The ability to create art is a beautiful thing and in most cases, artists, graphic designers, and animators get inspired by different objects or moments at different times of the day. When this inspiration occurs, the need to quickly sketch a model framework for posterity’s sake means you must have access to faster tools than a computer-aided design software and this is where the best drawing tablet comes in.
And what’s a Drawing Tablet?
A drawing tablet otherwise known as a graphics tablet or pen tablet, is a hardware input device used for transferring hand-drawn objects to a digital monitor. The average drawing tablet consists of a touch-sensitive board and a corresponding stylus pen which is used to draw objects on the board.
So in simpler terms, it allows users hand-draw images to a digital surface in the same way you use a pen and a note pad. The versatility of a drawing tablet also means that its users can also employ it as a printing device to replace your mouse. This in its own little way reduces the possibility of repetitive strain injuries to long term users of mice for design purposes.
Since we are done with explanations, the next stage is discussing some of its benefits, such as an artist or graphic designer will have an opinion about the best drawing tablets available on the market.
Do you need a Graphics Tablet?
Although a drawing tablet cannot thoroughly be considered as a piece of key equipment to your creative process, its features go a long way in simplifying how you work. So if you are an illustrator, animator or graphics designer, purchasing one would definitely improve your workstation.
It is also of some importance to note that drawing boards are quite compatible with your favorite graphic or computer-aided design app. You can argument, paint or edit drawings by integrating the use of apps such as Zbrush, Corel Painter and in some cases even AutoCAD. But before going all out to purchase a drawing tablet, here are a few criteria we would like you to consider.
Our Criteria for Selecting the Drawing Tablets
The criteria to consider when selecting a drawing tablet will cover the most important features one must know about a particular drawing tablet. These criteria include the following:
- Programmable Features: most drawing tablets come equipped with a couple of Programmable buttons that are important to the operability of the tablet.
- Stylus Features: this consists of the stylus options, pressure level, and shape of the stylus pen that comes with each tablet.
- Tablet Size: everyone draws differently and for some, a large surface is important for the drawing process while others may prefer small surfaces.
- Pressure Sensitivity: pressure sensitivity defines the ease of drawing on a tablet and how its screen reacts to the stylus pen. Pressure sensitivity also includes the tablet screen’s ability to detect the amount of pressure behind the applied stylus pen when drawing. A tablet with excellent pressure sensitivity should be able to accurately interpret pressure which simplifies the drawing process.
- Interconnectivity: as highlighted earlier, drawing tablets are support tools most illustrators or artists use to complement their primary computers. Thus, the tablet used must be compatible with the primary workstation as this enhances remote work, editing, and overall creativity.
- Accessories and other Features: this criterion focuses on the external accessories and other unique features a tablet may have that simplifies its use. These accessories could be specific headsets from animators, TV casting features, fast charging capabilities, etc.
Best graphics tablet comparison table
Below is a table of the best graphics tablets we have reviewed. Also included are links to the certified stores we purchased them from on Amazon. These tablets have been tested against the specified criteria and passed the tests with flying colors.
Number of programmable keys
Wacom Intuos Draw CTL490DW Digital Drawing Tablet
Just as Apple is famous for its smart devices, Wacom is likewise recognized as the leading manufacturer of drawing tablets. The Wacom Intuos Draw CTL490DW costs approximately $100.
Now, comparing it using the criteria specified earlier, we have:
- Programmable Features: this tablet is equipped with 4 customizable express keys that you can program to carry out functions you frequently use.
- Stylus Features: The Intuos stylus pen is wireless and highly sensitive to pressure which means users can vary their drawing technique as the need arises. It also sports up to 2048 levels of pressure is put on its surface while drawing.
- Tablet Size: the size of the Intuos Draw, varies and you could choose to purchase either a small, medium or larger tablet surface depending on your need and the size of your workstation.
- Pressure Sensitivity: Intuos Draw was designed with good pressure sensitivity features as can be seen from its pen pressure sensitivity rating of 1024. Other technical features of note that define its sensitivity include:
- A response frequency of 133 PPS
- Pressure Resolution of 2048 LPI
- Interconnectivity: The Intuos Draw is compatible with the later versions of Windows operating systems and the Mac OS. Thus, it is likely to be compatible with your primary computer.
- Other Features: Wacom Intuos Draw CTL100 Graphics Drawing Tablet is shipped with a support pack which contains drawing tutorials and three free drawing software applications. These applications are the Painter Essentials 7, AfterShot 3, and PaintPro drawing software. It also comes with a battery-free stylus pen which can be easier to maintain in the long run.
The Pros – The free drawing software packages and learning materials are some of the high points of the Intuos Draw. You could also view its compatibility features and battery-free stylus pen as features that ease its use.
The Cons – the workspace that comes with the more affordable Intuos Draw is quite small compared to what you may have been used to. But the option of choosing a larger sized screen is available.
