitivity (if your art program supports it), or to have the convenience of using your tablet wirelessly.
Once you get your tablet, you may have some difficulty using it at first, but you will need to continue using it for few hours & maybe few days before you get used to it. Right after that, you will like how the difference it makes to the way you edit.
The tips I gave you here applies whether you plan to use your graphics tablet with Photoshop or some other art application, like Corel Painter, Gimp & others.
Also, you can check out the available graphics tablets form the following Amazon links:-
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- Graphics tablet allows you to retouch faster than mouse:- Giving the way they work, graphics tablets allows you to move the mouse instantaneously, which makes doing certain tasks easier & faster. Features like pressure sensitivity allows you to place lighter or stronger strokes simply by pressing harder on the tablet surface. It’s a more intuitive way to work too.
- It’s also more natural to use a graphics tablet:- Because you hold the tablet pen the same way you hold regular pens for drawing or writing, using a graphics tablet is more natural & relaxing to your hand than your mouse (which can puts some strain on your hand).
- It’s better for your health:- I am not a doctor, and I will never be one, but tablets can help you if you have RSI or tennis elbow or any issue like issue in your wrist (or to prevent these issues if you don’t). This is due to the tablet & pen form factor, which is better suited for photo-retouching than mouse. The reason many people use them in place of their mice. I suggest you consult with your doctor about this to conform what I am saying. :)
- After you use a graphics tablet for a while, you will find it harder to return to using the mouse:- This has been the case to many artists who switched to tablets, both for drawing or photo retouching. Even if you’re fine with using a mouse, you don’t want to work slower by working with the mouse again.
There are few areas to look for when it comes to picking your tablet.
Graphics tablets are not just used for moving the mouse. It also comes with pressure sensitivity, which allows you to draw thicker or lighter stroke based on how much pressure you apply on the tablet surface. Pressure sensitivity can also be used to place lighter or stronger strokes based on pressure too. They can do much more than that based on the art program you use (Photoshop & Corel Painter have tons of settings you can play with when it comes to that).
Pressure support means less need to change parameters like brush opacity,. It makes it easier to create different kinds of lines, and tapered lines in particular, a reason they are used in drawing a lot too.
In the last few years, I never saw a graphics tablet without this feature, most of the ones in the market have way more pressure than enough (1024 level or above), including older models. It’s worth noting that you don’t need to get the highest pressure sensitive ever, as it’s not the only factor to determine what makes a good retouching experience.
Check out the available graphics tablets form the following Amazon links:-
The good part about getting a larger tablet than you need is that you could resize its drawing area if you found it too large for your convenience.
To sum it up, get a small or medium tablet, as that’s what you will mostly need. Get a medium tablet if you have a large monitor to stay on the safe side.
It’s worth noting that the you can only draw on the active area of the tablet, not the whole surface. The area you could draw one is called the active area. It’s a common beginner mistake to pick a tablet based on the tablet surface rather than the active area, which’s what matters.
In case you want to know more about this. I have a dedicated article about picking the best graphics tablet size right here. It contains guidelines that fits with as much people as possible (people have their preferences, after all, so it may not apply to some people). It can be a good way to start if this is your first graphics tablet.
Hot keys, or express keys as Wacom likes to call them, are button on the graphics tablets you could program to do almost anything you want, from performing a key combination or even mouse buttons clicks. The driver of my Wacom Intuos Pro even allows me to perform a sequence of key combination, which can be similar to creating macros in their usefulness (like, you can program a button to perform CTRL+A, to select the whole canvas, then CTRL+C to copy the image, all with a single press of a button).
If you don’t use much shortcuts, getting a tablet with many hot keys can help you ditch the keyboard entirely, which’s convenient. Otherwise, there’s a chance you will still use your keyboard, which defeats the purpose in getting a tablet with them in the first place. I suggest you get a tablet with hot keys to see how they work for you, they’re not much more expensive really.
- Tilt Sensitivity:- This is a similar feature to pressure sensitivity, it allows you to draw different strokes by tilting the pen. This is another feature made to allow you to draw the same way you do with pencils & other drawing tools. Not all art programs support it though, I know Photoshop & Corel Painter do for some. Tilt sensitivity tends to be available in Wacom’s professional line of tablets.
- Wireless Connectivity:- Some graphics tablets can be used wirelessly, either with bluetooth or using the USB dongle that comes with it. This is a very convenient feature. I use it in my tablet regularly. However, you can easily live without it if you can’t afford a tablet with it.
- Touch Capabilities:- The surface of some graphics tablets works as the trackpad of your laptop, and it can replace it to some extent. These tablets also support multiple fingers gestures, like pinch-to-zoom or rotating your canvas. These gestures are similar to the ones you have in your Smartphone. These features can speed up your productivity if you plan to use them.
If you can afford it, get Wacom tablet, they are the leading brand when it comes to graphics tablets. They tend to last long too, and Wacom supports their devices for years ahead. I am not saying their tablets are not without issues, specially how their drivers can have some bad issues, ones I hope you will never face.
Huion & Ugee make some good ones too if you want something affordable. So, if you’re on the fence about getting a graphics tablet, or if you’re low on budget, getting one of their cheaper tablet can be good for you, they make for a good way to try a graphics tablet, as you won’t exactly need a really high-end tablet for the most part.
As I told you earlier, focus on getting one with hot keys (at least 4) to see if these keys can help you work better, you don’t want to replace your tablet later just because you want to try one with such keys. :>
In this blog, I write all sorts of graphics tablet reviews & articles, you can find them here, which I hope will help you get the graphics tablet that suits your needs.
Check out the available graphics tablets form the following Amazon links:-
I hope this post has helped you pick the best graphics tablet for photo editing & retouching, and I wish you luck with your editing.