best drawing tablet

Best drawing tablet for you: An introduction

Please do share!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Best art and graphics tablets reviews, 2016-2017

Choosing the best drawing tablet for your needs can be hard. Tablets for Artists helps by offering detailed reviews and news. Whether you seek the best graphics tablet or tablet with screen, you’ll learn a lot here.

Maybe you wish to draw, paint, write, upload, and share your art. Or maybe you’re a parent encouraging your child to draw. There’s a solution for every artist and budget. Even cheap drawing tablets will greatly improve your art workflow.

Below are our top picks for graphics tablets, pen-display tablets with screens, and the best tablet PC laptops or 2-in-1s. They are digital drawing pads, monitors, or computers you can draw on.

To see all tablets reviewed so far and a list of Wacom Intuoses, please go to our Comparison Chart page.

BEST DRAWING TABLET 2016-2017: OUR TOP PICKS
Wacom Cintiq 13HD Pen & Touch
wacom cintiq 13hd pen and touch

Cintiqs go up to 27". Top brand with the most features, including pen tilt/rotation sensitivity.
Read our review Check price
XP-Pen Artist 22E tablet monitor
xp-penartist22e-box
Economical choice offers size and value. 2,048 levels of pressure. EMR digitizer.Read our review Check price
Wacom Intuos Pro Medium (2017)
Wacom-Intuos-Pro-2017
Premium graphics tablet. Pro Pen 2 with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Intuos Pro Paper Edition option uses real pens and paper.
Read our review


See our article on choosing a Wacom graphics tablet.
Check price
Huion 610 Pro
huion-h610-pro-review1

Popular, affordable Wacom Intuos Pro alternative.Read our review Check price
Apple iPad Pro
appleipadprofordrawing

iOS portable tablet. 12.9" or 9.7", tilt-sensitive, works with Apple Pencil
Read our review
Check price

Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen
galaxytabaspen10-1sm
Android portable tablet. Great size & value. Wacom S pen; you can also use a larger Wacom pen on it (more info in review). New 10.1" HDRead our review

Check price

Wacom MobileStudio Pro
wacommobilestudiopro

Two sizes, 13 and 16. 3D camera option. Pro Pen 2 with 8,192 levels.Read our review Check price
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
microsoft surface pro 4 with surface pen

Popular Windows 2-in-1 for art, notetaking, general.Read our review Check price


Check price (Microsoft)

Wacom dominates the digital drawing pad market with their Cintiq tablet monitors and Intuos graphics tablets. but they’re not the only game in town for computer drawing pads. They offer the most advanced features and excellent build quality, but some alternative brands are not bad.

Best graphics tablet: Wacom Intuos Pro

Our favorite graphics tablet is the Intuos Pro. It’s also the most popular among creative professionals.

Click here for more info on choosing a Wacom graphics tablet.

best graphics tablet-Intuos Pro

Intuos Pro Medium (2017) with Pro Pen 2. Image courtesy Wacom

The Intuos Pro’s advanced features enable you to customize your workflow, work quickly, and exercise the most creative control. The Intuos Pro Medium is the most popular tablet among artists, photographers, and designers.

If you want to draw on paper, the Intuos Pro Paper Edition may be the best choice of graphics tablet.

digital drawing tablet -intuos+Pro+Paper

The size allows freedom of arm movement and enough room to draw and edit. The Pro Pen 2 delivers a whopping 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.

As an economical Intuos alternative, the Huion H610 Pro also made the list of best graphics tablets. With the alternative, the build quality is fairly similar. The drivers differ somewhat.

Top pen display: Wacom Cintiq

The Wacom Cintiq is the most popular in pen-display monitors. Like the Intuos, the Cintiq offers extensive controls and tilt sensitivity and the Pro Pen 2. Its rotating stand gives you freedom and the drivers let you customize keyboard commands on a per-application basis.

wacom cintiq

Wacom Cintiq. Image courtesy Wacom

You can also map the pen buttons to keyboard commands. Wacom products come bundled with some art programs. Wacom Touch models also let you use your fingers for gestures, or finger painting on Cintiqs.

Recent developments for Wacom include the Cintiq Pro  and Wacom MobileStudio Pro. The Cintiq Pro is similar to the 13HD and also comes in 15″. It has the Wacom Pro Pen 2 that has 8,192 levels of pressure.

Affordable options

In more affordable options,  we also really like the XP-Pen 22E and Yiynova MVP22U . They bring a larger tablet with screen to those on a budget. The Ugee 2150 is also a good choice. Artisul makes tablet monitors with great build quality and straightforward drivers in the 10″-13″ category. The Huion 610 Pro does a lot of what the Intuos does.

Our picks for portable and mobile drawing tablets

Portable tablets are great travel companions–not only can you draw, write, type, and transmit, but they can serve as cameras, phones, and navigators. They are digital sketchbooks.

Our top choice: iPad Pro. In portable tablets, we love the iPad Pro 12.9″ because of its size and the tilt-sensitive Apple Pencil. It’s an excellent stylus for drawing. It’s the best active pen I’ve tried. It even lets you use the side of the tip to do shading.

The Apple Pencil at 22 grams weighs a few more grams than most active pens and it’s skinny. While most artists are happy with it there are some who don’t like the thinness. Using a rubber grip should help with comfort.

