If you’ve been reading the articles on here, then you might have seen drawing gloves mentioned a few times, usually in the context of being offered as a free accessory when buying certain drawing tablet brands. Not much is said about them beyond that, as the main focus is the drawing tablet and not its accessories in and of themselves.
Chances are, though, that you’ve been curious about these so-called drawing gloves and what their purpose is, as well as the question of whether they’re really necessary for an artist.
Where have they come from?
With time, the brands that make graphics and drawing tablets tried to make their products even more professional and technical than they already were. They came up with all sorts of accessories to set themselves apart from the competition. It came to be that simply having a graphics tablet was not enough. You needed an extra stylus now.
They would cleverly sell these styluses separately. With clever marketing, designed to make artists feel like the extra pen was all that was standing between them and being the best artist in history, they boosted their sales.
Then they came up with extra pen nibs. Some of them would be generous enough to package these with their tablets, and others weren’t. But in the end, whether you got extra nibs with your tablet or not, you were encouraged to buy more, because who doesn’t want to have an extra stylus and a hundred extra nibs? How miserable the life of an artist would be without so much excess!
Forgive the sarcasm. Despite our pet peeves on the matter, the fact is that every industry becomes more sophisticated over time, and the product offering naturally expands. Whether the new products are genuinely useful or not is a question you only get to ask after the fact. Because there are so many artists out there, when a new product or accessory comes out, there is most likely going to be a market for it, and that is the first priority for a company: whether there is a market for a product or not.
One of those products is of course the artist’s glove. It has become quite popular, and asking whether you really need one is valid. In this article, we’ll try our best to give an objective answer about its merits and demerits, as well as recommend a few gloves you might want to buy. At the end, you can decide for yourself whether this is something you might like.
What is an anti-fouling artist glove?
If you’ve hung out around digital artists a lot, you may have noticed some of them drawing with a strange looking glove on their drawing hand. Usually, it has just two fingers covered, as well as half of the hand. We assure you, this is not a fashion statement. They actually serve a purpose!
The technical name for this glove is an ‘anti-fouling glove’, though it is more commonly referred to simply as an artist’s glove. They help the artist to avoid smudging when drawing on traditional media, such as charcoal or graphite.
For digital artists, they help to prevent friction between the palm and the drawing surface. After all, the only useful kind of friction on a graphics tablet’s drawing surface is the one coming from the stylus nib. Any other kind of friction will either slow your work down or cause a mess.
There are tablet models that come with free anti-fouling gloves as part of the package, but these are the exception, rather than the norm. Usually, you need to buy one separately.
Why do digital artists wear gloves?
Because they help with art in general. Have you ever been in a situation where you had a clean piece of paper at the beginning, and had spent time doing some artwork, then, when you pass your hand over the paper, you accidentally smudge the graphite all over?
This experience can be exacerbated when you’re using a medium that’s especially easy to smudge, such as crayons, wet paint, or even charcoal. In fact, even if you’re using an artist’s glove, you’ll still need to be careful or you’ll smudge it. Though at least having an artist’s glove helps you keep your hands clean and prevents you from transferring all that charcoal or what have you to other places.
For traditional media, the value of an artist’s glove isn’t difficult to see. It helps you to avoid smudging things on your paper, and keeps your hand clean while drawing. But what about when you’re a digital artist drawing on a tablet?
If you’re drawing on a graphics tablet, you don’t want there to be friction between your hand and the graphics tablet. This can not only wear out the tablet quicker, but can cause it to pick up signals from your palm as if it were a stylus. The effect is even more pronounced on drawing tablets with capacitive touch screens. These can register your palm as a stylus and lead to weird and unnecessary artifacts on your artwork.
An artist’s glove works as an artificial palm rejection in that sense. By covering your palm in an insulator, you’re preventing it from being picked up by the graphics or drawing tablet. Some tablets come with screens that automatically reject palms. However, these are the exception, and for many of them, an artist’s glove helps.
Are they really necessary?
The short answer is no. An anti-fouling artist glove is not an absolute necessity. Whether you’re working with traditional or digital media, you can do great artwork without the glove. You will have to be super careful while working with both, but it’s doable.
That said, they are definitely advantageous to have. With an anti-fouling glove, you can draw more comfortably, doing away with the ‘be super careful’ bit and just letting everything flow naturally. The real unique selling points for artist’s gloves are the convenience and comfort they both offer.
If you’re lucky enough to get one for free with the tablet you buy, then you get to experience it without thinking about the money involved. If you have to buy one separately, you might want to know what factors to consider when buying one, and which ones are the best on the market. That’s what the next section will be about.
Finding the best anti-fouling artist gloves
Design and comfort
The first things you should consider are the design of the glove and the comfort it offers. These gloves cover only the ring finger, pinkie finger, and the part of the palm that rests on the drawing surface, unlike conventional gloves. This allows a frictionless experience combined with maximum flexibility while drawing.
You want to buy a comfortable glove that is stylish and easy to wash and maintain. Ideally, they should come in various sizes so that you can find one that fits your hand.
Cost is another important factor to consider. Seeing as you’re buying nothing more than a glove, it shouldn’t cost an insane amount of money. Note, however, that cost is correlated with quality, at least up to a point. So also don’t buy something that is dirt cheap, as it might end up giving you a dirt cheap experience. While some artist gloves (such as the Wacom glove below) can cost as much as $20, you can get a good quality one for as little as $8.
This simple glove comes with covers for the pinkie and ring finger, as well as the whole palm. It is made of a specially coated polyester, has variations available for both the right and left hand, and is a stylish black color. It’s pretty comfortable, and feels almost like wearing nothing, making the drawing experience seamless.
Huion artist glove
This simple but stylish glove from Huion comes with finger covers for the pinkie and ring finger and can be worn on either hand. It is made of a soft nylon and Lycra combination and comes in an elegant black. It’s flexible enough to be used for coloring, sketching, drawing, and also on digital tablets. The material is also expandable so it can easily adapt to large hands.
This Articka glove is made with 100% elastic Lycra, making it super comfortable, and can be worn on either hand. You can use it on both traditional and digital media, including any graphics or drawing tablet. It also comes in a stylish black color.
Perfect for average and large sized hands …not suitable for small
The Parblo glove is made from 100% elastic Lycra, making it super flexible and able to adapt to any hand size. It can be used on both digital and traditional media, covering the ring and pinkie finger. It can be worn on both the left and right hand and comes in black.
Do you need a glove to draw on iPad?
Not absolutely, but it might drastically improve your drawing experience as iPads are often known for quickly detecting hand contact. This can make the drawing experience annoying without a drawing glove.
Do drawing tablets come with a glove?
Some do, such as some XP Artist and Huion tablets. However, these are the exception, rather than the norm. For most of them, you will have to purchase a drawing glove separately.
What are two finger gloves for?
Since only the ring finger, the pinkie, and the palm will ever be in full contact with the drawing surface, an artist’s glove doesn’t need to cover the whole hand. They therefore only come with sleeves for two fingers and a cover for the palm.
Do palm rejection gloves work?
Yes they do. As they are made of electrically insulating material, they prevent the drawing or graphics tablet from detecting your palm, making your workflow easier.
Artist’s gloves aren’t absolutely necessary for artists, but they are a boon, and will make your work much easier. You can either buy a tablet that comes with a glove included, or buy one separately and try it out. You just might find your work improves a lot more for it, making the extra money spent worthwhile.
Until next time, happy drawing!