If you’re a modern artist who lives in the digital age, and you are into creating images and illustrations via high-tech means, you’ve probably landed in the right place, as today’s article is aimed at helping you choose the best drawing tablet.
Now, provided you’re a regular visitor of our website, you’re probably familiar with the “drill”: we’ve already done the research and some testing, here and there, so you won’t have to. That’s because we understand how important it is to have the best tools possible, in order to enhance one’s productivity and skills, whether we’re talking about hobbyists or professional artists.
For you to achieve these “goals”, we’ll recommend you the best products in a multitude of niches, depending on one’s budget and requirements. Think along the lines of Android tablets, if you’re into Google products, or Windows tablets if you’re a fan of Bill Gates. Also, since money is important, especially for artists, we’ll show you some budget options, best picks for beginners, and so on and so forth. Keep reading, because you’re in for a real treat.
How to Choose the Best Drawing Tablet
If you’re a total noob in regards to drawing tablets, the basics are as follows: a graphics tablet is a cool gadget that enables you to sketch, draw, paint, illustrate/color illustrations, sculpt in 3D software or airbrush directly from your input device.
There are 2 main types of drawing tablets: the ones that allow you to do everything, including seeing your work directly on the tablet’s screen (these are more expensive generally speaking), basically stand-alone types.
The second model translates your work to an external display (computer screen) via a piece of software like Illustrator. The latter are cheaper. Also, keep in mind that what you can do on a drawing tablet (via a digital pen/stylus), especially if you’re an artist, is quasi-impossible to replicate with a mouse.
Now, the main factors that come into play when choosing a drawing tablet are:
This is important especially if you’re on the go often. And here it gets a little more complicated, but bear with me.
As in how wide the screen should be. This is another crucial factor, especially for professional purposes, as a wider screen is more efficient when it comes to scroll and zoom, or navigation, not to mention painting, sketching, editing photos directly onto the screen etc. The smaller the display, the harder is to work on it, but it makes it easier to carry around at presentations and what not.
One’s budget is very important with tablets and everything else. The more expensive a tablet is, the more features/bells and whistles it has, you know how this works.
A poor quality display on a stand-alone drawing tablet is a deal-breaker, especially for artists looking for the best gear. The thing is, if you want to bring out everything from a high-quality artwork, you’ll require a high definition screen with accurate colors, great contrast and good legibility, even in sunlight. In terms of resolution, higher LPI (lines per inch) indicate better sharpness and detail. Also, look at reports/points per second. To put it simply, the higher these specs are, the faster/the better the tablet is.
The digital pen, also known as stylus, is used to draw on the tablet’s screen, These gadgets are battery-less or battery-operated. The best ones are designed for comfort, featuring rubber made grips, which make them easy to hold and feel natural.
The Nature of Your Work
This is another big factor that comes into play when choosing a drawing tablet. There are differences in expectations and features (which translate into bigger/smaller budgets) from people looking for professional gear, compared to, let’s say, hobbyists. Editing photos is different from sketching or painting.
Tilt Sensitivity and Pressure Sensitivity
These features are usually found in high end drawing tablets. Tilt sensitivity is pretty similar to using an airbrush, and the same goes for pressure sensitivity. If you don’t plan to use your drawing tablet for intensive digital painting, you can forget about tilt sensitivity, you don’t really need it.
On the other hand, pressure sensitivity is crucial if you’re into doing comics/cartoons and graphic design. This feature is one of the most important to look after in a high-quality drawing tablet. Basically, the more, the better. Pressure sensitivity, that is.
Check this cool video depicting what can you do with a drawing tablet.
Which brings us to the “meat” of the article. Here are our top picks for you.
13 Best Drawing Tablets You Can Buy in 2018
Classic Pen Tablet
The Wacom Intuos Pro is one of the best pressure-sensitive pen tablets out there and it’s built to deliver a responsive and fluid feel, excellent wireless connectivity and good portability. This is one of the best tablets for drawing on the market, considering the price/features ratio, and it works both on PC and Mac.
The Wacom Intuos Pro features tilt response, along with a brand new technology that delivers 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, lag-free tracking, a 8.7” x 5.8” active area/13.2” x 8.5” footprint (the Medium size), customizable Express Keys, multi-touch gestures, Radial Menus, Display Toggle and pen side switches.
Being a professional grade drawing tablet, the Wacom Intuos Pro comes with an internal Bluetooth module for wireless connectivity and it’s built using premium materials, the likes of fiberglass composite resin and black anodized aluminum.
