The 11 Best Drawing Tablets to Buy in 2018

Create illustrations and animations with these drawing and graphic tablets

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These days, most designers practically live on their drawing tablets. They may take some getting used to at first, but they ultimately empower artists and creative professionals to realize digital versions of their creations. Unsure which drawing tablet is right for you? We’ve compiled a list of our favorites and compared them all below. We’ve even circulated a few of the models to a number of design-minded testers so they could put each one through the wringer. Look for the Tested by Lifewire seal to see their final verdicts.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Drawing Tablet

4.1

The Artist16 is a drawing tablet by XP-Pen with an extra-wide viewing angle and a host of creative features that make it an excellent all-around choice for most artists. Featuring a 1080P FullHD IPS display, your creations will come to life in vivid color and definition. An extra-wide, 178-degree viewing angle gives you the canvas you need to realize your design. And with 2,078 levels of pressure sensitivity, this tablet will work for drawing, painting, editing, designing, sketching and animating without any trouble.

The Artist16 comes with two rechargeable pens, a black anti-fouling glove and an HDMI adapter. It has eight express keys to eliminate headaches, allowing you to focus on the creative element. The adjustable display stand will also give you the freedom and flexibility you need to get in the zone. Finally, the tablet is compatible with Sai, Photoshop and most mainstream design software.

Best Android: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

4.4

Samsung equips their Galaxy tablets with the best stylus available on mass-market devices. The S Pen offers true-to-life pressure and sensitivity that rivals pens designed exclusively for drawing tablets. The pen never needs to be re-charged and can operate as a variety of drawing styles and devices.

In addition to a best-in-class pen, the Galaxy Tab S3 is an excellent all-around tablet. It has a vivid Super AMOLED display for deep contrast and extraordinary colors. It also comes with powerful Quad speakers tuned by AKG and a featherlight keyboard that can be attached to the tablet so that it operates like a laptop for word processing. It has a powerful 12-hour battery and a speedy Snapdragon quad-core processor. 

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Android tablets.

Best Drawing Pad: Huion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet

4.1

Designed with office work in mind, this ultra-narrow tablet is wireless and fits perfectly on your desk with a keyboard, a space-saving plus for graphic designers. The tablet connects to your PC or Mac where it works on Illustrator, Maya and other graphic design software (you'll need Windows 7 to 10 or Mac 10.10 or above). It has a six-meter wireless connection distance and a 2500mAh battery that lasts up to 40 hours. The sleek design separates the touch and draw area, so you can work without worrying about your palm accidentally touching the screen. The device has six customizable buttons and 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. 

Best Budget: Monoprice 10594 Graphic Drawing Tablet

Monoprice 10594 Graphic Drawing Tablet
Courtesy of Walmart.com
3.7

When it comes to functionality for your drawing tablet, it doesn't get much more nuts-and-bolts than this option from Monoprice. If you haven’t heard of the brand, then it’s worth taking a look, because tech heads swear by Monoprice for their cables, and in recent years we’ve been increasingly more impressed with the company’s ability to produce true quality products across the board. This drawing peripheral is no exception – it’s a serious workhorse for the visually inclined.

Let’s unpack the features: it offers a 10 x 6.25-inch drawing surface that sports a 4,000 LPI drawing resolution at a report rate of 200 RPS. There are 2,048 levels of pen pressure, rounding out all dimensions of accuracy for the drawing surface itself. These are certainly not top-of-the-line “premium” numbers, but are more than eye-catching for the price. There are 16 hot zones that can at the top of the drawing surface that can be assigned by you, plus further assignable expression keys that’ll let you do as much work as possible on the surface itself without the need to move to other accessories. It connects to the computer via USB and is compatible with basically any modern OS, and could even be modded to work on Linux.

Best for Windows Users: Microsoft Surface Pro 12.3

Microsoft - Surface Pro – 12.3”
Courtesy of BestBuy.com
4.1

Like a couple of the other tablets on this list, the Surface isn’t strictly a drawing surface – it’s a standalone device that lets you do basically everything a laptop would allow you to do. But the lines are getting blurrier and blurrier when it comes to the difference between tablets and laptops and drawing peripherals. The Microsoft Surface Pro line is the tech giant’s strongest tablet effort to date, and while the original Surface generations didn’t take off, these newer ones are completely viable options, especially if you’re a working designer.

For starters, their ultra-high resolution PixelSense displays are almost as stunning as Apple’s Retina Displays, and the color representation is pretty solid, too. There’s an added color bonus of being able to spec out and add notes on the screen about print colors that are directly compatible (and readable) by the OS sending print jobs to a Windows Ink printer – a great feature for designers working in print. It’s powered by a full Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, so if you do want to do more than just use it to draw, you’ll have tons of speed.

