The future of visual art is virtual. Everything from photo editing to commercial design to animation is being increasingly facilitated by software and hardware, and artists willing to embrace this latest wave of technology innovations can benefit exponentially from their adoption. And drawing tablets are one of the coolest and most useful new tools available to consumers. With the increased sensitivity and precision offered by the latest of these devices, tablets can ably replicate everything you could accomplish on traditional paper with a number of critical advantages to boot.
But your money is hard earned, and you don’t need to be wasting it on a tablet that won’t meet your needs. That’s why we’ve highlighted 10 of the top contenders for the best drawing tablet of 2020.
- 10 Best Drawing Tablets
- 1. Wacom Intuos Graphics Drawing Tablet
- 2. Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet
- 3. Monoprice 10 x 6.25″ Graphic Drawing Tablet
- 4. GAOMON PD1560 Drawing Tablet
- 5. XP-PEN Deco 01 Digital Graphics Drawing Tablet
- 6. HUION GT-191 KAMVAS Drawing Tablet
- 7. Simbans PicassoTab 10″ Drawing Tablet
- 8. UGEE M708 Graphics Drawing Tablet
- 9. VEIKK A30 Graphics Drawing Tablet
- 10. Sunany 8.5″ Handwriting Paper Drawing Tablet
- Drawing Tablet Buyer’s Guide
- Drawing Tablets vs. Mice
- Color Screen
- Sensitivity (pressure levels, lines per inch, reports per second)
- Customizable Keys
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Best Drawing Tablet of 2020?
- What is the Best Cheap Drawing Tablet?
- What Drawing Tablets Do Professionals Use?
10 Best Drawing Tablets
1. Wacom Intuos Graphics Drawing Tablet
Wacom has been praised for years for the naturalistic sensitivity of their tablet design, and the Intuos is still the gold standard for drawing tablets. This entry level budget model features an affordable price of less than a hundred dollars, and the stylus is designed to work without the need for a dedicated battery, so you don't need to worry about keeping it charged. The electromagnetic resonance that allows it to operate without a battery also results in a remarkably lightweight pro pen so it feels more natural in your hand.
And the Intuos still leads the pack in terms of features. Four shortcut keys can be custom programmed to fulfill the most common computer tasks that you find yourself needing while you draw, and the Intuos drawing tablet also comes with three software programs so you'll have the tools to touch up all of your work in post.
2. Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet
If you consider yourself a professional artist and want the best tools at your disposal, the $1200 you'll spend on the Wacom Cintiq 22 could be well worth it. While it doesn't offer wireless connectivity, it's a truly impressive piece of work in pretty much every other respect. The Wacom Cintiq 22 offers an industry best 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity - double that of the Wacom Intuos - along with an anti-glare surface that allows you to draw more accurately even in less than ideal environments. That's further complemented by tilt recognition and low activation force for a drawing experience that's almost identical to the real thing.
Support is included for both USB and HDMI connections, and it also comes with an adjustable stand that's especially great when working long hours at a time. The 21.5 inch display is incredibly spacious, and that helps it make the most of the detailed Full HD resolution.
3. Monoprice 10 x 6.25″ Graphic Drawing Tablet
This tablet from Monoprice might not offer quite the levels of pressure sensitivity or coverage space to meet the needs of the most serious professionals, but it offers a lot more functionality than you could hope from a $50 model, and it's great for beginners, intermediate artists, and those hoping to use their tablet more for touch-up work than as their sole drawing surface. The specs here are respectable: offering 2048 levels of pressure along with an LPI of 4000 and an RPS of 2000.
But where this drawing tablet really excels is in how much you can personalize it. The eight assignable express keys are pretty standard for a tablet in this price range, but the game changer is the hot cells. If you're willing to reduce your screen size just a bit, these 16 touch surfaces can give you access to computer functions with a single tap.
4. GAOMON PD1560 Drawing Tablet
The Gaomon PD1560 is a drawing tablet that has a lot in common with the Kamvas GT-191. While the active drawing area of the PD1560 is a a few inches smaller, they both sport IPS color screens for good visibility at multiple angles and a Full HD resolution of 1080p. Support is offered for both Apple and Windows operating systems, but the Gaomon has the Kamvas beat in terms of interface. 10 customizable express keys and 5 menu buttons give you unprecedented control of how this tablet interacts with your computer.