Wacom Intuos Art pen Drawing tablet
When we said Wacom was a leading brand in the drawing tablet niche, we meant it. Here is another exquisite drawing tablet from the staple of Wacom that makes the list. The Intuos Art takes digital drawing a step further by including the ability to color the objects you draw as well as it’s compatibility with painting apps like Corel Painter. This drawing tablet, comes with the following features:
- Programmable Features: like its predecessor, it also sports four express keys which can be customized to handle cropping, cutting and other activities with ease.
- Stylus Features: The Intuos Art stylus pen is quite sensitive and a user can vary the thickness of drawn lines by adding or reducing pressure. Also like most smart devices, you can make use of your fingers and multiple touch features to execute different tasks such as zooming in or moving digital objects. Lastly, it is a worker’s stylus pen that does not require batteries to function.
- Tablet Size: The Intuos Art comes in a small compact size of 8.25 by 6.7 inches which makes it a good fit for most workstations or office desks.
- Interconnectivity: Intuos art is an excellent tool for remote working and collaboration with other computers and computing accessories. This drawing tablet is compatible with Windows OS and Mac OS PCs. This means you can share designs across both platforms when needed.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The stylus pen and the tablet screen combines to simplify drawing and painting tasks when working with it. The stylus pen is battery-free which reduces the task of maintaining the pen for illustrators and artists interested in working regularly on drawing tablets.
- Other Features: Note that the drawing tablet is compatible with Mac and Windows OS which means you can draw via the Intuos Art on your Apple or Windows PC. Included in the box are Core Painter Essentials software, the AfterShot 3 and PaintPro, as well as, an online tutorial and an 8 by 8 shutter photo album. Wacom also provides a wireless accessory kit that plugs into the stylus pen and allows you to draw with the stylus pen on your personal computer’s interface.
Pros – The Intuos Art tablet provides a relatively larger workspace for drawing and coloring the items draw. It also comes with three free drawing software and accessories that ease your task.
Cons – Heats up a bit when used for long hours.
Huion H610PRO drawing tablet
Another classy and highly efficient graphics tablet is the Huion H610 PRO drawing tablet. This large tablet provides users with the versatility and precision needed to create accurate art via a drawing tablet. The Huion Pro is relatively cheap but it has the following premium features:
- Programmable Features: The Huion Pro is very customizable and with 8 express keys and 16 hotkeys, you can virtually handle drawing functions without any issues.
- Stylus Features: here is another tablet that is very sensitive to pressure. The Huion at 2048 levels of levels of surface sensitivity makes the drawing of thin or thick lines possible with a little pressure. The stylus pen is also battery-less.
- Tablet Size: with a surface of 10 by 6.25 inches, the Huion Pro is quite large, and provides users with more drawing space. As stated earlier, its ample size also provides room for its 24 keys or buttons. Also, note that the stylus pen is wireless and does not require the use of a battery to function.
- Interconnectivity: The Huion works perfectly with Mac and Windows OS as well as with a variety of accessories. This makes collaboration across operating platforms easy.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The Huion 610 pro is quite sensitive and boasts of a pressure sensitivity level of 8192.
- Other Features: It is compatible with the following software applications; Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Painter, Autodesk Sketchbook, Manga Studio, Clip Studio, and Zbrush. Lastly, an online tutorial is included to help users master its features.
Pros – The number of customizable keys across the tablet makes it a simplistic tool to use. It is also very durable and quite affordable for serious tablet drawing. It is also compatible with most drawing software applications.
Cons – The Huion 610 is known to have driver issues.
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Small Tablet
Creative minds who understand the benefits of a drawing tablet and continuously make use of one will enjoy the increased drawing capacity the Wacom Intuos Pro provides. This is a quite expensive graphics tablet and it sports the following features:
- Programmable Features: unlike the Intuos Art and Draw, the Intuos Pro is equipped with five customizable express buttons which can be assigned to popular drawing features such as move, crop etc. It also sports a multi-function touch ring with four customizable functions.
- Stylus Features: the sleek stylus pen with a surface pressure capacity of 2048 levels is the most sensitive pen out there. The pen can be used to draw as well as edit images. Note that it is wireless and not powered by batteries.
- Tablet Size: As sizes go, the Intuos Pro Pen provides a large surface for digital work, 12.5 by 8.1 inches, which is enough space for drawing and editing. Its surface also supports multi-touch activities and allows your fingers to serve as a capable tool for editing images.
- Interconnectivity: The Intuos Pro Pen is compatible with the latest versions of Mac and Windows OS as well as with other external software applications.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The Intuos Pro pen was developed to deliver 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition. This makes it an accurate and responsive drawing tool for its users.
- Other Features: Users can draw and paint by integrating Corel Painter with it.
Pros – It is a large tablet with an expansive workspace which allows for drawing complex models.
Cons – The screen display resolution could be better.
