The 10 Best Drawing Tablets for Artists and Designers in 2023
Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, and Cheatsheet.com and has tested dozens of consumer technology products for multiple tech sites.
Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire.
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A drawing tablet is almost a second touchscreen for your computer, making it possible to use a pen or stylus to input information onto a screen. Any creative task on a computer that requires pinpoint precision can benefit from a pen’s tactile response. Drawing tablets can help presenters, artists, graphic designers, and Photoshop geeks.
We think most people should buy the XPEN Artist 12 because of its compatibility and customization features (and low price tag).
Our experts evaluated dozens of drawing tablets, and we’ve rounded up our top picks below.
The XP-Pen Artist12 earns our top spot because of its compatibility, customization, and reasonably affordable price point. The touchscreen display—a 1920 x 1080 HD IPS display—isn’t the highest resolution available, but with 72% NTSC Color Gamut accuracy, its FOCUS is on reproducing your work with as much precision as possible.
What’s great about having an 11.6-inch display inside your drawing tablet is that you don’t need to look at your other screen while drawing on a separate surface—you’re drawing on the device where your lines and colors appear. This makes it feel like you’re really creating art in the real world.
The passive hexagonal pen (which feels very pencil-like) allows for 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity so that you can really get the hand-sketched feel in your work. And because the pen is passive it’s not another device that needs to charge.
In addition, the Artist12 gives you a full-high touch bar you can program to fulfill certain commands on your computer (XP-Pen recommends mapping it to the zoom-in/zoom-out feature), and you can harness six different assignable shortcut keys. This makes it less of a drawing-only tablet and more of a full-featured control surface for your design programs. The device is compatible with Windows 7, 8, or 10 (in 32 or 64-bit) and Mac OS X as old as version 10.10.
Screen Size/Active Area: 11.6 inches | Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Pen Type: Passive | Standalone: No
- Big, bright, beautiful display
- Active pen with great pressure accuracy
- Tons of function buttons
The Gaomon PD1560 boasts a big, bright, 15.6-inch display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. In some ways, it rivals the Wacom options, but because it doesn’t feature a touch wheel or flashy multi-touch, we think it’s a more suitable rival with our top pick from XP-Pen.
Because of the 72% color gamut accuracy and the 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity from the active pen, it really does have many of the features of the Artist12. What makes it different is that it offers 10 assignable function keys (lined up in a column on the left edge of the device), which is more than the Artist12. However, you’ll have to pay nearly 100 more for this device.
The IPS display’s brightness and the extra function keys might be enough for you to spend that higher price tag, but the awkwardly wide form factor (different from something like the less-sprawling Cintiq 15) makes it a device that will take up a lot of space on your desk.
There’s no denying that this is a great peripheral with truly impressive pen specs. Our reviewer, Jeremy Laukkonen, found the pen performed flawlessly during testing, although he noted that the side buttons could be more pronounced.
Screen Size/Active Area: 15.6 inches | Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Pen Type: Active, rechargeable | Standalone: No
“This tablet really does present an impressive display for the price, but because of the awkwardly wide footprint and the unfortunately high price tag, it might not be the best fit for everyone.” — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
Best Standalone Drawing Tablet
The Simbans PicassTab is actually a standalone tablet, despite the fact that we were steering clear of these for this review. The reason this unit, to us, could be considered a drawing-specific tablet is because that’s the thing it does best. If you want an Android tablet for media consumption and web browsing, this will do fine, but you can get just as good of an experience on the cheaper Amazon Fire tablets.
What this tablet does better is drawing. And that’s for two reasons. It comes with an active stylus right out of the box, allowing for solid palm rejection (crucial for avoiding mis-presses while drawing). It also comes with Autodesk Sketchbook and Artflow preinstalled—two excellent beginner sketch apps for Android.
As far as tablet specs go, these aren’t all that impressive, but they’ll work well for a standalone drawing tab. There’s a 1.3GHz quad-core mobile processor, a 10.1-inch IPS display that sports a resolution of 1280 x 800, and even a 2MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and even a microSD card slot are here. You also have the capability of using a micro-HDMI port to connect this tablet to an external computer. And it’s that latter point that makes this really friendly for budding artists. They can start with the onboard sketch app basics but then graduate to real Adobe apps and use an external monitor while using this tablet as a peripheral. It’s a good balance of both worlds, and it goes for right around 200.
Screen Size/Active Area: 10.1 inches | Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 | Pen Type: Active | Standalone: Yes
Best Wireless Drawing Tablets of 2023: Our Top Pick
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Are you in search of the best wireless drawing tablet? Many people wonder if these even exist, the truth is that while wireless drawing tablets do exist, there is a very limited amount of drawing tablets that have a screen and are also wireless. (at least for now)
Wireless graphics tablets without a screen do exist and we cover the best ones in this post based on our criteria that I’ll explain. These devices are also known as bluetooth drawing tablets since that is a typical connection route to enable wireless connectivity.
Important: There’s also standalone drawing tablets that don’t require a laptop or PC and have a screen.
I haven’t seen a wireless drawing tablet that also has a built-in display besides the wacom mobile studio Pro; manufacturers are slower to develop these because it would likely make the drawing tablet very expensive, bulky, and require a very large battery.
- 1. XenceLabs Pen Tablet – Best Wireless drawing tablet (Overall)
- 2. Wacom Intuos: Best bluetooth drawing tablet for artists, teachers, and students
- 3. XP Pen Star – Best Budget Wireless Drawing Pad
- 4. Huion Inspiroy: Best Wireless Graphic Drawing Tablet (Mid Tier)
- 5. iPad Pro: Best Alternative Wireless drawing tablet (Mac users)
- 6. Surface Pro: Best Alternative Wireless drawing tablet (Windows users)
- Is the iPad considered a portable drawing tablet?
- Pressure sensitivity
- Tilt Sensitivity/recognition
- Shortcut Keys/Express keys
- Display screen size
- Active stylus vs passive
- Is there a wireless drawing tablet
- Is there a drawing tablet that doesn’t need a computer
- What is the best drawing tablet with a screen
At a glance – Best Wireless Graphics tablets with a screen
Here are our top picks for the best wireless drawing tablets that have a display built in:
Best Wireless drawing tablets for artists, remote learning, and work.
The following sections I will explain why of these are the best tablets are for drawing wirelessly and how you can use them for drawing, note-taking, remote learning, work presentations, and much more.
XenceLabs Pen Tablet – Best Wireless drawing tablet (Overall)
Xencelabs is a US based, upcoming brand for wireless drawing tablets. These are drawing tablets that use a USB dongle to wirelessly connect and are tailored to artists, students and more.
Whats really cool is that Xencelabs utilizes a USB dongle that allows the tablet to connect wirelessly to your laptop, rather than an innate bluetooth design.
As far as quality Xencelabs, is new to the drawing tablet space and actually has ex-Wacom specialists help design their graphics tablet devices.
View our hands on testing of the of the XenceLabs pen tablet (artist review)
This means that they added extra features such as customized LCD colors, the hotkeys are on the top rather than the side (as many artists are requesting) and really does well as far as accuracy and precision as per our tests.
Another unique factor that Xencelabs provides in their wireless drawing tablet is flawless software/drives in addition to a pen case that may not seem impressive at face value, but artists report they prefer the pen case.
Additionally, the Xencelabs gives you everything you need, including an extra ‘slim’ stylus, a shortcut remote, and a glove… something other wireless drawing tablets don’t include
They also provide a extra slim stylus pen and a standard stylus pen and the back of the pen works as an eraser. They are both included, which is rare for a graphics tablet to include.
