The days of drawing on paper are gone.
Sure, you can still do it, and any true artist knows that paper is one of the best ways to work, but if you’d rather not use the tree-based method, it’s fine. There are plenty of other mediums to create on. One of which can be on drawing tablets.
While it may sound odd, the technology behind tablets and the ways they can work has increased over the years. Its brought us to a new age, where drawing on a screen can be as close to the real thing as possible.
The best part about drawing tablets is that they allow artists and professionals to work on a digital canvas. This allows their creations to be designed or tweaked to however they see fit, and once completed the outcome can easily be shared with others.
With drawing tablets, there are two types: one where you draw directly on top of the tablet, while the other translates your drawings to a computer screen through another program. They both are good in their own ways, and our list contains both. If you’re not sure which version you’re looking for, we’ll be sure to highlight the key differences in the two.
Creating the Best Drawing Tablets
How does a company make a good tablet to draw on? Better yet, what goes into it?
For starters, the device must present you with accurate and deep colors. This allows anything you paint, draw, sketch, etc., to be photorealistic, as well as match what you could do with actual paint or other means. Another key component of any drawing device pertains to pressure sensitivity. Using this technology, tablets can sense when thicker strokes are being applied, no matter the options selected. It’s an important feature that allows artists to have as much reign as possible when creating.
Lines per inch, or LPI, is important, but almost any newer tablet will have an adequate amount of quality to them. After all, you only need about 2,000 LPI for good quality. The second number you’ll often see thrown around is reports per second, or RPS. This number states how many times the tablet communicates with the computer in use. Another name for this measurement is refresh rate, with higher being better.
One of the last things to consider is screen size and resolution. While it may not be a gamechanger, or breaker, for everyone, having a nicer, higher-end screen can help with how your art looks. Clearer lines, better brightness, and the ability to view the screen from different angles all come together to make a better screen. As such, it’s something to consider when you can.
Understanding the functions you need to look for in a potential drawing tablet can make it easier to determine the best fit for yourself.
All that said, let’s look at the best drawing tablets around.
Our Top 5 Drawing Tablets Out Now
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- Battery-free Pen - Set you free from charging trouble, the game and drawing will never be interrupted by the battery problem.
- 4096 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity - Two times upgrades than the previous digital tablet, delivering more accuracy and advanced performance.
The first thing that jumps out as you look at the first entry on our list is its price. At roughly $40, this low-cost, budget-based, starter tablet seems like it wouldn’t belong here.
That’s not the case, however. The Huion H430P represents a jumping off point for anyone looking to get into drawing on a tablet. Essentially, it’s one of the best starter tablets you can find. There’s not a big investment into something you may or may not like, and even though it’s small, the device has enough there to warrant inclusion. Weighing less than five ounces means the device is easy to carry around, and it’s thin with just one-quarter inch in depth.
Overall, this tablet connects to your computer via USB connection and transmits the movements into a program. Plenty are supported though, so finding the right one to display and create with isn’t’ too hard. It’s very accurate with 4,096 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, and can work on either Mac or Windows machines. The pen included works well-enough, and doesn’t require any sort of battery to charge it.
Plus, the tablet has four shortcut buttons that you can customize to fit your needs. This allows you to save time by having certain commands ready to go at a moment’s notice. Also, if you ever wanted to use a pen as your main mouse, the H430P does support this.
One of the only drawbacks to this affordable tablet is the screen area. The drawing area available to you is roughly 4.8 by 3 inches, which doesn’t give you a ton of wiggle room. If you’re the type of person that needs more, then there are other options found here.
All in all, this is one device with lots of value baked in for what you’re paying in cost. Huion may not be one of the top manufactures out there, but you wouldn’t know that after spending time with their solid H430P.
- 10-by-6.25 inch drawing area with a multi-touch panel, smartly separated to prevent accidental touch
- Wireless connectivity and large battery capacity, allows you to draw with freedom and ease
- With its ultra-narrow border and aluminum casing design. Adding the 2.4G wireless module helps you get rid of the bondage of cables and brings you a tidy desktop
Keeping with our Huion brand, their H610 Pro Graphic drawing tablet is sure to come in handy for anyone looking to cut the cord and be wireless.
At first glance, this device looks a bit odd. On the left-hand side there is a touchpad with six buttons on it, with the right side representing the drawing area you have. The buttons are programmable, just like the H430P, and the 10 by 6.25-inch drawing panel presents double the area over the lower-end device. Plus, the H610 Pro is connected to your computer via wireless.
While some may not like the idea of connecting to computer without a cable, the accuracy of today’s wireless technology is on-par with what wired devices can do. Sure, there may be a few hiccups here or there, but the bottom line is that the wireless connection should remain stable for the majority of uses. Drawing resolution comes in at a good 5080 LPI, with a report rate of 233 PPS. There’s also 8,192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, giving you ample support across the active drawing area.
The battery lasts about 40 hours, and the whole device is encased in an aluminum body, giving a premium feel to the tablet. As with other drawing tablets, this device is compatible on both Mac or Windows computers, allowing freedom of use. The H610 is easy to setup, and comes with a quick start guide on running things for the first time. A bonus: this drawing tablet can be used in left-hand mode.
Unfortunately, the included pen must be recharged to keep it working, which can be a drag to do. Not everyone wants to worry about recharging their stylus, so convenience is the key here. That said, there are four different pen tips included, giving you versatility to create.
Overall, this is another good entry into drawing tablets. It looks good, has decent battery life, good under-the-hood specifications, and still won’t cost an arm or a leg to purchase.
