What is Pressure Sensitivity in Drawing Tablets?

In Art, Artists, Review, Tablets & Devices by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Bet you did not know that as a digital graphic artist, pressure sensitivity was one of the features you had to look out for when buying a tablet. Pressure sensitivity matters if you want your artwork to be distinguished with the right finish. You might be wondering why it matters so much, but this is why.

As everything around us becomes technology-inclined or digitalized, gadgets are transformed to fit the needs and demands of their users. For artists, lines are the foundation of any great art, and without that power, you are not one.  

This article is meant to help you understand pressure sensitivity, so you can choose your next drawing tablet with better judgment.

Let us get started.

What is pressure sensitivity?

Pressure sensitivity is the factor that determines how thick or thin the lines you draw appears when you exert force on the pen on your graphic tablet.

Overall, it is a feature, which allows lines to appear according to how much pressure is exerted on the stylus.

With pressure sensitivity, the stylus becomes an extension of your hand, giving you more movement and fluidity. The ability to use and control this tool gives the artist an immeasurable opportunity to draw as desired.

So, how does pressure sensitivity work?

Here I’m checking one of my student’s work using a Digital Tablet.

Two things come to mind when one discusses pressure sensitivity and graphic tablets. First, the width of the lines or strokes produced, and the opacity of the strokes. Let’s explain, pressure sensitivity allows you to draw defined lines, but it also determines how the lines will look. When pen pressure sensitivity works, you will get splendid, smoother, and distinct strokes.

The second point is opacity – this defines how delicate the lines appear. The more the pressure, the more opaque the lines are. The lesser the pressure, the more transparent the lines become. Some illustration and drawing software like Adobe have in-build pressure sensitivity tools. You have to download the required app on your tablet to enable pressure sensitivity work in your favor.

Although pressure sensitivity is relative, understanding how it works and the impact can define how finished your artwork looks.

How many pressure sensitivity levels my tablet needs?

Today, the highest level of pressure sensitivity in a graphic drawing tablet is 8,192 levels. This allows you to make distinct lines and produce elegant artwork. It also gives the artist leverage of controlling your movement and results.

Some graphic tablets come with 512 levels, 1024 level, 2048 levels, but they all work to produce beautiful lines. Regardless of the pressure sensitivity levels on your drawing tablet, the force exerted on the pen also plays a crucial role in how the lines turn out.

However, since the higher the pressure levels equal cleaner and more distinct lines, it is advisable to go for devices with 8.192. After all, they are affordable too. The world of digital art is expanding daily, and hopefully, we see more levels for better lines in the future.

If you cannot get a tablet with the highest level, one with 1024 levels is a good starting point as an artist.

Why is your pressure sensitivity not working?

Regular drawing tablets come with pressure sensitivity levels of 300 to 3000. However, graphic tablets have higher pressure sensitivity levels, as discussed in the previous title. So if your tablet is not producing a line that equals the pressure applied, then the problem can be from two sources.

First, you have not turned on the pressure sensitivity built-in option hence the reason why the pen is not responding. Secondly, you have lost control of the sensitivity feature due to a nearby interference or the type of pressure sensitivity software you have downloaded.

If turning the setting on works, then your problem is solved. If you realize that working in a particular location or close to other artists using similar tools affects the sensitivity, find a secluded space.

However, if the pressure sensitivity is due to downloaded software, uninstall it, and choose the one that works best with your device.

List of Recommended Tablets

If you are an artist searching for the best or right graphic tablet for drawing, we have got your back. In the following text, we will discuss the three best drawing tools that will cater to pressure sensitivity for beginner, intermediate, and professional.

So let us check them out.

Huion H610 Pro V2 Drawing Tablet

If you are a beginner to digital graphic art on a tight budget, this is the tablet to enable you to master the line as you grow. The H610 has stunning features and designs to capture a budding artist’s imagination. With the 8192 pressure sensitivity levels, you can draw lines as thin or thick as you want.

This 12mm thick tablet weighs 1.35 pounds and has a drawing surface of 10 by 6.25 inches, enough drawing space if you ask us. However, it comes packed with options and features to wow even the best of any artist. These simple-looking tablets have a tilt ratio of +/- 60, allowing you to take a critical view of your art from more than one perspective. This is great when shading, rendering, or blending during your drawing.

Now, if that is not all, it comes fitted with 8 express key and 16 hotkeys, plenty of shortcuts to your finish work. These buttons open you up to multiple functionalities giving a sophisticated feel to a simple-looking device. Drawing without resolution can be a tad boring, and the H610 has 5080 lines per inch, which is incredible. It has a battery life of one year, which will have you sketching forever.