And the PD1560 comes with its own adjustable stand as well. That allows you to find the perfect and most comfortable angle for drawing, an essential asset for professionals who find them drawing for hours at a time. And that also means that left-handed users can work just as comfortably with this tablet as right-handed artists.
5. XP-PEN Deco 01 Digital Graphics Drawing Tablet
The XP-PEN Deco 01 isn't as well known as the Wacom Intuos, and while it can't match the fidelity or popularity, it features a similar design at a more affordable price. For beginners, it's one of the best entry level drawing tablets on the market today. The Deco 01 makes use of a battery free stylus, so working with this tablet feels as natural as drawing on paper, and it actually offers double the sensitivity of the Intuos.
This drawing tablet is compatible with all the major operating systems and a variety of applications that include Photoshop, Illustrator, Sai, and Clip Studio. In another step up from the Intuos, there are eight customizable keys included for easy access to the most common functions of your computer. The surface is even lighted so that you can draw without feeling blind even when you're working in the dark.
6. HUION GT-191 KAMVAS Drawing Tablet
If you'd rather not be tethered to your computer every time you want to draw, the Kamvas GT-191 is going to be one of the best drawing tablets for your needs. The spacious full color screen promises a Full HD resolution of 1080p and an impressive color gamut of 99% sRGB so the level of detail and fidelity you can achieve won't be limited by the specs of this drawing tablet. This drawing tablet even comes with a tough screen protector.
In terms of responsiveness, the sensitivity here is double that of the Wacom Intuos. Not only is it compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems, but it also includes native compatibility for a wide variety of art software that includes Adobe Photoshop and Paint Studio Sai. The large working area makes use of an IPS screen so it looks great from a variety of different viewing angles.
7. Simbans PicassoTab 10″ Drawing Tablet
The Simbans PicassoTab is a drawing tablet that offers specs impressive enough to suit the needs of professional artists, but it utilizes an interface that's easy and accessible even for beginners. If you want a tablet and pen that offers a low barrier to entry but will still suit your needs years down the road, this is one of the best drawing tablets we've found.
But if the specs on this drawing tablet seem a little understated for the price offered, there's a reason for that. The best part of this tablet is that it can also serve as the best option for browsing the web and watching your favorite movies and shows. It includes 32 GB of storage space and an Android operating system, so it supports all the major streaming services, the Chrome browser, and a variety of social media apps.
8. UGEE M708 Graphics Drawing Tablet
The UGEE M780 might just be the best drawing tablet in its price range. The 8192 levels of pressure is certainly the best sensitivity that you'll find in a $60 drawing tablet, but it also makes use of a pen that's battery free. That means that the pen will feel more natural in your hand and leave you less prone to careless errors when drawing. This drawing tablet also comes with some of the best software compatibility, supporting the best and most major players in traditional art like Adobe and Comic Studio as well as 3D art programs like Autodesk Maya.
But even if you've never bought a drawing tablet and pen before, you won't have much trouble getting accustomed to this tablet. It's incredibly easy to set up, and the fact that it works with both Apple and Windows operating systems means you don't need to worry about compatibility.
9. VEIKK A30 Graphics Drawing Tablet
In terms of pure specs, the Veikk A30 is very similar to the UGEE M780. This tablet sports the same best in class sensitivity and makes use of a battery free pen for a less weighty and more organic drawing experience. This tablet is compatible with PC or Mac operating systems through the use of the latest USB-C technology, so you can count on it to stay relevant even if you find yourself upgrading your machine in the future.
But where the Veikk A30 separates itself from the typical drawing tablet market and shows its best side is through its smart gesture touch technology. While this tablet offers a below average four customizable touch keys, it also employs a gesture pad that responds to specific movements and allows you a more nuanced approach for zooming in and out and accomplishing simple tasks in a naturalistic manner.
10. Sunany 8.5″ Handwriting Paper Drawing Tablet
If you're looking for an accessible entry point to drawing tablets that's both easy to use and inexpensive, there's no better option than the Sunany. It's available for just over $11 and is arguably the best choice for kids and beginners. Of course, the experience offered here isn't going to suit the needs of experienced artists, but it's great for scribbling down notes and doodles. And if you're a UX designer looking to outline some basic frameworks and ideas, this drawing tablet will be up to the task.
