Graphics tablet

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Wacom tablet with its stylus

A graphics tablet is an input device for computers. Users can draw directly in an software application on the screen as if they were drawing on a piece of paper or any other material. They use a pointing device, most often a stylus, made for that tablet.

Graphics tablets are one way of "digitizing" a physical piece of artwork. Instead of using hardware like scanners, one can simply trace an image from a piece of paper and it will be recreated on the screen.

Another thing that graphics tablets can do is handwriting recognition, which is popular in East Asia as a quick way to enter Chinese characters into an application.

Parts of hardware[change | change source]

Surface: A tablet has a flat surface on which the user can draw. This surface can be different sizes or shapes. Images drawn on the tablet are not shown on surface itself but they appear on the monitor. However there are screen hybrids which allow user to see drawing right on the drawing surface. These hybrids are combination of an ordinary tablet and touchscreen (unlike touchscreen, they offer pressure sensitivity and higher resolution).


Stylus: A stylus is a pen-like device (often powered by battery) that allows sending user action to the tablet. It detects different degrees of pressure, e.g. for use in a drawing program to differentiate line thickness or color density.

Puck: After stylus, pucks are the most commonly used tablet accessory. A puck is a mouse-like device that can detect its absolute position and rotation. Professional pucks often have a loupe for greater precision.

Type[change | change source]

Passive tablets use electromagnetic induction technology. The tablet generates an electromagnetic signal, which is received by the circuit in the stylus. The wires in the tablet then change to a receiving mode and read the signal generated by the stylus.

Active tablets use self-powered electronics that generate and send a signal to the tablet. Tablets may listen for pen signals constantly, so it eliminates inaccuracy of transmission.

Optical tablets operate by a very small digital camera in the stylus.

Acoustic tablets were early models. A small sound generator was mounted in the stylus, and the acoustic signal picked up by two microphones placed near the writing surface.

Electromagnetic tablets work by generating and detecting an electromagnetic signal.

Use[change | change source]

Since a stylus can sense pressure, tilting and other attributes, it is good for computer graphic usage (especially two dimensional). These attributes can make differences between brush size, opacity, shape, color, etc. in certain graphic programs. Graphics tablets are much used for technical drawing and computer-aided design.

They are also used for online teaching, e.g. live tutorials or lessons where visual information is needed. Some users prefer tablet computers for some purposes, though those devices mostly lack sensors for pressure and tilt.

Graphics tablet

Manufacturers[change | change source]

  • Wacom Co.
  • KYE System
  • IBall
  • Hanvon Co.
  • Genius
  • Huion
  • Monoprice
  • Ugee
  • Touchscreen