Despite these exceptional qualities, one feature set the H610 Pro V2 drawing tablet apart from others. If you guessed affordable, you are right. It has the highest level of pressure sensitivity at 8192 levels. Also, the stylus pen is battery-free with over 800 hours of seamless use with just 120 minutes of charge time. Wow!

To crown these features, the H610 is compatible will all Windows 7 and above versions. It also works with Mac OS, Android, and supports most digital art software like Adobe Photoshop, Manga, brush, and many more.

Specifics

• Pen pressure at 8192 levels

• Report rate 233 RPS

• Function keys 16

• Express key 8

• Tilt angle +/- 60

The Huion is not a standalone graphic drawing device and must be connected to an external gadget before use.

Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 

This is another superb product by Huion, and we can proudly say, Huion has ironed out all its creases and lapses from other products. This drawing tablet is humongous for a graphic artboard.

At 2.98 pounds, this 11.5mm thick, full-laminated, anti-glare, anti-slip bezel-less design offers a 15.6 inches IPS active workspace for the artist in you. Like other Huion products, it has a +/-60 tilt angle to make rendering and shading simple, and 120% RGB color gamut is on another level. Your artwork is literary pops out of the screen with perfection. The KAMVAS pro has a reduced parallax feature that directs light away from your eyes but also ensures that each stroke is as accurate as can be.

With 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, you can draw lines as thin as 1.5mm or as thick as you want it. For a screen, this large Huion has added as an extra feature to make drawing fun, the Touch Bar. This design addition allows you to scroll up or down, adjusting the canvas or brush size as you draw. Now, if that is not enough, it comes with only 6 express buttons, but offer all the functionality and shortcuts to make using this drawing surface incredible.

Other features on this device are 1080 by 1920 screen resolution like a laptop and 3-in-1 cable with HDMI connectivity. Overall, Huion has outdone themselves with this drawing device. With the ability to preset all your preference, pinpoint accuracy with the pressure sensitivity, this is an incredible device to own for a digi-artist.

It is compatible with Android, Windows 7, and more, MacOS 120, 12, and higher. It also has an adjustable and removable stand to increase convenience and comfort of use.

Specifics

• Pen pressure at 8192 levels

• Report rate 266 RPS

• Function keys one-touch bar

• Express key 6

• Tilt angle +/- 60

• Color gamut 16.7 million

Wacom Cintiq HD Screen Drawing Tablet

Now, you did not think we will not appraise the pioneer of making pressure sensitivity a thing of the past, did you? If you have desired to paint or draw like Michelangelo or Pablo Picasso, then this is the drawing tablet for you.

Diving headfirst at 3.3 pounds, the Cintiq is a 22-inch drawing canvas with a 19.5 by 11.5 inches active drawing space, which is more than enough if you ask us. Not only that, it has the 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, but it comes with a pen that fits like a glove. With the Cintiq drawing pen, you just allow your creativity and imagination to flow onto the tablet via the stylus. It is that easy, no gimmicks.

Wacom Cintiq makes every stroke a breeze, and with the adjustable stand, art quality is just a finish away. The highly sensitive stylus offers incredible accuracy due to the reduced parallax feature complemented by the anti-glare screen surface to enable you to draw under any light.

Although the Cintiq has a variety of options to love, its color gamut of 72% NTSC falls short when compared with other devices listed above. However, clarity, definition, resolution, pen accuracy, and a natural feel for drawing are all taken care of on this device.

Furthermore, unlike other drawing tablets with expression and function buttons visible on the sides, the Cintiq has all its function embedded in the system, making it flawless and elegant. It is compatible with other operating systems and works seamlessly with other digital drawing apps like Adobe apps, Corel suite, Autodesk, Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Artweaver, and many more.

Specifics

• Tilt angle +/-60

• Resolution 120 by 1080

• Color gamut 16.7 million

• Pressure sensitivity 8192 levels

Overall, the Wacom Cintiq 22 is the best and comes highly recommended for digital artists in all categories. That been said, the three digital drawing tablets listed above are exceptional and comes at a great price. They all have excellent features to help you to pursue and perfect your skills.

Now that you know about pressure sensitivity, keep that in mind the next time you are out shopping for a digital drawing tablet for your work.

Toni Justamante Jacobs

About the author: Hi, I’m Toni Justamante Jacobs. I´m a professional Concept Artist and Illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Some of my clients are Gameloft, Fantasy Flight Games, Kunlun Games and Games Workshop. Currently, I´m working at Socialpoint as an in-house Senior Concept Artist.