5 Best Drawing Tablets for Designers & Illustrators – Our Top Recommendations

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It pays to know what you’re searching for when buying the best drawing tablets. There are other factors to consider, such as the amount of resolution required, the size of the screen desired, and whether or not additional functions like WiFi are required. Also, how much money do you have to work with? Even after taking into account all of your preferences, there will most likely be numerous viable options.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to assist you in narrowing it down. We understand that many people will be seeking new drawing tablets, ranging from experienced professional artists to utter newcomers and everyone in between.

Features to Consider

Before buying a drawing tablet, here’s what you need to look for.

Size

Consider a larger tablet if you need space for wide strokes and want to move about on your canvas. If you can fit your drawing into a small space, a smaller size will suffice. If you don’t have much wiggle room in your budget, keep in mind that larger tablets are often more expensive than smaller devices.

Pressure Sensitivity

This is vital for artists of all levels since it establishes the foundation for how your lines and shading will look. When drawing with a pencil and paper, you have complete control over the amount of pressure you use—you push harder for darker, more solid shapes and shadows, and softer for gradient shading and lighter shapes.

The same principle applies to digital drawing, where applied pressure instructs the stylus and tablet on how thick and heavy your lines will be. The finer the precision, the more sensitive the stylus.

The regular level of pressure sensitivity for a tablet is 4,096 levels, which is adequate if you aren’t too concerned with absolute precision. If you need near-total control over your work, you’ll want a stylus with more pressure sensitivity; the greatest precision pens have around 8,192 levels.

Connectivity

Some tablets include Bluetooth connectivity, while others require a physical connection. If you have a dedicated workstation, a wired connection may be the best alternative. If you want to roam about while working, a wireless type may be more convenient. You should also examine your computer model, as some drawing tablets may not work with older PCs.

Keyboard Shortcuts

These are buttons that you may design to do specific functions without having to hunt for the function in a pull-down menu. They are also known as express keys or keystrokes. If you’re the type of person who relies on presets, you’ll want a tablet that has this feature.

Top 5 Drawing Tablets

1. Wacom Cintiq 22

5 best drawing tablets our top recommendations wacom cintiq 22

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In its Cintiq 22 drawing tablet, Wacom has achieved what we believe to be the perfect blend of functionality and cost. The huge, Full HD drawing screen is a joy to use, giving you plenty of room to make broad, sweeping pen strokes.

The surface is also well-designed, with an anti-glare finish, and the included Wacom Pen 2 offers considerable pressure and tilt sensitivity, allowing you to capture even the smallest alterations in angle and movement. It’s just a lot of fun to use, and it’s equally suitable for artists just starting out as it is for seasoned experts trying to improve.

If you require even higher quality, look into the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. However, for the best blend of price and capability, we believe the Wacom Cintiq 22 is the best option from Wacom right now.

2. Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle

5 best drawing tablets our top recommendations xencelabs pen tablet medium bundle

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Xencelabs is a new company, although its team comprises former Wacom personnel. It currently only provides one tablet, but it’s a stunner. The Medium Pen Tablet combo is just outstanding. The pen tablet itself is a joy to draw on, responding deftly to every stroke of the stylus, it’s a good size – large enough to draw on but not so large that you can’t comfortably carry it around – and it’s fairly priced. It also includes a programmable Quick Key Remote and two styluses.

The main drawback is that because it is a pen tablet, you must connect it to something else (although wirelessly) in order to view your creations. However, depending on how you want to work, this may not be a problem.

3. XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pen Display

5 best drawing tablets our top recommendations xp pen artist 15.6

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The XP-PEN Artist 15.6 has everything you might want in a pen display: a large drawing surface, a comfortable pen with a variety of sensitivity settings, and a nice screen. You don’t get Wacom’s attention to detail or advanced ecosystem of extras, and the offset between the stylus tip and the on-screen cursor takes some getting used to, but this is still a pen display that may revolutionize your digital creative without breaking the bank.

The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display, hands-down one of the best cheap drawing tablets right now, is a great beginner tablet or a wonderful pick for anyone looking for an economical update.

4. iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021)

5 best drawing tablets our top recommendations ipad pro 12.9 inch m1 2021

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The iPad Pro 12.9-inch redesign in 2021 includes the M1 processing unit, which was previously only available in Macs. This allows programs to operate faster than ever before, and when combined with the all-new mini-LED-powered XDR display, it creates an unrivaled system for creating and showing digital art.

The Apple Pencil 2 continues to provide a smooth and intuitive drawing experience. The new screen is an overall upgrade, with not only increased overall brightness but also improved management of local dimming, which means that areas of contrast have more nuance and definition.

5. Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5 inch)

5 best drawing tablets our top recommendations microsoft surface book 3

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The Surface Book 3, the most recent of Microsoft’s outstanding laptop/tablet hybrids, is clearly a premium device from the moment you pull it out of the box. The build quality is excellent, and the display is stunning. When you add the really amazing Surface Pen to the equation, you’ve got a terrific sketching tool that’ll synergize beautifully with any Windows workflow you already have going. If this isn’t enough display for you, there’s also a 15-inch option — though this raises the price even more.

Which Tablet Should You Buy?

The Wacom Cintiq 22, which provides Wacom’s famed quality in a pleasingly large tablet at a surprisingly low price, is currently the absolute greatest drawing tablet you can buy.

If you prefer something a little smaller (and less expensive), consider the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet combo, which includes some pretty cool accessories and is extremely affordable.