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The 5 Best Tools for Digital Lettering

I get asked all the time, as well as seeing general questions all over my creative groups about digital lettering and tablet recommendations. Here’s a breakdown of the 5 best tools I would recommend for digital lettering. Let’s go the least to most expensive. [The ones underlined are things that I have had or do have.]

A SCANNER:

I use the Canon MX922 and it’s amazing to scan my watercolor art to begin the digitizing process. If you are someone that likes to sketch your letters on paper, first, I would recommend investing in a scanner- you CAN take photos, but honestly, the color correction and paper distortion is no fun. A solid scanner has made my workflow way easier. I scan at 600 dpi.
Pro: Gets the job done. Cheap. 
Con: Has to be turned off between uses. Gave me a lot of rage when I was setting it up. 

WACOM INTUOS PRO:

This is a non-screened tablet and I used it when I first began illustrating and lettering. (My very first tablet was the bamboo, but the Intuos Pro Medium was pressure-sensitive in a whole new way and really helped refine my workflo). I never used photoshop with it and found excuses for why I couldn’t… hint… it’s because Photoshop is INCREDIBLY sensitive and my lines would never be straight. But I upgraded and my lines were still not straight, so it took a lot of adjusting and realized I could have done fine on the Intuos Pro if I put my mind to it.

Pros: Hooks up to your computer. The least expensive tablet option. The pen is pressure sensitive (more sensitive than the iPad and Microsoft Surface). The pen is included, and doesn’t need to be charged or run out of battery. All the benefits of having the Creative Suite on your computer. Tons of easily customized quick buttons and gestures to speed up your workflow.

Cons: Definitely a learning curve.

Microsoft Surface Pro:

I have played around with this with the built in paint function of Microsoft, and I LOVE it. It runs Windows 10 just like my higher end tablet, it can run the entire Creative Suite. I plan on getting one as a travel tablet.

Pros: Cheaper than the iPad. Don’t have to charge the pen. Pen feels very natural. Can use the entire Adobe Creative Suite.

Cons: Pen does not come included in the smaller tablets. Not as pressure sensitive as the mid-higher end Wacoms.

Apple iPad Pro:

The only tool I haven’t personally used, but have followed a lot of designers that love it and did tons of research when I was purchasing my tablet. Easier learning curve, but the curve still exists. There are a lot of cool watercolor brushes that can blend colors and make the watercolor effect look true to life. The procreate app looks pretty intuitive and a lot of designers and letterers love it and are creating a lot of products with the procreate in mind.

Pros: Cool new technology that is competing against Adobe. Made for creatives in mind. Procreate app is really awesome with a lot of products, stamps, and brushes created for it. If you have other apple products, you can use the airdrop system and have seamless integration with your other devices.

Cons: Not as pressure sensitive as the mid-higher end Wacoms. Can not run the full Adobe Suite. If you want to connect to a laptop, you need to purchase Astropad. The pen has to be recharged and the battery can die with no way to replace the battery- whole pen needs to be purchased.

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro:

There is the MSP 13” and 16” I have the 16” and LOVE IT. It runs on Windows 10, can function as an entire computer, run the entire Adobe Creative Suite, is the most pressure sensitive on the market and has tons of customizable option. Basically… heaven. But has the price tag to match.

Pros: Super pressure sensitive. The pen comes with it with nib options you can change, no charging required and no battery to worry about. Quick button, gesture and pen shortcuts that make your workflow way easier. Easy to draw and letter in illustrator and photoshop. Can live-stream to Twitch, long battery life and all of the benefits of working on a computer. The entire CC suite runs smoothly on the MSP.

Cons: I have to use the cloud to transfer files from my Apple to my MSP. It’s expensive. Has a learning curve (just like anything trying to get used to drawing in photoshop. Though PSD recently added a “smoothing” option to make life easier and it helps a lot).

So, that’s my quick rundown. I would love to know your personal pros and cons of the technology mentioned or hear any questions you have! Please comment below and I will be sure to get to respond or add them to my post!