Drawing on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil

Drawing on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil in Sketchbook Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen is nearly as good for art, and more budget-friendly. We feel it’s the best Android tablet for drawing, and it now has an HD screen. You can get a larger Wacom pen for it if you choose. The enhanced S Pen it comes with can be used at different angles.

Portables give you access to large app stores, iPad to the Apple app store and Samsung to the Google Play store, which has millions of Android apps.

samsung galaxy tab a s pen review

Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen

WIndows options

A Windows tablet PC might be right for you with its versatility as combination computer and screen you can draw on. An i5 or i7 is best to run Photoshop. There are  also portable Windows machines with less powerful Atom processors that are good for use with less demanding art software.

 

bestdrawingtablet-surfacepro4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Several Lenovo ThinkPad Yogas have Wacom pens and are powerful and rugged computers with comfortable keyboards. The Lenovo Yoga 14 is a powerful touchscreen with a Wacom pen and plenty of horsepower. The unique Lenovo Yoga Book combines a graphics tablet and screen and comes in Windows and Android.

lenovo-yoga-book

Lenovo Yoga Book. Image courtesy Lenovo

The new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has been released with a Wacom AES pen, and the new Dell Latitude 2-in-1 that’s more powerful was announced in Jan. 2017 and will soon be released. The Lenovo Miix 720 is another promising newcomer with a Wacom pen.

(Most tablet PCs offer full-size ports, while portables have micro USB. If you’re not looking for an art device but rather a portable with a full USB, check out our article about tablets that sport full-size USB ports.)

Top high-end PC choice: Wacom MobileStudio Pro

wacommobilestudiopro

The snazziest of all the drawing tablets, this all-in-one slate from Wacom packs a lot of power, 8,192 pressure levels, Cintiq controls, two sizes of 13 and 16, and a 3D camera option. Its form factor makes it portable. We did a hands-on review. This is probably the best tablet PC for artists, if budget allows.

Take your time to browse the choices before making a decision, and feel free to ask questions.

Who uses tablets for art?

Illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, cartoonists, animators, crafters, architects, doodlers, and other visual artists use a digital drawing tablet with stylus. There are specialized, art-centric drawing tablets, and general computers with art capabilities. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Before you buy

Before you buy, consider your budget and specific needs.

Do you need high-res files? If you’re looking at tablet PCs, what are the demands of your art software–are you a Photoshop user, or could you get by with a smaller art program? Do you need customized keyboard commands? Do you want to scan traditional media artwork, then use the tablet to edit and color?

Will you be traveling and want a portable art studio? Using it in bad weather? Will you be commuting with your tablet? Do you lose small parts easily? (If so, you might want to pick one that has a pen silo or way of attaching the pen, or a suitable carrying case).

Do you prefer to draw at a desk, or on the couch? Will you be using a multiple monitor setup? All these things make a difference in how happy you will be with your purchase.

Think about what else you might do besides draw–such as write and sign your name–for instance, you can sign documents. Some devices have handwriting-to-text conversion.

What other things can you do?

You can trace designs. Photographers can use the pen to edit photos with sensitivity and accuracy. Game designers can create video-game art. Scrapbookers can do digital scrapbooking.

Art tablets are great if you’re an artist who does print-on-demand work; they allow you to skip the scanning stage. Schools have adapted them for educational use. You can also use them for OSU gaming.

OK, what’s the best tablet for the money?

If you want a portable sketchbook with a screen, I’m going to go with the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen 10.1″. You will have portability, the whole Google Play store, an SD card slot, and a Wacom pen. I think this is a great drawing tablet for carrying around.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

best drawing tabletThe best drawing tablets feel the most natural to use the pen on. What’s beneath the screen has a lot to do with this.

There is an active digitizer under the screen. The digitizer picks up signals from the pen.

Nearly all artists need pressure sensitivity. Pressure sensitivity makes it so that the harder you press down, the thicker your line gets, just as using a pencil on paper. In some programs, you can also control opacity and other features using pressure sensitivity.

You also want good pen accuracy. “Parallax” is the name for the little gap you will see between your pen and line.

And, you want no lag time between when you touch the pen to the screen and when you see your line.

Palm rejection is important. It enables the computer to distinguish between touches your hand and from the pen, so that you don’t accidentally make a mark with your hand while drawing with the pen. This is only an issue if the model has multitouch.

Multitouch is the ability to use gestures such as zoom, pan, and navigate by using two or more fingers. Art software is increasingly made to integrate with touch. Almost all Wacoms have touch, from Cintiq to Intuos and Bamboo. Our article on how to pick a Wacom graphics tablet will help you understand the ins and outs of Wacom’s offerings.

The touch feature is not a necessity. A lot of the Wacom alternatives do not have it, and some Cintiqs do not have it.

TYPES OF TABLETS

Graphics tablets are made mostly of plastic and attach to a computer. They do not have a screen; you draw on them while looking at your computer screen. Some people call them computer drawing pads. The keys on the side, and the buttons on the pen, can be programmed to various commands.

Graphics tablets are considered the best drawing tablets for beginners or those on a budget, or if you don’t need to draw on the screen. If you mainly want a cheap drawing tablet, this is the type for you. Our graphics tablet reviews take an in-depth look at individual models.

Pen-display tablets. Many prefer a tablet with a screen, such as the Wacom Cintiq, for its directness. It’s a monitor your draw on that mirrors your computer display. Because you draw on it, it’s referred to as a tablet monitor. Most people feel the best drawing tablet is one that gives you the freedom to work directly with your pen on the display.

