Drawing and illustrating is a fun and potentially lucrative hobby to have. While you can opt to draw on paper or use a mainstream tablet, it makes sense to have a dedicated drawing/graphics tablet if you have long-term ambitions. We’ve taken a look at some of the best options out there.
When looking for a graphics tablet, bear in mind a few crucial details. Size is important. You want to be able to see the images you’re drawing clearly. Then again, depending on your needs, portability is useful too, so don’t feel obliged to buy the biggest tablet out there.
Regardless of your aims, pressure sensitivity is vital too. Essentially, the higher the sensitivity, the more accurate the touch to the tablet is. Creating detailed drawings is tricky enough without cruddy sensitivity and poor responsiveness getting in your way.
There’s also a little room for some mainstream suggestions. Sometimes, a regular tablet will do the job pretty well too (especially if you’re new to drawing tablets), so we’ve checked out the picks of the bunch here.
Whatever your needs, here’s a look at the best graphics tablets out there.
Best All-Rounder: XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Tablet ($360)
Priced at a fairly respectable $370, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Tablet is ideal for most users. It utilizes an IPS panel full HD display monitor, paired with a high precision pen stylus. The panel has a resolution of 1920×1080 which should be good for most users with a nice wide 178 degree viewing angle.
Pressure sensitivity wise, there are 8192 levels which can be simply summed up as pretty good indeed. A fast refresh rate means you’ll see the results quickly as well.
Besides the stylus, there are 6 express keys for implementing various shortcuts. At this price (and with these features) it’s a bit of a bargain.
Best Compact Model: Wacom Intuos Pro ($219-448)
If your work requires a very precise touch, but on a small surface area, the Wacom Intuos Pro is perfect. A high end brand, you need to pay a fair bit for any Wacom tablet, but the quality shines through noticeably. Available in three different sizes, ranging from 6.2″ x 3.9″ to 16.8″ x 11.2″, the results are the same—great accuracy.
The tablet offers the same amount of pressure levels as the XP-Pen (8192) but the response rate is that little bit better with a stylus that’s a little more comfortable and accurate to use. That already makes it the perfect tablet if you complete a lot of fine detail illustration, but the features keep coming.
Express Keys are there for quick interaction but there’s also the option of three different texture sheets from smooth to rough. Additionally, your stylus pen has interchangeable pen tips which is a huge help for when you want to customize your drawing style. It’s lightweight too so good for tossing in your bag on your commute.
Size wise, it might lack the flexibility of the XP-Pen but size isn’t everything, and the Wacom Intuos Pro makes up for it in many other ways.
Best Budget Choice: Huion H640P ($50)
As with most tech, the more you spend on a drawing tablet, the better the quality. How about if you’re not quite sure if a dedicated tablet is for you? Well, give the Huion H640P a try. It’s only $50 so perfect for dabbling.
Despite that low price, it still packs in some useful features like a pressure sensitivity rate on a par with the others here, but it is pretty small. With a working surface of 6.3 x 3.9 inches, it’s not ideal for everything going, but it’s a start. Similarly, there’s only the one surface to draw on without any options to change how things feel. The stylus is a little clunky compared to other, finer (and more expensive) examples, but it should be good to get you started. It comes with 8 different pen nibs too which can be useful as you work.
If you’re just starting out on your digital drawing hobby or career, this is a great place to begin.
Best Luxury Choice: Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch Pen Display ($1700)
If money is no object and you know you want the best graphics tablet out there, you need to buy the Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch Pen Display. The display is a rather impressive 22″ HD screen with a wide viewing angle, widescreen aspect ratio, and a rather hefty footprint. It’s not exactly portable, weighing about 19 pounds, but it is a perfect sketching environment at home.
It promises the same responsiveness and accuracy as using an actual paintbrush or marker, and it actually delivers too. With a highly accurate tip sensor on the pen, it captures even the most subtle forms of pressure. The pen also has customizable side switches so you can program it to complete common functions easily, plus it recognizes the angle you’re tilting it at.
Throw in 16 programmable ExpressKeys and you’re pretty much covered when it comes to neat features, saving you valuable time and effort, and ensuring your resulting images look perfect every time. Just expect to pay for it—you’re purchasing a premium model from a premium graphics tablet company, after all.
Best iOS Option: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 ($799)
Depending on your drawing needs, a dedicated solution isn’t always essential or budget-friendly One alternative option is to buy an Apple iPad Pro. Working like a regular iPad, but better and faster, the tablet is perfect if you want something that works well as a graphics tablet as well as general entertainment system.
It’s not a cheap option, however. Priced at $799 for the 32gb variety, you also need to buy an Apple Pencil which costs about $100. For that price, you could buy a fairly high-end graphics tablet, but you won’t have the flexibility of it also being a “regular” tablet. When you factor in the incredibly utility you get out of having a premium tablet that doubles as a decent-enough graphics tablet too, the price doesn’t seem so outrageous.
For the dedicated illustrator, this is far from an ideal solution. It’s not as accurate nor does it offer as many graphics based options. However, if you’re dabbling in drawing and you’re keen for a new tablet anyhow, this is a good middle ground.
Best Android Option: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 ($447)
Found yourself grimacing at the idea of an iOS tablet? Try the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 instead, assuming you want a tablet that also happens to double up as a drawing tablet. Considerably cheaper than the iPad Pro, it also comes with a stylus bundled in as Samsung’s S Pen isn’t just a key part of the Tab 3 design but included with it right out of the box.
Skipping past all that non-essential stuff, this is a great tablet for entertainment and some drawing too. Again, it won’t have the high end pressure sensitivity that a dedicated solution provides, but it means you have a speedy tablet for gaming, watching streaming services, and trying out a little drawing too. Just don’t expect it to be a permanent solution if you want to make a long term go of drawing and illustrating.