Do you create any kind of art at all on your computer? Okay, I'm not going to do any kind of hard-sell, but I bet you get tired of trying to use your mouse to create art that looks like a child's drawing. Wacom tablets are centered around the idea that you are serious about your digital art and want to prove it. You just want to pick the one that suits you best.

So you're thinking Etch-A-Sketch with batteries, but Wacom tablets often make the shortlist of people who want to enhance their 3D art with customized textures, add real splash to their photos in a way that leaves Photoshop in the dust, and basically take control of their art to take it to the next level.

Wacom Tablet Models

  • Bamboo: These are the inexpensive ones for people who don't have a lot of money to blow on an art tablet but want to take advantage of Wacom's functionality. Connect is the most basic model, basically designed to be a digital sketchbook that makes it easy to connect with others like you, with included software like Autodesk Sketchbook Express. Splash is just a half-step above with ArtRage 3. Capture includes software like Photoshop Elements and Autodesk Sketchbook Express. As you might guess, this is mostly used for editing photos. Create is the Bamboo line's deluxe model with a wider screen and Corel Painter.

  • Intuos: This Wacom tablet is geared more towards the serious digital artist who has a little more money to spend and would consider it an investment. It includes 4 screen size options, Autodesk Sketchbook Express, Photoshop Elements, Anime Studio and a 90-day trial of Corel Painter.

  • Cintiq: The most expensive model for serious professionals who are on the go and need to take their art with them. You can see your computer screen directly on the tablet with its 21.5” HD display. The sensitivity of the Cintiq's touchscreen might take some getting used to only because it's designed to recognize 2,048 levels of pen pressure and actually recognizes the pen's tilt angle. If you're used to an iPad, this is a whole new level in touch sensitivity. Some people even commented that this really streamlines their workload when it comes to such things as dealing with an overflowing email inbox or a Calendar that shows a hectic schedule. It's not seamless, but Wacom is very helpful with dealing with any questions you have. If you've been needing an “art mouse” that is the equivalent of some high-end gaming mouse models, this tablet will replace both mouse and keyboard once you get the hang of it.

The Wacom Cintiq. Usually I don't show off products right in the middle of an article, but just look at that. Sixteen programmable hotkeys and effects that would be difficult to produce without a touchscreen.

Tips For Using Your Wacom

So you got your new Wacom in the mail and now you're eager to use it. You already opened the box, installed the included software, hooked up the tablet with a USB cord, and now you've got the included pen hovering just above the screen while you decide what to do first. You might have even noticed one funky thing: the pen can actually be used to control the cursor just by hovering an inch above the screen. (To actually draw, the pen has to touch the screen.) So, what's next?

  • Whatever you do, don't push too hard on the screen. This can damage the touchscreen functionality. If you took the plunge and bought a Cintiq, you shouldn't even have to push all that hard to get what you want. If you notice that the touchscreen isn't all that sensitive right out of the box, get in touch with Wacom to see if you can exchange it for another one.

  • Remember that there might be a learning curve. You're switching from using a mouse to using a pen. While this does give you greater control (which I totally like), some reviewers' nits about this device included the fact that they had to learn how to get the most out of the software and their new tablet and also make two or three calls to the manufacturer when they were stumped. However, the same reviewers anticipated that this would pay for itself in saved time and better art.

  • Have fun with it. Create textures, sculpts and special effects right on the tablet. This is a tool meant for you to lose the mouse and have some fun with your art.

  • Don't dump what you learned in every art class you've ever taken. Okay, so you like to experiment and that might mean leaving some of “the rules” by the wayside while you decide for yourself what works and what doesn't. However, as a proponent of 3D art, I can honestly tell you that your mistakes will get magnified all out of proportion when you start adding complexity like, say, an extra axis.

Enjoy Your New Wacom Tablet

You're a digital artist who is going places. If you're seriously considering a tablet like this, you're obviously ready to take it to the next level. The Wacom is a tablet that specializes in giving you the tools you need to maximize your art.