Tablet PCs run Windows. Some of the best are the Surface Pro 4, Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14, or the art-centric Wacom MobileStudio Pro. The best choice for students might be a tablet PC 2-in-1, as it can be a general-use laptop as well. An i7 or i5 processor is recommended for running Adobe programs.

The Surface 3 is older and less powerful, but is an economical choice for light Photoshop.

For most professional artists, it is best to be able to run full Windows in order to use full Photoshop and other desktop programs.

There’s not one best drawing tablet for Mac or PC. If you have one you have to attach to your computer, it will work equally well on both, though occasionally some drivers will have a little variation in certain art programs in different operating systems.

There is Linux support for some. Not all art programs enable pressure sensitivity.

best drawing tablet

Click to see a comparison chart of all we’ve reviewed so far, with handy links to reviews and shopping.

Digital Drawing Tablet Brands

Wacom (pronounced Wah-kem) dominates the market. Their Intuos and Cintiq line are considered the top drawing tablets. The Intuos and Intuos Pro line is considered the best graphics tablet brand, and the Cintiq pen-display monitor line is considered to be the top tablet with screen. Wacom offers the most advanced features and controls, including pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator.

Companies such as Ugee, Yiynova, Artisul, Monoprice, and more make both graphics tablets and tablets with screens that offer most of the same functions. Some artists feel a one of these is the best drawing tablet because their approach to drawing doesn’t require all the Cintiq features. See our reviews of these affordable drawing tablets here.

These non-Wacom brands do not get pressure sensitivity in Illustrator, but the ones I have tried do get it in vector layers in Clip Studio Paint, so that is one way of getting the line variation you may want in vector.

Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Vaio, Toshiba, Fujitsu and more also make Windows tablet PCs with digitizers for use with art. They can handle full desktop digital art software programs.

PC companies Microsoft and Dell are also getting into the “big drawing tablet” field with their big-screen offerings.

This site contains many drawing tablet reviews, so use the menu or search bar on the right to find them by type or brand.

Digital art tablets at a glance:

best drawing tablet infographic

This might help you figure out the best art tablet for your needs.

If you would like to share this infographic, please use the embed code on this page.

Here’s some more info on some of our top choices. (Note: if you don’t see some of these on the chart, it’s because we had to make room for the new, but they are still recommended).

Powerful Tablet PC 2-in-1: Vaio Z Canvas

vaioz-canvas

We like the Vaio Z Canvas in this category, with the Microsoft Surface Pro line close behind. These, as well as the Surface Book, are Windows tablet PC 2-in-1s with detachable keyboards. Microsoft released the 28″ Surface Studio all-in-one in Nov. 2016.

(Click for our Surface Pro 4 review)

You may decide that a 2-in-1 or tablet PC is the best tablet for the money, since you can use it as a computer as well as an art studio.

Slate tablets have been getting rarer, but Wacom has just created a new one with its MobileStudio Pro. A slate has no keyboard specifically made to connect with it–you can connect your choice of keyboard via USB or Bluetooth.

 

microsoft surface pro 4 with surface pen

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Best tablet PC Convertibles: Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga line

A convertible tablet is a laptop where the screen swivels or bends back so you can lay it flat with the screen facing up. We like the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14, 460, Carbon, and X1. The 460 is a good general-use PC convertible that’s not too pricey. The 14 has a discrete graphics so is good if you’re a heavy graphics user. ThinkPad Yogas bend into different positions called modes.

(See our review of the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14, a Wacom-penabled tablet PC.)

 

newthinkpadyoga14

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14

The Wacom MobileStudio Pro (mentioned above) supplants the Cintiq Companion 2. Critics of the CC2 don’t like the fan noise, and the battery life was not so great, but drawing is smooth and silky.

best drawing tablets-Cintiq Companion 2

Cintiq Companion 2 with pen

Wacom Cintiq HD Pen and Touch

The Cintiq is a combination of tablet and monitor. This Cintiq 27HD Pen Touch (below) has to attach to a computer (laptops are fine, as are operating systems Windows, Mac and Linux). These come in sizes from 13″ to 22″ to 27.” Touch is an optional feature. With it, you can use gestures to pan, zoom, rotate and navigate, and finger paint as well. Some art software is specially made for touch.

best drawing tablet

Artist drawing on Wacom Cintiq 27HD

 

wacom-CINTIQ-22HD-TOUCH

Cintiq 22″ HD Touch used with a pinch/zoom gesture

Here’s a 22″, 18 lb.  Cintiq 22HD Touch, used by artists and animators.

We also like the XP-Pen Artist 22E. Click for review.

 

best drawing tablet with screen - cintiq 13hd

Wacom CIntiq 13HD with pen. Image courtesy Wacom

 

best drawing tablet

Artist drawing on Wacom Cintiq 13HD. Image courtesy Wacom

 Click for our Wacom Cintiq 13HD review.

 

What about the regular iPad?

The non-Pro iPad runs a mobile Apple OS. can’t run full Photoshop, only apps, and it does not have pressure sensitivity.

You can use a pressure-sensitive stylus with it, such as the Jot Touch . (Read our iPad stylus reviews.) But you are better off having an active digitizer.

But overall, the regular iPad is not the best art tablet for the majority of users. It is certainly possible to do fantastic art on it, and there are many great art apps you can use with it. But you’d be working around limitations.

3D sculpting

You can also use any of them with 3D software such as Blendr. Most are pressure sensitive. The Wacom Intuos 3D has some software specifically for 3D sculpting.