This may be a relatively primitive drawing tablet designed for beginners, but it's also glare resistant so that drawing is easier, and you can write as much as 100,000 pages on a single charge of the battery. And with its tiny dimensions and a weight of less than four ounces, it's well suited for tucking away in a backpack or laptop bag.
Drawing Tablet Buyer’s Guide
Drawing Tablets vs. Mice
If you’re a graphic designer, an artist who works primarily in the digital space, or another traditional creative, chances are good that you’ve become quite proficient at operating a mouse or track pad. In fact, working with a drawing tablet for the first time might not feel like the best experience. It can take some time to get accustomed to drawing on a screen and seeing the results on a completely independent screen, but once you get used to it, a drawing tablet offers the best and most natural option for digital writing you’ll find.
Not only does it feel more natural to do creative work with a pen and a tablet display, but most come with an array of additional features that can best expedite the experience of creating and editing art easily. Keep reading to learn the features and specs that constitute the best drawing tablet.
Most tablets for drawing don’t come with a dedicated screen. Instead, you hook it up to your computer, and the results that you draw with your pen appear on your connected computer monitor. This can be disconcerting at first, and the natural sensation of writing with a pen may be hindered by that disconnect until you get used to the experience.
And while the experience will feel natural over time, many of the best professionals are making a move towards investing in graphic drawing tablet models that come with their own display built in. While these tablets tend to be significantly more expensive (models without a screen can be picked up for $50 or less, while those with a screen usually cost hundreds of dollars), the typical graphic drawing tablet includes a 1080p display. The smaller size means that you won’t get the level of fidelity you’d find on a computer monitor (especially if you have a 4K model), but it’s a great creative aid to be able to see what you draw with your pen easily appear on the screen on which you’re drawing.
Sensitivity (pressure levels, lines per inch, reports per second)
Pressure levels are the most common measurement for sensitivity in a creative tablet, and that’s the spec we decided to include in our complete review list, but they aren’t the only means for measuring the complete performance of a tablet. If you want a pen and tablet that operates at its best, you should pay the most attention to pressure levels, but the other traits outlined below can help you better grasp how well your pen is going to perform for digital art or graphic design.
- Any artist will tell you that how hard you push down a pen can have a major impact on your creative results. But a pen used on a tablet surface doesn’t always offer the same level of perfect response you’d find working with a sheet of paper. That’s where pressure levels come in. Levels of pressure sensitivity can range from 300 to over 8000 and determine how well your tablet’s surface will measure the amount of pressure you exert with your pen. Look for a tablet that features at least 1024 levels of pressure sensitivyty for a tablet if you’re looking to do more than take notes, but 2048 levels of pressure or higher will be necessary for creative pros.
- Lines per inch measures the resolution of lines that appear over a single inch of surface when you apply your pen to the tablet. A tablet with a lower LPI will appear more pixelated, and having a higher LPI is especially important once you start looking at tablet models with higher levels of pressure sensitivity. Regardless of the levels of pressure sensitivity your tablet offers, you should be fine with an LPI of 1000, but 2000 is the benchmark to look for if you want the best drawing tablet and pen combination.
- Reports per second measures the rate at which your computer translates the strokes of your pen in real time. A tablet that features a very low RPS could miss quick strokes or only half register them, resulting in sloppier creative work. The higher the supported LPI and pen pressure sensitivity, the more important report rate is going to matter, and faster creative professionals may want to scrutinize this spec more carefully. A higher RPS will also be more valuable if you’re using a slower computer or a program that uses a lot of power.
- A very few rare tables offer multi-touch support. This allows the tablet to recognize multiple touches from your stylus or finger and register them appropriately. But this is rare not just because it’s more expensive, but also because it can be problematic. While a multi-touch design is great for doing a Google search on a regular touchscreen laptop, it also means that stray strokes from your stylus are sometimes registered when you don’t want them to be.
When you’re looking to pick out the best drawing tablet, you’ll want to consider not only the overall dimensions of the models you’re looking at but also the amount of space that can recognize the strokes of your pen. Obviously, a larger work space for your drawing pen is going to be a huge benefit if you find yourself working with larger pieces, and you ideally want to find a graphic tablet that minimizes the overall dimension as much as possible so it’s easier to carry with you while you travel and easier to hold when you’re working.
But tablets with a little extra space aren’t always a bad thing. Consider not just how big your tablet is but also how it makes use of that space. A larger active tablet often includes a larger variety of customizable keys, and having more space and larger keys means that you’re less at risk for accidentally tagging the wrong button with your pen and having to fix your work.
