If you are new to concept art and want to take your art to the next level, then a drawing tablet might be the next viable path. But, there are things that you need to know before you plop down money for one. Below are a couple of pointers and helpful links to get you on your way, along with advice from professionals in the posts following.
Maybe the de-facto drawing tablet for artists today, the Wacom Intuos is perhaps the most widely used and widely touted pen tablet on the market for novice to intermediate artists and creators. Featuring 1,024 points of pressure, a redesigned interface, tons of editing options, and support by some of the top art programs today (Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter), this is the first tablet bought by artists entering the field of concept art, graphic design, illustration, and many others.
Wacom Intuos3 Pen Tablet
This is the introductory pen tablet for creating art by novices. The latest one is the Graphire4 that boasts any where from 512 points of pressure to 728 points of pressure. While not as elegant or widely used as the above Intuos, it is still popular and lasts a long time. Stories have circulated about dropping them to running over them with *gasp* a car. That is a testament not only to the strenght and durability of the Graphire, but to the Wacom line of pen tablets as a whole.
Touted as the top tablet in the industry, this tablet is used by professionals who need more hands on with their subjects. This tablet features an interface that allows artists to draw directly on the screen. With 1,024 points of pressure, this gives the artists complete control over his creations, while also giving him a more up-close feel for what he is creating. Once you become an established artist or just have the money, this is a viable option.
True to its roots, the Cintiq 12WX allows you to work directly on screen in the most natural way possible.
Create, compose, and design with the comfort of the thin and lightweight 12" widescreen pen display. Boost your productivity by adding pressure-sensitive, pen-on-screen control to your computer when and where you need it. The compact 12WX easily accompanies you between your studio and client locations. Fresh comfort, control and productivity
Tablet PCs and Laptop tablets
This is a new addition to the growing number of ways that designers in all fields are choosing to create with. Tablet PCs are like your traditional drawing tablets that feature many of the same features that you can find from an Intuos or a Graphire, minus the many many levels of pressure. But the main thing seperating these from others is that is a fully functional computer that allows you to not only draw directly on the screen, but also work on it as if it were a portable PC (needs a standard PC connection to work I believe). Laptop tablets function in the same way as tablet PCs, giving you a either a bolt accessory option or a true laptop with touch screen option. The only difference is...well, it's a laptop and is designed for maximum portablility.
TabletPCs today come in two flavors:
A) The most common and widely used kind of TabletPC is a normal laptop where the double hinges have been replaced by a single swivel-hinge and there has been a Wacom sensor board placed behind the LCD.
These are called convertibles, because you can convert them from a normal laptop into a "slate".
B) The second kind is called "slate" and is basically a laptop without a keyboard (you only get the lower-right from the picture above) + the Wacom sensor board.
They are usually lighter than their convertible counterparts, but on the downside there is no keyboard/touchpad/trackpoint and the screen is unprotected because there is no base to fold it down upon.
What both kinds of TabletPC have in common is that they are fully functional laptops that work exactly like you'd expect from any common laptop.
If there are professionals out there that want to chip in their professional experiences with their tablets, the sizes, and how long you've had them, That would be very beneficial.
Disclaimer: I did not include pricing in this post, as I just wanted to get the information across. Also, the words "he/his/him" are not sexist and is used as a generalization of the artists culture as a whole. And last, I am not a professional. I made this thread so that new comers who visit this site will have some kind of information on what they may want to do next.
Thanks to several CA.org members who have sent me PMs with additional information and to those who have posted their personal experiences with these tools. Appreciate it everyone.