In terms of connectivity, this tablet also offers a USB Type-C port, along with Bluetooth. There are eight customizable (application specific) keys, which come pretty handy if you’re using Adobe Photoshop for example.
There’s also a round touch-ring featuring a button in the middle, which can be customized with four functions. The Intuous Pro is built like a tank, with a high-end feel and it’s very comfortable to use. The bottom panel is made of metal and has 2 rubberized feet for better grip. The front surface area is made of plastic, just like the pen, which features two customizable buttons.
The pen’s bottom portion works as an eraser, uses EMR technology (no batteries required) and it’s extremely precise.
- excellent design
- top notch build quality
- good value for the price
- lots of features/functions
- lag free, good and sensitive
- the pen is very comfy and precise
- pen nibs wear down easy
- the proprietary software can be tricky sometimes
- not a standalone drawing tablet
For the Artist Within
The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 is a standalone drawing tablet, a high-end piece of gear that allows you to paint, sketch, design or even edit directly from the 15.6 inch IPS screen.
The design is pretty interesting, as the tablet uses high-quality glass on top, for offering improved precision and also to prevent dust from building up.
Another great feature of the XP-Pen Artist is the passive pen design (no batteries required), which provides industry-leading pressure sensitivity (8192 levels of instant pen pressure).
The generous 15.6 inches wide display has full HD/1080p resolution and offers large viewing angles (178° degree), with great contrast and excellent color reproduction. Moreover, the tablet supports Ultra HD/4K external displays, if so required.
In terms of connectivity, you have the latest USB Type C port, for blazing fast connections and sharp details. The tablet is compatible with both Mac and PC software, including major designer software bundles, such as Clip Studio, Painter, Photoshop, Gimp, Krita, SAI and others.
If you’re looking for one of the best drawing tablets with the screen out there, the XP-Pen Artist would fit the bill perfectly. There are some minor flaws though. For example, there’s no stand included in the bundle, and the matte surface screen is not as bright nor colorful compared to glossy screens. However, the display’s surface is great for painting and drawing, and pen pressure sensitivity is very responsive, making painting/drawing a pleasure.
- generous screen real-estate, slim profile
- standalone capabilities
- great for painting and drawing
- a very realistic drawing surface
- good portability/workability ratio
- perfect for on-the-go artists
- reasonable price
- setting it up is difficult if you’re not tech-savvy
- no stand included
- precise work is kind of tricky
The Best Drawing Tablet for Beginners
The Wacom Intuos can be best described as one of the best budget drawing tablets “in the hood”.
Jokes aside, if you’re on a tight budget, the Wacom Intuos is very easy to recommend, considering its under $100 price and the fact that it comes with free creative software, along with a battery-free pen/EMR technology and 4096 pressure levels, to deliver both control and precision.
Speaking of free creative software, you’ll have to first register your tablet after purchasing via Wacom’s website, and then you can choose between 3 applications to download: Clip Studio Paint Pro, Corel Aftershot 3 and Corel Painter Essentials 6.
The Wacom Intuos is built for enhancing creativity and it’s the perfect tool to have if you’re into painting digital watercolors, drawing web-art or retouching/editing photos.
Being the simplest and cheapest Wacom drawing tablet, you shouldn’t expect miracles though. However, the Intuos comes with a pretty good pencil, which provides a natural feel, and an overall great drawing experience, together with excellent portability (due to its size: 8.25 x 6.7″) and ambidextrous design.
Obviously, there are no fancy features, like tilt/angle/rotation sensitivity, zoom, pinch, multi-touch or hand-gestures. It’s only you and the 4k pen. If you’re looking for a high quality no-nonsense graphics tablet, the Wacom Intuos is one the best drawing tablet for beginners.
- smooth and enjoyable drawing experience
- very affordable price
- highly portable due to its small/light size
- free software
- good build quality and plenty of features for the price asked
- only comes in Small size
- no tilt/angle sensitivity
Lots of Bang for the Buck
The Huion Inspiroy is a drawing tablet that plays in the best bang for the buck category. Retailing for just a little over $100, this wireless graphics drawing tablet delivers excellent performance and accuracy due to its high-quality/rechargeable PF150 stylus with 8192 Pen Pressure Levels.
The pen itself is very well designed, providing an almost ideal weight and size, while the Huion Inspiroy’s wireless connectivity (2.4 G wireless connection) provides a hassle-free/cable-less work environment.
The design of the tablet is ergonomic/ambidextrous, and delivers a natural drawing experience, together with excellent grip. The active area is generous, standing at 11 inches of actual drawing real-estate, which is built using high-quality materials.
