Is illustrator compatible with tablets?

Hi everyone

Can anybody tell me if (and how) Adobe Illustrator can work together with a tablet/digitizer.

I know i can use the digitizer pen as a point’n’click device in illustrator, but how about drawing in Illustrator (i’m talking line drawings here, not artistic stuff). Can Illustrator interpret pressures and how?

If it’s possible, does anyone have any links to tutorials?

If not, what program is most suitable for sketching with a tablet? (I prefer to work with vectors, and therefore I’ve been using illustrator a lot…)

A path is just a line defined by the points on it. You can use the Wacom to draw your lines and paths, but theres no way to do anything with pen pressure regarding the stroke (at least not to my knowledge).

If you want to use the more advanced features (like pen tilt and pressure) you’d have to use something like Photoshop.

Calligraphic and scatter brushes, plus the liquify tool supports WACOM pressure sensitivity.

I was of the same opinion as you (Cyberdemon) but after doing some research on calligraphic brushes (thx to cg), i found out that Illustrator actually can support up to six inputs (x and y position, pressure, tilt angle, tilt direction and barrel roll) - great stuff.

Can’t wait to get going with it… thanks for the input cg

(for others interested in the topic this site explains very coherent #30 Pressure-Sensitive Drawing with a Tablet > Tips for Drawing with Brushes in Illustrator CS2 | Adobe Press)

Ah well there you go. Never even saw that before.

I just can’t see using Illustrator to sketch with. I had tried a Wacom years ago and couldn’t find a use for it in AI.

I had much more control with the pen tool. I’d like to see what you come up with but I think it might be too limiting.

Good Luck


You might be right regarding the limitations J6Studios. Especially when wanting too add shadows, coloring in etc. (don’t see opacity/fill as one of the inputs/variables in Illustrator’s caligraphy brushes so gradients and so on will probably have to be done the same way as always = point’n’click).

Photoshop will probably be superior for tablet sketching, nevertheless I’ll play around with it in Illustrator and see what it can do…

Wacom + Illustrator = great linework drawings for storyboards & scenarios illustrations.

You can adjust the sensitivity of the pencil tool to get a great vector-based set of lines and then play with stroke/line weight to reach the desired level of contrast.

Any examples NATE?


Something like this…

I got really excited about playing around with this sometime last year

  • fully editable sketching with history
    but not excited enough to make time to play around with it much.

Love to see hear anybody else’s experience.
-Thanks Nate!


Looks great! If your sketching, where do all the extra lines go? It seems this might work with a sketch scanned in as a template but to actually sketch with a pencil in Illustrator seems alien to me.

Can you post a super close-up of some lines?



Illustrator is a great tool to make renders too. You just need to learn the full potential of it and all the great tools from pathfinder to gradient nets and masks.

Here is a shoe I made in Illustrator.

Also include the outline view to see how the vectors are made out.

Pathfinder is a kind of boolean tool but with vectors instead of 3d. Which makes it easy to cut out shapes from a overall shape to add details.

Also other stuff that is great you can change the colors in just matters of minutes by clicking the parts and changing the colors.

And the files are much much smaller than photoshop psd of large sizes. And the drawing can be resized without loosing detail. I mean really big without getting all pixally.

Nice shoe renders! I use illustrator but I can’t see how anyone can use it to sketch. I tried and came up with garbage.

Here are a couple things I did in AI though using the pen tool and a mouse.


Nice work!

I switched to a Wacom for all my AI work a few years ago and will never go back. It just feels so much more natural and comfortable than using a mouse.

Only point I’d make is to think carefully about getting a smaller (A5-A4) size tablet - I used a bigger one at first but started to get a sore shoulder after a few hours. Trading down to a smaller one fixed the problem.