Surface wear on pen tablets

Overview of surface wear on pen tablets

All pen tablets (those without a screen) will experience some form of wear. The amount and type of wear will be affected by

  • The material of the surface

  • The texture of the surface

  • The material of the nib

  • How you draw

  • Other sources of damage not related to normal use of the pen tablet

In general, surface wear is not a problem, unless it interferes with your pen. Typically this means a deep scratch which deflects the tip of the pen. This deflection may be strong enough that you will get little "bumps" if you try to draw a line across the scratch.

Types of surface wear

  • Texture erosion

  • False scratches

  • Scratches

Texture Erosion

The surfaces of a pen tablet usually have some texture applies to prevent drawing on them from feeling "slippery".

Tablets vary quite a bit in how much texture is on them. The Intuos Pro models (PTH-460, PTH-660, PTH-860) are known for having a lot of texture.

As you drag your pen on the surface you will eventually notice two forms of texture erosion:

  • thin or think marks

  • broad areas where the texture has been worn off

These texture erosion marks can be very difficult to see. Depending on the lighting, they may be invisible, lighter than the texture color, or darker than the texture color.

Some texture erosion marks aren't even caused by then pen. Other objects that come in contact with the tablet can cause them. You can often detect these because they produce much wider marks than the pen can produce.

Here is an example of broad area texture erosion on a Wacom Intuos Pro PTH-860. The overall area can be uniformly smooth/shiny or smooth/shiny in patches.

Here is an close up example of the texture of a Wacom Intuos Pro Large (PTH-860)

The texture erosion can be very subtle.

Below is an example of deliberately trying to erode the texture over a wide area by moving the pen back and forth over an area. Notice how much of the texture is gone.

Impact of texture erosion

Texture erosion is typically benign. While it is unattractive and sometimes visible it does not deflect the tip of the pen.

More examples of texture erosion

Things that look like scratches but aren't

False scratches are things that look like scratches but are really the result of a tablet surface that isn't clean. More here: False scratches


Scratches are a form of permanent damage. Depending on how deep the scratch is, it can affect your drawing experience.

Below is an example of some scratches that while ugly, do not interfere with the drawing experience.

Small scratches are also hard to see sometime and greatly affected by the lighting conditions.

As you can see the scratches can be very small. These kinds of scratches will not affect your drawing experience.

Deeper and larger scratches are also possible. This can definitely affect your drawing experience.

Extreme damage

Dropping sharp objects onto the surface of a pen tablet can result in big changes. The crater below was formed by an accidental dropping of scissors from a height of about 6" above the pen tablet.

Protecting the surface

See this guide: protective sheets

Last updated