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7 Tips to Improve your Drawing with a Wacom Tablet (Draw better)

7 Tips to Improve your Drawing with a Wacom Tablet (Draw better)

If you are learning how to draw on a tablet or are just looking to improve your skills when using your drawing tablet, then there are many aspects to consider.

Important: These drawing tablet tips also work for drawing pen tablets, wireless drawing tablets, and graphics tablets such as Wacom, XenceLabs, XP-Pen, Gaomon, Huion, and more.

Related: 7 Best Drawing Tablets that Dont Need a Computer (Standalone)

Before we dive into our core 7 tips, let’s cover some of the basics:

  • Be sure you have the proper drawing tablet setup. See the ultimate drawing tablet setups guide for variations.
  • Make sure your monitor is directly facing you as well as the drawing tablet. You’d be surprised how often this occurs, even among veteran digital artists.
  • Become well adept at learning the pen pressure and thickness of your brush strokes. This can be adjusted from both the drawing app/software as well as the drawing tablet driver.
  • Use a drawing tablet screen protector based on how you prefer to draw.  some drawing tablets are more slippery than others.
  • Ensure you have all the function keys and shortcut buttons set up and tell her to your preference. This is no different whether you are using a Drawing tablet for Mac or Windows
  • Be sure to utilize and become familiar with side switches of your stylus pen as well as the on-screen controls, color palette, and canvas settings.
  • Check and make sure you have the right type of pen nib for your purpose.

Also see: How to Create Amazing Photoshop Sketches [Full Guide]

In this guide, we’ll show you how you can easily create art and get better at using a drawing tablet. We will also cover all the ways you can improve your Wacom drawing tablet skills & artwork. 

The tips for using a drawing tablet will help every aspect of your work, no matter what type of art you are creating with your drawing tablet.

Top Tips for Drawing on a Tablet (Wacom, XP-Pen, Huion) 

Below are our top tips for using a drawing tablet with pen for improving your digital art & graphic design skills. These tips will work for any type of drawing tablet including Wacom, XP pen, and others.

1. Use a drawing tablet screen protector (Glossy vs Matte)

1. Use a drawing tablet screen protector Glossy vs Matte

Although many underestimate the effectiveness of a protective film for drawing tablets, we believe that it is one of the best top tips for using a drawing tablet with a pen.

First of all, a screen protector for a drawing tablet like the Wacom Intuos protects the device from accidents.

After all, you do not buy a laptop for drawing along with a drawing tablet to use it for just a few months, do you?

But how can a screen protector improve your drawing with a Wacom tablet? It is important to know that there are two types of screen protectors: Glossy and Matte. Each type has some advantages and disadvantages, but both will ultimately help you draw better.

Related: 7 Best Drawing Tablets for Photoshop & Illustrator

A Glossy screen protector is perfect for those who like to draw on a smooth display. Think of a glossy screen protector as a crystal clear window that you can draw on without resistance. Although some professionals prefer this way of drawing, most opt for Matte screen protectors.

A Matte screen protector turns the surface (or screen) of your Wacom drawing tablet into a resistant canvas. Increased friction is why matte screen protectors are perfect for drawing and digital art. There’s no better way to make your drawing tablet with a screen feel like paper.

The first time I used a Matte protector on my Wacom Cintiq, the drawing experience was immediately more realistic.

2. Be aware of all the advanced features of your drawing tablet

2. Be aware of all the advanced features of your drawing tablet

It often happens that beginners among artists and graphic designers go straight into drawing with a new drawing tablet. However, this is not always a good approach. The first thing you should do when buying a new tablet is to explore its advanced features. There are many features that a drawing tablet offers, and you should always take advantage of them.

For example, you will find it difficult to manually operate the eraser in Photoshop. But most pen tablets (even the affordable drawing tablets like the Wacom Intuos) have multiple function keys that allow you to access such functions with just one touch.

Related: 7 Ways to Write and Draw on a Non Touch Screen Laptop

Function Keys

All Wacom drawing tablets come with comprehensive software that lets you manipulate the device’s function keys. All you need to do is:

  1. Download the drivers from the official Wacom website.
  2. Install the software on your laptop or desktop.
  3. Connect the drawing tablet on your PC.
  4. Open the Wacom Tablet Properties app and navigate to the Express Keys page.
  5. From there, you can easily register the toolboxes and keys you frequently use. Make sure to adjust the side switches of the Wacom pen as well.

On-screen Controls

Most Wacom pen tablets come with a feature called “On-screen control”. This allows you to use a pop-up window with additional functions on your PC.

This is by far our favorite Wacom feature and arguably one of the biggest advantages of Wacom tablets over XP-Pen and Huion tablets.

Wacom has pre-registered some menus for you (radial menu, pull-down menu), but you can always customize the operations and controls you need. To do so, all you need to do is:

  1. Open the Wacom Tablet Properties software.
  2. Go to the On-screen Controls tab.
  3. From the left panel, choose the customizable menu you prefer.
  4. Then, customize the key assignments from the right panel. Keep in mind that you can add up to 64 tools.
  5. You are all set! The On-screen Control function is ready to be used.

