I need help or rather to be pointed in the right direction please. Take a look at the artwork: enter image description here

On the left you see my "on paper" art. On the right is my attempt to do the same thing on the digital tablet. No matter what I can't seem to find the right technique to do it.

If I try Vector lines - it comes out to comic book-like. Drawing it with my hand on the tablet ends up being child-like drawing. I layer-over tracing and drawing from scratch and results are unacceptable. Can you see the difference ?

My question is do you think it's simply because I"m new to using a digital tablet and my hand isn't used to it or am I missing some technique in Photoshop or Illustrator that would let me possibly perfectly re-trace or re-draw my graphics? Any technical tips on how I can make my Tablet created graphics looks like the stuff I create on paper would be greatly appreciated.

  • What do you mean by "tablet"? Are you referring to something like an iPad or Samsung Galaxy, or do you mean a tablet such as a Wacom Intuos or Bamboo?
    – Scott
    Aug 21, 2012 at 7:11
  • Looking at the right screenshot, I personally don't know what you mean by unacceptable. I don't see the difference in aesthetics and neither does it look comic book-like per se. I think it looks just great!
    – Henrik
    Aug 21, 2012 at 9:43
  • Wacom Intuos in this case Aug 21, 2012 at 15:31

5 Answers 5


With the case of something like a Wacom tablet, it merely takes a bit of time to get used to it.

I always recommend new drawing tablet users put their existing mouse, trackball, or trackpad in a drawer for a couple weeks and only use the stylus for everything.

It will be difficult at first and feel unnatural. However, the more you use it the more accustomed to it you get and eventually it'll be more comfortable than a mouse or any other input device.

Once you are comfortable with the tablet itself, it's merely a matter of configuring brushes/tools in whatever app you prefer to match your traditional drawing style. I find, for me, the Blob Brush in Adobe Illustrator more closely mimics anything I do on paper than any other brush in any other application. So, if I'm free-handing something, I immediately jump to the Blob Brush with predefined settings.

In the end, it just takes practice to improve the hand-eye coordination since you are actually drawing one place and looking in another place.

There's also some difference in tablet models. For example the Bamboo tablets have half the pressure sensitivity of any Intuos tablet, and one fourth the pressure sensitivity of the Intuos 5 line. Any pressure support is better than none. But the additional levels of support in the better tablets allow the apps to pick up more subtle nuances while drawing. Not to mention the fact that the Intuos tablets support additional features such as tilt and rotation to grab as much natural hand movement as possible.

If you've got an Intuos tablet, you may want to consider the Art Pen stylus for it. The added input data from that stylus can help a great deal. I much, much, prefer the Art Pen over any of the other styluses (?? Stylii ??).

Of course, there's always the Cintiq line of surfaces. These allow you to draw and look in the same location more closely mimicking traditional paper. But the price tag isn't anywhere near the same as the top of the line Intuos.


I think you just have to keep at it. As for the actual lines and colors, there are a whole world of techniques out there for you to get desired results. They are simply tricks you learn, just like learning the difference between oil paint and pastels. The best way for me to learn Photoshop's different features was by completing tutorials!


Posting this as an answer because it got too long for a comment.

You seem to use a lot of texture, so you could perhaps create a 'library' of watercolor ones and use them to fill your lines (they look quite alright in my opinion, perhaps you could play more with the line pressure but the rest is a good start).

Perhaps you could scan / take pictures of some of your original art and (if you are using photoshop) save them as patterns. Then, when you are colouring, you can add them using different transparencies. Or you could try with some pre-made watercolor brushes (some here http://designm.ag/resources/watercolor-photoshop-brushes/) or similar. But I agree with @nodirtyrockstar, the best way to learn photoshop is by doing tutorials and trying new things. Instead of trying to imitate what you are doing in paper, the tablet + soft can give you a new span of possibilities.


As others have hinted at, what you need is more practice with — and experimentation in — Photoshop. Explore textured brushes, as those seem like they would be ideal for creating the style of artwork you are aiming for. Since you have a Wacom tablet, pressure-sensitive brushes will also help give things the hand-drawn feel and texture.

Photoshop brushes can get very involved, so it might be best to do a web search for "Photoshop brushes" and download a few free ones that sounds like what you need and give them a try. Then, look at the settings to see how they were created to generate that effect. Tweak them to suit your style, then keep practicing and experimenting.


1) I would suggest Illustrator for all of your line art, then color in Photoshop. You can color in Illustrator but since it sounds like Photoshop is your program of choice, you will probably be more familiar with it to work. Illustrator is designed for this exact type of work.

2) Yes, a tablet is going to take time to get used to. When I first got it I used it twice and put it aside for months. It's hard when you start it. I thought, "Hey I do it just fine with a paintbrush, pencil, etc, I can do it with this tablet." Unfortunately, I realized almost immediately it wasn't so simple. Keep at it, you will be glad you did.

This tutorial may help you a little. The colors used are a bit brighter than your image but color choice is always adjustable.

  • Thank you. Great tutorial. Like everyone else said I'll keep on practicing. Aug 21, 2012 at 22:54
  • @Shenaniganz there are also different pen tips for your Intuos pen that may help give you better control or a more paper-like experience.
    – John
    Dec 26, 2013 at 16:45

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