Help transitioning to digital please! Best tablets to use?



  • Hi guys,

    I'm looking to make the move to digital and am essentially clueless about the process. Can anyone spare some advice please?

    I recently tried the Procreate app on my iPad Air (it's the first model) and even with a stylus it was super hard to control the lines etc and it was nothing like 'real' drawing.

    Is that normal with all digital work? Or is it because my equipment is outdated?

    I have a MacBook laptop and am thinking of a graphics tablet. Is there one that feels close to real drawing? My main issue with the iPad Air was the lines not showing up where I was pressing; it was as good as drawing with my left hand whilst blindfolded! Will that happen with a graphics tablet too or are they more accurate?

    If the graphics tablets are no good, what are the best options for on-screen tablets? I've read the iPad pros are decent and the Cintiqs too.

    Thanks in advance :)



  • Hi Jaq,

    You just pointed out the biggest flaw of the Ipad Air: it is not so good for drawing and pencelling (I have the AIr 2, and it also is not very consistent). The IPad pro however is designed for it. Most professional, or semi-professional, or enthousiastic amateurs use the WACOM Cintiq, which is perfect to do everything on with photoshop, or even procreate if you like.

    Also Will teryy has some youtube video reviews of tablets, which he compares to each other. But most artists use the wacom, which is pricy, but well worth it, even if it's just a hobby (but we all know its never ; just; a hobby ;)).



  • The iPadPro with the Apple Pencil is designed for drawing and painting (among many other things) and is awesome for that.
    Any other iPad will not offer a good drawing experience.
    If you want to use Photoshop on a desktop or laptop, the Wacom Cintiq tablets are probably the best you can have - but they are expensive. There are competitor offers that are cheaper (Ynova is one of them) and, according to reviews, are quite good as well.
    You can also go the entry way and get an Intuos tablet - I have worked with that for a few years (still do in my day job) and actually like it, but many artists struggle with re-adjusting hand-eye coordination (Intuos have no screen on the tablet, so you draw with your hand in one place and see the lines in another place, namely your monitor - it takes some time for your brain to re-wire).
    My recommendation for entering into digital drawing and painting would be an iPadPro with ProCreate - it is the easiest and overall cheapest entry, also because you do not need to buy or learn Photoshop (or Corel, or any other computer-based software).
    There is also the Surface, of course - I have no experience with that, but many have positive reviews. It´s a portable windows tablet, with all the functionalities of a normal PC (so you can run Photoshop on it).



  • I have a Yiynova tablet 19" with the advanced pen. I have had it for about 4 years and I really like it. In Canada it was only $700 so I feel I have gotten my values from it. Will Terry did a review on it with goo results. I started out with a medium intous (Wacom) but only had it for a couple of years. cintique tablets are nice but there are a lot of very good artists that don't even use tablets with screens.



  • I have an iPad pro and cintiq tablet. The iPad is good on the go, the cintiq better for more serious work. I have more experience with the cintiq, so i can work more efficiently with it, the iPad is a good tool too and if I was as used to it, I'm sure I could create complete work with it too. You can download the adobe sketch app for it and even download photoshop brushes which gives it even a wider use. I haven't gotten that far yet, but was going to look into downloading my first brushes this week. :) Im going to post my first sketch from adobe draw in a day or two, once I get it colored in.



  • @Dennis-Spaans thanks so much for the input! I'll look into the Wacoms I think.



  • @smceccarelli thank you - that's all super helpful information! Can I ask, with the Intuous tablet, once you get used to seeing the lines appear elsewhere (ie. on the screen) does it feel natural? Does your brain seem to 'know' where your hand needs to move to, or is it a bit of a constant battle to keep recallibrating your brain/hand?



  • @rcartwright awesome, I'll definitely check out Will's video! Thank you for your reply.



  • @MirkaH thank you so much! The iPad Pro seems like a good contender. And they're releasing the iPad Pro 2 soon too it seems! Do you have a particular Cintiq that you would recommend?



  • So I'm going to be a naysayer against tablets here. I've only ever used a tablet, and have been using one off and on since 2009. I'm currently using the intuos pro. I would say that, no, drawing doesn't feel natural on it. Painting is pretty good, but drawing can be a real struggle. It does get better with time, but for me at least, it never compares to pencil and pen on paper. If you devote a lot of time to drawing with the tablet, you may find yourself with a repetitive stress injury. I've known of a lot (and I mean a lot) of digital artists who have developed wrist and arm problems because of the way you have to use your hand to draw. I've developed a problem as well. Certain exercises have helped keep it at bay, but when I stretch my wrist at a certain angle, I can tell that there is still that underlying injury. I think even Will Terry has mentioned how he switched to a Cintiq type monitor after he was feeling some stress in his drawing arm after using a tablet for years. After he switched over, he said he was able to work a lot faster as well. I think he talks about this in the How to Draw Everything lecture.

    After some research, I've decided to save up for an ipad for my digital drawing purposes.



  • Hello jaq,I was going to buy an ipad a few weeks ago,and I am so glad I waited as ipad pro 2 came out last week,and it is meant to be much better with more storage and bigger screen.the price is £50 more than the older model. Apple are shipping them on the 14June,However make sure you go to the Apple store as the high street shops are still selling the older models,I live in UK. I have a 13hd cintqe the screen is quite small,and I cant afford a big one.I never had a problem with the intuos and coordinating with the computer screen,but everyone is different.



