Before I started my 10-year journey of digital art, I asked, “What kind of tablet should I buy? Should I buy a Wacom tablet or is there another option?” After owning a couple different models and keeping up-to-date on research, this is what I found.
If you want to create digital art, you should buy a Wacom tablet because they have the highest quality & the most reliable drivers. All of their recent tablets will last at least 10 years if taken care of, & their drivers allow for the deepest customization of any driver.
Although buying a Wacom is a great investment for digital artists, there are situations when buying a Wacom is actually a HUGE mistake. (More on that below in my post.)
Another thing to keep in mind is that some Wacom tablets can be pricey. Luckily, you can find some sales online. In this post, I’ll explain why quality drivers are important, where to find sales, when you shouldn’t by a Wacom, & more.
1. Why Drivers & Build Quality Are Important
Why You Need Up-To-Date Drivers
For those of you that aren’t familiar w/ a driver, it’s the software you download that allows you drawing tablet to have compatibility w/ your computer.
Without it, your drawing tablet will not work. More importantly, because the software on your computer is always updating, it’s important to have the most up-to-date driver as well.
Wacom’s drivers have the best reputation of any drawing tablet company.
Wacom Driver’s Customizability
Drivers also allow you to customize the settings of your tablet & pen. For example, you can customize your pen’s sensitivity to pressure, shortcut keys, & touch gestures.
Shortcut keys are buttons on your tablet, pen, and/or remote that perform a function when pressed. For example, the shortcut key on my personal pen has been set to Command+Z which undoes the last action I’ve made.
Touch gestures are gestures you make with your fingertips on your tablet surface that perform a function/action. For example, you can set a touch gesture for pinching two of your fingertips together to zoom out.
Currently, Wacom’s drivers have the deepest level of customization. You can also customize your touch gesture & shortcut keys to perform different tasks depending on the program that is open. For example, the top left-hand corner button on my Wacom Intuos is set to save a file when Adobe Photoshop is open. However, when Google Chrome is open, the same button closes tabs.
This level of driver customization is exclusive to Wacom drivers; other brands do not provide this level of customization.
This is one of the many reasons most professional artists & companies like Murakami, Disney, & Marvel use Wacom. If you’re interested in learning more about why & how professionals use Wacom, I cover that here.
I’ve owned many Wacom tablets over the years & my oldest has lasted me 10.5 years. I have another tablet from Wacom I purchased in 2013 that still works fine.
Many of the cheaper tablet companies aren’t focused on the innovation and quality of their products; they’re focused on replicating Wacom tablets & selling them as cheap as possible. On one hand, this has been an effective business strategy for them, as there is a demand for cheap tablets. However, on the other hand, because their goal is to push cheaper Wacom alternatives, the quality of their manufacturing suffers greatly.
For example, my friends who have owned Huion tablets have not had their’s last for more than 3 years.
I’ve owned a couple non-Wacom tablets myself, but I use them so infrequently that I don’t think it would be accurate to include them in this post.
In short, just because your paying less upfront doesn’t mean you won’t pay for it later.
2. Should You Buy A Wacom?
If your goal is just to get started w/ digital art & your budget is small, an affordable Wacom graphics tablet is the best fit for you. You can find one from $60 to $200.
If you’re planning on becoming an animator or a photographer, I would also recommend a Wacom. There are so many incredible desktop animation and photography programs; a Wacom is the best tool for these programs.
When You Shouldn’t Buy a Wacom
If you’re interested in buying a portable tablet w/ a screen & can afford to spend $300-$2000, I would recommend the iPad.
Currently, Wacom doesn’t sell any screen tablets that can compete with the convenience, portability, & price that iPads have. This is one of the rare situations where buying a Wacom is foolish.
There are Apple apps, i.e. Procreate, that allow you to create high-level art, illustrations, and edits. You can also export files in PSD format, which is very convenient.
However, photographers that are new to photography shouldn’t buy the iPad. It’s not because you can’t edit photos on the iPad; a vast majority of the online tutorials for photography are centered around Photoshop & Lightroom which functions are heavily limited on the iPad.
There are apps like Affinity photo & Procreate that allow you to use PSD files & get a similar level of editing on the iPad, but there aren’t many online tutorials for this.
3. Two Things to Keep in Mind When Looking for a Wacom Tablet
If you decide a Wacom is the right tablet for you, there are two things you want to consider:
- What size Wacom do I need?
- Where do I find a sale on Wacom?
4. Customer Service
Buying a drawing tablet is an investment, so you should have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
That’s where customer service comes in. If something goes wrong w/ your tablet or you can’t find a solution to a software issue, you’re going to want to get someone on the phone.
In my experience, Wacom & Apple have the best customer service of any company selling drawing tablets.
It’s easy to get someone on the phone who actually cares about helping you.
5. Related Questions
Which Wacom is best for photographers?
The best Wacom for photographers are Intuos Pro Small NEW & Intuos Pro Medium. They’re just the right size for retouching photos, have 8 shortcut keys & come w/ the best stylus out right now– the Pro Pen 2.
Which Wacom is best for beginners?
- Intuos Small
- Intuos Medium
- Intuos Pro Small
- Intuos Pro Medium
What are the best drawing tablets for beginners?
- Wacom Intuos Pro
- Wacom Intuos
- Huion Inspiroy H950P
- Huion H610PRO
- Parblo A610
- Huion 420
What is the best tablet for viewing photos?
The best tablet for viewing photos is the iPad Pro 3rd Gen 11″ & 12.9″ because of their robust display, high resolution, & the presence of the best touch screen on any tablet.
Is Huion better than Wacom?
No, Huion is not better than Wacom. In my opinion, they sell watered-down versions of Wacom products for an extremely cheap price. Their drivers are beneath what I feel to be adequate, & I have not experienced good customer service when I have tried to contact them. Once again, this is my personal opinion.
Wacom has contributed the most to the innovation in the drawing tablet community, has products that last a long time, & has a customer service that you can get in contact with via a the phone.
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