The tech wave has finally reached artists. Even though our image of an artist might still be a paint-splattered man or woman surrounded by big canvases, many real-life working artists are turning to drawing tablets for sketching, painting, photo editing and other work.
These high-tech tablets are slightly different than the iPad we use to watch movies and read the news, offering a more sensitive screen with features geared towards drawing. Some drawing tablets are also simply pressure pads that connect to your computer. Switching to one of these tablets allows you to easily transport all your work, erase mistakes and greatly reduce your eco-footprint. Whether you’re a professional graphic designer, someone who’s just starting to draw or anywhere in-between, going digital with a drawing tablet is a major upgrade.
When buying a drawing tablet, you’ll want to note a few key features: pressure sensitivity, physical size and software compatibility. Pressure sensitivity means the range of pressure the tablet can recognize; higher sensitivity means varied line thicknesses, better shading and so on. Physical size is pretty straightforward: if you need to carry your tablet around, opt for a smaller model.
Price can be tricky with drawing tablets, as they range from $20 all the way to $2,000. There are many factors contributing to this discrepancy, but generally, pick a price-point that reflects your skill and need. If you’re a professional designer, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a top-of-the-line drawing tablet. Alternatively, if you’re just getting started, there’s no need to spend more than $100.
Whatever your artistic aspirations or occupation, there’s a drawing tablet to suit your needs. Check out our favorites below.
1. XP-Pen Artist12
Our favorite overall drawing tablet is this XP-PEN Artist12. It’s simple and reasonably priced at $200, but still has some premium features to keep a professional in business. The device boasts the highest pressure sensitivity possible with 8,192 levels, an elegant, handy touch bar on the side and a crisp HD display. Pick up one of these for any artistic job, drawing hobby, or as a great gift for an artistic soul in your life.
2. XP-Pen G430S
If you’re new to drawing tablets, digital art or just art in general, you don’t have to risk dropping hundreds and then realizing digital art isn’t for you. This tablet (also from XP-Pen) costs just $20, and while it’s not prepared for serious art, it’s fantastic for messing around with and learning the craft. Plus, it comes very highly-rated with over 400 reviews and 4.3 stars.
2. Huion H420 Drawing Tablet KIT
There are a few accessories that upgrade the drawing tablet experience, and this bundle has them all. This affordable tablet from Huion includes cleaning supplies, anti-fouling gloves, pen tip replacements and more. You get all this for under $30, making it another great option for beginners or gifting.
3. Huion Inspiroy H640P
Looking for a compact yet professional tablet? Go for this thin, 6.3”x 3.9” Huion Inspiroy. It’s a clear upgrade from the Huion tablet above thanks to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, a battery-free stylus and android compatible for drawing on-the-go. It’s a good beginner tablet, but can also be used as a back-up or traveling tablet for professionals.
4. Wacom Intuos
Another great drawing tablet for carrying around is this ultra-lightweight Wacom Intuos. Weighing in at just half a pound, you’ll barely notice it in your bag while commuting or traveling. It has a sleek design with a few handy shortcut keys on the top, and a decent 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
5. GAOMON PD1560
If you’re looking to step-up your drawing tablet game without breaking the bank, go for this Gaomon PD1560. It has an onboard HD monitor, 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and a large 15.6-inch workspace. The device also features an adjustable arm stand for the perfect angle, making it highly ergonomic. It’s great for professionals, but if digital art is a just hobby this is still a serious upgrade.
6. Wacom Cintiq Pro 24
BEST HIGH-END OPTION
In the digital art world, Wacom’s Cintiq Pro is the crème de la crème of drawing tablets. It boasts an incredible 24 inch, full 4K display with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it the best screen you’ll find anywhere. This means clear, virtually lag-free drawing and designing, and freedom to make whatever you want.
8. Microsoft Surface Book 2
BEST LAPTOP-TABLET HYBRID
For a more versatile drawing tablet, pick up one of these Microsoft Surface Book 2s. It functions as a laptop and tablet, but if you add the optional Surface Pen, you get a very capable drawing tablet as well. This is ideal for designers and drawers on-the-go, as you don’t need to carry a laptop and drawing tablet.