Trends in drawing tablets

Trends right now include real-world elements such as ways to digitize using real pens and markers, stronger 3D program support, innovative input devices such as the Microsoft Surface Dial. Though it has yet to hit the shelves, increased sophistication in optics, such as scanning 3D objects from the screen and being able to manipulate them.

Best tablet for beginners

If you’re just getting your feet wet, it may be wise to try a graphics tablet, as it’s the least expensive of the options. The Wacom Intuos Draw is the simplest Wacom. It doesn’t have touch. It’s small, so good for kids and small drawings. It may be the best graphics tablet for beginners.

Any tablet is fine for beginners. The main challenge with tablets is learning the software, such as Photoshop. There is some learning curve to customizing the keyboard and pen shortcuts. But you don’t have to use those controls.

It’s best to start with a simple drawing program such as ArtRage or Sketchbook Pro and work your way up to Photoshop. Photoshop Elements may be all you need. Learning the basics such as layers and brushes will get you on your way.

Types of digitizer

While this may seem dull and technical, the digitizer affects the feeling of drawing, so it’s important to understand the basics. The digitizer in a tablet refers to a layer under the screen or surface that reacts to the pen and maps its location on the screen. Those with pressure sensitivity are called active digitizers.

The main active digitizer systems are Electromagnetic Resonance (EMR), which is found in Cintiqs and older tablet PCs, Wacom Intuos graphics tablets, and Wacom alternatives. Wacom has its own patented EMR system.

Most artists consider EMR to be the best digitizer, as it’s the most sensitive, highest resolution, natural-feeling, fluid drawing experience. I do agree that the very best drawing tablets have EMR.

The drawbacks are that there can be jitter around the edges of the display, and there’s a bit of parallax, meaning a gap between the pen and tablet. The company has improved upon these flaws a lot in recent years, especially jitter.

Wacom EMR has a batteryless pen, meaning the pen is “passive,” because it draws power from the tablet. (You will still hear these pens called “active pens,” a general term for pressure-sensitive pens whether they are technically active or passive).

Wacom AES digitizer

The newer Wacom-penabled tablets have Wacom Active Electrostatic Solution, also called Wacom ES or Wacom AES. Some of these pens take a battery; others can be charged via a charging port; the pen and digitizer work together to complete the charge. These are quite sensitive and nearly as good as EMR. Here’s a diagram from Wacom:

wacom-aes-diagram

Wacom AES.   Source

“Latency” refers to the distance between when the pen touches the tablet and where the mark appears.

N-trig digitizer

Microsoft’s Surface line, all use N-trig, though the original Surface Pro and Surface 2 used Wacom EMR. The Vaio Z Canvas also uses N-trig.

N-trig DuoSense pens take a battery and are based on projected capacitive touch technology, and combine pen and multitouch. You do not see the cursor while drawing, whereas with Wacom you do. When you draw, the mark is right below the pen, as with a real pen, because the digitizer is closer to the surfaace.

Though we do not feel the N-trig has as fluid a drawing experience or the accuracy of Wacom, some of the best tablet PCs use N-trig and many artists do like it.

Synaptics digitizer

Synaptics is a less popular type of digitizer in the a the art-tablet world, but it’s still out there. It uses ClearForce pen and touch controllers. One computer with Synaptics is the HP Spectre x360. The drawing experience with Synaptics is OK, but not as good as the others.

Apple iPad Pro digitizer

Apple doesn’t release info about levels of pressure sensitivity, but the Apple Pencil is very sensitive, and accurate as well. It also has tilt sensitivity. You don’t see the cursor with the iPad Pro.

Other digitizers

Lower-priced Wacom competitors use drivers based on or similar to UC-Logic and older, expired Wacom patents. These include XP-Pen, Ugee, Hanvon, Atmel, and more. These provide an excellent drawing experience, with responsive pressure sensitivity.

Which digitizer you choose to use is a personal choice based on preference. Wacom and Microsoft are working together on a universal pen, so there will be fewer decisions to make.

Drawing with the active pen

The following are different aspects of digital drawing. The first two are elements of the drawing experience.

Pressure Curve

The pressure curve refers to how hard you press to get your lines to a certain thickness or opacity. It’s an adjustable setting. If the pressure curve is steep, small increases in pressure will produce a thicker line or deeper opacity. If the pressure curve is shallow, you will need more force to increase line width or opacity.

Initial Activation Force

This refers to the amount of pressure needed to make a mark. Wacom EMR requires the least pressure; even gently gliding the pen over the screen produces a mark. On N-trig, the IAF seems to be about the weight of the pen itself.

 Tilt and rotation sensitivity

The best graphics tablets and tablets with screens have pens that get natural tilt sensitivity (angle detection). Wacom Cintiqs and Intuos have this, and so does the iPad Pro. On Galaxy Tab A with S Pen and Galaxy Note, Samsung’s Enhanced S pen has it to an extent. The Lenovo Yoga Book offers 100-degree tilt sensitivity.

Tablet PCs (except the Lenovo Yoga Book Windows) don’t have the tilt feature even if they are Wacom-penabled.

A tablet PC won’t give you as many customizable features such as physical hotkey shortcut buttons, but you can use an on-screen Wacom Radial menu or an app if you want to program shortcuts.