In terms of accessories, the accompanying pen and Microsoft’s Surface Dial are both great options for those who want to be more and more efficient and precise with their gestures, and the screen itself offers extra accurate tracking. The whole thing is super light and it runs on an impressive battery that Microsoft says is 50 percent and 68 percent better than the previous two generations, respectively.

Check out our other reviews of the best 2-in-one laptop tablets available on the market today.

 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Huion KAMVAS GT-191

The 19.5-inch IPS, widescreen HD display offered by the Huion KAMVAS drawing tablet is the first thing you’ll notice when you pull it out of the box. And that’s for good reason -- this thing gives you a massive amount of sketching real estate for the price. But the 72 percent NTSC color gamut gives you equally impressive levels of color representation, so you’ll almost forget that it’s just a peripheral.

As for the actual mechanics of sketching, there are over 8,000 separate levels of pen pressure, giving you extra z-axis precision when you’re trying to realize your art, and that physical flexibility is further extended with the ergonomically adjustable stand, allowing you to position the tablet at the perfect angle for whatever you’re working on.

The included PE330 stylus is rechargeable with two separate assignable gesture buttons, and this model is newly redesigned to be extra responsive when drawing on the display. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac and further works with the Adobe Suite. This particular package comes with that aforementioned pen, plus a writing glove and additional pen tips to replace once they wear out.

Best Small Screen: Lenovo Yoga Book

For the artist on the go, the Lenovo Yoga Book fits snugly into any backpack or travel bag. Ten inches long, 0.4 inches thick, and weighing less than 2 pounds, Lenovo proudly claims that their product is the thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 tablet on the market. It's also a highly versatile machine with four modes that respond to your needs whether you want to draw, binge Netflix, or draft an email. You can adjust the Yoga Book's 360-degree hinge to place it in Create Mode, Browse Mode, Watch Mode, and Type Mode.

Despite its trim size, the Yoga Book also guarantees high-performance hardware, featuring a 64GB solid-state drive, 4GB LP DDR3 of RAM, and 13 hours of battery life. The 10.1-inch screen delivers picture-perfect visuals: 1920 x 1200 HD resolution and 400 nits of brightness. The tablet’s main bonus for artists is the battery-free Real Pen stylus and the attached Create Pad, which allows you to digitize written notes or sketches. The Real Pen stylus boasts 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and accurately replicates the experience of writing in a real notebook.

Best for Professionals: GAOMON PD1560

Most artists will swear by Wacom as one of the most reputable brands in the industry, but GAOMON is just as respectable and the company's 15.6-inch PD1560 tablet boasts high-performance specs at half the price of a 13-inch Wacom tablet. Firstly, the screen features full 19020 x 1080 (16:9) HD resolution as well as bright, accurate colors. Secondly, the glass itself offers a smooth drawing experience and the pen features 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity for finessed and precise sketching. There’s also a useful “screen-flip” function to accommodate left-handed artists.

On the edges of the display, you’ll find the menu controls as well as 10 shortcut keys, ready to be customized according to your creative needs. Additionally, you’ll find an adjustable stand on the back of the tablet, offering maximum comfort while you work. Finally, the GAOMON model is compatible with the latest Windows (7/8/10) and Mac OS systems, as well as most professional designing programs, including but not limited to Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchBook Pro, SAI 2, and SketchBook Pro.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Huion H420 USB Graphics Drawing Tablet Board Kit

Before you plunk down hundreds of dollars on a professional tablet, get a feel for drawing with this $30 kit. The tablet itself has an active area of 4 by 2.23 inches and a resolution of 4,000 lines per inch, while the pen offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, giving you precise control over brush effects and line width. It also has three express keys that let you do things like close or save the current page.

It’s compatible with all major graphics applications (think Corel Painter, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks and beyond) as well as most operating systems, including Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP and Mac OS 10.4+. Unfortunately the handy pen scrolling feature, which lets you scroll documents and websites by pressing the middle button of the digital pen over the tablet's working area, is unavailable in Mac OS. Even so, it’s a fantastic value, complete with a wool carrying case, USB cable, anti-fouling glove and cleaning kit.

 

Best Apple Tablet: Apple iPad Pro

With a 10.5-inch screen, the latest iPad pro is a powerful tool for drawing, thanks to the Apple pencil and ultra-sharp vivid retina display. The tablet is lightweight and super thin, weighing just over one pound and measuring .2 inches in thickness. A powerful A10X fusion chip with 64-bit architecture embedded M10 coprocessor delivers fast performance, while the 10.5” retina display and 2224 x 1668 resolution offer extreme HD at 264 pixels per inch. Other noteworthy inclusions: a 12MP camera with 4K HD video, 7MP FaceTime HD camera and 10 hours of battery life. Plus, thanks to the desktop-class performance, there are now dozens of apps in the Apple store that will help you unlock your creativity and make use of the powerful tablet, including Adobe Illustrator Draw and sketchbook.

