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A Graphic Designer’s Guide to Using iPad as a Wacom Alternative

    A Graphic Designers Guide to Using iPad as a Wacom Alternative -

    For a long time, Wacom has been the industry standard for graphic designers. Wacom products for graphic designers include pen tablets with multi-touch capabilities, smart styluses for annotating, sketching, and drawing, pen tablets for those seeking a simple pen experience, creative pen computers, and so on. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that graphic designers turn to Wacom pen displays and pen tablets for an intuitive and natural creative experience.

    However, the rise of powerful iPads and the Apple Pencil has created a compelling alternative, especially for designers on the go or those seeking a more budget-friendly option.

    What’s even better is the fact that Apple has created such a robust ecosystem that you can use your iPad as a drawing tablet for your Mac without requiring additional tools. If you don’t know how to use iPad as a drawing tablet for Mac, all you have to do is this:

    • Connect the Apple Pencil to your iPad. If you are using an Apple Pencil from the first generation, you need to plug it in and then pair it with Bluetooth. If it is from the second generation, put it on the magnetic connector and pair it with Bluetooth.
    • Install drawing applications on your iPad, such as Tayasui Sketches.
    • Connect your iPad to your Mac and use it as a drawing tablet for your Mac. Use the Sidecar feature or Continuity Sketch.

    Now, let’s explore the potential of iPads as a Wacom alternative for graphic designers.

    A Graphic Designer's Guide to Using iPad as a Wacom Alternative

    The iPad Advantage: Affordability and Portability

    Affordable is a primary reason why graphic designers view iPads as a Wacom alternative. iPads are generally much more cost-friendly than high-end Wacom Cintiqs. While premium iPads cost almost the same as a Cintiq, iPads offer excellent responsiveness and pressure responsiveness.

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    Portability is one of the most significant advantages of using an iPad as a graphic design tool. Unlike conventional Wacom tablets that require a connection to a computer, iPads are self-contained devices. This makes them ideal for graphic designers who work on the location, enjoy sketching and brainstorming ideas outside the studio, or travel frequently.

    Considering the Trade-offs

    iPads offer attractive advantages over Wacom products. However, they are not without limitations. Some points to consider are:

    • Screen size – The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has the biggest screen size, while Wacom Cintiq is available in 15.6-inch or 21.5-inch. Since Wacom Cintiqa boasts larger displays, it provides more drawing space.
    • Pressure sensitivity – iPads offer good pressure sensitivity. However, some high-end Wacom products offer a more responsive and nuanced experience for detailed illustration work.
    • Software ecosystem – For iPads, the software ecosystem is still evolving. Although powerful design applications are available, the vast library of professional design software is optimized for PCs or Macs and might not be readily accessible on iPads.

    Critical Apps for Graphic Designers on iPad

    Despite the limitations discussed above, the iPad App Store offers an excellent selection of design applications that cater to diverse needs:

    • Adobe Fresco – This is a free application from Adobe that allows designers to use familiar Adobe tools like vector shapes and brushes directly on the iPad. Also, this app integrates seamlessly with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
    • Procreate – This is an industry-standard application offering a broad range of textures, brushes, and tools designed for illustrators and artists. It boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, along with excellent pressure sensitivity. This app is perfect for painting, sketching, and creating illustrations.
    • Affinity Designer – This is a powerful vector design application known for its comprehensive feature set and affordability. The app offers professional-grade tools to designers for creating icons, logos, and so on.
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    Why is the iPad Better than Wacom?

    • Convenience – iPad eliminates the need for any computer or laptop. All you need is the Apple Pencil and the installed drawing applications to start drawing. Besides drawing and sketching, you can watch movies, play games, or surf the Internet on your iPad.
    • Portability – As mentioned, the biggest reason graphic designers prefer iPads over Wacom is portability. iPads can be easily put inside your backpack and carried wherever you go. So, you can be your creative best no matter where you are.
    • The feel of drawing on paper with a pen – iPads allow you to draw directly on the tablet’s screen. Hence, most graphic designers find drawing on iPads extremely natural, and they compare it to the pen-and-paper feel.

    Conclusion: Is the iPad Right for You as a Wacom Alternative?

    Whether the iPad is the perfect Wacom alternative for you depends on your specific budget and needs. If affordability, portability, and a focus on illustration and sketching are your priorities, the iPad is a compelling option. However, if you require a larger display, want to use powerful professional design software, and portability is not your main concern, a Wacom tablet might be a better fit.