Friday 14 May 2021

Getting Started With a Drawing Tablet

 Technically this isn't my first time using a drawing tablet. I think I briefly used on about 10 years ago when my boss upgraded to a Wacom so the previous tablet he used "trickled down" to me. The reasoning at the time was that it would be useful for creating UI mockups and annotating them. I don't think it got used much and went in a drawer.

Anyway, this might as well be my first time using one so that's what I'll say.

Over the last few weeks I've enjoyed drawing on paper but I was a little disappointed with the results after scanning in some of my drawings. Plus my folder was starting to grow ever larger so I figured this would be a good opportunity try my hand at digital art.

I did a bit of research and opted for an XP-Pen Deco 01 (v2). It's not overly expensive and is a decent size.


At this point, I can't really justify spending a lot of money on a pen display or similar device so a simple "drawing tablet" (something without a screen) seemed like a good starting point.

One thing I do like about XP-Pen is their little mascot character 😁


My Workstation

It's definitely taking some getting used to. Looking at the screen while drawing didn't feel natural at first but so far I've found that it just takes a little perseverance. A few things that I've found have helped are:


Anybody who knows me knows that my handwriting is atrocious. So much so that one of my old teachers described it as being like a drunken spider crawled across the page with the a pen 😂 (not said maliciously - she was actually pretty supportive). In spite of how terrible my writing looks, writing a few words and sentences helped me get used to the disconnect between hand movements and seeing the result on screen by starting with familiar movements. I don't have much experience with art so handwriting made more sense for me.

Practice Website

I came across a nifty little website that you can use to practice drawing over blueprint figures to work on your accuracy.


Drilling practice routines is useful, but I didn't want this to stop me from actually doing some drawings. Not long after setting up the tablet on my laptop, I fired up Autodesk Sketchbook and had a go at "blocking out" a character. It's safe to say the results were laughable but it's all practice.

This is difficult!

I've largely given up on Sketchbook as it seems a bit limited and I think it might have been developed with Wacom tablets in mind. Instead I switched to Clip Studio Paint (Pro). A friend recommended it and it's not too expensive (about £30 or £40ish) and the developers allow it to be used on two machines (not at the same time) so I can use it on my desktop and laptop.

It won't win any awards, but it's good practice


It helps that I can create an outline that's rough AF and gradually refine it with additional layers of outlines before finishing it. Having drawn my first character entirely on a tablet, I'm not displeased with the result. Sure it's pretty rough and I've managed to get a load of things wrong on it but a few days ago I'd never used this sort of thing before so I'm pleased that I'm starting to get to grips with using it 😊

I plan to go back to some of the tutorial videos I followed for drawing on paper and try to redo them but using the tablet instead.


I'm going to try scanning and tracing some of my earlier drawings for additional practice.