What About It
For this blog post, I am going to break down more on what a drawing tablet is and how it works. A drawing tablet can be explained as another input device for your computer. Its use is not limited just to artist. Architects and engineers would need to use these kinds of tables to create accurately-scaled images (Barett, n.d) The tablet comes with two parts, the tablet pad, and a stylus. Another interesting feature about the tablet is that it doesn’t just register only in drawing programs. In a way, you can look at it as a huge trackpad. The same one you would have on your laptop. Even without the stylus, you can use your fingers to interact with it. Clicking on links and scrolling through pages and even using it to zoom into things.
If that’s the case, why do we need the stylus to draw? Can’t we just use the mouse and draw? The answer is yes you can use your mouse to draw but it will be very difficult. The mouse is not agronomical for free hand drawing. The device lacks accuracy in drawing (Lorenzo, 2015). Details are what helps bring the artwork to life. Not to mention you would need to constantly hold down the left key for the computer to understand that you want to draw something now. The stylus for the tablet acts as both a mouse in the form of a pencil. With the stylus, drawing free hand is now possible and because the stylus is now in sync with the computer. Drawings can now be drawn more accurately with greater detail.
So how does the tablet and stylus work together to create what you have drawn on it to the screen? Just like any other person, they communicated with one another. The Wacom tablet (the one I am currently using) has a click-and-point navigation which allows it track the movement of the stylus (). Another feature it has is that it is pressure-sensitive (Kershner, 2017). This allows it to detect how much pressure is placed on the stylus allowing it to adjust the thickness and boldness of the stroke.
Wacom refers to its stylus system as Penabled technology (Kershner, 2017). Within the pen is a digital chip that has a modulator allowing it to transmit signals (Futureelectronics.com, 2017). The tablet and stylus works together with magnets. The board emits its own magnetic field. The stylus also creates its own magnetic field and energy so that it does not need to be charged. The board then recognises the stylus magnetic field which allows it to pinpoint the location of the pen. Within the board itself there are little antenna coils that help monitors and determine where the current (magnetic field) is. Wacom has patented this technology as EMR which also stands for electromagnetic resonance technology (Kershner, 2017). Why didn’t the tablet come earlier into our life? It is because of our technical limitations. Our graphic cards and processors were not good enough to handle the specs of our nowadays tablets. The resolution of our screens was still pixeled so detail artwork was not the easiest (Lorenzo, 2015). It is thanks to the evolution of technology were we able to achieve the current tablets we have now.
There were a few issues I had experienced using my tablet. The first issue was the space that I needed to use it, I’m taking about the physical space needed. Unlike a notebook, I can’t just take it out and start drawing on the spot. I need to start my computer and have a space big enough to place my laptop and my tablet. Which comes to my second issue, having limited power to draw. A notebook doesn’t run on battery. My computer, on the other hand, has its limit if it is not plugged in and sometimes I forget to bring my charger with me. I have had my laptop shut down on me a few times when I was drawing. The best part was that I had forgotten to save my work. Luckily my laptop had backed the unsaved data.
Having experienced this before you would think I would be more prepared for it, WRONG! I would check my computer battery time and it would say I have 50 minutes before it shuts down. Lesson learn, don’t ever believe it. It died in the next 30 minutes. The reason why I think this happen is due to the applications I had been using at that time. I use photoshop to draw my work and it is possible that the app itself is draining the battery faster than expected.
The issues I have stated about the tablet is not me comparing a tablet to a drawing pad. It is just some of the limitation the tablet has. It does not mean that one medium is better than the other. However, there are some inventions that are trying to combat some of these issues. For example, the Surface book from Microsoft. It is a hybrid of a laptop and a tablet. The screen is detachable allowing it to become a clipboard where people can use if to sketch or draw like a notebook (Ackerman, 2016). This is dealing with the space issue I am having with my tablet.
Another cool invention is called rocket book wave (Lemay, 2015). This is an invention on Indiegogo, a funding idea site. What’s so special about this book is that once you have written things on it. You can scan it and get it saved into the cloud. It can be saved on dropbox, google drive and many other apps. This in away creates a hybrid between a notebook and a tablet. You can draw on the notebook and scan it into the cloud. Once it’s there you can reopen the file in photoshop itself and start fine tuning the line and colour it in. As a conclusion, the tablet has changed the way people draw. People are no longer limited to just paper. There is now a whole different medium to be explored but it doesn’t stop there. People are making new inventions and having new ideas to try and redefine what we can use to help us draw.
Ackerman, D, 2016, Surface Book review: Microsoft’s first laptop shoots for the moon, CNET. , viewed 13 April 2017, <https://www.cnet.com/au/products/microsoft-surface-book/review/>
Barett, J. T, n.d, How Does a Graphic Tablet Work? | Techwalla.com, viewed 13 April 2017, <https://www.techwalla.com/articles/how-does-a-graphic-tablet-work>
Futureelectronics.com. (2017). What is a modulator demodulator, best rf modulator, modulators demodulators – Future Electronics, viewed 13 April 2017, <http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/wireless-rf-radio-frequency/modulators-demodulators.aspx>
Kershner, K, 2017, How Wacom Tablets Work, HowStuffWorks, viewed 13 April 2017, <http://computer.howstuffworks.com/tablets/wacom-tablets.htm>
Lorenzo, A, & Loṕez, F 2015, ‘The digital draughtsman. freehand drawing on digital tablets’, EGA Revista De Expression Grafica Arquitectonica, 20, 25, p. 108-119, Scopus®, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 April 2017.
Lemay, J, 2015, Rocketbook Wave: Cloud-Ready Microwavable Notebook, Indiegogo, viewed 13 April 2017, <https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rocketbook-wave-cloud-ready-microwavable-notebook#/>