Any tips for Sketching on a tablet?

Any sites on the net that have tips/tricks for sketching (industrial design type of sketching) on a wacom tablet?
Just trying to get into it here at work…seems cool but I am all over the place.
Any help…like brushes to use, presets…etc.


Just start using it… You can do a couple of settings in photoshop to mess with it a little, but ultimately you just get used to it… Go back to old school processes, put down some construction lines and perspective lines and get used to drawing…

exactly, a lot of ppl come on this site looking for an easy way out when learning to sketch on tablet. However unlike 3D, the only way to improve your skills is to practice heaps and have a good understanding of construction, lineweight, etc…

I’m in the same boat, midwest designer.
I’ve had my Wacom tablet for over a year now, and find it extremely frustrating. I force myself to practice with it, but I am no better with it.
The problem I have is nothing to do with software or whatever. Its negotiating my hand on the tablet while looking at the screen for it’s effects.
I makes me feel like an air traffic controller or something.
I’m great with a pencil and paper, where you get to manipulate the stylus ON the drawing, and I’m passable with a mouse using paths, but they are entirely different.
So in addition to midwest designer’s question, I want to know if anyone has any tips on how to get past this kind of barrier. The lack of hand - eye coordination.
I still think the tablet would be better for me than scanning drawings, and I certainly can’t afford a Cintiq. Yet.

When I first started it was frustrating, I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Some of the main problems I was having were the surface was to frictionless and I couldn’t get a decent line quality.

I did a few things that seemed to help. I started drawing on top of a piece of paper over the tablet just to get the grain and friction I was used to with paper. Next, I was wanting to tighten up some sketched and didn’t have a scanner at the time. I put the sketches down and worked on tracing them, first looking at the just the originals not the screen and seeing what I had on screen. I then made new layers and just worked on tightening up the lines just looking at the screen. This seemed to help a lot. Another thing I had to get used to was not turning the paper, and the tracing different lines and then trying to tighten them also helped this. I was able to get used to making different lines and shapes without turning the tablet much. I stuck with the paper on the tablet for a little while, but you eventually learn that if you want a good line quality (not all zig zaggy) you have to make fast strokes and just undo when things don’t work. Once I got used to the fast lines I was able to remove the paper and just sketch on the Wacom.

One bad thing is you have to keep using it all you can, because it seems like I have to learn again every time I am away from it a while.

Good luck with the tablet and I hope this helps some.


I am not a great tablet sketcher, but I once saw a dvd from Alias that explained the process pretty well. It showed a guy sketching a car. It is still available (though it is overpriced).

The key things I learned from it were to stay as loose as possible, take advantage of undo, and use layers to continually refine the sketch. He would draw a line several times, undoing each time, until he found a line that he liked, and then move on to the next line. He started the sketch keeping things really loose, then faded that layer, added another, and did an overlay, tightening things up with each layer (I think he overlayed twice before settling on a final sketch).

I think you sort of have to take advantage of the flexibility the technology offers. There is an advantage to digital sketching in that if you mess up, you can usually undo, which means you have little to fear from something not working out.

The dvd is still available from the Alias website:

Also see this:

I’m starting to really like the tablet- however straight construction lines in alias (beyond horizontal, vertical, and 45 degree) are still eluding me- is there a command I’m missing?


I have owned my tablet for only a week and im really please with the linework and tightness I am able to put down with it. The things I figured out were that i have to offset the tablet to the right side of my body, so its more in line with my right hand. This also clears a path so my left arm can chill on the keyboard… for changing brush sizes, opacity, undoing! And like speckofdustin said I will keep undoing a line until i like it, just keep hittin control z, greatest thing in the world.

Also, many say that you cant sketch in photoshop, well I can and i bet u can too. I set my brush to size 10, 100% opacity, 100% hardness, but then go into brush options and check shape dynamics, and under “other dynamics” set the opacity to pen pressure. It works perfectly…

I filed down the end of my pen slightly to create more resistance which helps you draw more naturally. I recommend this.
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I’ve been compiling a list of resources. I find the best is to either make really loose sloppy quick drawings in the free version of sketch book. Or, nice renderings in photoshop using (stroke path)

I still can’t nice smooth lines with the tablet.

I wish there was a control path option. Make elipse guides, edges, and sweeps on the screen. This would be great.

i have been using the cintiqe for over 2 years and just got a new 21 inch one and it rocks i sketch like 8-12 hrs a day, i have only picked up a pen in the last two yrs to write my rent check. hold down shift key and sketch vertical or horizontal striaght lines.

YO can you give us some tips on this. I am in the same boat. I just got a tablet and I am having alot of trouble using it.

In SBP, you can draw a shift-horizontal line on a new layer then rotate the layer to the angle you need. I’ve found this pretty helpful in building drawings up layer by layer.

A good drill is called target practice. Put a bunch of dots on the page and then try to connect them all with pefect straight lines. It will help with knowing where you are on the tablet and directional movement on the tablet.

StudioTools- Constrain vertical and horizontal but using the Middle and left mouse key to stroke. This is relative to your real screen so it is useful when you rotate camera.

Just keep at it. I had to takke a month of continuous sketching to get a hang and then some months more to get a decent system of rendering and sketching while rotating the screen in Painter.

Get the Ryan Church “Rendering Shiny Objects” from Gnomon to see an expert sketcher and renderer in action. Also check out local artists and designers who use tablets.