3. Choosing the right pen nib type for your purpose

3. Choosing the right pen nib type for your purpose

Even though function keys will help you draw faster (and therefore better), choosing the right pen nib type is just as important. After all, when you draw on paper, you do not use just one pen, do you? Well, the same is true for graphics tablets.

Digital painting software like Krita and Illustrator gives you access to numerous brushes. But the thickness of the stylus nib you use also plays an important role. If you have already applied a screen protector and manipulated the function keys, but you still do not enjoy drawing with a Wacom tablet, consider changing the thickness of your pen.

Also see our post on the 7 Best Stylus for Amazon Fire HD 8 & 10

Thickness of the pen

Wacom has developed a large series of nibs for all of its drawing tablets. Some are thicker and some are very thin. You can opt for a set of 5 nibs and use them all until you find the one that is most comfortable for you.

I personally use three different nibs for different tasks. A thick nib for my draft designs, a medium one for drawing shapes and a thin one for details.

4. Setting up a properly configured Drawing Tablet

4. Setting up a properly configured Drawing Tablet

Configuring your drawing tablet in advance is critical if you want to be consistent when creating digital art. Try to match the dimensions of your drawing tablet to the space it occupies on your computer screen.

For example, if you are using a Wacom Intuos, you can make the software workspace (Krita, Photoshop, etc.) slightly smaller on your computer screen. This way, the tracking resolution of the tablet remains the same size as the screen space you are using.

  • If you’re also drawing via Procreate on iPad, the set up is slightly different. See the Best iPads for Procreate for more on the best set up.

The same is true for the resolution of your drawing. So if you want to create a piece of art that looks perfect on an A5 sheet of paper, you can opt for a resolution of 1280×960. This will give you a realistic digital drawing experience.

5. Comfortable Drawing tablet setup (Ergonomics)

5. Comfortable Drawing tablet setup Ergonomics

There are many ways to make sure your drawing tablet is comfortable enough. The first thing you can do is make sure that your monitor (for desktop computers) or laptop display is of a similar size to the active area of your drawing tablet. This will make drawing much more precise.

Another smart thing to do is to make your screen a little smaller. This way you can draw better whether you draw with your wrist only or with your whole arm (from your elbow).

Also, try to sit directly in front of the monitor and your drawing tablet. By placing everything at the same angle, you will avoid angle errors and ultimately improve your drawing experience. All you have to do is place your Wacom tablet directly in front of your desktop or laptop screen and sit straight in front of your drawing tablet setup.

View our post on how to digitally paint & draw on a laptop

Finally, make sure that your desk and chair are comfortable enough for drawing. In many cases, we underestimate the difference that good furniture (chair and desk) makes to our drawing experience. Adjust the height of your desk and chair so that it feels perfect, and make sure you have the right posture to avoid unexpected back problems.

6. Adjust the Stylus pen pressure

6. Adjust the Stylus pen pressure

Contrary to what many beginners believe, the stylus pen pressure can be easily adjusted to suit your needs and preferences. To set the tablet pressure correctly, you can use both the Wacom driver or do it directly in the digital drawing software (e.g. Photoshop, Krita, etc.).

From the Wacom tablet driver:

  1. Go to Wacom tablet properties
  2. From the left panel, adjust the tip feel (Soft to Firm) to match your needs.
  3. If you’re feeling your pen too firm, move the slider to the left (Soft). If your pen feels too soft, harden it by moving the slifer to the right (Firm).

After adjusting the pen tip feel setting through the Wacom tablet software, you can adjust the pen pressure via the drawing app you are using. Most applications, such as Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop, have an extensive toolbox that you can use to adjust pen pressure.

If you opt for a soft feel, your tablet will recognise your strokes as soon as you apply pressure. I find this works better for draft designs that do not require sensitive pen pressure.

Related: Apple Pencil 1 vs 2- Key Differences Explained.

On the other hand, if you opt for a firmer setting, your brush size will remain small and only increase if you apply a lot of pressure to the tablet. In most cases, we recommend leaving the Tip Feel setting in (or close to) the middle of the slider.

7. Getting used to the drawing tablet with consistent use

7. Getting used to the drawing tablet with consistent use

Keep in mind that in most cases, practice makes perfect. Well, digital drawing is no exception to this rule. When you take your first steps into this fascinating world, it’s understandable that you may feel uncomfortable with the drawing tablet and active pen.

Give yourself some time to familiarize yourself with the software you are using, but also with the drawing tablet and pen. Wacom tablets in particular are among the best models when it comes to precise and accurate digital drawing.

You can also view some alternatives to drawing tablets, such as Digital writing pads.

So if you are patient, you will learn to use it and get better day by day. And if you follow the previous steps, you will also become more consistent. Remember that digital drawing will always feel different than drawing with a pen on paper. But if you get the settings right, it will be much more fun and easier.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