I’m no Picasso but having talked to dozens of artists, I’ve learned that the best drawing tablet is one that is closest to the natural feel you get when using a brush and paper.
If you’re dipping your toe into digital art, or if you’re already using a mouse, a drawing tablet is a must-have tool that you should have in your arsenal. Heck, it should be your main weapon.
There are a lot of drawing tablets out there and it becomes a nuisance to look and compare the features of different models. This is why we’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of the best drawing tablets you can get right now.
We’ve made sure to cover a range of price points and types, so you’ll see tablets for beginners from $100 and $200 without a screen to drawing tablet with a screen for professionals who can afford to spend $4000 and everything in between so there’s something for the newbies to graphic designers to other artists.
However, before you take your card out, have a look at few things to consider before buying a drawing tablet.
First, there’s the physical size of the tablet. It consists of two different areas. Make sure to see what the size of the working area is, as well as the size of the entire device. If the size of the working area is bigger, you’ll be able to focus more on detail in your work. In case you have a smaller table, then the size of the device should matter, too.
Second, there are two types of resolution. The first one is the resolution of the tablet. The higher the resolution, the more detail you can have in your project. It is expressed in inches. Also, there’s pen resolution, expressed in lines per inch (LPI), which tells you how many digital lines you can fit into one inch of the physical monitor. You should aim for at least 1000 pen resolution LPI.
3. Display or Non-Display
Another feature to check off your list is the type of tablet. You can choose between a non-display table, which is a regular graphics tablet with a black drawing surface. You connect it via a USB to your computer and draw while looking at your monitor.
The display tablet, on the other hand, works the same as a pen and paper but usually costs more. This one is an excellent option for professionals who would like to bring their work to a whole new level.
4. Battery Life
If you’re working long hours, or travel with your tablet, make sure that it can last at least 3 hours if it has to charge. There are also battery-free options which are great to use whenever without worrying about charging.
Cost is a crucial factor for some as you can’t always have a big budget. Luckily, some high-end manufacturers offer relatively cheap tablets with excellent features at below $100. But you always have to see the price as opposed to features to be happy with your purchase and be able to start drawing detailed projects for your clients.
6. Additional features
Most drawing tablets let you customize the buttons on the table and the pen (stylus.) These buttons can save you time as you can apply different controls quickly.
Also, check if the device is compatible with the software you’re using for your work. Make sure that the model you want to buy supports any software you need but also the OS you’re using.
Last, make sure that the stylus has enough pressure levels and at least one customization button to help you finish your work as soon as possible. Moreover, it’s convenient if the stylus doesn’t require a battery.
You’d never guess that the first on this list would be one of Wacom’s products since this company has a few high-end drawing tablets. Still, here it is.
The Wacom CTL472K1A One is the perfect drawing tablet for beginners. This model is compact and measures only 8.30 x 5.70 x 0.30 inches and weighs only 0.99 pounds so you can carry it with you easily.
Its 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution won’t help you much if you’re making extremely detailed and big illustrations or architectural plans but the working area of 6 x 3.7 inches and pressure sensitivity of 4096 levels is enough to draw simple illustrations, editing photos, or making smaller graphics.
It is compatible with most programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Corel Painter, Sketchbook, Manga Studio, Paint Tool Sai, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint, OSD, and more.
The CTL472K1A One Small doesn’t have any buttons on the board, but the battery-free stylus has customizable buttons to make shortcuts for your most-used features.
The second drawing tablet on this list, the HUION Inspiroy Ink H320M is also a beginner model. This tablet has a dual function. It can work as an LCD writing tablet and a pen drawing tablet.
With a working area of 10 inches, this coin-cell-battery-powered tablet gives you enough space to create your art, whether you’re in animation, illustration, or graphic design. It is a non-display tablet, just like the previous one.
This model is extremely customizable, with 11 programmable press keys that you can set according to your needs. The battery-free stylus offers 5080 LPI, which is pretty good for a tablet in this price range, and has 2 programmable press keys to switch between the eraser and the brush.
The pressure sensitivity is double the previous one, with 8192 levels, which enables you to be as accurate as possible with your work. Also, the drawing tablet features the “Clear-All” button that erases all the marks you make on the drawing tablet.
The CTL472K1A One Small doesn’t have any buttons on the board, but the battery-free stylus has customizable buttons to make shortcuts for your most-used features.
Another Wacom model, the CTL6100WLK0 Intuos Medium is the perfect drawing tablet for digital art or animation as it has intuitive controls and comes with complimentary software once you register the device on the Wacom site. You can also connect it to your Android device with the OTG connector that is sold separately.
The CTL6100WLK0 is powered by a battery and connects via a USB or Bluetooth 4.2 to your computer. It has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as 2540 LPI on the stylus.
The pen is battery-free and has two customizable buttons and comes with three extra nibs. It’s extremely easy to set the tablet up and set the four shortcut keys on the upper working area.