There are 8 customizable short-cut keys to make your life easier, along with an in-built high-capacity 2500 mAh battery, which provides almost 2 days of autonomy on a single charge. The screen resolution stands at 5080LPI and the tablet comes with a report rate of 233pps.
- excellent value for the money
- ergonomic design, comfy drawing experience
- great build quality, good accuracy
- generous 11 x 6.875 inches active area
- wireless connection via USB Type A wireless receiver (available in the retail box) -eight customizable keys
- no pen-tilt sensitivity
- no multitouch
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is on of the best Android-running tablets out there, and arguably Samsung’s best tablet to date.
Revealed back in 2017 at the World Mobile Congress, the Galaxy Tab S3 boasts Samsung’s industrial design, a terrific 9.7 inches wide Super AMOLED display (HDR ready, mind you), high-end speakers and an upgraded S-Pen. All these come at a hefty price though.
In terms of design, the Galaxy Tab S3 features an all-glass construction, while its tech specs are top of the line, i.e. a Quad Core(2.15 Ghz + 1.6 Ghz Quad) CPU and a Qualcomm APQ8096.
Battery life is excellent, the S-Pen is very responsive and connectivity is stellar (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB TypeC). The Galaxy Tab S3 is a jack of all trades, whether you’re drawing, gaming or watching videos.
The 2,048×1,536-pixel resolution screen is sharp, the audio quality is great, but truth be told, this tablet is more like a laptop-replacement/a productivity hub of sorts, as in it’s not intended to be the best drawing tablet in the world.
- lots of features
- amazing display
- stellar connectivity
- high-end build quality, awesome W-Fi performance
- great for light-duty graphics work like sketching, excellent multi-media capabilities
- pretty expensive
The Best Drawing Tablet Under $100
Considering its way under $100 price tag, the Huion 1060 Plus is a great deal if you’re looking for a no-nonsense drawing tablet with solid specs and performance.
To give you just a taste, the Huion 1060 Plus comes with a high quality/8192 levels of Pen Pressure Sensitivity, for accurate/smooth lines, a 5080 LPI resolution and a report rate of 233 RPS.
One big advantage of the Huion 1060 Plus is the presence of 12 fully customizable physical keys on the left, and, on top of that, 16 soft keys on the top, which make this drawing tablet to be a veritable work-horse that allows you to fine-tune your software experience and improve work efficiency.
The Huion 1060 Plus is branded as an art-tablet and it works on both Mac and PC, being compatible with most digital art software, the likes of Gimp, Krita, Corel Painter, Clip Studio etc.
- micro USB connectivity
- huge 10×6.25’’ active area
- built-in card reader, up to 8 GB memory cards supported
- competitive price
- great for painting/editing jobs
- not really suited for professional use
- no wireless, no multi-touch
Another Great Yet Cheap Drawing Tablet
The XP-Pen Deco 01 is a dirt-cheap drawing tablet, which may be great for amateurs/beginners looking for a solid piece of gear at an affordable price.
Featuring a massive 10×6.25-inch working area, the XP-Pen Deco 01 is a true work-horse in terms of screen real-estate, thus boosting one’s creativity and maneuverability. There’s no replacement for displacement, right?
Also, the XP-Pen Deco 01 doesn’t compromise in terms of screen resolution, despite its low price, offering 5080 Lines Per Inch and +0.01 inch accuracy, along with the 8192 Level Pen Pressure levels and 8 customizable express keys. The XP-Pen Deco 01 features an ambidextrous design and it works with both Mac and PC running machines.
- excellent for artists on the go as it’s light and portable
- easy to set up
- scratch resistant and durable
- comes with a special antifouling drawing glove
- USB Type C connectivity
- ergonomic non-rechargeable stylus
- no wireless connectivity
- no scroll wheel to zoom in/out
Jack of All Trades
We hold this truth to be self-evident, for if you can live with the price tag, the Apple iPad Pro is the way to go. Jokes aside, the Apple iPad Pro is amazing, making for the ideal canvas for drawing, among other things.
The Retina display is perfect, the design is minimalistic in nature, and the hardware/build quality is top notch, in good Apple tradition. Nobody can be told what an Apple iPad Pro is, you’ll have to discover it for yourself, provided you’re ready to spend beaucoup dollars on that.
The iPad Pro is big (12,9 inches wide screen with 2732 x 2048 resolution), beautiful, heavy (heavy is good, heavy is reliable), and it can also replace your laptop while you’re at it. It is that good.
