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Illustrators, artists and photoshop geeks everywhere gan appreciate a good drawing tablet. Just about any creative task on a computer requiring pinpoint precision can benefit greatly from the tactile response of a pen in your hand. While originally quite expensive, there are currently drawing tablets to fit nearly any budget.
Depending on what you plan to do with a specific tablet, there are a handful of factors to consider. The size and resolution of the tablet are likely the most obvious, these will determine the total active area you can draw on and how precise the tablet will translate your input with a stylus. The stylus itself can also have a huge impact on your tablet experience, ranging from thick, battery-powered options, to slim, wirelessly rechargeable pens.
Regardless if you need a self-contained tablet or a peripheral that pairs with your existing desktop, there are tablets here to assist with just about any creative endeavor you want to set your mind to.
Without further ado, take a look at our list of best drawing tablets.
Not a standalone tablet
Light bleed on some screens
Whether you're a professional digital artist or just like to doodle from time to time, a drawing tablet is an essential piece of tech for creating digital paintings and sketches. The XP-PEN Artist12 is the best choice for both professional and hobby artists. It features a true HD display that provides vivid colors and sharp details, even when zoomed in. It also boasts a touch bar that can be programmed to zoom, scroll, and select specific areas of your canvas. The six programmable hotkeys help make digital painting and drawing quick and easy.
The Artist12 comes with a dedicated drawing pen that was designed to feel like a traditional pencil. The hexagonal shape and non-slip grip make it comfortable to hold even during long drawing sessions. The pen also features an "eraser" on the back end to quickly make mistakes a thing of the past.
10 hour battery life
A12X chipset for fast operation
Great internal storage
Apple pencil not included
In recent years, the iPad has established itself as the go-to tablet for aspiring and professional digital artists. The new iPad Pro continues that tradition with display options of 11 or 12.9 inches giving you plenty of room to paint, sketch, and edit photos. The iPad Pro is built with Apple's new A12X chipset, allowing it to perform up to five TRILLION operations per second and making it the fastest iPad to date.
Internal storage options range from 256GB to a whopping 1TB, and you can connect a compatible external hard drive via USB-C so you never have to worry about running out of storage. The battery supports up to 10 hours of use and charges quickly with Apple's lightning cable connection. The iPad Pro has Wi-Fi and Gigabit-class LTE connectivity options so you can create and share your artwork with an internet or cellular connection.
Designed for beginners
Left and right handed configurations
USB cable is short
Wacom is another brand trusted by industry professionals Its graphic drawing tablet for beginners is designed to make digital art more accessible for folks just starting out. With a price point that's easy on the wallet, this tablet still delivers all of the features you need to create stunning digital art. The tablet itself comes in two different sizes, 22 and 45 square inches, to give you plenty of room to paint, draw, and sketch. The tablet can also be configured for both left- and right-handed artists to ensure its use is comfortable.
The included pen responds to over 2,000 different levels of pressure sensitivity to help you draw just about any design you can dream up. The pen and tablet are also battery-free, so they're ready to work whenever you are. The included USB cable provides all the power your tablet needs. The drawing tablet is compatible with tablets and computers as well as with popular art programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Corel Painter, and MangaStudio.
32 GB internal storage
Some unit have inconsistent displays
If you're an animator or a digital artist looking to dabble in animation, check out the Simbans PicassoTab. This 10-inch drawing tablet runs on Google Android 8.1 and has a quad-core processor for superior speed and power to handle even the most demanding art applications. It also comes with a pre-loaded drawing app, Autodesk Sketchbook, to help artists and animators test out the tablet's capabilities before downloading their favorite digital art apps.
The tablet comes with 32GB of internal storage and features a microSD card slot for memory expansion. The PicassoTab comes packaged with a US and UK wall power adapter, a protective case, a pre-installed screen protector, and an active pen. The tablet can connect to a computer or television with a micro-HDMI or USB-C wired connection, and it also has Wi-Fi capabilities to download any app you need to create short animatics and still art.
Great for vector art
Pens can feel inconsistent
If you're a graphic designer who works primarily with vector images, the Huion H420 is the right drawing tablet for you. This tablet is compatible with most major vector graphic programs including Corel Painter, Corel Draw, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/Fireworks, Macromedia Flash, and Autodesk MAYA. It's also compatible with both Windows and Mac computers so you can create crisp logos and page banners no matter what operating system you're used to.
The USB cable provides all the power your tablet needs to start making art, plus it removes the need for complicated driver set-up processes with plug-and-play functionality. The included active pen responds to over 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity to adapt to almost any art style. The H420 features three hotkeys to quickly save your work or open and close tabs and programs. The tablet comes packaged with everything you need to get started: active pen, USB cable, spare pen nibs, nib removal tool, user manual, driver CD, cleaning kit, storage bag, and drawing glove.
