Graphics Tablet Anonymous

Wacom's Bamboo Paper digital notebook app for the iPadWe’ve previously discussed whether the iPad makes a capable artist’s tablet. Our conclusion: without pressure sensitivity, not quite.

Well, perhaps marking a first step to bridge that gap, top-of-the-heap pen tablet maker Wacom is now throwing in on Apple’s device. Their new app, called Bamboo Paper (after their Bamboo line of USB input devices) is a digital notebook featuring an excellent ink engine, fluid and responsive.

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iPad as a Graphics TabletHayden Scott-Baron draws on the iPad using a stylus

Apple’s iPad 2 has just been released to much acclaim: now with video chat, this tablet computer certainly packs a punch. With it’s silky touchscreen and lightweight profile it practically begs to be held like a sketchbook and drawn on. But: is the iPad a capable graphics tablet? (And by extension: is the iPhone a graphics tablet?)

The short answer is: not quite. But the iPad can indeed be a powerful creative tool, and with some additions can mimic the drawing, painting, and design power of an pen tablet display.

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KoalaPad: the first graphics tablet

KoalaPad: the first graphics tablet

Looking back in graphics tablet history brings us to the KoalaPad, the first ever digital drawing tablet for home computers. This device was first produced in 1984 by US company Koala Technologies and designed by Dr. David Thornburg.

The KoalaPad could be operated with the pressure of a pen stylus, or a finger for less precise work.  It included two buttons along the top for operating additional software features.

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There is still only one dominant name in graphics tablet manufacturers, but there are a bewildering range of competitors that produce digital drawing tablets of various quality and price points. Some of these makers produce quite good products, and each line is worth looking at individually.

  • Wacom Intuos4 Graphics TabletWacom is currently the most well-known and well-respected of the graphics tablet makers.  They offer three main lines of tablet input devices: the Cintiq LCD pen displays, intuos4 professional-grade graphics tablets, and the Bamboo line of tablets for home and office.
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graphics-tabletThe graphics tablet, the pen and paper of the 21st century, is a must-have piece of equipment for any computer artist or graphic designer. These tablets, available in a variety of sizes, come with either a corded or wireless pressure-sensitive stylus. This stylus, due to its pressure-sensitivity, can accurately simulate a pen, pencil, crayon, brush, or any other traditional drawing implement. Some graphics tablet pens are even able to sense tilt for finer and more accurate drawing control. Graphics tablets are also sometimes called digitizing tablets, graphics pads, and drawing tablets.

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