Electronic Drawing Pads

The coolest way to input “stuff”



Digital Drawing Pad

Using a digital drawing pad for art and science

A digital drawing pad is a graphics tablet that you can draw on with a pen or stylus, and that controls the cursor on the screen. Some years ago I used one that was several feet across for technical drawing - the idea was to stick a drawing on the pad and trace the lines. It was incredibly expensive.

Nowadays the price has plummeted, and most pads, although not that size, are much more accurate and only a couple of hundred dollars.

If you are interested in doing serious work, the type of digital drawing pad that you buy will be a major choice. You need to consider several major factors.

First, how large a space dare you prepared to commit to the digital drawing pad? Are you using it on a desk alongside the computer, or does it have a separate layout space? For accurate work, the larger the better, as the digital drawing pad will scale to the screen. If you work with graphics, you probably use quite a large screen, and navigating around with a small pad will serve to make the pen movement oversensitive.

Second, you can choose the resolution of the computer drawing pad. This is separate from the actual distance moved on screen, because as mentioned above, you can always scale the movement. Make sure that you have sufficient resolution that the cursor does not move in a series of jerks.

Third, consider what features you want immediate access to via the pen’s switches. I personally find that more than four switches is impossible to use, and I prefer just a couple. This decision obviously depends on what your software is capable of, and whether you will really remember the different functions more quickly than using the keyboard or clicking on a menu bar.

The interface to the computer is fairly standard, but you should make sure that you have the necessary available port, even if it’s just a USB.

Once you start using a digital drawing pad, if you are in any type of design field, you will wonder how you coped before. The decision is fairly easy if you keep your attention on the features that really matter to you.