This drawing tablet is compatible with all major programs and comes with 3 complimentary programs: Clip Studio Paint Pro (2-yr license), Corel Painter Essentials 7 & Corel AfterShot Pro 3 (90-day trial.) You can also register to get 3-month trials of EdTech software for teachers.
The fourth drawing tablet on the list offers a variety of different controls, even for experienced professionals and artists, as well as online teaching and remote meetings since it works with software like Zoom.
The model has a working area size of 10 x 5.6 inches which is sufficient for a 1920×1080 resolution on your monitor. It’s perfect for animation, sketching, graphic design, and illustration. There are eight shortcut buttons, such as scrolling and zooming in/out for easier maneuverability.
The battery-free pen comes with eight additional nibs. It offers 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and has 2 programmable buttons for easy shortcuts and 5080 LPI for a more detailed work.
The PD1161 is compatible with software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint, Manga Studio, CorelPainter, Lightroom, Sketchbook Pro, FireAlpaca, OpenCanvas, Paint Tool Sai2, and Krita.
This is a drawing tablet, meaning that you can see directly what you’re drawing on the board, but it still has to be connected to your laptop to work.
With the XP-Pen Artist 15.6, we’re in the mid-range drawing tablet category. With a big 13.5 x 7.7-inch working area that gives you a 4K resolution on your monitor.
The 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity to modify the thickness of various brushes and pens. It has 6 customizable buttons that you can set up according to your work needs.
This model comes with battery-free Passive stylus that gives you fluidity in your creations and comes with eight replacement nibs. It has two customizable buttons and a 5080 LPI to help you get into detail, especially if you do illustration or architectural plans.
It is equipped with an LED backlight and can be used for online teaching and remote meetings since it’s compatible with XSplit, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Twitch, Idroo, Scribbiar, ezTalks Webinar, and wiziQ.
This drawing tablet is compatible with most software programs, including Clip Studio, Photoshop, Painter, and Illustrator.
Another model from GAOMON, the PD2200 Pen Display Tablet isn’t only a drawing tablet since it doubles as a display for all your online meetings and work. It works with the programs like Zoom.
However, let’s focus on its digital creation purpose. It works wonders in the graphic design, drawing, 3D artwork, or animation domain due to its large working area of 18.7 x 10.5 inches.
The 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity are more than enough to give you the perfect brush stroke, while the 5080 LPI
The battery-free pen with tilt support function allows for superior control and stunning fluidity and comes with eight replacement nibs. It has 2 programmable buttons you can set according to your choosing.
Apart from being compatible with Windows and Mac, this drawing tablet works with numerous programs, such as Photoshop, SAI version 2, Illustrator, Krita, SketchBook Pro, MediBan, FireAlpaca, GIMP, and Paint Pro.
With the Wacom PTH660P Intuos Pro, we entered a completely new dimension of drawing tablets. Whether you want to work digitally or use the good old paper while you work, the Wacom Intuos Pro paper offers endless possibilities.
Although it offers a rather small working area of 8.7 x 5.8 inches, the PTH660P is extremely versatile and fits 5080 LPI inside of that small area. It has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and lag-free tracking with the Pro Pen 2 technology.
The biggest innovation on this model is the paper clip on the frame, which enables you to use paper to sketch or draw. It’s a dream come true for those who like the feel of paper and miss it in their digital work.
It can connect wirelessly to a mobile device in paper mode, and it is compatible with most designing and editing software.
You will have to charge the Lithium Metal batteries to work. The full charge will last you approximately five hours.
The HUION KAMVAS 22 Graphics Drawing Tablet is one of the best drawing tablet on this list. Its Capacitive Pressure sensor gives you smooth operation, while the 8192 pressure levels enable you to have an extremely accurate pen performance.
The model is perfect for artists and graphic designers alike. The pen has virtually no lags and glides across the display.
Its 18.7 x 10.5-inch working area gives you a surface big enough for 1960x1080p full HD resolution images. The scratch-resistant surface gives you the paper-drawing feel, while the 5080 LPI gives you enough options to customize your brush strokes.
The device connects to your computer via the 3in1 USB Type-C cable and a USB-A port to connect with other devices. You can also connect it to your Android devices (that support USB3.1 GEN1 or DP 1.2.)
The battery-free pen has two programmable buttons for easier operation.
The drawing tablet supports most software options, such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Painter, SAI, Krita, or Mediband and you can use it for online meetings since it has a big display and works with software like Zoom.
One more Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution drawing tablet is the Wacom DTC133W0A One Display Digital Drawing Tablet. This one is an excellent mid-prices option for artists and architects.
Although below the standard in this price range, with 4096 levels of pressure and 2540 LPI, this display tablet can be the tool for your artistic ventures but also help you with your online meetings or teachings.
The battery-free pen gives the right amount of accuracy for all your projects and comes with integrated foldable legs for easier and ergonomic working.