This truly is a strong device that provides a reliable product and all the extras you need. It provides 8192 pressure sensitivity and 15 degrees of tilt, which rivals Wacom quite nicely.
I saw zero ‘wave’ to the pen and the precision was absolutely amazing. So this will work well for photoshop, adobe, annotating pdf’s, animation, and more.
If you’re considering Wacom, then it might be a Smart move to take a look at Xencelabs Pen tablet as well since they provide similar quality in addition to including all the extras.
Wacom Intuos: Best bluetooth drawing tablet for artists, teachers, and students
Wacom is a leading brand when it comes to drawing tablets. The Wacom Intuos is particularly popular because it works wirelessly via Bluetooth while still giving users the option to use the wired USB connection when desired.
You will love the fact that you can position it in any comfortable position, knowing that the tablet stays wirelessly connected to the computer.
What is interesting is that Wacom actually uses bluetooth to make the wireless drawing tablet connection rather than a USB dongle. This may or may not be a big deal for an artist depending on how many open USB ports they want to leave open on their laptop.
This slim and compact tablet is so handy and portable. It is light and fits easily into a backpack or large bag. On a desk, it occupies only a small space, leaving more room for documents and other stuff. It has a writing area measuring 6 x 3.7 inches.
This is very important especially for artists and illustrators whose digital art depends on a bluetooth drawing tablet without any hiccups that may affect the quality of the drawing:
- Wacom’s patented electromagnetic resonance (EMR) technology is the reason why its pen does not use a battery. The pen delivers both precision and control with thousands of pressure-sensitive points that make the tablet sense your every movement and record it accurately on the screen.
- There are also no significant lags between the pen and cursor movement, making you feel that it is as natural as writing on paper. The pen can also be detected by the tablet from as far up as 9/32” or 7mm from the tablet’s surface.
Four ExpressKeys on the top of the tablet, and two buttons on the pen, allow customization of certain frequently used keyboard functions. Assign keys, for example, for Undo or Pan/Scroll so that you can activate them with just one click. The four ExpressKeys and the power button have also been recessed uniformly so that they also act as a tray to rest your pen on.
If you specifically need a wireless or bluetooth drawing tablet with a screen, then you’re options are limited to either a standalone device like the Wacom mobile studio Pro or an alternative option such as a tablet with drawing pad capabiltiies like the iPad or Surface pro. There are a few Android tablet options as well.
Artists and creatives will love that the Intuos comes with creative software (a 2-year license on Clip Studio Paint Pro and 90-day trials of Corel Painter Essentials and Corel AfterShot Pro. Intuos works very well with software for teachers like Pear Deck, Kami, Limnu, ExplainEverything, and Collaboard.
On average, the Wacom CTL4100WLK0 Intuos tablet will last about 15 hours on a single charge if you use the USB (about 6-8 hours if on Bluetooth) and will take about 3.5 hours to charge.
While the Wacom Intuos tablet is compatible mainly with Windows and macOS, it will also work with select Android devices. You will need to check which Android models are compatible as well as purchase an OTG connector.
XP Pen Star – Best Budget Wireless Drawing Pad
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A serious contender in the wireless drawing tablet category is the XP Pen Star. This brand offers similar features to more popular brands but at a lower price point — a solid option for those with a budget.
The XP Pen Star has a wider drawing area (8 x 5 inches) compared to the Wacom Intuos in this article. That’s actually a pleasant surprise, considering that the Wacom is more expensive. Wide drawing areas are great for those engaged in digital art like teachers of the arts, illustrators, cartoonists, animators, architecture students and teachers, and those into interior design or fashion.
Online teaching or distance learning is aided by the XP Pen Star. Teachers can annotate, write Комментарии и мнения владельцев, solve Math problems, and draw with the tablet while students can easily take down notes with it.
Most tablets have buttons that can be used to customize frequently used functions. The XP Pen Star has six touch-sensitive keys instead. Some will appreciate the touch-sensitive keys but others who like to hold the sides of the tablet or rest their arms on it may accidentally activate the touch keys.
The battery-less pen also has thousands of pressure-sensitive points although not as many as the more expensive tablets so you may notice that it is less responsive than a Wacom pen, for example. Still, this should not be a deal breaker because you can work fairly well with it.
The XP Pen Star can operate, using the wired connection, for 14 continuous hours on a single charge. Using the wireless option will usually shorten it by about half. It only takes 2.5 hours to charge the tablet. Also, while the tablet is connected by USB to the computer, it continues charging.
Creative software compatible with the XP Pen Star include Photoshop, PaintTool SAI, and Clip Studio Paint. It runs on Windows and macOS.
Huion Inspiroy: Best Wireless Graphic Drawing Tablet (Mid Tier)
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The Huion brand competes with Wacom when it comes to wireless drawing tablets and is considered more premium than the XP Pen.
We think the Huion Inspiroy Q11K’s large writing area is its biggest attraction for many users who draw a lot or do annotations and notes on screen. At 11 x 7 inches, this tablet is one of the largest in its category. It is heavier than most tablets too at almost 2 pounds and measures 13 inches at the longest side.
Eight shortcut buttons run along the left side of the tablet. You get a firm click when you press them. These buttons can be customized to represent shortcut keyboard functions you use often. Your workflow and productivity will improve a lot as you get one-click use of these functions.
The function UNDO, for example, is often used by artists as they do a lot of corrections on their drawings. The UNDO function can be assigned to one shortcut key.
The rechargeable pen has about the same number of pressure-sensitive points as Wacom tablets, ensuring that all your strokes and writing are accurately recognized and displayed on screen. It can recognize both light and hard handwriting. When it is inserted into the pen stand, it goes on sleep mode; it wakes up once the pen touches the tablet with some pressure exerted.
On a single charge of its 2500mAH lithium-ion battery, you can expect to get around 40 hours of continuous use. The pen can give you around 350 hours of use on a single charge. One downside: the pen has no eraser since the battery is located at the back of the pen.
Creative software that work well on the Huion Inspiroy Q11K include PhotoShop, PaintTool SAI, Illustrator, SketchBook Pro, Krita, Manga Studio, and CorelPainter. The Huion Inspiroy also works with Windows and macOS.
iPad Pro: Best Alternative Wireless drawing tablet (Mac users)
If you already own the iPad Pro 2020, consider yourself lucky because you need not look further for a wireless drawing tablet. Your only additional investment will be the Apple Pencil (Amazon).
This tablet is huge! It’s almost like a 13-inch laptop edge-to-edge and its screen display is 11 inches along the longest side. This is a great size for artists who sketch, paint, touch up, and edit photos.
The liquid retina display on the iPad Pro offers incredibly color-accurate display, something that professional artists and photographers will appreciate. Some tests show it beating the Surface Pro and even its 2018 iPad Pro variant in terms of brightness of display.
This iPad Pro works only with Apple’s second-generation Apple Pencil. One side is flat so it magnetically attaches to one side of the iPad where it charges inductively. This design is a great way to charge the pencil while keeping the pencil and iPad together without need for a pen holder.
Some artists who used the iPad Pro with apps like Photoshop or Procreate (iPad only) said the iPad Pro gives them the best drawing and painting experience. They are also very happy with the pen’s sensitivity, reported no lags, and actually said it is at par or even better than the pens of advanced digital writing pad tablets.
Photographers who edit photos will definitely love the iPad Pro’s camera that has been bumped up from the 2018 version. They can use the iPad’s camera to take sharp and colorful photos, then edit them on the same device using the Apple Pencil. The camera also makes this iPad a document camera for online classes or teleconferencing using platforms like Zoom and its Share Screen function.