As mentioned, only Wacom professional-level tablets offer rotation sensitivity, also known as barrel roll, which lets you create patterns, sort of like Spirograph, by rotating the pen. The bad news is you have to use the optional Art Pen in order to do this, and this only works on older Cintiq and Intuos models.

What about Apple?

“But I love MACS!” Steve Jobs did not like tablets too much at first, though he later changed his mind and put out the iPad–but even then, he was anti-stylus, thinking hands were enough.

There are two sizes of iPad Pro. The iPad Pro can be a professional digital drawing tablet. Used with the Astropad app, it can become like a Cintiq, feeding the image into your Mac. Used with the Duet Display app, you can do the same thing with your Windows machine.

The Axiotron Modbook Pro [Mac OS X] (see its Amazon page) is a MacBook Pro that runs the full Mac OS, but sadly it costs much more and does not do quite as much, as, say, the Microsoft Surface Pro.

2-in-1 PC, pen-display monitor, or mobile? How to decide

A familiar quandary for artists is trying to decide between a Cintiq and a tablet PC or even a mobile sketchbook. That is a difficult choice. This New York Times article outlines the difference between a tablet running Windows and one with a mobile operating system. Mainly, a mobile operating system won’t be able to run desktop Adobe programs such as Photoshop.

If portability, even around the house is not extremely important to you, then a Cintiq or other tablet monitor is a more satisfying art experience. Most artists feel a large screen makes the best drawing tablet.

But if you don’t want to deal with having to attach your tablet to your computer, then a tablet PC with pressure sensitivity, such as a Surface Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga or the soon-to come Miix 720, is not a bad choice. A 2-in-1 gives you the option of a detachable or attached keyboard. The Miix 720, specs-wise, may become one of the best tablet PCs.

A portable Android tablet or iPad Pro is a great thing to have, too. The convenience of just picking it up and drawing, rather than waiting for boot up, can be motivating. Apple iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil arguably is the top active stylus.

Mobile tablets let you use the large app stores associated with them, and art apps cost only a few dollars even for the premium ones.

Many feel that the best tablet for drawing is one that’s just flat that you can detach from the keyboard, and they don’t feel they need Express Keys (customizable physical buttons). Others want a 2-in-1 with all the bells and whistles, such as the MobileStudio Pro or Vaio Z Canvas.

For something really large, the Surface Studio is a big 2-in-1 with very high specs. There’s also a large Cintiqlike touch monitor from Dell and a Dell 2-in-1 that’s not shabby.

Children are natural artists, so we’re also reviewing tablets for kids.

A look back at earlier devices

People first got a glimpse of tablets in sci-fi works in the 1960s. Apple sold the short-lived Apple Graphics Tablet, made by Summagraphics in 1979, with a price tag of $650.  It attached to the Apple II.

In the 1990s, the only and therefore the best drawing tablet available was a Wacom graphics tablet and it cost hundreds of dollars.

Digitizing was starting to catch on with the public in the form of scanners. In 2000, Microsoft introduced the first commercially sold tablet PC. No one was interested, save for a few curious artists who saw the potential.

In 2006 I got my first tablet PC, a Toshiba Satellite Portege, and I was hooked. I was able to make more money as an illustrator because I was so much faster. I’d either solely use the Portege, or I’d use traditional media and then scan and edit the image.

Being able to draw right on the screen instead of apart from it made it the best drawing tablet experience I had had. I was able to simply upload art to the illustration client’s server, no scanning needed.

Traditional vs. digital art

Digital art is a very forgiving way of working. You can email or upload files; you can have them printed halfway around the world in the blink of an eye. Creating digital art doesn’t mean you have to stop using traditional media. Many artists combine the two in their work or in the creative process. Some release limited-edition prints of digital art.

I still advocate learning and continuing to use traditional materials as essential to being  well-rounded artist. Even the very best drawing tablet won’t do you much good if you haven’t developed your skills.

Working in layers, such as with Photoshop, provides great freedom. Clients pretty much all want the artist to deliver digital files.

With all the choices, everyone from doodler to pro should be able to find the best drawing tablet for their needs and budget.

Click here for a closer look at the newer offerings in tablets for digital artists.

Here’s an introductory video by Wacom about using the Intuos.

We have created this site to help you find YOUR best drawing tablet for drawing, painting, designing, sketching, editing, and doodling. Please share, like, follow, and repin. We love to hear from you in the comments, and are happy to answer questions.

Tablets are a great way to make art that’s “pretty as a pixel.”

Click to see our large comparison chart of all the tablets reviewed so far.

drawingtabletcomparisonchart

 

 

history source: Wikipedia

end of The best drawing tablet for you

Summary
What's the best drawing tablet?
Article Name
What's the best drawing tablet?
Description
Tablets for Artists is all things ART TABLET, offering <b>detailed, comprehensive reviews and news. We provide clear information about digital drawing tablets including best graphics tablets, tablet PCs, and tablet monitors</b>, from an artist's viewpoint. For beginners to pros. Let us help you find the best drawing tablet.
Author
Publisher Name
Tablets for Artists
Publisher Logo

197 thoughts on “Best drawing tablet for you: An introduction

  1. VickyPNC

    Hello,

    thanks first of all for this excellent website, the only one I could find on the net that provides a detailed artists perspective on digital hardware. I have for over a decade been using a Toshiba P20 14″ Satellite Pro with stylus, which almost feels like pen on paper and the stylus works forever (no battery). I havent changed my baby in over a decade, because frankly nothing new even comes close. But my Baby is growing old and the stars are finally in alignment, and at last I have a bit of spare cash being a perennially struggling artist, and I have decided to buy a replacement. After seeing your website, I have finally zeroed in on Lenoveo Thinkpad 14, which comes closest to my old Toshiba Sattelite Pro, and the price fits my budget, with a bit of stretch.

