I recently bought a Wacom Bamboo Splash digital drawing tablet, and while I’d heard that drawing tablets can be difficult to get used to, this one has been extremely user friendly. I’ve became accustomed to using it rather quickly.
There are multiple options for drawing tablets, but when I researched which ones are good for beginners, and aren’t super expensive, the Bamboo brand kept popping up.
There are four different types of Bamboo pen tablets–the Connect, Splash, Capture and Create.
The Bamboo Connect is $79 and made primarily for communicating. This includes drawing up sketches, marking and annotating documents, and take digital notes by hand. This tablet comes with Autodesk SketchBook Express software which is a program for drawing that is meant to mimic the use of real life drawing tools. The software is worth about $50.
One limitation to this software is that the layers you might create in order to add image behind, on top, or between other frames doesn’t save. So if you exit out, the drawing is saved as one frame, rather than the layers you would have used to create that image.
The Bamboo Splash is the tablet I own, is the same price as the Connect, and is made primarily for beginning digital artists. My tablet came with ArtRage software that is really fun and easy to use. There are dozens of tool options that generally create realistic effects. For example, there are 13 options for the watercolor paint, including choices like “Dry on Wet,” “Low Blending” and “Unclean Brush.”
There are also blending and smudging tools, as well as dozens of paper choices. This program itself is amazing, and so much easier to use with a comfortable tablet. The newest version of this software is worth about $50.
The Bamboo Capture is more expensive than the first two options at $99, and is meant for working with pictures. It comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements and Autodesk SketchBook Express, which help edit photos. This includes features such as photomerge technology that allows you to “create the perfect picture” by merging parts of photos together. This software costs about $80 on its own.
The Bamboo Create is the most expensive. It’s for people who know they will be getting a lot of use out of their tablet. This one costs $199, has a bigger surface area, and comes with more programs, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter Essentials and Autodesk SketchBook Express. There is a big price jump here, but there is also a lot more software offered, which is a good deal, because the software on its own can be very pricey.
The “active area” (which means the area that you would draw or write on) is 8.5″ by 4.5″ compared to the 5.8″ by 3.6″ surface of the other tablets. This is important if you want to have a lot of range while you draw, edit or write, or if you want to have more space to work on detailed images.
When shopping for a tablet, I try to keep in mind the space I have on my desk as well, because I tend to draw with my tablet on my lap and the computer next to me on the couch. I personally prefer the smaller drawing area because of the way I draw and the fact that I just use it for fun, so I don’t need so much space and software.
I bought my tablet at the Apple store, but it is compatible with Macs or PCs. It can also be purchased online through the Wacom website.
Personally I’ve loved my tablet, and it’s perfect for what I’ve wanted it for. The surface of the tablet, though, has begun to scratch a little bit, but that’s to be expected considering the nature of drawing with a plastic pen on a plastic surface. The drawing tablet also came with replacement tips for the pen for when it wears down.
I would recommend this brand for the quality and ease of the tablets, the reasonable prices, and the really great software that comes with it.