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Drawing tablets are useful tools for designers, artists, teachers, and hobbyists, with models ranging from basic to space age. While serious creative professionals will likely want to invest in top-of-the-line tablets, amateur artists and beginners alike can get started with simpler devices. Our picks come with all the features and settings you’ll need to start your digital designs right out of the box, making these drawing tablets an essential tool in the (home) office, schools and studios alike.
What Are the Best Drawing Tablets?
The best drawing tablets use stylus pens and a flat surface to mimic the feeling of drawing or writing on canvas or a piece of paper. The most popular drawing tablets can be used for everything from creating digital art to designing the layout of a space. Before buying your first graphics tablet, there are a few components we think are important to keep in mind. These include the quality of the image on the screen, the sensitivity of the pen, and the size of the device. Here’s what else to know.
Resolution: Resolution levels, measured in lines per inch (LPI), can vary widely in different graphics tablets. Unless you’re creating work that requires a high level of detail like photo realism, extremely high resolution shouldn’t be a top priority. But as a general rule, the higher the LPI the better the image quality is going to be.
Sensitivity: Tablets with pressure sensitivity alter the depth of your stroke according to how firmly you press the pen on the screen, which allows for finer line distinctions and the ability to more closely mimic the feeling of working with a real pen and paper. We recommend looking for at least 1,024 pressure levels, but higher is always better.
Responsiveness: Another important component is the tablet’s tracking speed, which refers to the lag between when you draw a stroke and when it appears on the screen. You’re looking for the shortest lag possible.
Size: Large tablets can take up the entire surface of a work desk, but for our purposes we prefer smaller and more portable models — but with caveats. Generally speaking, a larger screen size will provide higher resolution, and if the screen is too small it can become uncomfortable and awkward to work with. The sweet spot is basically iPad-sized (and yes, if you’ve got the budget, an iPad functions incredibly well as a drawing tablet too).
1. Wacom Intuos Graphics Drawing Tablet
We really like the convenient size of this board, which is small enough to be easily portable, but not so small that your hand cramps up while you’re using it. You’ll like how smooth and pleasant the drawing experience is, with little to no lag or wobble. The stylus connects to the board via a cord, but it’s a longer, more comfortable length. Everything tucks neatly into a slim, lightweight design.
2. XP-Pen StarG640 Drawing Tablet
This board’s standout feature is the high-quality pen. People note how smooth and precise the stylus feels when drawing, with practically zero lag, and we are especially impressed by its superior pressure sensitivity.
Razor thin and battery-free, this board is also a great portable option. The 20 included replacement nibs are a great bonus.
3. Simbans PicassoTab Drawing Tablet
We’re impressed with how well this board works with Autodesk SketchBook software, which comes pre-installed and makes up for deficiencies when you want to adjust stroke power. This tablet isn’t just drawing and graphic specific, which means that it can also be used for anything you’d ordinarily use a tablet for — be that games, Netflix, or email.
4. Huion Graphics Drawing Tablet Kit
We love the functionality of this tablet, which is compatible with most graphics software applications and includes functions like pen scrolling. You can control the graphics program you’re using with handy buttons on the side of the board, while buttons on the pen itself switch the brush stroke. You’ll also note how well this board manages changes to pressure sensitivity.
Cleaning supplies, replacement nibs, a protective sleeve, and battery all come included.