What kind of hardware is good for a begginner

Hello guys, am really encouraged to participate in this months Animaitsuki, but I don’t have a drawing tablet nor software on my laptop. So I was wondering if some of you can recommend a good drawing tablet for a complete beginner in digital animation, I’m not sure if investing into a cintiq with no experience is a good idea, or is the pad enough for me at my current non-existent level in the digital side. What advice can you guys give?

I think pen tablets are good regardless if you’re a beginner or not. A lot of people will swear by Wacom but I’ve been using an XP Pen Deco 02 for almost 2 years and it works great for me. It’s a lot cheaper than a Wacom tablet of the same size too. I got it on Amazon for $70. The Deco 01 is the same size but it’s $50. the downside to the Deco 01 is the stylus isn’t that good.

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I can only recommend this video.

I’d absolutely use a pad and stylus like Marc-G suggested - you don’t need a screen tablet to make professional-grade artwork. I use a Wacom Intuos pad, and it has worked very well for me for the past 6-7 years. It cost me approximately $100 if memory serves me correctly. I’d recommend reading customer reviews on any hardware you are thinking of buying and document the negative ones; some people are just cranky, but if the majority of negative reviews consistently observe the same issues, prepare for a similar experience.

Not an easy answer I should say.
It depends on your level in animation.
If you are a very good animator, you can animate in anything. just look at keke (kekeflipnote on youtube) who animates on a 3DS.
Good knowledge and skill can compensate poor hardware.
If you are learning, the best is to learn the principles and good quality hardware can help a lot because you concentrate on your improvement alone.
I myself have a Cintiq (old of 10+ years) and an iMac with Clip Studio Paint EX (for my professionnal work) but I’m not an animator. The thing is I never managed to draw correctly with a classic pen tablet (intuos, etc). I Tried one week and give up…
A Cintiq can last years so it is a good investment if you work digitally.
If you can use an intuos pad as @Nathan_Wood said it is a good start I think.

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thank you for the tip, i am considering a Wacom pad for the start to familiarise my self with digital art first.


I don’t know if you bought something yet, so I give my contribution to the topic. Hopefully it will help some people.

I have experience both with traditional tools, non screen digital tablet, and display tablet. I had the oppurtunity to meet a few professional and ask them on this topic as well. Here’s what I concluded out of it.

You don’t need a display tablet to provide professional tier work. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a tablet at all for that. You can use traditional tools, and then scan your work. You can do some actions with the mouse as well. Lots of people use the pen tool in Photoshop or Illustrator to design and “draw” shapes with their sole mouse. That way, you could ink your work digitally without a tablet, directly with your mice. However, you should see things a certain way when considering what tools to buy.

Traditional tools are quite inexpensive when in comparison with digital tools. Yet, traditional tools wears out, and you have to constantly buy new material. New pens, pencils, ink bottles, paper, charcoals, markers, and so on. In the long run, it appears to not be exactly cheap. But you can bring most of these things along with you when moving, so you can work anywhere. The vast majority of your traditional skills will transfer quite well in the digital medium (when the reverse is not true, only some skills will transfer from digital to traditional).
While mastering traditional skills takes longer, because you have to learn many different tools that react in different manners to a set amount of force put onto them (a brush won’t react the same as a pencil, and a pencil won’t react the same as a ballpoint pen, for instance), it can yield great results in your own growth. You get a fullfiling satisfaction you can’t get out of digital work. Every piece you do is unique, is a original, and forces you to learn, quickly, from your mistakes.

That leads us into the fact that traditional has no ctrl+z. When working with pencil, you can still decide to use an eraser (even if it is not as convenient as a ctrl+z, especially when trying to erase in a crowded area of your drawing). However, when you are using ink, you have to do it right on the first shot. While it can sometimes lead to frustration of you wasting some pieces, it is a very effective way to hone your draftsmanship and your overall precision. Your decision making can profit a lot of this learning process, too.

If you want to get more productive, though, digital might be the right choice for you. Any error is reversible, if a part of a drawing is too big, too small, not correctly placed, you can change all of this in the blink of an eye. If inking or drawing in vector, you can resize your work without loosing quality or time. You can change almost everything, easily, and quickly, even very late in the process. You can reverse your work to get a fresh eye over it, while in traditional, you have to use a mirror to get the same effect.
If you are in a hurry to get good at digital tools to produce something with it, you might want to limit your time working with traditional tools, and instead spend as much time as possible with digital tools. While you would profit tremendously of working traditionally, keep in mind you have more skills to tackle at once and master. The stylus is only one tool that covers them all digitally.