The iPad Pro has a battery life of 10 hours (source) – not spectacular, considering dedicated wireless drawing tablets can go for 3 to 4 times that long – so if you want more juice out of it while drawing or conducting online classes, close all other apps.
There are a few other things to note.
One, the only port in the iPad Pro is a USB C and if you’re using a PC to back up what is on the iPad, either your PC should have a USB C port or you will need to buy an adapter. You may also want to consider the Surface Pro instead.
Two, additional activities like gaming or surfing could easily drain the battery faster than if you were using a standalone wireless drawing tablet.
Three, unlike dedicated wireless drawing tablets, the iPad Pro does not have buttons that you can customize for those frequent functions you use.
Surface Pro: Best Alternative Wireless drawing tablet (Windows users)
This is the better option for you if you are a Windows user looking for a laptop that also doubles as a wireless drawing tablet.
The Surface Pro 7 has an upgraded i7 chip for the higher-end model. Creative types will also love the Gen11 integrated graphics that will spell the difference when you run creative application software.
Both the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 7 have bright, vivid displays but in this aspect, the iPad Pro comes out on top with a more color-accurate display for photo editing work and professional design.
Microsoft offers two pens with the Surface Pro: the Surface Pen and the Surface Slim Pen. Both pens feel very natural to sketch, draw and write with and even includes tilt shading. Which pen you get is your choice though the Slim pen will cost you more.
The pens attach magnetically to the Surface Pro 7 but, unlike the iPad Pro, do not charge inductively. Instead, it uses three AAA batteries. The magnets do not seem to hold too strongly either because some users experienced the pen falling off the Surface Pro when inside the bag. You may need to place the pen in a secure in the bag to avoid losing it.
Many professional vector artists and graphic designers who work often with Adobe Illustrator love the Surface Pro 7. Its screen though is reported to be its weakest point. Tests with color accuracy show this to be a bit of an issue as you will get less subtle shading in gradients compared to the iPad Pro.
How we test and rated the best wireless drawing tablets
We tested the efficacy of these drawing tablets based on pressure sensitivity, tilt sensitivity, shortcut keys, display, screen size, resolution, stylus and pen nibs.
For tilt sensitivity, we rated the drawing tablets based on whether this was available or not in the stylus and drawing tablet. Most drawing tablets that are (wireless or not), will have tilt sensitivity technology in built-in. Only cheap, third party stylus do not; this is common on Android stylus; which is why it’s improtant to understand fully the best stylus for drawing on Android.
Regarding Shortcut keys, we rated the drawing tablets based on how many programmable hotkeys were available, if at all. Most of the main name brands have this. These are customizable and allow you to access functions such as erasing, undoing, showing your toolbar or brush settings.
A programmable hotkey will allow you to press a button and have one of these actions performed by the tablet.
As far as Display size, we rated the drawing tablets based on the size of the screen, the price and after a certain size the tablet was no longer portable. If this was the case, the tablets did not get penalized, but it is noted that portability needs to be considered.
Most of these drawing tablets will be listed as having a certain resolution and the higher the better. It allows you to create more detailed work in a sense as you have more area to work with.
When rating, we considered the stylus a factor as well. We rated the drawing tablets based on the pen tip, of the stylus whether or not it had a textured tip, the replaceable tips and replacement tips.
How the tablet felt in our hands when we tested it was considered and of course the pressure sensitivity it provides. We also compared these to similar tablets.
As technology improves, we’re seeing more and more innovative software that will make drawing easier (and better).
For pen nibs, we rated the drawing tablets based on the complexity and use of replacement nibs. Due to the nature of digital drawing, you’ll be changing pens frequently because of how digital everything is in this age.
Is the iPad considered a portable drawing tablet?
I would consider the iPad a portable drawing tablet and unlike a standard wireless drawing tablet, iPad drawing tablet users will need to purchase a set of replacement nibs as most tablets unless you get a combination purchase that includes extra pen nibs with the stylus of your choice.
How to choose a Wireless drawing tablet
Pressure is how much your tablet will react to the strength in which you press down on the tablet surface. 2,048 levels are ideal for artists and as you increase the number of sensitivity levels, so does the price! If your just getting started with a drawing tablet these are essentials. For basic line drawings or writing, less sensitivity can be fine but artists will want higher pressure sensitivity levels.
Tilt Sensitivity allows an angle that effects the way a stroke is created when moving the stylus. Most who are drawing for any purpose will want this tilt recognition, unless all you need is basic lines.
Unlike Pressure sensivity which controls the size and pressure as you glide the pen across the display…. Tilt control allows you to detect which angle and level of roundness you desire. This feature comes with most stylus, there are some capacitive, psssive stylus that don’t have this feature.
The idea of tilt sensitivity is to allow the user to control the angle of the stylus better and mimic that of a true pencil. You may not need tilt sensitivity if all you need is to draw basic shapes such as for math or remote learning, but it still helps significantly in most scenarios.
Shortcut Keys/Express keys
Shortcut keys are ideal for anyone using a tablet, whether you are a digital artist or not. If you’re teaching, remote learning, or drawing on a digital whiteboard, shortcut and express keys will allow you to access the toolbar, brush, erasor, and any other programmable hotkeys you choose as these are typically customizable. Huion, Wacom, and XP-Pen graphic tablets that are wireless have this feature on most of their models.
If you’re using a digital whiteboard, you can choose one of the best online whiteboards for teaching, remote work, and zoom.
Display screen size
Display size is ideal over 6 inches for most purposes. If you’re an artist you’ll likely want a bigger size drawing tablet that is wireless. If you’re teaching remotely and not an artists, then you can get away with a smaller wireless drawing tablet. Either way you can write and zoom and pinch the screen to move to different parts so the size of the tablet being smaller is still functional and it has an added benefit of portability
The stylus is one of the most important accessories of any drawing tablet since its what you use to actually create lines and strokes. You should have one with a pen tip and if you’re any kind of artist it should be a textured tip that is easily replaceable. A stylus is similar to a pencil, but it’s digital; so you can do anything from traditional paintings to digital painting.
In the case you’re not using a graphcis tablet and you are drawing on Android or sketching on the iPad Air, you’ll want to consider a stylus to purchase since these do not typically come with the tablets themselves.
Active stylus vs passive
There are two types of Stylus, Passive and Active. With Passive styluses, the pressure is detected by a sensor in the tablet. Active styluses have their own built-in sensor as well as buttons to control functions such as erasing and switching tools like pencils and brushes. Similar to the Apple Pencils, the Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen have an active stylus.
Nibs and replacement tips are available in most brands. For Example, Huion, Wacom and XP-Pen have easily replaceable tips and usually come with extra with the purchase of a wireless drawing tablet.
It’s important to note that the nibs come in different shapes as well as sizes. The finer the tip, the more subtle detailing you can do with your stylus. Depending on your drawing style you can decide which nibs are best for which applications and make a decision.
Wireless Drawing Tablets with a Screen
There are no Wireless drawing tablets with a screen besides the Wacom mobile studio. Since the Wacom mobile studio was created it is likely more of these standalone drawing tablets with a display will surface; especially as technology advances. Most of the drawing tablets that are wireless do not have a screen and are considered graphics tablets.
Alternatively you can use a standalone drawing tablet by utilizing and iPad or Samsung.
Most Wireless drawing tablets don’t have a screen because they are designed to be used with a computer, not on their own. I’m not saying that wireless drawing tablets with screens like the Wacom mobile studio aren’t worth it as they are designed to be used on their own and do offer a lot of benefits. However, they have a a few drawbacks since they are considered by many as ‘newly introduced’ into the market; especially compared to the ones without a screen.