Includes 2 months of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Low latency tracking
Reports of failing pens
Reports of driver problems with Windows
Reports of disconnection issues
The Intuous Pro is Wacom's mid-tier drawing tablet and is designed to be used with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. It comes with a two-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud's photo plan, which includes both Lightroom and Photoshop. The active pen recognizes nearly 8,200 levels of pressure sensitivity so you can use a variety of brushstrokes and edit photos with unparalleled precision.
The pen and tablet have low latency lag for almost real-time reactions. The tablet itself measures 13 inches diagonally with an 8.7-inch work surface that is capable of touch gestures as well as pen reactions to speed up and streamline your workflow. The tablet and pen are made of anodized aluminum and fiberglass composite resin for long-lasting durability and style. The Intuous Pro can wirelessly connect to your Mac, PC, or mobile device via Bluetooth for a clutter-free workspace. It also comes with a stand to keep your Wacom active pen safely stored and ready to deploy on a whim.
Includes Clip Studio Paint Pro
Heavy (4.2 pounds)
Reports of bad screens
If you're an art and animation industry professional looking to make a serious investment in a drawing tablet with a screen, take a look at the Wacom Cintiq 16. The Cintiq 16 comes in two different sizes to give you plenty of room for creating animatics and still art at 15.6-inches and 21.5-inches. The Pro Pen 2 recognizes almost 8,200 levels of pressure sensitivity and up to 60-degrees of tilt for more natural drawing and sketching. It's also battery-free, drawing all the power it needs from the Cintiq 16 itself so you never have to worry about a dead pen in the middle of an important project.
The HD display features an anti-glare coating to cut down on distracting reflections and light glare. There are foldable feet on the back of the tablet to give you up to 19 degrees of tilt to make working more comfortable. The Cintiq 16 can connect to your computer or mobile device via a 3-in-1 HDMI cable. It also comes with a free copy of Clip Studio Paint Pro to supplement your favorite art programs.
12-month battery life
May not be suitable for very young children
If you have little ones who are starting to show an interest in digital or traditional art, the Ansel LCD Writing Tablet is the perfect starting point for them. Kids can write, draw, and doodle to their heart's content with this LCD tablet. They can reveal a rainbow of colors as they create their own works of art and erase it all and start again with a simple press of a button; there is a screen lock switch to prevent your child from accidentally erasing their drawing before they're done.
The tablet runs on a button battery and can last for up to 12 months before it needs to be replaced. The tablet measures just 10 inches diagonally, making it easy to slip into a backpack or bag to take on long plane and car rides or to a friend's house for quiet, creative play. The included stylus is designed to feel like a traditional pencil and make drawing and writing easier for your child.
Designed specifically for OSU!
No extra drivers needed
Right and left-handed configurations
Reports of failing units
Reports of unpredictable stylus sensitivity
Drawing tablets aren't just for creating digital art; the XP-PEN StarG640 is designed specifically for playing OSU! You won't have to download any extra or special drivers to be able to use the tablet with the game — it's ready to go right out of the box. The maximum report rate has been increased from previous models to 266 reports per second (RPS) for quicker, smoother lines and dots to make gameplay easier.
The included stylus is battery-free, meaning you won't have to charge it or replace a dead battery in the middle of the game. The stylus recognizes almost 8,200 pressure levels to create fine lines while sketching and makes playing OSU! more enjoyable. It also comes with 20 replacement nibs so you can always have a quality writing tip at hand. The surface of the tablet gives you 24 square inches of work surface for creating art or playing games. Both the tablet and the pen can be configured for right- or left-handed use.
Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar, and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.
We haven't had a chance to put any of these drawing tablets through their paces just yet, but we'll be trying each tablet with a variety of creative applications and machines to help determine the best use scenario for each particular model. Because drawing tablets are all about bridging the gap between your inputs and seeing them on screen, our testers will also be judging each unit on its overall feel and ergonomics as well as their hard specs and compatibility.
Type of tablet - While drawing tablets are more expensive, they’re a bit more intuitive because you draw with a stylus directly on the screen. Graphic tablets — which need to be hooked up to a computer — usually deliver a faster workflow because they’re backed by more processing power. They also don’t need to be charged and are usually more durable.
Pressure sensitivity - Pressure sensitivity determines how much you can vary the width of the lines you paint, based on the amount of pressure you apply to the stylus. The standard tablet offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which should be more than enough for most creatives.
Budget - Drawing tablets prices can start as low as $30 and creep up to nearly $1,000. The difference in price is largely related to the display. The better the resolution and pressure sensitivity, the more expensive the tablet. But of course, if it doesn’t have a display, you’ll likely get it for a lower price.