Turcom TS-6610 Graphic Tablet Drawing Tablets
The Turcom TS is an affordable yet efficient drawing tablet which can be used to draw digitally images on Apple and Microsoft products. The tablet makes it one of the cheapest graphics tablets on the market. Its features include:
- Programmable Features: Turcom TS sports 8 express keys and a further 16 functional keys which allows for the use of commands and shortcuts while drawing.
- Stylus Features: the stylus pen of this tablet is powered by 1 AAA battery, and it is quite sensitive. It combines with its sensitive tablet surface to produce 2048 pressure sensitivity levels. The pen also has 2 programmable buttons and 4 nibs.
- Tablet Size: The Turcom TS is quite sizable and it has a working surface of 10 by 6.25 inches which provide ample room for drawing.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The pen pressure sensitivity of the TS-6610 is quite good and the stylus delivers a 2048 level of sensitivity across the surface of the tablet.
- Interconnectivity: The Turcom TS is compatible with the later versions of windows and Mac operating systems. This means you can share data across your PC and tablet when the need arises.
- Other Features: in terms of compatibility, the tablet is compatible with a variety of operating systems and applications which include; Mac OS, Windows, Corel Painter, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Macromedia Flash, ComicStudio, SAI, Infinite Stratos, 3D MAX, Autodesk MAYA, Pixologic ZBrush and sketchbook. Included in its package is a user guide to help you get started.
Pros – Quite affordable and punches above its weight with the features it has.
Cons – The stylus pen works with a battery which means some level of maintenance is needed to ensure it works well
Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches
Turcom is known for its economical drawing tablets and the Turcom Graphic Tablet is one of its more economical versions. At a mere $40, it packs the features and power needed for you to be as creative as you choose. Its features include:
- Programmable Features: This tablet includes 8 express keys that can be programmed to the present commands and shortcuts you learn to make regular use of. It simplifies the drawing process and increases accuracy.
- Stylus Features: the stylus pen is powered by 1 AAA battery and it is quite sensitive which makes drawing thick or thin lines easy. The stylus pen combines with its small drawing surface to provide the user with 2048 levels of sensitivity.
- Tablet Size: an active area of just 8 by 6 Inches makes the Turcom Graphics the smallest tablet on this list. Therefore, it should be considered by artistes with limited working space in their work stations.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The TS-6608 was developed to have a pen pressure sensitivity of 2048. This makes it a responsive tablet for regular use.
- Other Features: like its predecessor, the Turcom Graphics is also compatible with the same operating systems and apps which include: Corel Painter, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Macromedia Flash, ComicStudio, SAI, Infinite Stratos, 3D MAX, Autodesk MAYA, Pixologic ZBrush, and sketchbook. Lastly, included in its package is a user guide to help you get started
Pros – It is a very affordable tablet with good pressure sensitivity. It is also compatible with a wide variety of drawing software applications, accessories, and operating systems.
Cons – It comes with a stylus pen that requires batteries.
XP – PEN DECO 03 Wireless Digital Graphics Drawing Tablet
The XP-PEN is one of the wireless digital graphics drawing tablets in the market today that delivers premium features at very affordable prices. The tablet is packaged with a nice stylus pen that delivers enhanced pen pressure sensitivity and eight replacement tips. Its red dial design and six customizable keys also make it a fan favorite for artists. Taking a look at the features we have:
- Programmable Features: The XP is equipped with six fully-customizable keys, ergonomically placed to enhance the overall look of the tablet. The keys also bring an ease of use dimension to working with the tablet.
- Stylus Features: the stylus pen is made of plastic and its elegant and light build makes it easy to use when drawing on the XP’s 10 x 6-inch screen.
- Tablet Size – When compared to other tablets, the XP is relatively large for its prize. With a screen size of 10 x 6 inches, you will have enough space for drafting complex drawings.
- Interconnectivity: The XP-PEN is compatible with the later versions of Windows and Mac operating systems. This means you can make use of it in conjunction with your PC. The wired and wireless functions of the XP-PEN also make it possible to draw wirelessly on the tablet and cast it onto your computer.
- Pressure Sensitivity: The XP-PEN is built with a stylus technology that delivers 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity when used. This makes the tablet a fluid and responsive enough for your complex drawing activities.
Pros – An aesthetical design tablet with enhanced pressure sensitivity makes this a tablet worth having. The wireless function and its compatibility with personal computers are great additional features for an 80-dollar tablet.
Cons – The stylus pen comes with a battery that must be recharged in order to use it. The tablet is also known to have driver issues which may negatively affect user experience.
Here are our top six graphics tablets arranged in terms of the stated criteria and we also endeavored to cover only the cheap or affordable drawing tablets to help each user make an informed choice when looking to purchase the perfect drawing tablet. Regardless of how much they cost, these tablets provide both beginners and professionals with the necessary tool needed to draw or make edits on the road.