Best Paper-to-Digital: Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition

Some people will always prefer the feel and function of drawing on a piece of paper, but still want digital versions of their creations that they can upload and edit. If you're in this camp, then the Intuous Pro Paper Edition is perfect, as it allows you to capture and upload pen-on-paper artwork into a completely digital form in a raster or vector file. Just use the Intuos Pro tablet’s new Pro Pen 2 technology. It comes combined with a removable paper clip and .4mm fine-tip gel pen. Just place the paper over the tablet and sketch. Your work will be captured on the tablet, even if you aren’t connected to the Internet.

The Pro Pen 2 also delivers the most accurate performance, with 4x higher accuracy than earlier versions for lag-free tracking and tilt recognition. The tablet is very comfortable to hold, opting for a thin and lightweight edition that feels great in your hands and lap. Eight express keys can be programmed to your liking, while a touch ring controls canvas rotation and other features. It's compatible with Windows 7 or later (64bit) and Mac OS 10.10 or later.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 14 hours testing the five most popular drawing tablets on the market. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these tablets and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Drawing Tablet

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.

Test Results: XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Drawing Tablet (Best Overall)

4.1

What We Like

  • Large screen

  • Comes with eight pen nibs

  • Has eight customizable express keys

What We Don’t Like

  • Has a lot of wires

  • Not beginner friendly

If you’re looking for a balance between budget and precision, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Drawing Tablet is the option you need. According to our testers, the screen size is great, the display is clear, and the colors are very crisp. One of our testers, who also owns a Wacom Intuos 5 tablet and a Wacom Cintiq 22HD tablet (both of which are much more expensive), gave this model high marks. She described it as “surprisingly light” and loved how many extra accessories it came with. “There was a small half-glove for you to keep the surface of the tablet clean, two pens, and extra nibs,” she said. The extra nibs were particularly helpful, because she told us she tends to go through nibs quickly.

One reviewer did mention that “light strokes could be finicky” but said the tablet was “spot-on” if you applied harder pressure.

Test Results: Galaxy Tab S3 (Best Android)

4.4

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Very durable

  • Pen is very responsive

What We Don’t Like

  • Takes a while to charge

Our testers thought this tablet was a top-notch choice. One person said, “It has everything I need: internet access, a camera, and great drawing capabilities.” Plus, this tablet is not just for drawing. Grab it for a quick binge-watching session on the couch or use the included S Pen to sketch out your favorite designs. It’s a great option for artistic tablet users that want to get more than one function out of a pricey device.

The Galaxy Tab S3 is also easy to travel with, according to Lifewire reviewers. Just throw it in your bag to draw on the go. Our testers’ only gripe is that it takes a little over 2.5 hours to get a full charge.

Test Results: Huion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet (Best Drawing Pad)

4.1

What We Like

  • Great pressure sensitivity

  • Light

  • Wireless connectivity for a cable-free experience

What We Don’t Like

  • Length (14.7 inches) makes it a tight fit in smaller backpack

Our reviewers love the Huion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet’s wireless capability. You can move up to six meters away from your computer whenever you want. Since some of our testers complained about other drawing tablets’ many wires, being completely unencumbered is a big plus.

Lifewire reviewers did say that only experienced designers should spring for this model. It’s not the right choice if you’re a total drawing-tablet beginner. Once you do buy it though, you’ll be impressed. “The screen is very responsive,” one person said.

Test Results: Monoprice 10594 Graphic Drawing Tablet (Best Budget)

 Courtesy of Walmart.com
3.7

What We Like

  • Shortcut keys to customize functionality

  • Lightweight

  • Stylus is wireless

What We Don’t Like

  • Tablet has no wireless capability

  • Comes with a CD to install the software

The Monoprice 10594 Graphic Drawing Tablet has everything you want in a very budget-friendly device. It has eight express keys and 16 hot zones that you can assign functionality to. “I would recommend this product if you are looking for a basic, no frills drawing tablet,” one reviewer said. Plus it’s light — weighing in at a little less than 3 ounces — which makes it easy to take on the road.

Test Results: Microsoft Surface Pro 12.3 (Best for Windows Users)

 Courtesy of BestBuy.com
4.1

What We Like

  • Great display quality

  • No lag

  • Superb pen

What We Don’t Like

  • Large screen can affect portability

Designers are known for their preference for Apple products, but if you’re a creative type that sticks with Windows, the Microsoft Surface Pro should be your go-to drawing tablet. The 12-inch screen allows you to see exactly what you’re doing and our testers describe both the picture and color quality as “above average.” Though you can do more than draw on this device, you may not want to: Lifewire reviewers loved everything about this tablet’s drawing functionality. “The screen was very responsive,” one person said. “[The pen] is extremely accurate and very flexible with its pressure-sensing feature.” He went on to say that he actually prefers this pen over Apple’s because it’s easier to hold and shorter. “The pen is very sensitive and it almost provides the same experience as writing on actual paper,” he added.