    My Question: your recommendations in this segment (Tablet PC) havent changed in a while. Has nothing better come along or havent you had time to update? Would appreciate if you could let me know if something better is there right now in same price range and features (I am planning to buy by the end of this month) I’d love to go in for Toshiba again, but they don’t seem to have anything equivalent any more. The Toshiba Dynapad looks interesting, but the screen is too small and it is not powerful and it isn’t available in France, where I am located.

    Would appreciate your early response, as this represents an enormous investment for me and I am more or less dependent on your website as the Thinkpad is not available in shops for trials and I am basically buying blind (The Surface 4 *is* available on trial, and I hate it… not at all a natural feel, and nothing like my old baby… which makes me wonder if the Thinkpad too will be a letdown)
    Thanks a ton in advance!
    Best Regards & a delayed Happy New Year
    PNC

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, I have left the Yoga 14 up for a while because it has the NVIDIA graphics card and is Wacom and I wanted to include one that’s more affordable (relatively speaking). Right now I am at CES (an electronics trade show), which is a good chance for me to try new products. I recommend the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 with the Dell Active Pen, and may replace the Lenovo listing with that. The Surface 4 are and Vaio Z Canvas both take artists into account. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is also good. I am planning to update some of the other listings too. There are not many Wacom EMR tablet PCs like the one you have being made anymore, there is the Cube which is less powerful, but other than that they are AES (slightly less sensitive but still good) or a 2-in-1 by Wacom (new one is MobileStudio Pro but it is a slate, no keyboard).

      Reply
      1. VickyPNC

        thanks for the quick update 🙂
        I checked out the options you mentioned, but the Lenovo still looks the best bet. The new Dell may be good, but I prefer the extra inch of display in the Lenovo. And the Wacom 2-in-1… oh la la, hors de prix, as the French say 🙂 No way I can fit that in my budget.

        Reply
  2. VickyDrew

    Hello,

    I was wondering what is the best advice for my situation.
    I am looking to get a new phone as I am tied to a network that is really bad, so I am looking to get a new smartphone.

    I was wondering if there is a smartphone out there that would allow me to draw decently on it, instead of buying a smartphone and then buying a separate drawing slate tablet, just for drawing?
    If you can help me with this I will buy whatever needs to be bought through your links (;-).

    If you recommend a phone, could you let me know if I need a certain stylus or if it’s down to what type of screen the phone has?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, the Samsung Galaxy Note phones work with the S pen, you would have to get the 4 or 5, which are older, as the 7 has of course been discontinued or you could wait for the 8, assuming the 8 will also work with the S pen (as it is not out yet, hard to know for sure). I don’t think a phone is big enough to do a lot or art on. But that’s the only one I know of that has a pressure-sensitive drawing screen. They come with the S Pen, or you could use a larger Wacom pen. Otherwise, you could use any touchscreen phone and capacitive stylus (like ones you use on non-Pro iPads) but you won’t get pressure. Or you could use one of the styluses in this post about iPad styluses for drawing, some also work on Android phones. You can check out my post about the Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S pen if you want to know more about the S Pen. Or the one about the Galaxy Note tablet. I don’t have reviews of phones, but it’s the same digitizer.

      Reply
      1. VickyDrew

        Thank you for your response, I am not going to bother with drawing on a phone I will just get the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen.

        Then I can just whip it out whenever I want to draw! =-)

        Reply
  3. VickyAlice

    Hello!

    Thank you for this information. It’s all helpful. I need some advice please. I’m looking for a 2-in-1 laptop tablet. I need it for animation as well as digital art. It might seem a bit too much to ask for in a laptop/tablet. But I’m truly clueless.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, that is not too much to ask for. Please refer to the comparison charts on the homepage. In detachables, where you can separate the tablet and keyboard, the Surface Pro 4, Vaio Z Canvas, and Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 or upcoming Cintiq Pro or Cintiq MobileStudio Pro are all good. In laptops, there are a number of ThinkPad Yogas that would work. What you need depends on what software you want to use, and what kind of digitizer–Wacom is the most sensitive, but the Surface Pro and Vaio Z Canvas ones are not bad.

      Reply
  4. VickyR

    Hi I was wondering.. is it possible to use the Intuos pro pen and touch tablet (medium ) with the program Clip Studio Paint/Manga Studio5? If so how can we adjust the hand gestures so we can pinch, zoom etc ?

