How to Draw With a Graphic Tablet


A graphic tablet is the ultimate PC tool for any computer graphic artist. The tablet itself serves the same function as paper or canvas, while the stylus allows the artist to draw onto the tablet surface as if using anything from a pencil to an airbrush. Taking the place of a less precise mouse and mouse pad, the graphic tablet transfers minute movements and pressure into digital pen or brush strokes. Combined with a powerful fully-functional graphics program, anything from pencil sketches to oil paints are possible to create visually, opening up an extensive world of artists tools and supplies without the high costs of a fully supplied art studio.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference material
  • Flatbed scanner
  • Locate reference material for the image that you intend to draw. Look in magazines, books, or for digital images to serve as a reference. Start the graphics program you intend to use as a drawing platform and then import your reference image by loading the digital image file, or by scanning the image into the program using a flatbed scanner attached to your PC.

  • Set the opacity of the reference image to a low setting, between 30 to 40 percent so that anything drawn onto the image using the program shows clearly. Open a new layer in your graphics program above the reference image so that you can draw onto the clear layer without having your work incorporated into the reference image.

  • Position the stylus onto the graphic tablet while watching the position of the cursor on the screen. Moving the stylus over the pad will move the cursor over the screen as well. Choose a drawing tool to start with, and then begin to sketch your image outline, using the reference file as a guide, and making any modifications to the image you wish. Use the stylus as you would a pencil or pen on the tablet, drawing with the instrument as the drawn lines are reproduced onto the screen using the chosen software drawing tool.

  • Click on the layer containing the reference image and then mark the box next to the image making it invisible after completing your outline so that you can concentrate on the drawn image. You can use the stylus on the pad to move to the cursor to the various application settings menus and selections.

  • Click back to the layer containing your drawn image and fill out the image, placing details not contained in the general outline. Change brush tools as needed to change the thickness of a drawn line, or the look of the lines. Alter the pressure of the stylus point on the tablet to alter the appearance of the drawn lines you make. Heavier pressure results in heavier lines, just as if you were using a pencil instead of the tablet and stylus.

  • Create a new image layer and use this layer for shading your image, adding shadows where necessary.

  • Create an additional layer for coloring the image. Pick the colors and brushes you wish to use from the program then use the stylus as you would a paint or airbrush, placing the colors where desired.

  • Finish up the drawing, adding details, textures or blending colors where needed to gain the final look of the drawing. Switch between layers to keep the separate applications of the drawing separate. This makes it easier to deal with a mistake than if you would have to erase a final image and redraw a section from the outline to final color.

  • Delete the layer containing the reference image then select all the other layers and use the "Merge" command to combine the separate layers into a single image. Save the final image to your hard drive.

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  • Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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