Getting started on how to use a drawing tablet

A Practical Guide on using Drawing tablets for various applications

So you have just bought for yourself this new shiny gizmo! After buying it you are frantically searching for tutorials! Just to get started on how to use your drawing tablet.

I now draw your attention to the landmark figure, to whom we dedicate this website! Pablo Picasso! He is the most iconic artist of the twentieth century. Furthermore, he towers over the history of modern and contemporary art.

  • He has created over 50,000 works over his lifetime.
  • To create the painting of Gertrude Stein, an American fan, he required 90 sittings
  • He was the first artist during his lifetime, to exhibit at The Louvre
  • It took me an entire lifetime, to draw like a child” is his most famous saying.
  • By X-raying certain paintings, scientists discovered hidden images behind his brush strokes.
The genius of Pablo Picasso – he was clearly ahead of his time (Image Source: Artsper)’

In conclusion, Picasso was clearly ahead of his time. Even with his expertise in drawing and painting, there was still a lot of ‘untapped‘ potential. All this potential could have been harnessed if he could ever get the opportunity to use a drawing tablet.

Getting started with your Drawing tablet

Drawing tablets have established themselves for artists and professionals.

  • To know about the most suitable tablets for architects, please click here
  • Further, to know about the right drawing tablets for animators, please click here

To begin with, you need to choose the right software in order to get started. As a beginner, you can get started with GIMP software. For complete information on the types of software, please click here.

Secondly, you need to be comfortable with how your tablets interfaces with your computer. Generally, we use wireless and USB as the most common interfaces.

Thirdly, you now get accustomed to using the stylus. Hold the stylus firmly like a pen. Place it over the tablet screen. Move your hand, slowly and steadily, and watch the cursor move.

Getting started on how to use drawing tablets - adjust the position and pressure on your stylus
Experiment on the pressure & position of your stylus relative to tablet screen to get the right strokes (Image Source: Art Rocket)

Step-by-step approach on effectively using your drawing tablet

We share below the step-by-step approach to using your graphic tablet in the right manner.

Step 1: Indulge in Doodle-Write-Sketch

Illustrations on doodling-writing-sketching on a drawing tablet (Image source: Instructables)

Doodle and start using your drawing tablet. First draw a square with straight edges. Then try to draw a circle. Later try to better yourself at doodling round images. Finally, try doodling a variety of figures. Most importantly, adapt yourself to using the stylus. Doodling is key to help you draw in straight and smooth lines while learning digital art on your tablet.

Next try your hand at calligraphy. To begin with, refine your strokes and curve your edges. Make your writing stand out as sophisticated. Tap into your creativity like an artist. In brief, just experiment and see what you can come up with.

Finally, try free hand-sketching. Experiment with thick and thin lines. Further, experiment with colors and see how they complement each other. Subsequently, experiment with figure drawings, and see what you can come up with.

Step 2: Learn to draw outlines on your drawing tablet

How to draw outlines on a drawing tablet
Drawing outlines is the next logical step while using your drawing tablet (Image source: Instructables)

Start with the basic outlines of squares and rectangles. Next go the next complex ones such as cones and cylinders, perhaps even hexagons and octagons. Try your hand at shading, as you go along. Final indulge yourself in building up layers in a logical manner, to end with complex figures like a castle.

Outlines are the building blocks or foundations of a drawing. Try getting more experienced as you go along. Come up with the perfect outline at every instance. Tap into your creativity and make your outlines stand-out.

Step 3: Practice ‘nuanced’ filling-in to stand out

How to deliver the perfect shading on your drawing tablet
Practicing and perfecting the nuances of shading is equally important (Image Source: Instructables)

Most common techniques for filling-in are circulism (shading in overlapped circles), contour-shading (curving up the lines to take the shape of the contour), hatching (shading through diagonal lines) and cross-hatching (shading through overlapped lines).

Start by creating object silhouettes in neutral grey. Next turn off the outlines and indulge in filling-in to get the nuanced shading. Remove the excess shading through the eraser. Finally turn on the outlines, so that your drawing now stands out.

Step 4 : Learn contour enhancement through sketching and smudging

Sketching and smudging are necessary to sufficiently enhance your contours (Image source: Instructables)

Sketching and smudging are most commonly used in portraits. Typically, these are employed for blending and refining the contours. Take care not to go over the edges, while smudging. Finally you would end up with softer, more blurry shadows. These would complement your drawing and serve as its highlight.

Step 4: Learn to use Lighting brushes for impact creation

How to use lighting brushes in your drawing tablet: use the brushes to highlight and create impact
Use of lighting brushes is key for creating the right impacts & highlights (Image source: Pinterest)

Electrify your artwork and create the right impact through the use of lighting brushes. The key advantage of using lighting brushes is that it only works on opaque objects. The best results are often when these brushes are colorized with a gradient map.

Step 5: Learn ‘coloring in’ to create the right aesthetics

‘Coloring-in’ uses the layered technique to create the right impact (Image source: Instructables)

Coloring-in helps you enhance the aesthetics of your objects. You generally use the layering approach to use this technique. Here the colored layer appears just below the shaded layer. You can further enhance the appeal by using coloring over staggered layers.

Step 6: Learn shadowing to create the right set of ‘effects’

How to create the right shadowing effects in your drawing tablet.
Shadowing helps your create the right object related effects (Image source: Instructables)

You can use shadowing effectively to depict your objects as 3-Dimensional. By applying the principles of light, tone, and shade-work, you can enhance the form-illusion of each object.

We find ambient occlusion to be an important technique to be used. This depicts how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient lighting. Objects darken when they get close to each other, or in corners.

Conversely shadowing can be used to depict objects, when they are positioned away from the light. In conclusion, you must include different perspectives on how light affects various objects. Use these perspectives in your drawings to create the right effects.

Step 7: Learn about the right scaling models

How to use scaling to prepare precise drawing in your drawing tablet
Scaling helps you develop ‘precise’ drawings (Image source: Instructables)

You can use scaling models to precisely depict real objects by proportionate reduction or enlargement by a certain amount. This is the only logical element of a drawing. All other elements depend upon your creativity, ingenuity, and clever usage of tools.


In the above article, we have shown you how to break the ‘digital divide’. By utilizing this knowledge you could begin your journey of transformation to a digital artist. There is a sufficient number of free and paid digital art tutorials to help beginners on this journey.

However digital art is an applied one. Hence you need a substantial amount of practice in drawing on a digital tablet. So in conclusion, utilize the knowledge and apply it frequently to make your lasting impact on the ‘Digital Art’ industry.

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