    Reply
  5. VickyJohanna

    Hello. I hope that I’m not too late to get answers to my questions. I have just started using digital media for art. I want to start a web-comic by the end of this year but I don’t have a drawing tablet and my regular tablet(not a drawing tablet) has met it’s end. My comic won’t be super detailed but it will be colorful.(I don’t know if that affects my tablet options or not).
    Anyways, I am looking for a drawing tablet that is smaller than 15 inches and can run apps like MediBang(paint/drawing app) Gimp(a free “like” Photoshop program; optional) LINEWEBTOON, and games like Iruna and Fallout Shelter with a decent amount of space and the ability to have a 16GB SD card on it as well.. I think I’d like see what I am drawing on the tablet’s screen and on my laptop, rather than just on my laptop. My laptop is the Lenovo Think Pad T400 and I have Windows 7. It’s fine if I can only draw on it while it’s connected to my laptop but I would like to be able to use all of the other features(like app use) if there are any, anywhere that I have WiFi. Pressure sensitivity is not super important to me because I tend to write really heavily and go over lines more than once to get them thicker rather than press harder. I don’t have Bluetooth connect-ability with my laptop so using cords is a must! My price range is under $200. Also, do all drawing tablets automatically come with an art program on them? Do they have app stores too? I’m looking forward to your help and reccomendations.
    Note~ I read about %90 of this really helpful article but I can’t accurately use all of the terms yet so I hope this was descriptive enough. ~

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi,
      Most do come with apps or downloads, but some of the lower-cost Wacom-alternative ones (such as Huion) do not. Wacom does, and any separate tablet that’s also a computer has apps.

      For your budget, unfortunately, there aren’t tablets with screens that you attach to your computer, unless you buy used. The cheapest one is the XP-pen 10″ but it’s around $300 right now. There are some small Windows art tablets you could use by themselves (not attached to a computer) that around that much, such as the older Asus VivoTab Note 8, or the Dell Venue 8 Pro, also older.

      If you don’t care about pressure sensitivity, you can use anything with a touchscreen and regular stylus (like non-Pro iPad type of stylus) Android tablet, any touchscreen computer, or iPad. But then you will also not have palm rejection, which is a pain, as it means your palm can make a mark. You can check out this post about drawing styluses that can give you some pressure sensitivity–some work for both iPad, Android, and PCs–they do work through Bluetooth so the tablet would need those. All Android tablets give you access to the Google Play store, which has tons of apps, some free. iPads don’t have SD card slots but most other tablets do. There are a lot of Android tablets in that price range. You would have to use mobile apps from the Google Play store, not the desktop Gimp that you have.

      Wi-fi doesn’t really relate to the features, they will work without Wi-fi. Wacom Intuoses can attach to a computer via Wi-fi or cord. The tablets with screens that attach to computer all use cords.

      You may be OK just buying a non-screen tablet such as an Intuos, then you can stick to the art programs you have or use the ones that come with it. There’s an Intuos Comics Pen and Touch that comes with Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio.

      If you decide whether to get one with a screen or not and still have more questions let me know.

      Reply
  6. VickyEmily

    Hello, thanks for this helpful article! I was so excited to see that comments are still receiving replies so many months later. Anyway, I have just recently been getting into art, mostly pencil and paper but some oil and watercolor painting too. I already have a laptop but I want a tablet to work on digital art because my phone isn’t quite doing it for me anymore. I’m a college student so price is important, I’d like to go as cheap as possible while still getting a product that will work for me. the pressure sensitivity is something I definitely want. I don’t want anything with a keyboard or that must be attached to a computer, I want something that works by itself and that I can draw on just like pencil and paper. Thanks for all your help!

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, yes I’m still here lol. I think iPad Pro is a great tool–the larger screen especially gives adequate room to draw. Or, a less costly, the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen, which runs on Android. If you want Windows, which would allow you to use full desktop programs and not just apps, then the Surface 3 and Mytrix are both pretty affordable. Or a used Surface Pro 2 or Surface Pro 1, they are not made anymore but some are still around.

      Reply
      1. VickyEmily

        thanks for the quick response! My budget is definitely on the lower end of this. I think a used Surface Pro 2 might work for me, but it doesn’t look like it comes with a stylus or pen? do you know if there is a generic stylus I can buy that will still allow for pressure sensitivity and stuff? sorry for the dumb questions I’m clueless about this. thanks in advance!

        Reply
        1. VickyEmily

          Actually I found a refurbished Samsung galaxy tab 3 for a good price, do you know of a stylus or pen that I can buy separate that will be compatible with that? thanks again.

          Reply
          1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

            That doesn’t have pressure sensitivity or palm rejection. You could get it in some apps with specific pens–this article about styluses goes over some pens and apps (most will work with Android as well as iOS). But the Galaxy Tab 3 would be more like drawing on your phone, the drawing experience won’t be as good as using a pressure-sensitive tablet.

        2. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

          Hi,
          Not dumb questions at all. I just saw this question, but I think it actually came before the last one. Here’s the answer if you’re still considering the Surface Pro 2. This one is the original Microsoft pen for the SP2. As they are not made any more, they have gone up but the refurbished ones are more reasonable. This oneis a copy of the MS pen and has the magnet and eraser.
          Or, this one, made by Samsung (for their computers that use the same tech), will also work on the SP2, but won’t have the eraser or the magnet that holds the pen to the side of the tablet.
          P.S., you don’t really need an eraser end, as you can use an eraser “brush” in your art software.

          Reply
          1. VickyEmily

            I made a huge mistake a placed my order before reading your response! I do not like the Samsung Galaxy tab 3, even just the way the screen looks is strange and makes my eyes hurt somehow. I’m planning on returning it and looking into other cheaper options. I was looking at some earlier comments and I was wondering if you still recommend the Toshiba Encore 2 Write? There is a cheaper version without the “Write” bit in the title but I’m assuming that means it’s without all the features that make it a great drawing tablet?
            Thanks again so much for your time!

          2. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

            Oh! sorry about that. Perhaps you can adjust the settings to turn the brightness down. Or type “blue light filter” into the Google Play store and download one of those apps, they will make the screen easier on the eyes by taking out the blue light. Yes the Encore 2 Write is good. You are correct, if you get the one without the Write, you will not be getting the drawing features. Maybe also consider the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen, which is pretty affordable.

