Looking for anyone who has experience using a variety of drawing-tablets to answer some basic questions about their usefulness.


My girlfriend is gifted with the ability to produce magnificent drawings/videos which she digitally enhances using the Adobe suite on her MacBook Pro. She almost completed her study in this field. Her birthday is coming up and she never experienced drawing on any kind of drawing-tablet, so I wanted to purchase one for her to get her used to the fact that any future job she will get will likely involve using one of these drawing-tablets at some point (is this assumption correct? Why does this study not include this?)

Current situation

She currently uses her touchpad! on her MacBook Pro to digitally draw besides what she does on paper. Watercolor and line-drawings on paper which she scans using a simple scanner to digitally enhance her art.

What I found

Most websites recommend a WACOM tablet for any kind of (semi-)professional work. Some websites recommend a iPad Pro for a good middle-ground solution, I'm skeptic that this will ever reflect in any kind of graphics designer job.


  1. Is this WACOM recommendation actually a requirement for working on a MacBook with the Adobe suite?

  2. Is my assumption of requiring prior experience with a drawing-tablet to perform well in a future graphics designer job situation correct?

  3. What are the chances she will find a job involving drawing on a WACOM tablet or any drawing-tablet?

  4. Should this tablet contain a built-in screen? Is having the built-in screen the standard for professional use?

  5. She uses alot of paper for her drawings, would having the WACOM Paper Edition be just as good as having the built-in screen? Having doubts here because she might need to order the ink from WACOM to refill the pen every time.

I have been calling some local design businesses with the odd request that she can try out one of their tablets, no luck here. I think I'll just order one drawing-tablet that seems to be the best fit, most shops will refund anyway.

If you have more information I should consider please let me know, I have no reference points besides her, and I don't want to spoil the surprise by directly asking her about it.


This question, for the most part, is impossible to answer and may be put on hold as too broad or opinion-based. However, here's some general input....

  • In my opinion, if you are getting a tablet for an artist, Wacom is the only brand you should be looking to purchase. The opinions of others will differ. There are more cost effective options on the market. If budget is a factor, looking at those may be a necessity. However, you should be aware that major software developers, such as Adobe, only test their applications against Wacom devices/drivers. And while developers such as Adobe release specifications for input (tablet) drivers, some tablet manufacturers are better at adhering to a given set of specifications than others may be.

  • Tablets are either loved or hated. You can't predict how comfortable she'll be with a tablet. I absolutely love mine and could not work without it. Others find it annoying and hate them. It's only after using one for a period of time that a user can determine a like/dislike.

  • Use of a tablet has really little or nothing to do with any "job situation". A tablet is merely an input device. Most, if not all, positions I've had are willing to get me the input device I prefer if they don't already have it available. (Possible exception may be a Wacom Cintiq due to costs). I've never heard of anyone losing a position because they didn't know how to use a trackball/mouse/tablet/trackpad. It's expected that you adapt or the company supplies what you need.

  • Built in screen.. again, there's no way to know. Some love the aspect of on-screen drawing. I dislike it because of the need to "hover" your hand over the surface. I draw with my wrist planted and swiveling. That's not possible with on-screen drawing most of the time. Tech has gotten better at "ignoring" the hand, but it's still problematic at times. Again, just preference. My guess would be, if she's still using a great deal of paper, that she's not necessarily a fan of on-screen drawing either. Otherwise it's possible to draw on-screen on an iPad or digital tablet currently. If she has an iPad and still reaches for paper and a pen.... I wouldn't consider anything on-screen. I have several iPads.... and while I can, and do use them to "doodle" sometimes, it is practically never my preferred option. I'm far more apt to grab a scrap of paper and a pen nearby to jot down an idea.

  • Paper or real-world substrates with "recognizing" features, a la the Wacom Paper. I'd personal avoid this for a first time user. It's more of a secondary thing IF the use of a tablet is liked. The real-world options tend to be a bit more inaccurate with the drawing since they are "seeing" it rather than directly inputting it. However, I have not tried the Wacom paper.. so it may be better. I have tried and own the (now discontinued) Wacom Ink, which was just a pen and a recognizing bar. And while it works, it's not as usable as I had planned.

Lastly, if you do end up getting a tablet. The best advice I was given and pass on is to put the mouse/trackpad/trackball away for a week and ONLY use the tablet for 100% of everything. It will help acclimate the user to it's use much faster.

I use my tablet 100% of the time for everything I do in every application. I have not touched a mouse for anything other than OS installation and immediate subsequent Wacom driver installation in over a decade. But, again, that's my preference. There are many who dislike using tablets or use them sparingly in specific applications for specific tasks.

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  • After reading this I'm unsure why i prioritized the job situation as much. Of course it's personal preference, but you gave me a lot of advice to work with. Thanks! – Notadesigner Jun 20 '19 at 20:46

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