How do I get started sketching and painting on tablets

Here is a list of what you will need to get started drawing or painting on tablets.

  1. A tablet with a screen at least 7 inches (or 17.78cm for the metric.)
  2. A Stylus. I strongly recommend a stylus with a rubber tip.  If you happen to spring for a tablet with a pressure sensitive pen, then you will have to research on your own about those.  All the digital art from my tablet was made with a regular rubber tip stylus.
  3. Purchase a sketching / painting app.  Don't use the free versions unless you are only planning on doing this art thing for a week.

Tablets

You can go Phablet if you like, but you asked me, so I'm saying 7 inch tablets minimum.  I do use my Nexus 4 for thumbnails, but for thumbnails only, which get bluetoothed to my nexus 7 for enlarging and developing.

I use a Nexus 7 (previously 2012 model and now 2013 model.)  It is super portable, powerful, versatile (emails, documents, movies, games, and Google's services,) well built, with the best screen for it's size at 323 pixels per inch. I will repeat that... 323 pixels per inch.  Yes, it is also amazingly affordable.

I am open to investing into a larger tablet which means 10 - 12 inches, but nothing currently on the market appeals to me in terms of value.  In other words I won't drop half a grand+ on a large tablet.

Tablet Stylus

I use low cost styluses that I can find anywhere from corner drug stores to dollar stores.  There are higher end styluses like the Jot, which I have not had success with.  The kind I use have a rubber tip.  With the amount of sketching I do every day, these last about a month before the tip gets mushy or sticky.  At that point they still work, but they are not so fun.  Recently I have had success in prolonging them by dipping them in a jar of hair gel.  I heard hair spray works too. I think it is the stiffening property of hair products that makes the rubber firm enough to use again for a short while.

I suggest not to smash the tip into the tablet while using it, but glide it on the surface.  Smashing the tip will kill the pen in less than a week for sure, probably days.  After all, it is not pressure sensitive.

I have heard a few artists who swear by the Jot.  If you are looking for something more high end, you can try those.  I will have to say I did not have luck using one.  For myself, it constantly left my lines skipping and breaking.  Finally, there will be the pressure sensitive styluses, but those will come with your tablet, so no need to worry about their performance.

Sketching and Painting Apps

I am an Android user.  I use Sketchbook Pro, Sketchbook Ink, Sketcher and Pixlr Express to name a few.  Autodesk's Sketchbook series can probably be found in Apple's App store.

I have also heard Android users praising ArtFlow.

I know Apple users have championed an art app called ProCreate or something similarly named.

A good function to look for in your main art app is the ability to do layers.  Another feature, exporting the canvas to your device as PNG and JPG is a must.  Bonus, if the app can export to PSD to bring it to desktop with layers, but this is all about tablet sketching and painting, so PNG and JPG are a must.  Brush selection might be important to some people, but if you come from a Desktop Wacom background you are probably familiar with how powerful the basic round brush is.  It is really the only brush anyone needs.

When you find the painting / sketching app you like, I recommend paying for the full version, so you can use the full functionality.  If you are not in the mood for guessing and really just want a recommendation, then I recommend Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro.  It's streamlined and powerful, and the UI gets out of your way.  From there, you may invest in other apps as you become comfortable operating on the tablet.

Wrap up

To recap what you need for sketching and painting on a tablet, you need:

  1. A tablet screen at least 7 inches.
  2. A stylus.
  3. A paid version of a sketching / painting app.