I treated myself to a Wacom Bamboo Create tablet. I'm getting the hang of using the pen and drawing on a surface where there is no image -- it takes some getting used to.
What I like about the tablet is that I'm not a filthy mess by the time my faux pastel picture is finished. Also, if I'm trying to draw a portrait (which I am only so-so good at), it's nice to be able to erase and try again if an eye or whatever isn't quite right. Nothing is worse than spending hours on a drawing when the end result doesn't look like the person I was trying to draw. One wrong angle, and you've haven't drawn Sue -- it's now Sue's imaginary sister!
I know digital illustration may not be considered "real", and I can see the point somewhat. I'm not regarding it as a replacement for real pencils and brushes, it's simply a different tool in the box. And in that one tool is a universe of tools -- it's like a Kindle for artists.
Using the tablet is drawing...there's a tool in my hand that I use to apply marks to a blank surface. I'm not simply applying effects to an image. However, even if I later decide to take it one step further and use the filters or color correction features on my completed drawing, my choices are unique to me (out of literally thousands of options). If someone else used the same image as reference, their strokes and color choices wouldn't end up at the same final point as mine -- just like with real pastels, pencils, brushes, or whatever.
What do you think?
The tablet offers useful capabilities over physical utensils that I appreciate. Photoshop's layers allow me to test out if I want to add line work on top of a pastel-style image without messing up the work done so far. The various wet brush tools will allow me to create a watercolor-look without requiring me to invest in another expensive hobby (different paints, brushes, and paper than I already own.) And I don't have to frame the completed pieces so they don't get ruined (as with a pastel painting)!
Now look at this or this or this...it's the talent, not the utensil, that makes the art. Whatever the tool, I still need more talent!