Editorial: Tablets Hate Art Enthusiasts

I love to draw. I wouldn’t consider myself a master of art, but more like an advanced yellow belt with two orange stripes. I love using technology to draw flyers, designs, characters, and cartoons. Sketching is one of my favorite ways to express myself. You could get me a pad of paper and some sharpened pencils for Christmas and I would be happy.
I also love puns
I also love puns
So, naturally, I would love to blend my love of art and my love of technology. What better way then to take a seven inch mini computer that you can touch and use it for artistic purposes. After a few Amazon searches and some meccas to Best Buy, I came to this startling conclusion: There really is no market for semi-pro digital artists.
Don’t get me wrong. I know all about the Wacom Cintiq and the Wacom Bamboo tablets. Those are great tools for drawing. The problem is not that there are no tools for a digital artist. The problem is that there is a gaping hole between buying a pad of paper and buying a $1000 artist tablet specifically for drawing.
You have an overflow of tablets coming out of every nook and cranny. They all boast great social media, blazing fast internet, and convenient Netflix usage, while neglecting your house duties. But if you were to look up any of those tablets for the purpose of being an artistic designer, you would find yourself very disappointed. At one time, Samsung, Toshiba, and Asus were boasting their pen tablets. I even owned a 7-inch Samsung Note Tab, which I stupidly sold to pay for a car bill (idiot!). If I ever needed a place to throw away $900, I would buy a Surface, but I might as well get a whole computer.
Now when I look up these tablets on Amazon, it seems their decreasing popularity makes them ridiculously hard to find. Even Best Buy doesn’t offer their Samsung Note Tabs on display anymore. You might be able to find a previous generation one sitting in an old warehouse, or have to get the 10-inch mega deluxe tablet for the price of a small baby. Also, it is worth noting that tablets with a stylus are very hesitant to mention that you can use that pen for art, meaning they don’t even believe that they should be used for that.
Even on my best days I cannot paint that on a tablet.
Even on my best days, I cannot paint that on a tablet.
In my journey, I tried to find some way to use touch screen technology as an outlet for drawing. I had purchased Autodesk Sketchbook and Infinity PaintĀ apps, which are probably the most professional on the market. There are three workarounds to turning your tablet into an artistic sketch board.
Pictured: A Samsung Note only for used and refurbished markets.  Not pictured: Me Crying
Pictured: A Samsung Note only for used and refurbished markets. Not pictured: Me Crying

The Smart Stylus:

The smart stylus is lingering in technology markets like a creepy guy in an unmarked van. These styli use battery power and blue tooth to make the tablet think the tip of the pencil is like your finger. Most are made for only Apple, but there are a few companies that support Android and Windows. I bought a Lynktek Apex Stylus for my Acer 800A. After much scribbling and scribing, I noticed that the pen was inconsistent at best and very inhibiting at worst. I actually got more value over an $8 dumb stylus then a $50 smart stylus.


The Pivoting Stylus:

This tool is actually the best out of all the options. It is a stylus with a clear disc and a pivoting head. It works most like a pencil. The stylus still has trouble getting over dead zones if you have a cheap tablet. The pen wears down, and you will have to purchase replacement pivots for $8. Not bad for a $15 pen. I purchased the Musemee Notier V2.

Scanning and Uploading:

This is a workaround, which involves you drawing the picture on a pad of paper, snapping a photo of it, and using a scanner app to make it look digital. It really defeats the purpose of going digital, but it does ensure you get full pencil control.
If you are going to use a stylus, you need to relearn how to draw. You need to be mindful of your palm touching the screen, be aware of dead zones, and note that the pen doesn’t always go where you put the stylus. It can be frustrating, but if you are patient, you can make art pieces that look good.
Here is my example of a drawing done with pad and pencil. I scanned it and colored it:
Title: Stark Wars
Title: Stark Wars
Here is an example of a drawing with a smart stylus and Autodesk Sketchbook:
Title: Falcon with Squid Head
You’ll notice that the lines are a bit scraggily on the below picture and some of the shading looks dirty. What you don’t see is how many times I had to erase, zoom the picture to get better accuracy, and hit undo if I made a mistake.
I feel like the tablet world is missing out on a huge opportunity to support the semi-pro artist. It saddens me deeply that there is no room (or enough popularity) to make affordable tablets for artists. If some brave company made a seven-to-ten-inch, art-focused, stylus-sensitive tablet for $100 to $150, I would snatch it up. I wouldn’t even need it to look at my e-mail, check my Twitter, or get distracted by Facebook posts. But until then, the digital arts belong to those who have the money, are comfortable doing it from their home PC, or didn’t sell their Samsung Note Tab to make a car payment (idiot!).