If you want something that’s portable, has a larger screen for better drawing effects, and can run on batteries then you should check out these other options.
FAQ: Wireless drawing tablet with and without screens
Below are some common questions asked around if wireless drawing tablets have a screen, need a screen, and what other options they have for choosing an option without a display.
Is there a wireless drawing tablet
Yes, there are wireless drawing tablets that are considered graphics tablets. The wireless drawing tablets connect to the PC or laptop via bluetooth connection rather than a USB cord which was previously standard.
How do wireless drawing tablets work
A wireless drawing tablet is a special type of computer tablet attached to a PC or Mac which can be used for touch-sensitive input which mimics that of a real drawing experience on paper. These work by utilizing bluetooth technology and connecting to the desired laptop or desktop in which the drawing application is on.
There are many different types of drawing tablets, including Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pens which digitize the drawing process.
Is there a drawing tablet that doesn’t need a computer
Yes, there are various drawing tablets that don’t need a computer. These are also known as ‘portable drawing tablets’.and come in three forms:
- A wireless drawing tablet without a screen,
- Drawing tablet with a screen, such as the Wacom mobile studio Pro.
- Standard tablet that can be used for drawing by using a stylus (such as the iPad, Android, or Windows tablets).
Samsung Galaxy and Lenovo flex and yoga models also can be used as a drawing tablet without the need of a computer. We cover this in complete detail in our post: portable rawing tablets that don’t need a computer. These are considered standalone devices and have both a built-in screen and computer.
All drawing tablets do not need a computer, with the invention of the Wacom mobiel studio Pro and the technological advances within the iPad (both iOS and hardware), you can use a tablet to draw on with out a computer. We go over this more in our full post on this topic: Drawing tablets that don’t need a computer.
What is the best drawing tablet with a screen
The best drawing tablet with a screen is one that has a larger sized screen since you’ll be drawing directly on it. You’ll want to make sure it has al lthe features of a standard drawing tablet as well, such as pressure sensivitiy, shortcut keys, and compability amongst the apps you plan on using. We cover more on this in our post: Best Budget Drawing Tablets with Screen Built-in.
The best wireless drawing tablets are the graphics tablets with pressure sensivitiy, tilt control technology, palm rejection, replacement nibs, and full compatibility amongst drawing apps (and most importantly, bluetooth wireless connection). These are typically the Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen drawing tablets
There are very limited drawing tablets with a screen built-in because it would make the tablet bulky and expensive to make for the manufacturer. There is one though called the wacom mobile studio Pro, which worked well, but many experts claim there are improvements to be made which I’m confident Wacom will eventually adjust for it’s large fan base.
Overall, drawing tablets that are also wireless and connect to a laptop or computer do exist and cost a bit more than other wired options.
Posted on Last updated: 04/28/2023
Best Graphic Tablets for Beginners in 2023
Sudarshan is the founder of Writer Shark and began his journey with Architecture Lab as a contributing writer in 2017. His exceptional organizational skills and disciplined work ethic and writing thirst enabled him to quickly progress from a freelance writer to reviews editor. Sudarshan has become an integral part of our team, now editing, organizing content and leading product research with utter care.
When it comes to buying devices for any design work, you cannot go the easy way, buying whatever you lay your eyes on.
Several factors come into play even when choosing something as basic as a graphic designing tablet because any small issue might cost you a lot of hours and hard work.
Since graphic designers spend a lot of time in front of the screen, they should ideally be looking for a graphic tab that offers a balance between colors and comfort. And if you happen to be an amateur, it might be difficult to choose the one that best suits your needs.
But don’t worry, we got you covered with this list of the 8 best graphic tablets for beginners in the market that made the cut.
Best Graphic Tablets for Beginners
- Huion New 1060 Plus Graphic Drawing Tablet with 8192 Pen Pressure – Best for Budget-Friendly Artists
- Artist Display 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition – Best for Mid-Range Creativity
- Artist 24Pro – Best for Professional-Quality Work
- Wacom Intuos Art and Touch Medium Tablet – Old Version
- Huion INSPIROY Q11K Wireless Digital Graphics Drawing Pen Painting Tablet
- Huion KAMVAS GT-191 Drawing Tablet with HD Screen 8192 Pressure Sensitivity – 19.5 Inch
- Wacom DTHW1320M Mobile Studio Pro 13 Tablet [with Windows 10, 13″, Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD]
- Wacom DTH1320K0 Cintiq Pro 13″ Creative Pen Display, HD LCD Graphics Monitor, Dark Gray
- 1. Size
- 2. Resolution
- 3. Pressure sensitivity
- 4. Pen type
- 5. Connectivity
- 6. Shortcut buttons and software compatibility
- 7. Customer support and warranty
- 8. Price
- Top tip:
- What is the difference between a graphic tablet and a pen display?
- What is the price range for a graphic tablet for beginners?
- What software is compatible with graphic tablets?
- Do I need to install drivers for my graphic tablet?
- Can I use a graphic tablet for other tasks besides art and design?
Whether you’re on a tight budget or looking for advanced features, this list has got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect graphic tablet to help you unleash your creativity! Here’s the list of the 8 best graphic tablets for beginners.
Huion New 1060 Plus Graphic Drawing Tablet with 8192 Pen Pressure – Best for Budget-Friendly Artists
- Working Area Configuration. HUION art tablet.
- Tilt Function Battery-free Stylus: This computer.
The first one on this list is the 1060 Plus Graphic drawing tablet by Huion. The tab comes with a Built-in Card Reader which has an 8GB micro-SD card. This makes it ideally portable and convenient for its users. In case you aren’t satisfied with the 8GP, you can extend its memory up to 64 GB so you won’t be running out of space anytime soon.
The active working area of this tab spans about 10 x 6.25 inches of space, giving its users an extensive space to design. The makers also took the design up another notch by letting the pen pressure sensitivity extend up to 8192 Levels. As a result, you can use the pen to work with lines of varying widths and opacity, as if you are designing with a real pen.
Huion’s graphic tab comes with a 5080 LPI High resolution that ensures low distortion, thus creating more accurate and smoother lines. The reported rate of the tab is an impressive 233 RPS, which increases the responsiveness of the tab to a level higher.
- It supports Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and Mac 10.11.0 or later versions
- Customizable keys
- Built-in micro-SD card
- Seems to have a Photoshop bug that increases reaction time and disables specific functions while working with it
- Has no mouse-pad mode
Screen Size (inches): 10 x 6.25 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Connectivity: Wired | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: Low
Artist Display 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition – Best for Mid-Range Creativity
The product splendidly combines screen and glass, thanks to the fully-laminated technology. The working environment is, therefore, free of distractions, and there’s almost no parallax either. Considering the fine work artists execute, the stylus has been designed without batteries and finer nibs. So, it permits smoother and more natural work, with greater precision in positions. That’s not all; even the line performance is improved.
Also, the tablet supports a tilt function up to sixty degrees. This means that artists don’t have to adjust the direction of their brushes, which results in natural transitions between strokes and lines. You’ll find the tilt function supported in Gimp and Photoshop, among other apps.
Furthermore, it comes equipped with the ability to deliver vivid images, rich colors, and dazzling details. Apart from the color accuracy, the Artist Display tablet comes with shortcut keys for smarter working.