          3. VickyEmily

            Hi,
            Do you know if all iPads have pressure sensitivity and/or palm rejection? the cheapest one is the iPad mini 2 but I can’t find this information. thank you for helping me so much!

  7. VickyAriana

    Im a artist who likes to get her hands with the art and pressure sensitivity is a big deal to me, i am on the go alot and need something that has a sturdy travel quality with long lasting battery and pen sensitivity to it. ive had a bamboo tablet that has no screen and very drable but sadly i think a charger peice is going to be costly to replace. also the length of it was fine for me and i enjoyed having something physically to draw on while looking at another screen but the sensitivity of some of the buttons that where on the tablet itself like quick shortcuts would sometimes get in my way. id like to think that a tablet with a screen would be an option however im not sure about which one and what kind of programs i can fit into the storage (or might even come with it already, is that an option too?) without having the system slow or cause any problems. i was wondering if there might be any suggestions that might fit the universal tablet i might be searching for. my birthday is comming up soon so im hoping to ask for it as maybe a present or even save up for the said tablet. please help soon

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, it would help if I could know your budget, and which programs you want to use. For being on the go, something like the iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen or Galaxy Note are all good choices. These run apps that you can download from the tablets. The storage should be ok for the apps, you can keep large art files in cloud storage or an SD card (except iPad Pro does not have an SD slot, but you can buy the Pro with different amounts of storage, or use Cloud storage or sync files to your computer). If you want to run full desktop programs like Photoshop then you’re looking at a Windows PC type of tablet or laptop such as Surface Pro 4. All the tablets on this site have pressure sensitivity. Let me know if you have more questions.

      Reply
  8. VickyKathy Engelhard

    Thank you for this great website for artists. I can’t find a mega laptop that is 15″ or so
    that has a NVidia 980 GPA, 970 GPA or 780 GPA and works with a pen…
    I7 CPU at least 16GB RAM. 2K would be the icing on the cake.
    I want to draw in Toon Boom Harmony Premium 14 and do all kinds of video and image
    editing. And, I want to sit on the couch and draw.
    Thanks again.
    Kathy

    Reply
    1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

      Hi, unfortunately, to my knowledge there is nothing quite as powerful as that in that size, wish there were. There are some without the discrete graphics, and some that have it but are just touchscreen (not pressure sensitive). The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 (gen. 1) is closer as it has the graphics, but the screen is smaller and it’s i5. If you could go even smaller, the Vaio Z Canvas might be good for you. Dell Inspiron 15 7568 and HP Spectre x360 15 are the right size but integrated graphics (less powerful than the Vaio’s). Sorry!

      Reply
      1. VickyMadge

        Hello-

        There is a very recently released convertible laptop that fits most of those specs- the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin. (i7, NVIDIA 940, 16GB RAM, 15.6″). I purchased it with the intent of digital design programs and thus far, the graphics are great, and the only problem has been finding a pen that works. (The model has only been out a few weeks so the hunt for all the specs is still going on but it is a touchscreen with the RAM and discreet graphics. I’ve yet to figure out if it is wacom enabled, as I am new to the whole stylus world and it’s hard to understand, plus the computer sales guy said it might not be). I think for people whose primary need is the discreet graphics, it might be something to look in to! I’ve had mine a few weeks and am very happy with it using photoshop and lightroom. (The pen hunt is still on, though, so if anyone here has found something for it…)

        Reply
        1. Vickytablet@tabletsforartists.com

          Hi,
          No, that doesn’t have an active-pen option. Most computers don’t, if you want that you really have to pick one ahead of time. You can use a graphics tablet or tablet monitor with it though, or you can get pressure sensitivity via Bluetooth with some apps. This article about iPad drawing styluses has some that can be used on Windows too along with the apps. You can also use any regular stylus without pressure if that’s of use.

          Reply
  9. VickySam

    Hey hey. I have a Yiynova MSP15, and it did the job for a good few years until the backlight died. I managed to replace the backlight, but messed up the screen in the process. Whoops! It still works as a non-monitor tablet but the itch to have the screen back has never gone away.

    I thought I would go for the Surface Pro 4, but I now think I want the Cintiq Companion 2. Because I want a drawing tablet first, and a portable computer second. I wouldn’t have to have the latest and greatest to guarantee the CC2 would last me many many years (in theory) because my desktop is a gaming PC that can handle pretty much anything. 3D art, 2D, lots of layers, animation, no sweat. Being able to take it with me to get basic work done away from the desk would be a nice little bonus–a bonus I’d probably use almost every day, but still just a bonus–while my main computer would do all the heavy lifting. So, a peripheral tablet with its own computer in it is very appealing to me, and a few of the complaints about it like the battery life and screen brightness don’t matter that much to me. The price is no deterrent, since I was thinking I’d have to get a $1600 Surface just to make sure it would last a long time, and, well, it’s not for casual use.

    But I can’t find any reviews from people using it the same way I would. They all talk about it as a standalone device and how it compares to others. I need to know if there are any problems connecting it to a PC. I bet I can trust Wacom to make a top-tier tablet monitor, but you never know. I also want to know if there are any other tablets out there that can be used both as tablet monitors and as standalone computers.

    It’ll be about a month and a half before I make a move, so I want to make sure I spend it deciding to make the right one.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *