Three best drawing tablets
For anyone who loves sketching, gone are the days when a pencil and paper were your only options for perfecting your art. A drawing tablet allows you to sketch directly on the screen, so you can save previous versions and experiment with a variety of techniques.
But for the best drawings, you need to choose the right tablet. That means figuring out the size, pressure sensitivity, resolution, and other features to really bring your artwork to life.
Not sure where to start? Our convenient shopping guide has all the information you need to find the best drawing tablet for your next art project. And if you're still not sure which one to buy, check out our specific product recommendations.
Considerations when choosing drawing tablets
When you're choosing a drawing tablet, you want to make sure it's the right size for your art projects. The overall size of the tablet isn't as important as the size of the active area, which is the part that you draw on. When you're studying the product specifications, pay careful attention to the dimensions of the active area so you'll know how much space you'll have to work in. The larger the tablet's active area, the larger your drawings can be, but if you plan to draw on the go, you might prefer a smaller tablet that's compact enough for travel.
When you're sketching, the tablet's screen should be able to sense differences in pressure so it can tell whether you're using the stylus or your finger to draw. Most tablets can tell the difference between 1,024 to 2,048 degrees of pressure, but some can't detect fingertip pressure. If you want to be able to sketch with your fingers, opt for a tablet that's touch-capable.
Drawing tablet features
Resolution: For the best drawing experience, it's important to choose a tablet with high-quality resolution. Drawing tablet resolution is measured in lines per inch (LPI), and higher LPI means you can create more detailed drawings. You'll generally get better resolution with a larger tablet.
Stylus: Some drawing tablets have a wired stylus for drawing while others have a wireless pen. Wired styluses usually get their power from the tablet itself. Wireless pens can run on standard batteries, utilize rechargeable batteries, or wirelessly receive power from the tablet. These tools can all draw effectively, but battery-operated pens can be somewhat bulky, and one with a rechargeable battery could run out of power in the middle of a drawing. An EMR pen that receives its power wirelessly from the tablet is usually the most convenient, but you'll pay more for a tablet with this feature.
Colors: To have the most control over your artwork, you need a drawing tablet that can produce as many colors as possible. A high-quality tablet can usually provide a minimum of 16 million colors, while some models can display up to a billion.
Connectivity: A drawing tablet should be able to connect to your computer so you can easily transfer your artwork. Some models require a USB cable for connection, while others allow you to easily connect via WiFi or Bluetooth.
Drawing tablet prices: A drawing tablet can cost anywhere from $15 to $900. Basic beginner models generally range from $15 to $75. Mid-range models generally cost $75 to $400. Tablets with the latest technology and best resolution usually cost $400 to $900.
Q. How long does a drawing tablet's battery last?
A. A quality drawing tablet usually has a battery life of at least three to four hours.
Q. Does a drawing tablet need to be connected to a computer for use?
A. Some models do require a connection to a computer for use, but these are mainly budget-friendly, beginner options. Higher-end tablets can usually be used on their own.
Drawing tablets we recommend
Best of the best: Wacom Cintiq 13HD
Our take: Expensive, but this professional-grade tablet stands out as the best available.
What we like: Picks up strokes easily and accurately. Professional-quality graphics.
What we dislike: Higher price make this a poor option for students or hobbyists.
Best bang for your buck: Huion H610PRO V2 Painting Graphics Tablet
Our take: Lightweight, highly responsive tablet at a more affordable price point.
What we like: Extremely sensitive. Picks up pen strokes easily, making the experience more like drawing with pen and paper.
What we dislike: Customer service can be poor.
Choice 3: XP-PEN Star05 Graphic Drawing Tablet
Our take: Offers a variety of user-friendly features, though the stylus can be difficult to work with.
What we like: Large drawing area. Works with a variety of Mac and Windows OS and other drawing software. Shortcut keys are extremely helpful.
What we dislike: Software can be difficult to install. Can be tough to get the stylus pressure setting right.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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