A traditional graphics tablet connects directly to your computer using a traditional USB cable. That means that they don’t need an independent power source, and the lack of a battery ensures that they can maintain a sleeker and more lightweight frame. But the best models also offer wireless capabilities so you don’t have to stay tethered to your computer.
In most instances, wireless graphics tablets come with their own color touch screen, and that means that you can use your pen to work on your most important creative projects without having to sit directly in front of your computer. In most instances, wireless performance comes in the form of Bluetooth, but that does have its limits due to the fact that Bluetooth can only work within 33 feet of the connected computer. In rare instances, you’ll find a model with Wi-Fi support. With wireless Wi-Fi, you open up the potential greatly, allowing you to work comfortably in bed without having to drag your laptop with you.
The typical graphic tablet is more than just a screen and a stylus. Most come with shortcut keys that allow you to perform tasks on your computer without having to use your keyboard. These features are more important than they may seem at first because adjusting to use your mouse or keyboard often means having to put your tablet completely aside. Fortunately, customizable keys are usually highly flexible and allow you to readily assign the most important tasks with just a single key stroke. When deciding how many keys you need and what you should use them for, consider the sort of tasks that will distract you from your work and force you to put your stylus down.
Also keep an eye on how the keys are positioned. Poorly designed tablet keys with awkward key placement could result in you accidentally engaging in actions you didn’t intend to and force you to make corrections. Some tablets come with additional shortcuts apart from keys. The Monoprice model’s hot cells devote a portion of the screen space to touch sensitive zones that can simply be tapped with a stylus, while the gesture controls of the Veikk A30 let you tie macros to specific movements of your stylus.
Almost any tablet you find is going to be compatible with Windows and Apple, so the majority of users won’t need to worry too much about their operating system. If you’re a Linux user, you may need to research a little further. While most tablets are going to work fine with Linux, few are optimized for that, and you may have to download additional drivers to make them work as intended.
You don’t have to sweat whether or not your tablet will work with your Apple, but the more important consideration is what software a tablet is compatible with. While most tablets will work okay with practically any drawing or graphic program, some are specifically designed for specific software, and they subsequently offered improved features and easier performance as a result. Whether you’re using Adobe Illustrator, Manga Studio, or any of a number of other popular programs, check to see how well a particular tablet coordinates with it.
The typical creative tablet doesn’t require a battery in its own right since it can connect directly to your computer using a USB connection, but the best models employ a pen that doesn’t require a battery either. This pen technology was pioneered by Wacom, but it’s becoming one of the more prominent features in models by other manufacturers. Battery life isn’t usually an issue for the pen, since most of them can run for 40 hours or more at a time, but a pen without a battery is more lightweight and offers a greater sense of balance so you can draw the perfect results more easily.
It’s not always easy to find a comfortable position for holding a tablet. That’s why a tablet including a stand can be such a useful investment. Most stands are highly adjustable to suit you whether you work in bed or at the desk. But even if your tablet doesn’t come with its own stand, you can usually find compatible products that can make them more adjustable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Drawing Tablet of 2020?
We’d recommend the Gaomon PD1560. It matches a spacious screen size to relatively smaller dimensions, an IPS panel surface, and a huge array of buttons. And the FHD resolution the screen supports offers a clarity that can match most PC monitors.
What is the Best Cheap Drawing Tablet?
The UGEE M780 isn’t the cheapest tablet, but it’s highly affordable and offers value well beyond what it should. The pressure sensitivity can match any other model on the market, the pen’s battery free design creates a more organic drawing experience, and it includes eight customizable express keys.
What Drawing Tablets Do Professionals Use?
Wacom may not be the only drawing tablet manufacturer worthwhile to professionals anymore, but they’re still the most prominent in the public imagination, and there’s plenty of reasons for that. The technology that goes into Wacom tablets is top shelf, and the pen is designed to work without a battery so that you can get a more nature feel with each pen stroke. That said, many professionals are moving towards full color LCD models like the Kamvas, so there are plenty of options available if you want a professional device for tablet drawing.
With the right stylus and tablet, graphic design and drawing can become far simpler, but that doesn’t mean that any run of the mill tablet is right for you. Our reviews will help you find the best models around, and you can follow the Amazon links to find the best prices around.