You finally have a drawing tablet!!
You’ve taken a huge step in your digital art journey. You get your tablet and your pen, ready to create something awesome but then you realize, ‘This is pretty hard!’
Your lines aren’t smooth.
You keep drawing off.
It feels awkward when you draw.
You’re not this frustrated when you draw with traditional media so why is drawing with a tablet so complicated?
Hold on, don’t give up just yet.
I have a few ways that can help you get used to drawing with your tablet. These tips can make your digital drawing experience worthwhile.
Want to find out? Keep scrolling.
Now, there are various types of drawing tablets out there but I’ll group them into two.
- The screenless tablet or a digitizer tablet like Wacom Intuos.
- The tablet with a screen like a Wacom Cintiq, or an iPad Pro
They each have their pros and cons, however, I prefer tablets like the Cintiq because they feel more like actual drawing.
Some of these pointers might seem specific to the screenless tablet but I touched on a few issues that could be found in both types.
So let’s jump into it.
How To Get Used To Using A Drawing Tablet
The tablet is a new medium so your brain isn’t used to it. It’s still strange and awkward to you so you need to get comfortable with it.
Remember when you first started using a smartphone. What did you do? You probably just scrolled and swiped the screen now and then, opened some apps, and messed around with the buttons a little bit. Your brain got used to the feel, look, and function of your phone and now you’re pretty much a master.
The drawing tablet isn’t any different. You need to train yourself to be familiar with it. Now how can you do that?
Use your tablet and pen instead of the mouse for EVERYTHING! Play games, click on icons, open files, delete files, watch Netflix, etc. Give your poor mouse a break!
By doing this, you’re understanding how your tablet works and gradually getting comfortable with it.
Looking At Your Screen While Drawing
A lot of starters tend to look at the tablet and not the screen while drawing. Kind of like your eyes doesn’t trust your hands to do their job so they keep checking in like an investigator.
This doesn’t always help. It makes drawing even more frustrating. Look at it this way, when you’re using your computer, you don’t look at your mouse, and then look at the screen, and then the mouse and keep going back and forth. Your eyes are fixed on the screen.
You’re able to do this out of the habit of watching your cursor while you move your mouse. Do the same with your tablet. Practice making strokes on your tablet while following the cursor with your eyes.
It’s tough but keep doing it. You can learn this within a week or a month. With practice, you suddenly notice that you drew a whole picture without looking down at your tablet! This now leads to our next point.
Practice a LOT
This is SO important and cannot be ignored.
You need to practice till your hands fall off!! Just kidding
But you need to practice and you need to be intentional about it.
You can start drawing circles or squares or lines. Or you can try out the exercises in this video.
You don’t have to be perfect!
Trust me, most of these awesome digital artists we see on Instagram didn’t start with flawless work. You have to be patient with yourself and try to make art.
Dealing With A Slippery Surface
The drawing tablet unlike paper is quite smooth and some people find it too slippery to work with. If this is your concern about using a tablet, I have some tips that might help.
- Try taping paper over your tablet drawing surface. The taped paper gives you that paper feeling while you draw.
- Get a Matte screen protector or overlay sheet like this.
- Change the pen nib. For Wacom tablets, you can get the Felt Nib, which has a rougher feel.
Aligning Your Tablet Properly
Let’s say you draw an square on your tablet, but you notice that it ends up as a tilted square or even a diamond on your screen.
This is possible because your tablet is placed at a different angle than your computer screen.
But hold on, it’s not a big deal. Simply align your tablet by placing it horizontally and directly in front of your computer.
Try facing your computer straight on and not from the side, that way whatever mark you make won’t be moving somewhere else on the screen.
Your tablet or your pen might come with buttons. Some people find that annoying (well, you can’t do anything about that unless you buy one without buttons). Still, these buttons are there to make your life much easier.
How? Simple. You can assign functions like eraser tool, right-click, undo, redo, or whatever, to these buttons in your tablet settings.
With these button settings, you can make adjustments to your artwork without always fighting those ‘Ctrl+’ or ‘Shift’ commands on your keyboard.
I like the undo and right-click options because I use them a lot. Find the go-to functions that you use the most and assign them as button shortcuts.
Another way to make drawing on your tablet more comfortable for you is by calibrating the pen pressure.
In case you’re wondering, pen pressure helps vary how thick or thin your strokes are, based on how you apply pressure to your pen.
In summary, a higher pen pressure makes your art more similar to traditionally made art. So with good pen pressure, your art won’t look like a robot drew it.
You can always calibrate your pen pressure in settings to fit your desired preferences. You mustn’t always go for the highest pressure level because not everyone has an 8,192 pressure level. Just find one that does the job.
For more info on pressure levels and how it works, watch this video.
Annoying Shaky Lines
Lines being wobbly or shaky when you draw is common but also irritating because you’d have to do it again.
However, this can be fixed with the help of a handy tool called the ‘Smoothing’ tool. Most drawing programs come with this function and it does the trick.
It smoothens out those lines and gets rid of the bumps and Voila! Neat lines. You can also use other stabilizer tools like Lazy Nezumi.
Though drawing with a tablet isn’t a piece of cake, you can get around it. With these tips, you’re off to a better start.
Keep in mind not to fight with your tablet but make it your new friend. Like any other art medium, take your time to perfect.
If you have more complex issues with your tablet (like involving the software or hardware or other techy stuff), I’ll suggest contacting customer support.