Help Me, LAPTOP: I Need A Tablet for Creating Digital Art

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Sometimes, a question shows up in our inbox at exactly the right time. Take Gin's, for example:

Basically I've been on the look out for a tablet, along the lines of an iPad. Mostly, I want to use it for digital art, and I hear the iPad isn't really all that great for that just yet. In terms of price range, I could probably go up to $500, but the cheaper the better.

It just so happens that we spent some time researching this very subject for our July issue. Thus, we feel confident in our advice: Buy an iPad 2.

There's a reason famous artists such as David Hockney have embraced the iPad; its 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768-pixel LED-backlit screen is the ideal digital canvas, and Apple's tablet offers by far the best selection of art apps available on any tablet platform.

From the beginner-friendly ArtStudio ($4.99) to ArtRage ($6.99), which mimics the look and feel of real paint, the art apps available on iOS have all the bases covered. While we don't know what kind of digital art Gin wishes to create on a tablet, the Apple platform offers a richer, more extensive selection than Android.

However, there is some crossover: Both iOS and Android offer art-creating staples such as SketchBook Mobile ($0.99), and there is no shortage of more basic art apps in the Android Market. Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of art Gin will be creating and what type of tools this will require. If a simple paint program such as FingerPaint on Android (free) will do the trick, then you have your pick of the many tablets that offer access to the Android Market.

The iPad 2 just meets Gin's pricing criteria; the 16GB Wi-Fi model ships for $499. If Gin can hold out a bit longer and prefers the Android OS, the upcoming HTC Flyer is another compelling option. The 7-inch tablet will have a pressure-sensitive active stylus for pen input and drawing. However, that stylus will cost $79.99—on top of the Flyer's $500 price tag.

If Gin goes with an iPad, we recommend buying the Nomad Brush ($24). This accessory works seamlessly with any device's capacitive touchscreen, and it will give hands a welcome break (according to an artist we spoke with, hours of finger-painting on the iPad gets tiring).

If you have a question about fixing a technical problem or buying a new product, drop us a line at and we’ll respond to the most interesting questions in this section.

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  • BuffaloGal Says:

    Knayirp and others - I too am looking for a tablet to create my stained glass patterns with. Right now I use graph paper and pencil and of course eraser to redraw until I am happy with my cut lines. Then I either make a copy and use my markers to fill in various optional views OR scan and save as JPG and use Paint or Photoshop to color in. So my actual needs are really simple - I am not creating intricate detailed web graphics - just line drawings that I can color in.

  • Knayirp Says:

    I'm currently a designer and I can say outright that the iPad would be the worst decision for an artist. If you want to do digital art, you can purchase the Wacome Tablet.

    These tablets are plug in devices to your pc/mac, and are the popular choice for all digital artists/designers.
    You can use this device with software such as Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook pro and more.

    If you've never come across these devices before its important to understand its different from iPad and Android tablets. These devices (except certain ones) don't have a screen. But offer amazing responsiveness as drawing/painting tools.

    You can take a look at their website :

    They offer 3 main devices : 1) Bamboo 2) Intuos 3) Cintiq

    1) Bamboo are the intermediate level tablet devices. They don't cost that much and have a good response if your just starting digital art. But don't give the full range of tools and precision from the professional models. But that sort of accuracy is required only if your thinking of taking it up as a profession.

    2) Intuos are the professional level tablet devices. These devices offer amazing precision and accuracy and are used by all the professionals.

    3) Cintiq : these offer the same professional quality as an Intuos but offer a screen on which you can work on. But are much more expensive.

    There are many such tablets on the market, but the best in the market are the Wacom tablets.
    Hope the info helped.

  • Ibuytechtoys Says:

    Please they clearly stated didn't want iPad 1,2, 3rd whatever. Maybe they should have said didn't want apple. Give it a freaking rest. Everybody does not want iPad that's why other tablets are selling. If everyone wanted apple no other tablets would be selling. People probably have made other choices because they are tired of iPad being shoved at tbem.

    Mass market doesn't want proprietary inputs, lack of flash or a walked off computing or Internet experience. Get over it, apple is on death watch not android.

  • jb82 Says:

    Groan. You need to change the name of this magazine to ipadmag. Capacitive styli are not great. A serious artist is probably better off with a device with an active digitizer which you ought to know. At the $500 there are plenty of older win 7 ones on ebay that would be far better to use than an ipad 2 which much better art applications. Try a motion LS800 or something bigger.

    Laptopmag, you are giving really poor advice. Next time get an artist to write the article.

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