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 Features a 7th generation Intel Dual Core i5 Processor, 256 GB of storage, 8 GB RAM, and up to 17 hours of video playback
- Includes an Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU
- The fastest Surface Book yet, with 2x more power. Aspect ratio: 3:2, contrast ratio: 1600:1
Having a full-fledged computer on here may not seem right, but Microsoft has tweaked their newest Surface laptop to become a great alternative to drawing on paper.
The Surface Book 2 is one of the most expensive drawing tablets on this list, starting at $1,500, but as mentioned provides the best of both worlds. With that money, you get an active drawing area of 11 by 7.5 inches, along with a screen resolution of 3,000 by 2,000 pixels, the most found here.
Using the Surface Pen, which is an extra cost, the Surface Book 2 delivers 4,096 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, solid for the screen in question. The Pen does have optional tips to purchase, adding another level of interaction to the mix.
Of course, after drawing you’ll still be able to use the laptop as, well, a laptop. This doesn’t go into warranting it as the best drawing tablet, but if you’re looking to condense your devices down, the Surface Book 2 fits that bill well. Battery life stands at around 12 hours of use, so while low, it’s a full day at least.
It’s a sleek and modern looking device, coming with performance and power underneath. The only true downsides are the upfront cost and having to buy the Surface Pen separately.
- 22" HD Display features a wide format, full HD resolution and extra wide viewing angle
- Work naturally and intuitively directly on screen. Sketch, paint, design and edit directly on the surface of the screen
- Wacom's most advanced pressure and tilt-sensitive pen technology replicates the natural effects and experience of working with conventional tools such as pens, markers, and brushes
One of the biggest names in the drawing game is Wacom, mainly because they were the first company to provide a solid solution to drawing on paper.
With their Cintiq 22HD, you’ll have ample screen room to work with as the tablet is a full display, and touch gestures to boot. The idea of having a big screen and workspace is that all your needs are met in one device. There are 16 programmable keys to use, if wanted, and the whole screen can tilt down or up if you want it to.
Speaking of the screen, it gives you a full 16.7 million colors and 72% Adobe RGB to work with, along with an easy-to-read IPS display. In addition, the pen pressure levels sit at 2,048, which is low but still workable. The resolution of the display sits at 5,080 LPI, more than enough for anyone.
The included pen is battery-free, a nice touch, and features a nice-feeling silicone rubber grip, to make hour-long sessions comfortable. There are additional tips to purchase, if you’d like. The Cintiq 22HD will work on both Mac or Windows computers, so you won’t have to worry about changing work environments.
If 22-inches of screen real estate seems a tad much, the Cintiq does come in a smaller 13-inch version. Again, the only downside with something like this is the screen resolution may be a tad low for the size, and the price tag that starts at $1000 is a little high. But, the device is backed by quality from Wacom, so you know what you’re getting.
- IPS screen: GT-191 is an interactive display with 19.5 inch IPS LCD widescreen in perfect 16:9 ratio and 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution
- Amazing Color: 72% NTSC color gamut plus 1000:1 contrast ratio which allows the display to present 16.7 million colors vividly.
- Better Display Effect: 233PPS report rate and 5081LPI resolution give faster recognition and better display effect during your work.
Out of all the drawing tablets, the Huion KAMVAS is the best. Featuring great performance, a good display, better pen, and adjustable stand, there isn’t much more to ask for in any drawing tablet.
Just like the Wacom Cintiq, the KAMVAS can display 16.7 million colors with a 72% NTSC color gamut. If you’re concerned with contrast, you’ll be happy to hear that the 3000:1 seen within the KAMVAS is a nice touch. Other performance specifications include 8,192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, 233 PPS, 5,080 LPI, and an IPS screen that measures in at 19.5 inches. The display also has an anti-glare screen protector, giving a closer-to-paper feel all while dimming reflections, a feature not always found in drawing tablets.
The pen included is Huion’s newest PE330, which is a better-crafted peripheral than you’ll find in their budget-minded tablets. There are 10 different tips included, providing plenty of versatility. If you need to work in a different position, the whole screen can be tilted via the adjustable stand.
Best of all, this is found in a less than $500 package. Thus, it is the best drawing table you’ll find.
There are Many Drawing Tablets to Choose From
4.8 x 3"
17.24 x 9.45 x 14.37"
4.5 out of 5.0
10 x 6.25"
Up to 40 hours
14.7 x 7 x 0.4"
4.0 out of 5.0
11 x 7.5"
3000 x 2000 px
Up to 12 hours
12.3 x 9.1 x 0.9"
4.0 out of 5.0
1920 x 1080 px
25.6 x 15.7 x 2.2"
3.9 out of 5.0
1920 x 1080 px
18.7 x 11.7 x 1.4"
4.3 out of 5.0
The best part about drawing is that there are many ways to go about it.
Whether you like to draw on paper, canvas, or paint on walls around the world, having a smaller, digital tablet to hone your skills on can be a good alternative when you can’t get out. Some may argue that the experience isn’t the same, and while that’s true, the replication found in today’s devices are extremely good.
Finding the best device for you isn’t as hard as you’d think, at least once you know what to look for. What’s great about drawing tablets it that they allow you to work from almost anywhere, and give you surprising amounts of customization with that. Instead of having to have paint, chalk, charcoal, or different kinds of pencils in your studio, a tablet can provide all those materials in one small package.
The fact is that even the best drawing tablets aren’t here to replace real-life work, they’re simply here to make creating easier than ever.