The iPad is well known in the artist community for its crisp screen and awesome drawing apps, i.e. this beauty is truly a game changer if you’re ready to pay a premium price for a drawing tablet (and more).
- best in industry build quality and hardware
- amazing display
- can replace your laptop easily
- solid battery life
- relatively lightweight
- stellar connectivity
- hefty price tag
One More Budget Drawing Tablet
The UGEE M708 is a drawing tablet created for art-design purposes, and it comes with lots of features at a very affordable price.
Considering its way under $100 price tag, the UGEE M708 really delivers where it counts. For example, the active screen real-estate is 10 x 6 inches in width (5080 LPI resolution), and, on top of the generous working area, the tablet features a papery texture surface, which makes it ideal for digital artwork, due to its natural painting feedback/experience.
The stylus is battery free and features the industry leading 8192 pressure sensitivity. There are eight customizable express keys on the side, while the tablet is compatible with both Mac and PC, along with the most popular creative software bundles, such as Adobe Fireworks/Photoshop/Illustrator, Infinite Stratos, Macromedia Flash, 3D Max and more.
- amazing working space considering the price
- feels like writing on paper with a pencil
- cheap, yet well built and solid
- ambidextrous design
- easy to set up
- Report Rate: 266 RPS
- USB connectivity
- none really, considering the price asked
One of The Best Drawing Monitors
The Huion KAMVAS GT-191 is actually a digital graphics drawing monitor, i.e. it’s way bigger than a regular drawing tablet, yet it comes with the same cool features, including the industry-standard 8192 Levels Pen Pressure Sensitivity.
However, the Huion KAMVAS GT-191 is a giant in terms of screen real estate, being a 19.5 Inch HD IPS Monitor with 1920 x 1080 HD resolution and wide viewing angles.
The Huion KAMVAS GT-191 really makes for a worthy upgrade from a drawing tablet to a drawing monitor.
- excellent value for money
- 233PPS report rate and 5081LPI resolution
- comes with 2 pens
- good build quality
- easy to set up, LOTS of screen real estate
- IPS panel works nicely with Zbrush and Photoshop
- comes with an adjustable stand
- features HDMI, VGA, DVI ports
- no customizable express keys
- not really “portable”
Budget Tablet With Fast Charging
The XP-Pen Star 06 is an under $100 drawing tablet built for the artist within. Featuring a 10×6 inch active working area and a top notch/battery-free 8192 pressure levels stylus pen, the XP-Pen Star 06 also comes with both wired and wireless connectivity, which is kind of rare in its price range.
Moreover, there are 6 customizable shortcut keys along with a dial, that allows rapid access to commonly used keystrokes and software shortcuts.
- comes with a wireless 2.4G receiver
- fast charging
- compatible with almost all operating systems and graphics software bundles
- includes pen stand
- offers free drawing glove and has an excellent resolution for the price asked
- good sensitivity
- not suitable for professional use
- the scroll wheel is hypersensitive
Great Entry Level Drawing Tablet
Even if it comes with the “pro” particle in its name, the Huion H610 Pro is one of the cheapest drawing tablets out there. To describe it succinctly, I’d say that the H610 Pro is heavy in terms of features and low on your wallet.
Retailing for just under $50, this drawing tablet offers a respectable 10-by-6.25 inches drawing surface, eight customizable buttons on the side and sixteen hot-keys on the top, a battery operated/rechargeable stylus with two programmable buttons and 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and all-around compatibility with Windows/Mac running machines.
- excellent portability
- thin and light, durable design
- good autonomy
- really easy to set up, a joy to use
- feels natural to draw with
- no pen tilt/rotation recognition
- no wireless connectivity
Do It Like a Pro
We’ve saved the best for last. The Surface Pro from Microsoft is among the best-equipped pieces of hardware out there, boasting a 7th generation Intel Core i5 Processor, 256 GB of storage, 8 GB of RAM and it will drain over $1000 from your bank account.
Quality comes at a price, as usual. The battery will last you for almost 14 hours and, to put it simply, the Surface Pro is the ultimate drawing tablet out there, provided you can afford it.
You can use this gizmo for lots of things (gaming, watching movies, streaming etc), as it makes for a true laptop replacement, but just put it in studio mode, for the perfect writing/drawing angle and you’ll be amazed. The Surface Pen is very responsive and has 4,096 pressure points, while the display is nothing short of gorgeous.
- amazing display and build quality
- solid hardware
- amazingly fast
- accurate tracking, good pressure sensitivity
- lots of ports
- built-in stand