  • @jaq I can only speak from experience, as I don't go to a school or have a chance to try out different things. I started out with a wacom bamboo tablet a loooooong time ago, then upgraded to a large wacom drawing tablet (cheap from eBay) I still had a hard time drawing with it, and finally got a Cintiq companion, 1.5 years ago. It was so much better drawing directly on the tablet instead of looking at the screen and drawing on the table. it also felt really robust. No complaints. when I got the iPad pro, it was pretty much the same size, but easier transportable, so I decided to move up to an older cintiq 22hd model (also from Ebay). That you will not move anywhere, it sits on my table, and the advantage is the larger drawing area. I can't afford to buy a large newer one, and this older model from eBay, for under $1000 seems to be doing fine, I've had it for a couple months. The feeling of drawing on it is cheaper than on the companion, the screens are different materials, but other than that, its works the same, but has the bonus of a bigger painting area. Thats my two cents on the matter. If you have any more questions on differences just ask. I am not super computer savvy, but do my best to do research before spending large amounts of money. I looked at the cheaper huion tablets, and decided against them, they get more bad than good reviews and I didn't want to take my chances. if I didn't have the iPad pro, I would still use the cintiq companion (which will go up on eBay when my husband has time to list it). :)



  • @jaq As you have seen also from the responses, a lot of artists struggle with tablets without screen like the Intuos. So your best bet could be to avoid that and go for a Cintiq (or analogous from another brand) or take the path of the iPadPro.
    It is worth remembering that Intuos tablets have been around for a long time before the Cintiqs came along (the Cintiq did not exist when I started drawing digitally), and at least a decade or more of digital art has been produced on the Intuos or other non-screen tablets.
    So yes, you definitely can work with them and your brain does re-wire the hand-eye coordination. I would say it took for me about 40 hours of drawing concentrated in 6-7 days to achieve a natural drawing experience (I think it is important to train your brain in a concentrated effort rather than spread out over several days or weeks. The first impression is "This is impossible and all artists who do it come from Mars". If you get past it, then you are at the phase "Ok, it is possible but is mightily difficult and is going to take forever". And after some more time, you find out you actually can do it just fine.
    I guess what helped me to stick it out is that the teacher who introduced me to digital drawing only used an Intuos and his work was awesome (Steven Player, if you want to check him out, but his recent art is rather edgy).
    That said, it is also true that almost all digital artists I know switched to the Cintiq when it came out (me included!), so it is obviously a lot nicer to work on a screen-tablet. I would recommend to go for that if you find one at a price you can afford.



  • @jaq Every time I talk about the Ipad pro on this forum, I feel like I am doing promotion for apple (maybe they should give me the Ipadpro 2 as a gift when it comes out!! ;)

    But seriously, the Ipadpro is AWESOME. And the procreate app is AWESOME too. And if you want to use photoshop, you can buy an app called astropad witch then let you use you ipad as a secondary monitor for your computer, so you can easily work on photoshop!

    I actually sold my cintiq a few months after I bought my Ipadpro... I was never using it! I like working from anywhere in my house and from coffee shops and although I had the 13 inches cintiq which was supposed to be portable... It was NOT. So many wires and plugs, and you need your computer, so a lot of thing to carry. The Ipadpro on the other hand I carry everywhere! And I actually draw a lot more since buying it because as soon as I have a few spare minutes, I grab it and start drawing!

    Anyway, there is probably other options out there too, the truth is I am so happy with my I pad that I don't look at what else is out there lol! But if you decide to go with it, I am sure you won't regret it! :)

    (Ok Apple, I am ready for my free Ipadpro 2 now!)



  • I had a Wacom that plugged into the computer and it was OK.

    I also tried out a Yiynova (a lesser expensive Cintiq type tablet) and it was well worth the money ($400 us). But, I returned it after a month since for me it was cumbersome always connecting it and disconnecting it since I use my iMac for various types of work.

    I'm going to go with an iPad pro. Not sure if I'll purchase the newest model that was released a week ago or the previous model.



  • Affinity photo( photo shop alternative) just released a version specially built for ipad pro it is only £19 at the minute.I used a bamboo for years and I was so used to looking at the computer screen I am still looking at it Instead of the cintque so it was a waste of money for me.



  • @NoWayMe I feel exactly like you, and use my iPadPro a lot. However, there are a few things that prevent me from using it professionally.

    • No CYMK mode in ProCreate. When you work for print, clients sometimes want the files in CYMK. Since CYMK handles color in such a different way, I then prefer to create the art directly in CYMK rather than convert at the end and have surprises;
    • ProCreate is not Photoshop. When it comes to layer modes, adjustments and masking, it is just no match. I have never tried Astropad though (maybe I should!), but,
    • The working area is just too small. Even without all the Photoshop menus, working on large images in an area of just 12 inches feels cramped.
    • I often work with multiple software at the same time - the browser for references for example. The fact that the iPad does not support side-by-side applications (size aside) is a major drawback for me.
      That said, I still use the iPadPro a lot for thumb-nailing, sketching and for nearly all of my non-client work - and it is an awesome tool!!


  • I only use an Ipad Pro. Everything on my SVBWI profile is done with the pro outside of the violinist on the roof, which I am going to redo digitally.

    I have never used photoshop, and really don't want to have to spend so much money just to try it out. At this time I do not even own a desktop, let alone a cintiq. However, I might be forced to do so in the near future.



    • The working area is just too small. Even without all the Photoshop menus, working on large images in an area of just 12 inches feels cramped.

    That's legitimate but when i used my Yinova, the working area of a 20" screen, was almost the same area of an iPad pro.

    • I often work with multiple software at the same time - the browser for references for example. The fact that the iPad does not support side-by-side applications (size aside) is a major drawback for me.

    The iPad does support side by side application windows. In iOS 11 (beta right now) it will even support drag and drop from window to window.



  • intous pro medium just take little bit of time to get use to but when used to it its the best :D
    easy to carry around all day. full baterry doesnt spend your macbook's battery :D



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