Sometimes, you might need to change your pen nib and the first thing you need to know about this, before rushing to Amazon or Wacom’s store, is this: wait a second! Don’t go buy them yet!
Check the pen holder that came with your drawing tablet, do you see that line that divides it? Open it, there’s a surprise for you! If not there, check the removable panel on the backside of your tablet. Ta-daaa!
This might seem pretty straightforward, but it actually took me some months until I realized my tablet did come with extra pen nibs!
I don’t really change them often, in the 2 years I’ve had my trusty Huion tablet, I only changed it once, a few months ago.
Now that this is out of the way, let’s talk some more about Nibs!
How Long Does A Tablet Pen Nib Last
Generally, a tablet pen nib lasts about 2 to 3 years! A pen nib can have a very long lifespan like I said above, I’ve only changed mine once in about two years and I only changed it because one of the sides was way more used than the other, so I was at fault here!
In any case, it really depends on your care but also on the tablet.
I owned several drawing tablets throughout the years: my first one, a Wacom Bamboo, lasted me for a good 7 years and I never changed its nib (the first few years, admittedly, I failed to use it frequently, it was only in college that I finally took the likeness to digital drawing).
Now I’m mostly using my Huion 1060PRO+ (click to check the price on Amazon). And like I said, the nibs are pretty sturdy! (You can read more about my Recommended Drawing Tablets in this Post)
If you need to change your nibs every 3 or 4 months, here are some reasons that might be happening:
- Texture: your drawing tablet might be slightly textured, not all tablets have the same texture and that might be causing some erosion, wearing your nib faster. Some people tape a piece of paper on their tablets to make it smoother, both for the sake of their nibs and because they like the feeling better. Personally, I never tried it, but you might find this helpful, especially if you’re trying to draw digitally for the first time, making the transition between paper and digital easier!
- Pressure: You might be adding to much pressure when drawing. This is bad both for you and your tablet, your hands won’t like that treatment in a long run, it will hurt them and you might end up with serious injuries on them! And for your tablet, well you might scratch it and damage it and you won’t want to buy a new one that soon. What to do in this case? Change the pressure settings of your pen, so that you don’t feel the need to press so hard, test out different pressure sensitivity levels and see what best suits you!
- Another tip, relax. You might feel too intimidated when drawing and there’s no need to! Your lines will look much better if you learn to relax and loosen up yourself, drawing is not supposed to make you feel stressed but happy and comfortable. In this article about the Fear of Drawing and how to overcome it I talk about this and give some tips that might help you!
- Pay attention to your nib! Like I mentioned before, I had to change my nib because I failed to pay attention to it. I tend to use only one side of it, wearing it down, while the other side is still new! As you draw, try to use different sides of the nib so that you wear it down uniformly.
Don’t forget that your Pen Nib lifespan also changes depending on how much you use it! If you use daily for quite a few hours, chances are it will wear out faster! If you’re not sure when you should change your nib, here’s a tip: if it feels like it’s starting to scratch your tablet, then change it.
How To Change The Tablet Pen Nib
Alright, remember when I said for you to open up your pen stand for extra nibs?
When looking inside of it, right at the center there’s usually a metallic ring with a little fissure. Take that out.
This is the nib extractor you use to remove your pen nibs.
This removal tool can change from tablet to tablet, some Wacom tablets, for example, have it incorporated in the back of the tablet itself.
To use it, simply set the pen tip into the extractor, tilt it lightly or, if you’re wearing the tiny ring, close it around the nib and then slowly pull it out.
It should be fairly easy to remove it. Then discard that one and retrieve a new nib from your storage and slide it in your pen until it’s properly placed.
Different Types of Nibs
There are around 4 types of Nibs to use in your digital tablet: standard, stroke, flex and felt nibs. Each one of these feels differently, so let’s go over each one of them:
- Standard Nib: it’s the universal one. If you’re using the nib that came with your tablet, this is the one you’re using. It can come in white or black, but they’re both the same, there’s nothing much I can tell you about them, aside from that they’re made of plastic and it’s the one that most artists end up using and preferring.
- Stroke Nib: if you want your pen to feel more like a brush, then this one is for you. It was designed for it to feel more inviting, with an actual spring on the nib, that acts like a shock absorber! If you tend to or want to work with softer lines, you might want to test this nib out.
- Flex Nib: This kind of nib adds more friction, making it feel more like you’re drawing on paper, this won’t damage your tablet, so there’s no need to worry!