You’ll notice that the holiday edition comes with its own set of additions that Champion holiday cheer. Among the exclusive items is the Fenix jigsaw painting, which inspires creativity and calms the mind.
over, an art print poster is part of the pack, which adds vividness to workspaces or living quarters. Understandably, users want to work smarter in the holiday season, which is possible with the sticker pack for shortcuts. Finally, you can also download artwork from other artists and recreate them.
- Comes with a red dial interface and customizable shortcut keys
- Adopts fully laminated technology
- Supports tilt function
- The stylus is more accurate and battery-free
Screen Size (inches): 13.3 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Connectivity: Wired | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: Medium
Artist 24Pro – Best for Professional-Quality Work
This tablet is the first of its kind, which comes with a 23.8-inch 2K QHD display. It has twice the resolution that one might expect from FHD displays, not to mention unprecedented vibrancies. As a result, the creative experience offered would likely exceed all your expectations.
There are two red dials, which are easy to control, and the tablet comes with shortcut keys, which are customizable. Even the stylus is battery-free and comes with heightened pressure sensitivity. So, it helps in delivering finer line performance, which makes lines and sketches better.
Furthermore, the 24Pro has a tilt option, which makes it easier to transition between strokes. There’s also a stand, which makes the product all the more adjustable. Now, you can create with ease by moving the screen as much as you want.
Understandably, the stylus might not be the first choice for all artists. Thus, the tablet has been designed with a USB port where you might connect a device such as a mouse. Speaking of USB ports, the tablet comes with a USB-C to USB-C connection. As a result, you can connect it to other devices easily without needing an adapter.
- Compatible with various digital art software like Adobe Photoshop
- Unique display screen
- Supports tilting and stand allows for further adjustments
- Numerous shortcut keys that can be customized
Screen Size (inches): 23.8 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Connectivity: Wired | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: High
Wacom Intuos Art and Touch Medium Tablet – Old Version
- Paint, design, and create directly on your.
- Battery-free, pressure sensitive pen helps you to.
There is a reason why Wacom is dominating the digital art tablet market right now. One look at its Wacom Intuos Art, and you’ll know that Wacom sure deserves this position for everything the brand offers its users. Sporting a canvas without any limit, this medium-sized tab from Wacom will help digital artists create their art with precision and ease.
The tablet’s [medium] dimensions are 216 x 135 mm (8.5 x 5.3 in), which gives the artists a generous amount of space for sketching, drawing, and editing. This broad canvas also provides the artists ample space to work with strokes of varying widths.
This surprisingly easy-to-use tab gives users access to some free apps such as Autodesk Sketchbook and ArtRage Studio, which are pre-installed on the device. Intuous Art can also be set up in relation to the dominant hand of the artist (Him/her being left or right-handed).
- Works with virtually any software program
- Includes a pen that works without any batteries; so there is no hassle of recharging
- Compatible with wireless adapter kits
- Complaints from the users regarding inaccuracies when using the pen for writing
- Starts working even when your hand is away from the tab, thus leading to errors
Screen Size (inches): 11 | Pen Pressure Levels: 2048 | Pen Tilt Support: No | Display Resolution: 2540 LPI | Connectivity: Wired | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: Low
Huion INSPIROY Q11K Wireless Digital Graphics Drawing Pen Painting Tablet
- Wireless Connectivity: Q11K V2 supports wireless.
- Battery-Free Stylus.HUION Q11K V2 graphics tablet.
The HuionInspiroy Q11K model has plenty of features to offer its users. And having a pen pressure that is almost four times the common devices is just one of them. The brand boasts of its 8192 pressure level in pen as opposed to the usual 2048 pressure level in the standard graphic tablet pens.
This makes Q11K a virtual giant when it comes to processing detail-oriented work. Right from artists to architects who work with sketching and designing, this is pretty much a dream come true for any graphic designing enthusiast.
The device also boasts a 5080 LPI screen resolution, which makes the images crisper and sharper. Q11K is also compatible with most of the systems available in the market and works fine with all the standard painting applications, including MangaStudio, Illustrator, CorelPainter, SAI, PS, and Krita. Further, there is a built-in wireless 2.4G transmission system within the device, which covers an area of up to 10 meters.
A quick charge of 1.5 hours can make the tab last for around 350 hours, and an automatic circuit is designed to put the pen to sleep when it is placed in the holder.
- Anti-touch design with double pen buttons reduces the chances of false touch
- The aluminum-magnesium alloy body makes it hardy, sleek and lightweight
Screen Size (inches): 11 x 6.87 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Connectivity: Wireless | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: Low
Huion KAMVAS GT-191 Drawing Tablet with HD Screen 8192 Pressure Sensitivity – 19.5 Inch
- Battery-free Pen. Only applicable to Huion KAMVAS.
- 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure Sensitivity. Enjoy.
Perhaps, one of the coolest things about Huion’sKamvas GT-191 is its ability to work with about 16.7 million colors in vivid details, owing to its 3000:1 contrast ratio and 72% color gamut. This makes it a fantastic grab for anyone who regularly works with designs and colors as it can accurately represent every hue you aim for.
The model comes with a 19.5-inch interactive display that works in Full HD with its exquisite 1920×1080 resolution, while the expansive LCD screen of the tab comes in a 16:9 ratio.
The 5081lpi, which the device takes pride in, is another thing you need to look out for. This immensely improves the color and image display, especially when you pair it up with its report rate, which hits a sweet 233pps.
Another fancy feature of the GT-191 model is its 8192-level pressure sensitivity. The pen seems like it was designed keeping the user’s comfort in mind. Combine that with the fact that their nib extractor comes with eight built-in spare nibs, and you would not be able to think of anything that’s better than this.
- The stand is adjustable, and the angle can be set according to the user’s comfort
- It comes with a built-in nib extraction system
Screen Size (inches): 19.5 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Connectivity: Wired | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: Medium
Wacom DTHW1320M Mobile Studio Pro 13 Tablet [with Windows 10, 13″, Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD]
- Wacom mobile Studio Pro 13 inches 256GB packs an.
- Wacom most natural and advanced pen performance.
Wacom’s DTHW1320M is loaded with some fancy features, and its ability to run even the most complicated of 3D and 2D creative and CAD applications is merely one of them. This model features four times the usual accuracy and sensitivity to its counterparts.
The tab also covers over 95% of the Adobe RGB spectrum and has a very high resolution (2560×1440) display with impeccable clarity. To increase the work efficiency of its user, the DTHW1320M also has a radial menu and multi-touch options.
With its Pro Pen 2, this model by Wacom is said to give the user a realistic feeling of using a pen on paper. This surely makes the work easier and more interesting for both professionals and beginners alike. Some models even have scanning software pre-installed with the tab. Combining that with the Intel Real Sense lens which comes built into the device, you can efficiently capture and work with 3D scans.
Last but not the least, the etched glass screen of the device provides the perfect amount of resistance needed for a realistic drawing experience, while the 4K display offers the sharpest and most minute details to work with.
- It has a 4K display with a very high resolution
- Etched surface provides the feeling of using pen and paper
Screen Size (inches): 13 | Pen Pressure Levels: 2048 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Connectivity: Wireless | Operating System: Windows | Price Range: High
Wacom DTH1320K0 Cintiq Pro 13″ Creative Pen Display, HD LCD Graphics Monitor, Dark Gray
- New Class of Creative Pen Display: Optimized.
- Super Responsive: Wacom Pro Pen 2 features 8192.
In addition to its high-end features, Wacom is known to make tabs that are easy to use, comfortable, and pre-loaded with amazing features. Keeping up the reputation, one can say that the DTH1320K0 Cintiq Pro tab does not disappoint. A surprising number of features in this model seem to have been included keeping the user’s comfort in mind.