A non-display tablet is fine, however, the neuro-motor skills involved are entirely different from those used when working traditionally. Your eye-hand coordination uses the fact you have your hand “in the way”. When working with a non-display tablet, you don’t see your hand, and it moves away from where you look, and where the drawing process occurs. It’s a bit like, if you are right handed, you probably brush your teeth with your right hand. Try to do it with your left hand. Awkward and difficult, isn’t it? While you know very well how to brush your teeth, your neuro-motor skills have to be created anew.

Many professional worked with non-display tablets, but every professional that I know of who worked a lot traditionally switched to display tablets and noticed a huge leap in productivity.
The usual process with a non-display tablet seems to be: to your best to make a line. Is it what you wanted? If yes, proceeds to the next line. If no, ctrl+z, and do it again. That leads to hundreds if not thousands of ctrl+z per piece. Imagine that in your work on paper. Everytime you make a mark, take your eraser, erase it, start over. Not very effective, but still doable.
Some people don’t do it that way, but you clearly tend to have more errors or approximations with a non-display tablet, especially if you come from a traditional workflow.

Display tablets, on the other hand, are what ressembles the most traditional workflow. While there are differences and you will have to take some time to get used to it, the learning process is way faster, and the final workflow overall quicker.

For the size of the tablet. If you go the non-display way, you have two common choices:
You can take a size you are more confortable with (usually, people who think that way use smaller ones, as they can draw from their wrist and cover wide areas with small movements, getting less tired at the end of the day).
Or you can try to match your screen size with your tablet size as much as possible, that way, you could feel every move as more natural.

If you go the display tablet way, most people will tell you anything above 24" and under 30" would be the perfect match. The only tablet that made it was the Wacom 27 QHD, which is no longer sold. 13" up to 19" can be fairly convenient to use (or even move with you), but for some kind of works, you could get frustrated. If you work on a big illustration, for instance, having to zoom in and out constantly, and struggling to get the whole picture while working on details can be annoying. If you need to, you can still duplicate your workspace viewport, and put a unzoomed version on a secondary monitor, while working on the display tablet. That way, you can still control what the big picture is. You can do it easily in Clip Studio, if this is what you use.

Bigger screens are sometimes seen as too big to work on it. I’ve heard people saying that they had to move their arm too much to draw anything. They would complain a little bit less if they had to draw or paint on walls. Whatsoever, you don’t have to display your workspace on the entire screen. Using bigger screens allow you to reduce and place multiple refs, for instance, while minimizing the work area. And would you need to get a bigger workable area, you have room for it.

For the brands you can use, two of them keep coming back: Wacom, and Huion.
If you want something huge, you will be forced to take a Wacom. Huion’s biggest display tablet is 22", if you want more, Wacom’s your only choice, with, yet, 24" and 32".
If you want anything up to 22", you can choose either one, taking into account what the differences are.
Note that Wacom’s Cintiq 24 exists with and without multi-touch screen, while Cintiq 32 only exists with multi-touch screen. Depending on the way you intend to work digitally, and what you want to do, multi-touch can be a killer feature, or an annoyance (you can turn it off, but if you pay for it, you don’t want to just turn it off afterwards).

  • Huion is way cheaper than Wacom.
  • Huion’s can have most pressure levels than Wacom’s, in some cases (check it case by case).
  • Huion’s colors are thought after sRGB standard while Wacom’s are thought after Adobe RGB standard.
  • Generally speaking, you get a better color representation on Wacom’s, but it might depend on your target platform as well (what kind of screen you intend to display on, or what kind of print).
  • When your Wacom’s tablet fails while warranty expired, the cost of reapair is generally equal or superior to the price of a brand new Huion’s tablet of the same size and features.
  • Wacom’s stylus are more precise. When drawing swiftly, it makes no difference. But when going very slowly, you can witness some small jittering with moist stylus of most brands, except for Wacom.

I would suggest you to try some tablets during events or if you know friends who have this kind of tools, before taking a decision. If you really cannot try it, then you will have to take a decision on your own with a leap of faith. You have two strategies:
You don’t want to be disappointed or going overkill, then you buy something smaller and cheaper, and see if it goes right. When you feel the need (if any), then you buy something bigger.
Or you don’t want to spend money buying multiple things over time. Then you will have to make your best bet, and buy what you think would be the absolute must for you. You might regret it alter, as you discovers it wasn’t really what you needed, or you went overkill, and you could have gone smaller.
It’s a risk/reward issue, I guess.