- Felt Nib: All of the nibs we talked to far are and feel a bit more like plastic, but this one has a felt touch, a smoother touch, although it also adds friction to your pen, but not as much as the flex tip. Both the felt and flex nib tend to wear out faster!
There are also nibs with different shapes, but overall it’s mostly about feel.
They won’t change your tablet nor your drawings, it’s a matter of personal taste and what feels best for you.
So try to experiment them out and see what works better for you!
If Your Tablet Pen Nib Falls Out or Comes Loose, Do This!
Huion Pens seem to have this issue quite a lot, I’ve had it happen to me as well, but it’s very easily fixable.
So if you own a Huion Tablet and you’re having this problem just follow these simple steps:
- Take out the nib.
- Get a toothpick.
- Do you see the little hole on your nib? Insert the toothpick there, making the hole bigger.
- Put the nib back in your pen.
If you go to this tumblr blog post (not mine), you can see some pictures to help you see better!
If you own a Wacom and notice that your nibs seem very loose and short, it’s a bit more troublesome to resolve but doable and simple!
Rattle your pen a bit.
Does it sound like the insides of the pen are shifting? If so, this means that the body of the pen is loosening up and that’s what’s causing the problem.
To fix it, you need to dismantle your pen with the easy 4 steps.
- Simply remove the button panel from the pen, it should be fairly simple, with a screwdriver or even a nail and it should come off!
- Now, you should be able to open up your pen, be careful with the circuit board inside though, so try not to bend it.
- Inspect both halves of the shaft, you might notice a small crack on the plastic, if so, simply use some tape (clear tape works best since it tends to be pretty strong), tightly around the crack.
- That should do it! Assemble everything back and you’re good to go!
Tablet Pen Nibs DIY (Do It Yourself and Save Some Money!)
Nibs can be CRAZY expensive and if yours tend to wear very quickly, it will probably hurt your wallet every time you have to buy a new pack.
Fret no more!
There’s actually an easy and safe way to make your own nibs.
Here’s your shopping list:
- 1.65 trimmer line (the kind usually used in weed whackers or line trimmers)
- Sand Paper
- A good pair of Scissors
And that’s it! Now to make your nibs:
- Measure your nibs or look on the internet for their size. Cut pieces of the trimmer line you just bought on that size.
- Sand the sides, so there are no sharp edges. Be sure that everything is smooth to avoid scratching on your tablet.
- Insert the nib on your pen!</li
I remember seeing some years ago that someone also managed to try to use spaghetti as a nib and it actually worked!
The trick is the same: cut it to the nib size, sand it and you’re good to go.
So if you’re in a pickle, need a nib very urgently and happen to have spaghetti at home, you know what to do!
Consider Getting a Tablet Screen Protector
If you own a drawing tablet with a screen, you might want to protect it! Just like you would do for your phone or digital tablet.
And if you’re wondering if you should get a tablet with a screen (or stick with one without) be sure to read my article here!
Even if you’re careful, you might scratch your screen by accident or even just regular use can create some erosion at some point and you’ll notice those small scratches every time you’re drawing.
Do consider getting a screen protector when buying a new tablet, it’s not too costly and will help your screen last longer!
It’s also not difficult to find, on any Amazon or even eBay, simply look for a screen protector and the model you have and its size.
Be sure you know for certain which drawing tablet you have and its size, since the sizes of the screen change between them!
A screen protector will also make your surface smoother, which can be a bit weird at the beginning, but easy to adapt and if you already prefer smoother surfaces, the better!
Traveling A Lot? Get a Case For Your Tablet!
If you tend to travel a lot, while carrying your tablet, do consider buying a case for it! You can find a lot of them within a very big price range.
If you prefer it simple, just get a simple pouch where you can keep your tablet, protecting it from scratches.
There’s also cases specific for drawing tablets, with spaces for all your accessories, so everything is perfectly comfortable and safe and, of course, backpacks with pockets built in them, specifically for your tablet.
Once again, pay attention to the size of your tablet when buying a case (check these ones on Amazon) for it and now you can carry your drawing tablet around without worrying about its safety!
You won’t need to change your pen nib a lot, it should be good for about 2 to 3 years, depending on the use you give it.
If you feel it’s starting to scratch your drawing tablet, try and sand it a bit or just change it for a new nib.
If you tend to move around a lot, try to get a case for your tablet even if it’s not a screened tablet, this way you will avoid any kind of erosions that might scratch your drawing tablet!
On a related note, you should also have a drawing glove with you when using a drawing tablet. Here are the 5 best Artist Gloves for both Drawing Tablets and iPads!
Have fun with drawing!