The tab comes with express keys that are easily customizable. Shortcuts that are but a touch away, multi-touch gestures, and of course, the radial menus are all here in the tab to attract design lovers. Further, the accuracy of the tab has been increased to provide almost four times more than usual. Working with the device gives you a pretty much lag-free experience, be it on a Mac or a Windows system.
Coming to the screen, Wacom provides you with a 13 inches worth of Full HD display. That, along with the tab’s high resolution (1920×1080), offers a visual treat to anyone working with it. It also covers 87% of Adobe’s RGB spectrum, which isn’t too bad.
The tab easily connects to any Laptop or Desktop using a USB-C cable that connects directly to a USB-C port, thus offering an easy data transfer.
- The stand can be adjusted to almost any angle, for the maximum levels of user-comfort
- The etched glass screen offers a very realistic pen-on-paper feel
Screen Size (inches): 13.3 | Pen Pressure Levels: 8192 | Pen Tilt Support: Yes | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080| Connectivity: Wired, Wireless | Operating System: Windows, macOS | Price Range: High
Best Graphic Tablet For Beginners Comparison Table
|Huion New 1060 Plus Graphic Drawing Tablet with 8192 Pen Pressure||10 x 6.25||8192||Yes||5080 LPI||Wired||Windows, macOS||Low|
|Artist Display 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition||13.3||8192||Yes||1920 x 1080||Wired||Windows, macOS||Medium|
|Artist 24Pro||23.8||8192||Yes||2560 x 1440||Wired||Windows, macOS||High|
|Wacom Intuos Art and Touch Medium Tablet – Old Version||11||2048||No||2540 LPI||Wired||Windows, macOS||Low|
|Huion INSPIROY Q11K Wireless Digital Graphics Drawing Pen Painting Tablet||11 x 6.87||8192||Yes||5080 LPI||Wireless||Windows, macOS||Low|
|Huion KAMVAS GT-191 Drawing Tablet with HD Screen 8192 Pressure Sensitivity – 19.5 Inch||19.5||8192||Yes||1920 x 1080||Wired||Windows, macOS||Medium|
|Wacom DTHW1320M Mobile Studio Pro 13 Tablet [with Windows 10, 13″, Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD]||13||2048||Yes||2560 x 1440||Wireless||Windows||High|
|Wacom DTH1320K0 Cintiq Pro 13″ Creative Pen Display, HD LCD Graphics Monitor, Dark Gray||13.3||8192||Yes||1920 x 1080||Wired, Wireless||Windows, macOS||High|
Buying Guide For The Best Graphic Tablets For Beginners
A graphic tablet, also known as a drawing tablet or pen tablet, is a useful tool for digital artists, designers, and beginner hobbyists. This guide will help you navigate the market and choose the best graphic tablet for beginners while considering all the important factors — so let’s get started.
Size is a crucial factor to consider, as it directly impacts your drawing experience. Tablets come in small, medium, and large sizes.
- Small: Compact and portable, ideal for limited desk space, but may feel cramped for intricate or detailed work.
- Medium: Offers a good balance between portability and drawing space.
- Large: Best for professionals or those with ample desk space, but might be overwhelming for beginners.
The resolution determines the tablet’s ability to detect tiny pen movements. A higher resolution ensures better accuracy and smoother lines. For beginners, a tablet with at least 1024 LPI (Lines Per Inch) is recommended.
Pressure sensitivity is measured in levels, typically ranging from 1,000 to 8,192. The higher the sensitivity, the better the tablet can imitate the natural feel of traditional media, like pencils or brushes. Beginners should aim for a tablet with a minimum of 2,048 levels.
The type of pen that comes with your tablet plays a major role in your drawing experience. There are two types:
- Battery-operated: Heavier, may require charging or replacing batteries.
- Battery-free: Lighter, powered by the tablet’s surface instead.
Choose a pen that feels comfortable in your hand and meets your needs.
Graphic tablets connect to computers using cables or wireless connections. Consider your workstation setup before choosing:
- Wired connection: Typically connects via USB, which can limit your range of movement.
- Wireless connection: Pairs via Bluetooth, providing a more flexible setup but may suffer from latency in some situations.
Shortcut buttons and software compatibility
Many tablets come with customizable buttons for quick access to frequently used tools. Make sure the tablet is compatible with the software you plan to use, such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, or SketchBook Pro.
Customer support and warranty
Reputable manufacturers often provide better customer support and more generous warranties, which can be beneficial for beginners who may need technical assistance.
As a beginner, you don’t need to invest in a high-end tablet. Look for cost-effective options that offer good functionality and sufficient features for your needs.
Research and read reviews from other beginners who have used the tablet you are interested in. This will provide insights into real-world experiences and help you make the most informed decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a graphic tablet and a pen display?
A graphic tablet is a standalone input device that connects to your computer, while a pen display is a monitor with a built-in touch screen that allows you to draw and edit directly on the display.
What is the price range for a graphic tablet for beginners?
The price range for a graphic tablet for beginners can vary widely depending on the brand, size, and features. You can find basic models starting at around 50, while more advanced models can cost upwards of 1,000.
What software is compatible with graphic tablets?
Most graphic tablets are compatible with popular design and art software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Corel Painter.
Do I need to install drivers for my graphic tablet?
Yes, you will need to install drivers for your graphic tablet to ensure it works properly with your operating system and software. Drivers can usually be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
Can I use a graphic tablet for other tasks besides art and design?
Yes, a graphic tablet can also be used for tasks such as navigating your computer, annotating documents, and even playing games.
After analyzing the pros and cons of these eight graphic tablets in detail, I believe I have a clear understanding of which models are best suited for beginners. Each tablet offers certain unique features, appealing to different preferences and budgets. Out of these eight best graphic tablets, here are the top three expert recommendations:
Huion 1060 Plus Graphic Drawing Tablet: Best for those on a budget, the Huion 1060 Plus is an ideal option. With its generous 10 x 6.25-inch working area and 8192 pen pressure levels, this tablet provides impressive responsiveness and versatility. Additionally, the built-in micro-SD card and customizable keys enhance the user experience. However, it’s important to note that this model may have a compatibility issue with Photoshop.
Artist Display 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition: Best for medium-budget users, the Artist Display 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition is a good option. Boasting fully laminated technology, a battery-free stylus, and tilt functionality, it offers a seamless drawing experience. The holiday edition also comes with inspiring extras such as a Fenix jigsaw painting and an art print poster.
Artist 24Pro: Best for those seeking a top-tier device, the Artist 24Pro is the right choice. This tablet’s 23.8-inch 2K QHD display, customizable shortcut keys, and precise stylus provide users with a professional-grade drawing experience. Its sturdy stand and USB compatibility ensure both convenience and versatility for artists.
Ultimately, these expert recommendations offer diverse options to suit the varied needs of beginners entering the world of digital art. Whatever your budget or preferences, one of these top three graphic tablets should prove to be an excellent starting point.
Should I Learn to Draw on a Tablet? (A Beginners Guide)
You may be tempted by the streamlined, clutter free appeal of digital art or the versatility of digital tools that allows you to create a wider range of artistic styles effects. Not only does digital art save time and reduce clutter, but it also boosts creativity with features like undo and redo options, infinite color palettes, and the ability to experiment with layering and textures so you may be asking: “Should I learn to draw on a tablet?”
You should learn to draw on a tablet if you want to pursue a hobby or career in digital art. As a general rule, practicing drawing using a tablet can better your art style and thus improve your digital artwork. Additionally, learning to draw on a tablet is more beginner-friendly in some ways.
