The Best Drawing Tablets to Improve Your Creative Flow


What tools you use and how you use them is probably the most important factor to consider when you’re thinking about adding new hardware to your workspace. There are a truly dizzying number of drawing and art apps out there, and no two artists use them in the same way. So I reached out to a few professional artists to find out what software they use in their day-to-day work.

Adobe Photoshop

The founders of the Oh Joy Sex Toy webcomic, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, use Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint as the foundation of their digital art workflows.

“Especially when I’m working on comics, I need Photoshop’s tools for playing with the text, and laying out the entire page so my art will guide the reader’s eye in the right direction,” Erika says.

Photoshop’s DNA as a photo editing suite means it’s acquired a lot of powerful and granular tools over the years. It’s a great option for formatting pages, manipulating text, and handling photo layers— which can be helpful when working from reference photos for environments. It’s a powerhouse, but there are a few things other apps can do better.

Clip Studio Paint

Moen and Nolan might lay out their pages and text in Photoshop, but the final line art always goes through Clip Studio Paint. “It’s a great drafting program that sits nicely between Photoshop and Procreate,” Matthew added.

Designed as a tool for manga artists, Clip Studio Paint is jam-packed with a lot of the same features you’ll see in Photoshop, but the way it handles line work is second to none. It renders every stroke beautifully, and lines feel much more fluid than they do in any other illustration app. When I tried it for the first time a few years ago, it felt like cheating. The drawing engine does just the right amount of movement filtering to keep your lines smooth and fluid, without making them feel any less free and tactile. In the same way that Photoshop built up a deep library of powerful tools over the years, Clip Studio Paint has done the same. There’s a lot more going on under the hood than you might expect.

Illustrator and Oh Joy Sex Toy contributor Ripley LaCross has been using Clip Studio Paint as the cornerstone of their digital art workflow for the better part of eight years. As a result, Ripley’s knowledge of Clip Studio Paint’s ins and outs is impressive. It’s not always the most user-friendly app, and there are features in there that don’t get enough attention, one of which is the Library of Alexandria–sized community library of models, brushes, and assets available at your fingertips. “The robust library with free and paid assets is a game changer,” Ripley says. “Need to draw an ornate chandelier from a very specific angle and can’t find photo reference? Boom, someone made a 3D model of one and it’s two whole bucks.”



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