Once you register, you can get the Bamboo Paper Pro, Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom (2-month license), Clip Studio Paint Pro (3-month license), and Adobe Fresco (6-month license.)
In case you work as online teacher, you can get the 3-month trial of EdTech software.
The third model from Huion on this list has the best features for meticulous professional work. The Kamvas Pro 24 Drawing Monitor is one of the high-end models with a 23.8-inch QHD screen that gives you a 2.5K resolution (2560×1440) and arguable one of the best drawing tablet for professionals.
The working area of 20.7 x 11.6 inches is excellent for professionals who work with tiny details in their projects.
Due to its size, this monitor tablet saves your time switching between windows and enables you to focus on the details in your work, whether you illustrate, do graphic design, or sketch.
The 120% sRGB color gamut offers an extremely vivid display and the 5080 LPI pen resolution and gives you the possibility to draw many lines on your project.
The battery-free Electromagnetic Resonance pen floats through the work, while the anti-glare glass and etched surface give you the paper-like feeling when you’re in the middle of the drawing. It also comes with an adjustable stand.
The model is compatible with most programs and Windows 7 or later, macOS 10.12 or later.
The Apple iPad Pro is something different. You wouldn’t think of it as a drawing tablet at first, but it offers many great features for professionals as a display tablet.
Since it is essentially a computer, it has more uses than a regular drawing tablet.
However, we’ll focus on its drawing tablet uses. If you intend to use it as a tablet, first you will have to install Astropad which works with your iPad and your Mac. You’ll also have to purchase the Apple Pencil that has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The 5080 LPI gives enough options for your brush strokes, while the 12.9-inch display can help you with all your art projects.
The iPad Pro works excellent if you’re an illustrator and don’t have a need for button shortcuts and similar customization options. Still, the trackpad with angle adjustment enables you to tilt the surface area for better ergonomics.
Although primarily a computer, this one can serve as a functional drawing tablet.
The Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet is a drawing tablet that is famous in the professional world, especially in the digital art space.
Its big 21.5-inch display enables you to draw fine details at the Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, while the interactive 5080-LPI Wacom Pro Pen 2 pen and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity give you versatile options when it comes to the line thickness and focus to detail.
The adjustable stand gives you the option to set the tablet ergonomically to draw more easily on your table, while the battery-free pen lets you customize the two buttons on the side.
It’s compatible with software such as Autodesk Sketchbook, Krita, Artweaver, Paint Tool SAI, ArtRage, Rebelle, Clip Studio Paint, and more.
This model connects to Windows OS 7 or later and Mac OS. Its only downside is that it lacks the shortcut keys on the board.
The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13″ is another “pen computer,” as the manufacturer calls it. This powerful mobile studio is the right choice for every professional who wants to up his or her work abilities and performance game.
With a strong processing power by Intel i7-8559U processor and 16 GB-memory, as well as 512 GB SSD. this tablet studio offers plenty of features and space for artists and designers alike.
The 13.3-inch surface enables you to get into detail with your illustrations and sketches, while the Wacom Pro Pen 2 delivers 8192 levels of pressure and 5080 LPI for more room to maneuver within your projects.
The display has 82% Adobe RGB coverage, lag-free tracking, and extremely fast processing, so you can use it for 2D illustration, photo editing, and graphics.
Unlike the previous model, this one has six customizable keys for your shortcuts and a multi-touch surface to speed up your creative process. The pen also has two programmable keys. This one is a must for all serious designers and editors.
The most expensive model on this list, Microsoft Surface Studio 2, has a lot to offer. It’s the best of the high-end drawing tablets and functions as a studio for creative professionals.
Its huge adjustable (upright or tilted) working area of 28 inches enables you to focus on the tiniest of details, while the 4095 levels of pressure and 10-point multi-touch gives you a complete freedom in drawing and painting. The 13.5 million pixels of true-to-life color deliver vivid and real-life colors.
This is the most powerful Surface, powered by the Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GPU, as well as SSD storage. The Surface Dial gives you intuitive shortcuts whenever you need them.
The multiple connection options give you more freedom with connections. The Surface Studio 2 has four USB 3.0, one USB-C®, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, it is Full-size SD™ card reader (SDXC) and Surface Dial* on-screen interaction compatible.
It is compatible with software such as SolidWorks, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Autodesk and comes with the Surface Pen, Keyboard, and Mouse.
So, there you have it. The drawing tablets featured above are the best in class. If you are serious about your career as a digital artist, it is worth investing and eating the upfront cost as it is most likely going to pay off down the line.
Unlike smartphones, these graphic tablets have a long life with 3-5 years being average and if you treat them with love, then they can keep working for longer, too. However, make sure to get the one that has cross-platform and cross-device compatibility, so you have the freedom and flexibility to use on Windows or Mac and on any design software.
Having said that, feel free to drop a comment and let us know which drawing tablet is your favorite and whether you agree with our recommendations.