Discover the basics of drawing on a tablet with our beginner’s guide, including tips on creating digital artwork and improving your skills. Learn about the nuances of using graphics and screen tablets and find our top pick for beginners.
Learning to Draw on a Tablet for Beginners
Unlike traditional art, drawing on a tablet can come with a learning curve because of its integration with technology. In this section, we will break down the technical aspects of learning to draw on your tablet so you can begin doing so with ease.
Here are some steps for beginners on learning to draw on a tablet:
- Connect Your Tablet to Your Computer: If you have a graphics tablet, you will need to connect it to your laptop or desktop computer before using it. Simply install your tablet drivers and plug it into one of your computer’s USB ports.
- Set up Shortcuts: Generally, stylus pens have one or more buttons you can press to complete an action or actions. You can change the shortcuts to something useful, like Undo, Change Brush, or Toggle Zoom.
- Understand Tablet Features: With graphics tablets, you can set up function keys to draw with one hand and toggle functions with the other. Some tablets also have an on-screen controls feature, which is a radial menu for selecting functions.
Now that you know how to use your tablet to draw, let’s move on to how long it takes to learn to draw on a tablet.
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Draw on a Tablet?
Some of us who are beginning our digital media journey might already have some creative concepts for digital art in our heads and are eager to begin sketching away. Luckily enough, it may not take very long for you to learn how to use your tablet for drawing.
It generally can take anywhere from a few minutes up to three days to begin feeling comfortable on a tablet.
Of course, the time it takes for you to adjust to using your tablet over traditional media is affected by the type of tablet you own, how complex its system and features are, and how tech-savvy you are. Digital art and tablets are just like any other art medium and tools; it will take some time to get comfortable using them and everyone proceeds at their own pace. Luckily the digital tools are built to be fast and intuitive.
How Hard Is It to Draw Digitally?
For those of us who aren’t quick to click with learning technology, we might not want to spend a lot of money on a tablet if it’s too hard for us to draw digitally. So, how hard is it to draw digitally?
Factors like drawing in two areas at once with a lack of hand-eye coordination and having a slick screen rather than the texture of paper making your stylus slip might make drawing digitally hard for some people.
Despite there being a bit of a learning curve for getting used to drawing on a tablet, many factors actually make it easier to create art:
- Art media will never run out (brushes, paints, etc.).
- You can undo mistakes without making eraser marks.
- You can color match without needing to mix more paint.
- Quick fill makes creating art take less time.
Exploring Graphics Tablets and Screen Tablets for Digital Art
If you are thinking about going digital with your art, you might be wondering which kind of tablet will be the best to go with: graphics tablets or screen tablets? According to TabletFeast, the global pen tablet market is expected to achieve a market size of 803.9 million by 2027. So, it is obviously a huge market with a vast array of options to choose from which can feel very overwhelming. The best place to start is the difference between graphics tablets and screen tablets.
Graphics tablets are devices you can hook up to your laptop or desktop computer for creating digital art. What you draw on the tablet with its stylus shows up on the computer screen. On the other hand, screen tablets are devices you can draw directly onto using your finger or a stylus.
Some more specific differences between using graphics tablets and screen tablets for creating digital art are shown in the table below:
|Graphics Tablets||Low to medium||Medium to high||Small to medium||No obstruction of view from hand||Small and takes longer to adjust to||Sketches, studies, and concepts|
|Screen Tablets||Medium high to super high||Low to medium||Small to huge||Drawing process closer to traditional art||Large, heavy, and expensive||Large, finished digital artwork|
The Best Drawing Tablets for Photo Editing in 2023
Anyone who has spent any extended time editing photos with a mouse will find that often, it’s just not the best experience. That’s why so many editors switch to a drawing tablet (also known as a pen tablet), but picking the best one has gotten surprisingly challenging in recent years.
That’s because since there are so many different makes, models, and brands out there, finding the right drawing tablet for you can be confusing and overwhelming.
It is crazy to think that even just a few years ago, the choice of tablet you worked on was pretty limited to only one or two brands since so few were making them. Today, there is a much larger pool of tools to choose from ranging from incredibly budget friendly for beginners, to wildly expensive and insanely powerful for the working professional. No matter what level of experience and features you need, we’ve put together a list of some of the best pen and graphic tablets for photographers in 2023.
Why use a tablet? Basically, they simply behave like the classic “pen on paper” which allows for incredibly natural motions that are much more accurate and comfortable for an editor than using a mouse or trackpad. These tablets are often far more sensitive than anything a mouse or trackpad can offer, with the best models offering high accuracy, tilt recognition, and thousands of distinct levels of pressure, which can be incredibly important for graphic design, typography, and photo retouching.
While they may take a little bit of time and practice to get used to, pen tablets will make long days in front of a computer far easier and faster for retouchers and editors. This means the only choice is to figure out the size, features, and budget that meets their needs.
What We’re Looking For
There are a lot of factors to consider when looking into a pen or display tablet for retouching. These include Pressure Sensitivity that allows users to truly capture how hard or soft you are holding and pressing the pen against the tablet in order to recreate the same behavior as if you were pressing a paintbrush or marker harder on a paper’s surface. While it may not be critical to photo retouching, it is incredibly important for designers and illustrators, but still translates into things like applying a mask and changing the intensity of an effect.
Customizable buttons and dials add more control for each individual user to allow them to program their most used commands into them, allowing for a much more distraction-free experience when editing. The addition of buttons, jog dials, and wheels allow users to zoom, scroll, and swap tools quickly without having to go back to their keyboards, keeping their eyes on the task at hand.
Accuracy is among the most important feature in any tablet. The best of them will react to the users as though they were drawing on a pen and paper (or paint brush and canvas), reacting to every single movement of your pen stroke, no matter how minute. Some cheaper tablets may not be as accurate or sensitive, which can translate to less-than-ideal pen strokes. This includes how much tilt the tablets can accommodate for also, as some cheaper tablets will lose connectivity with the pens if you have them angled too much.
Other features that are considered include the size of the tablet where most photo editors would prefer a smaller tablet and surface, making it easier to work in small details, as well as making it easier to travel with. Whereas designers and illustrators will want a much larger drawing surface so they can create in a more natural environment.
Connectivity options make a difference, too: Is it wired only? Can it connect via Bluetooth? Does it need an adapter or Wi-Fi dongle? The more freedom a user has with their tablet (and longer battery life) the better it is received.
And finally, does it have a screen or not? As some retouchers and illustrators will prefer to see their pen strokes in real-time right under their pen tips. While not a necessity for photographers, there are some that truly prefer having a display in their tablets as it can also save them some valuable desk space, especially when working remotely.
The Best Overall Drawing Tablet for Photographers: Wacom Intuos Pro Medium
Despite an influx of competition and some incredible devices that now compete with Wacom, considered to be the top dog and original drawing tablet maker, the 379.95 Wacom Intuos Pro Medium PTH660 reigns supreme as the best overall drawing tablet for photographers in 2023.
The Intuos Pro Medium tablet from Wacom, while a little more expensive than its competition, offers some of the most natural, accurate, and responsive pen experiences of all the tablets out there. Providing 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, the Medium Intuos Pro tablet comes with an updated stylus (pen) that makes every motion you make as accurate as possible with an incredibly natural feeling (as well as responsive) tilt-support.
