Whether you’re an aspiring artist or a seasoned pro, a drawing tablet is likely part of your toolkit. Every artist has different requirements — and budgets — for the demands they will put on their drawing device.
While there are plenty of independent tablet makers, you may already prefer the iOS or Android ecosystem, in which case some iPads or Samsung Galaxy Tabs may be your first consideration, alongside multi-function styluses and dedicated drawing apps. Here is a sampling of some of the best drawing tablets available today.
Wacom Intuos Graphics Drawing Tablet
If you’re just getting started, not flush in the cash department, but still looking for excellent quality, you can’t do better than the Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet. This model is the smallest size, with a 7-inch active tablet area, but there are various larger sizes to choose from that will cost a bit more. The tablet is great for drawing, painting, or photo editing with a Mac or PC. At just 8.8mm, the tablet is as slender as a smartphone with two pen buttons for quick access shortcuts and four customizable ExpressKeys. The battery-free pen’s 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity give you plenty of control and precision as its Electro-Magnetic Resonance tech keeps it light and comfortable.
XP-Pen Deco 01 V2
The Deco 01 V2 is highly respected but on the less expensive end of the price spectrum, featuring a 10 x 6.25-inch working area on a slim 8mm base with an easy plug-in-and-out design. The active area is big and bright, but designed to break through the limit between express keys and drawing area so you get more space to create. Eight customizable express keys offer an ergonomic and convenient work platform while the driver allows shortcut key mapping to different software. It’s cross-platform for Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS, and Android. The pen supports up to 60 degrees of tilt for smooth, natural lines, strokes, and shading. You get 8,192 levels of instant pen pressure sensitivity with no charging needed. The Deco lights up on the ends of the drawing area, so you can create in the dark. It is compatible with Photoshop, SAI, Painter, Illustrator, Clip Studio, ibis Paint X, FlipaClip, Medibang, Autodesk Sketchbook, Zenbrush, Artrage, and more.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)
Pretty much any iPad available today can be used as a drawing tablet, but we settled on Apple’s huge iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet as the ultimate for digital artists. The edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color is a work of art by itself, letting you view and work with photos, videos, and apps in vivid detail. ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the display refresh rate up to 120Hz for smooth scrolling and responsiveness. Standout features include the A12Z Bionic chip with Neural Engine, 12-megapixel wide camera, 10MP ultra-wide camera, LiDAR Scanner, and 7MP TrueDepth front camera. Of course, you’ll want to use your Apple Pencil for artwork, but the iPad Pro is compatible with a large number of pro-level specialized art styluses as well.
Huion Kamvas 20 Drawing Pen Display
The Kamvas 20 Drawing Pen Display gives you a 19.5-inch huge space to create with superlative visual detail. Its anti-glare glass effectively reduces eye strain and shortens the distance between the pen nib and cursor, giving you a more realistic paper-drawing experience. The tilt function, battery-free stylus features 8,192 levels of pen pressure with about 60% pen tilt support for advanced performance without charging. The Kamvas, which supports 16.7 million colors, has a 178-degree wide viewing angle and a 20-80-degree adjustable stand with slider design. Kamvas 20 is compatible with Windows 7 or later and MacOS 10.12 or later.
Wacom Intuos Pro (Medium)
With the Wacom Intuos Pro, you get a slim tablet design with a compact footprint, made from premium materials. Wacom’s multi-touch technology lets you easily zoom, scroll, and navigate around your art. The sensitive and responsive Wacom Pro Pen 2 features 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, 60 degrees of tilt-response, and lag-free tracking that lets you barrel through your work with multi-touch gestures, customizable ExpressKeys, radial menus, touch ring, and pen side switches. The tip sensor reacts to the pressure of your hand so every stroke and move gets captured. Intuos Pro is available in Small, Medium, and Large size variations. Choose a smaller active area for small strokes and less hand movement or a larger active area for more sweeping styles. Medium is the most popular size and can be used with multiple monitors. It includes trial versions of Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Boris FX Suite.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is one of the best Android tablets available today, featuring a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2800 x 1752 pixels, while offering a fluid 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. That power is derived from its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor. It’s available with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, for running the latest apps. You’ll also choose from 128GB, 256GB, or 12GB of internal storage, and with a microSD card, you can expand storage even further. Talk about long battery life: The S7 Plus comes with a humongous 10,090mAh battery, allowing for two days of moderate-to-heavy use without a recharge. It’s also compatible with 45W fast-charging (purchased separately), so you can quickly reach a 100% charge. The tablet comes with the S Pen stylus, which attaches magnetically and recharges wirelessly. It interacts intuitively with the tablet’s screen for immediate creativity.
What should I look for in a drawing tablet?
If you’re in the market for a drawing and painting pen tablet, be sure to consider the following features: drawing area, pressure sensitivity, battery life, hotkeys or express keys, weight and bulk, and software.
Drawing space or active area is where your pen hits the tablet surface — you may or may not need a large drawing space — so determine what is the most comfortable for you — and smaller tablets are cheaper. Pressure sensitivity levels determine line thicknesses, shading, tiny details, and how natural the drawing experience feels. High-quality drawing tablets feature hotkeys and express keys that save you time with settings and built-in features you habitually use.
If you’re toting your tablet around town, you don’t want too much weight or bulk slowing you down. Some drawing tablets come with software that is ready to be installed on your computer or laptop when you are setting up the tablet, especially popular Adobe creative apps. Make sure that your new tablet is compatible with whatever main operating system you use. Ideally, you need a tablet with at least four hours of independent battery life.
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