I personally worked traditionally, on a medium Intuos, on a Cintiq 13 and a Cintiq 22. Both Cintiq failed, and I’m let with only an Intuos. I don’t use it, as it is too far from the way I think and work. Cost of repair on the Cintiq 22 is estimated by Wacom around 850€, and shipping cost are for me to pay (I heard about 60€ or more).
I clearly don’t have enough money to repair it or get a new one yet, so I work only traditionally for the time being. I’m keeping as much money as I can overtime so I can buy a new one. I’m not too convinced personally by Huion for my use case (I might change my mind if I could try one, who knows), and I don’t see fit to repair my old Cintiq 22, when there are better features and technologies nowadays. If I have to spend loads of money, better take something new that can last long (hopefully).
So my personal choice is Wacom as a brand, display screen (Cintiq) as the kind of tablet, and at least 24", even if I have to wait quite a few months before I can afford it (despite me having a project I work on that needs it, and is on hiatus due to me having no display tablet).
if in an emergency, I’d probably reapair my CIntiq 13, but the cost of it will ask me 1 or 2 more months to get the money for a new one, hence the fact I wait as much as I can.

To let you know, my Cintiq 13 lasted 3.5 years and my Cintiq 22 lasted 5 years. The former has the power plug faulty (probably damaged due to a weak connection, that has been addressed on the new Cintiq 13 now), and the latter has the monitor dead, and maybe some transistors burnt (Wacom told me I could have 850€ repair for the monitor, but I could have some 250-300€ more if the transistors are dead). Note that I’ve been very unlucky with it. I know lots of people who had Cintiqs for more years than I did, and never had any problem whatsoever. Having one dying in 5 years is considered rare and unlucky.

I hope it is of some help.

Let us know once you have bought something, and what it feels like to you. :hugs:


I had also a problem with my Cintiq (a 21UX 9 years old)… Wacom told me the same, between 560-850€ the repair + shipping.
I found the problem in the internet… it was the digitizer… I needed just to replace a chip that cost me 50 cents. A friend did the repair for me. So if you know some friends with skills and you know the problem it is worth to try a repair outside wacom.

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Thank you so much for such a thorough explanation, I am still reluctant to buy a tablet as I want to develop my skills in traditional art first and then switch to digital later on, as I am still in my very early stages there is no dying need to buy a tablet without the right artistic skill to actually use it. and as you said the skills can be transferred quickly one way but not the other, thus building a foundation in traditional seems to be a better choice in my current stage. Thank you.

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As one might guess, it’s best to try everything before making a big purchase (if possible, that is. Some stores have various tablets set up that you can try). I worked with an Intuos 4 for many years and found it to be quite a miserable experience most of the time. Non-display tablets are just not good for me/my brain - the disconnect is something that is very difficult for me to overcome. Because of that, I ended up buying Wacom display tablets (27QHD and Mobile Studio) and was much happier. The colors are also so lovely :slight_smile:

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Adding this to my post : A few days after this post my Cintiq was unable to recognise my stylet. :frowning:
So nothing last forever. Nevertheless I found that the problem was the digitizer. The replacement part cost me 50 cents. and the Cintiq is working fine.

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I had the same issue at one point. In my case it turned out to be the stylus that had gone bad so it wasn’t too troublesome to remedy, just a bit spendy at 60$ :slight_smile:


I see a lot of tablet talk, but I’m also curious about computers. Does having a higher end laptop/macbook pro with creative suites make you an asset for prospective hires?

Well, At one point or another you have to learn some programs if you work with a computer and tablet. The thing is you need a computer that can handle at least Photoshop ; If you do comics, Clip Studio Paint is a good affordable choice also. You can do animation with Clip Studio… That’s what I do. not professionnally.
If you are curious, you’ll doing some 3D stuff… And if you work with harmony or TVPaint for storyboards or animation… well the computer needs to have some steam.
So it is safer if you can afford at least a computer with 16Go (better 32Go) memory and a good graphic card (2Go video memory at least) that can last some years.
I myself work with an Imac late 2013 with 24Go - Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M 2Go… and for six years now it had been fine.
If you are a freelance, I am, you need to have the equipment yourself. If you work for a company, well you can avoid buying some softwares but in that case how do learn them?
In my case, I do not know TvPaint because I do not have a professionnal use for it, and it is too expensive to just buy it for a try.
Nevertheless they’re tools… drawing with pen and paper is the first step :wink:

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The tactile sensation of drawing on paper is also pretty hard to beat :smile:

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