This effectively allows creatives to work with the tablet in any angle and style they feel comfortable with. The tablet’s surface feels just a little bit rough, simulating a true “paper-like” experience that just felt great to use. The tablet has built-in Bluetooth connectivity that supports both Windows and Mac devices with ease, allows for multi-touch support (making it a giant trackpad for general use that supports gestures), has eight customizable buttons along with a jog-dial for radial menus, and even has easy to use side switches to turn the device on and off to save battery life. On top of all of this, the tablet can be “flipped” over to accommodate left or right-handed usage with ease.
The ability to run wirelessly, or connect with a USB cable makes getting up and running with this tablet quick and easy regardless of the operating system and software. Just be sure to keep the drivers updated (and save them) in case you may need to roll back a version or two for compatibility. Finally, while the tablet is a “medium” size, it fits easily in any backpack or a shoulder bag that supports a 15″ laptop, making it very easy to travel with and work in any location.
The Best Drawing Tablet For Photo Retouchers: Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet
For a working professional retoucher, there is no better way to put it than to say the 379 Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is the best tablet that can be bought. While many competitors to Wacom can be considered “clones” or “knock-offs”, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet is instead a true competitor that meets and exceeds many of the industry standards of what a pen tablet should offer. Starting with a refreshing minimalist (and modular design), the tablet has only three customizable buttons on it, saving them for a separate wireless-capable accessory called the Quick Keys that allows users to configure the 8-button and jog-dial device in multiple ways in several applications.
The tablet is very user-friendly with an easy-to-install driver and software setup that comes with a protective case that contains two styluses, multiple replacement nibs for both pens, the nib-tool, the wireless dongle, and a USB-C-to-A adapter. The set even comes with a drawing glove to let users avoid leaving sweat and palm prints on the device while in use. The tablet and Quick Keys can be connected via USB or wirelessly to a Windows, Mac, or even Linux computer offering users a much greater variety of supported devices. Additionally, the Quick Keys can be programmed to work in any orientation making it even more useful for left-handed users or creatives who want a truly customized layout and physical workflow.
The two pens offer users both a thicker “traditional” stylus with three customizable buttons, while the smaller pen has only two. Both of these also include the EMR eraser tool on the other end that can also be customized. The tablet itself also offers 8,192 levels of sensitivity and an interesting ergonomic design with a smooth pen surface that feels almost as if it cannot be scuffed by the stylus at all. The only downside of this tablet is it requires the USB dongle to operate wirelessly, but considering all the other positives, it is a very small trade-off.
Additionally, the tablet’s smaller size and included case for the pens and accessories make it one of the more travel-friendly and travel-ready tablets out there for photographers.
You might be wondering why I separated the best tablet for photographers from the best tablet for retouchers, since the two disciplines often overlap. I did this because the Xenselabs drawing tablet’s use of quick keys and the multiple pen options make it better suited for workflows that require long periods of extended use.
While you can customize the Xenselabs tablet and tune it for precision or generalist work, the Wacom is a better overall tablet in that regard. That said, with Wacom you still have to use your keyboard from time to time. Xencelabs lets you stay focused on the tablet.
The Best Drawing Tablet For Beginners: Veikk VK1060
While many may assume the 50 Veikk VK1060 Pen Tablet can be passed over, this entry-level “wired-only” tablet is surprisingly good for its incredibly low cost. While it can’t compare to the professional-level models like the Xencelabs or Wacom Intuos Pro, for beginners, it doesn’t need to. The tablet offers a similar size drawing surface to the other “medium” tablets which makes it easy to travel with while providing a large enough area to both retouch and illustrate on with ease.
The Veikk VK1060 tablet offers a familiar 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as an impressive 60-degree tilt angle support which can accommodate most users’ everyday needs. In addition to this, the tablet comes equipped with 8 customizable buttons for a quick and streamlined workflow.
While there are some noticeable jitters when doing delicate retouching or drawing, the Veikk VK1060 tablet actually performs far above any expectations a user would have to work with a 50 device, and it offers far more professional-level customization and tools than similarly priced tablets. The one thing to be wary of is the Veikk tablet may behave strangely if other tablet drivers are installed on the computer, so be sure to uninstall any other devices before using this entry-level one.
The Best Drawing Tablet Display: Wacom Cintiq 22
The 1,199.95 Wacom Cintiq 22 Creative Pen Display offers users who need their tablets to have a quality display built into them an affordable setup with pro-level features. While the price is still arguably pretty high (at least compared to the other tablets in this list), this display tablet offers a 21.5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 Full HD screen at 72% of the NTSC color gamut in a 16:9 format.
The “tablet” features the familiar 8,192 pressure levels of sensitivity along with a 60-degree pen tilt support, and works with a HDMI and USB Type-A connection. Yes, the trade off for a tablet display tablet is they cannot work wirelessly, but it is still small enough to easily travel with (albeit in a separate bag) for creatives who need to work remotely. The benefit of the display tablet is users can directly work on the area of the image they are looking at, making it even easier to retouch or edit an image with, making it feel more like an authentic pen-on-paper experience, which should also make it easier on the users eyes and posture (provided they have set it up properly).
The Best Drawing Tablet Display For Beginners: Veikk VK2200 Pro
The influx of new brands of display and pen tablets in recent years means there are a much wider variety of Pro level display tablets at a surprisingly more affordable price point. The 389 VK2200 Pro Display tablet from Veikk is a fraction of the cost of nearly every other competing display tablet and offers a lot more punch than you would expect.
The tablet is designed with a “right-handed” use layout with eight customizable buttons and two programmable jog-dials along its left-hand side for users to set up with their most used tools and commands for easy and smooth workflow when in use. The company claims a maximum 1,920 by 1,080 resolution — but with my testing on multiple Apple devices, I was only able to get 1,600 by 900 — which may not be amazing but considering the size and cost of the device, it is a very fair trade-off.
The pen offers the familiar 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity with a 60-degree tilt responsiveness for a realistic pen-on-paper feel when in use and unlike the entry-level devices Veikk offers, the Pro-level display tablet offers a very accurate pen-to-screen reactiveness. There were no jitters or lag to be found, as long as there were no other tablet drivers installed.
Given the low cost of this incredibly large display tablet, the expectations may be low, but the performance users will receive is high. For creatives looking to dip their toes in the water with a display tablet that is large enough to do more than just photo retouching (like full-blown illustration and drawing), the Veikk VK200 Pro display tablet is an incredible starting point that the users will not regret.
The Best Large Drawing Tablet for Photo Editing: Huion Inspiroy Giano
The 199 Huion Inspiroy Giano tablet may be a lesser known contender of the tablet makers out there, but this particular tablet happens to be one of the largest Bluetooth 5.0 pen tablets on the market, and it works surprisingly well.
The tablet offers up a 13.6 by 8.5 inch (16 inches diagonally) drawing surface which is ideal for retouchers and creatives working with larger 4K and 8K displays. The tablet can work connected via USB or wirelessly with a built-in Bluetooth transmitter/receiver (no need for a dongle), and if includes six programmable buttons along the left hand side of the tablet.
The Inspiroy Giano from Huion also offers 8,192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity with 60 degrees of pen tilt with an impressively responsive and accurate pen that features next to no jitter or lag even when using Bluetooth over a long distance from the computer. The software and driver are easy to setup, and they don’t conflict with any other tablets drivers like is so often the case, which makes it headache free to add it to a multi-device arsenal.
Additionally the tablet offers an average of 18 hours of continuous use with the battery, making it one of the more impressive lifespans in the wireless tablet space. The Huion Inspiroy Giano tablet offers a larger than normal drawing surface for professional creatives that need a bigger workspace and more accurate pen-on-paper feel.
PetaPixel will update these results periodically as we obtain and review more drawing tablets, so make sure to bookmark this story and check back when you’re ready to make a purchase.