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best drawing tablets

The Best Drawing Tablets in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our large drawing tablet test. Here we present you all of the drawing tablets that we have tested in more detail. We have put together detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best drawing tablets for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a drawing tablet.

  • With a drawing tablet you can, among other things, Draw digitally on the computer, edit pictures and create 3D models. Compared to a mouse and keyboard, working with a drawing tablet is much more intuitive and your inputs are much more precise.
  • Drawing tablets are available with or without a separate screen. Most users find it easier to draw on devices with their own screen, but such drawing tablets are also significantly more expensive to purchase.
  • Most drawing tablets can only be used in conjunction with a computer. They are then “only” an input device and possibly a screen for the graphics programs that are executed on your computer.

Best Drawing Tablets

Drawing tablet with the best value for money

XP-Pen G640
15 Reviews
XP-Pen G640
  • Battery-free Stylus: the StarG640 is your first replacement…
  • Portable and Slim: the StarG640 is as slim as all primary…
  • Wide Compatibility: the StarG640 is compatible with Windows…
  • 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure Sensitivity: with 6 x 4 inches…
  • Multi-scene Application: Designed for drawing, painting,…

The XP-Pen G640 drawing tablet has a wide and smooth work surface and thanks to a height of 2mm the drawing tablet is uniquely narrow and light. In addition, the tablet is compatible with all common computer systems and software, which increases accessibility when working.

The corresponding XP-Pen works like a normal pen and therefore does not need to be charged. You can easily switch between pen and eraser using the button.

Customers are particularly enthusiastic about the battery-free pen because it can be used continuously. In addition, the input quality is accurate and fast.

Best drawing tablet with programmable buttons

GAOMON M106K PRO
58 Reviews
GAOMON M106K PRO
  • [Online Teaching and Working] M106K Pro can meet all your…
  • [12 Shortcut Keys+16 Soft keys] The shortcut keys can be…
  • [8192 Levels Pressure+Tilt-Support] 8192-level pen pressure…
  • [Work with Android Device] Work with Android devices(mobile…
  • [Battery-Free Pen] It doesn’t require batteries or…

The drawing tablet from GAOMON is versatile and even ideal for 3D presentations, also because it is compatible with all common painting, drawing and image processing software. The tray also offers a very large work surface and is still lightweight.

In addition, the battery life of the device is 350 hours and is therefore very durable. Thanks to the high-speed processor, the data is read and transferred quickly and the 12 express and 16 function keys also accelerate the work process.

Customers are particularly enthusiastic about the rechargeable pen, which is easy to hold and suitable for both left and right-handers.

Best pressure sensitive drawing tablet

Wacom CTL4100 Intuos
9,984 Reviews
Wacom CTL4100 Intuos
  • Graphics tablet to use in any software for digital art,…
  • Connect this digital drawing tablet to your computer via USB…
  • Slim design and compact sized art tablet with a large…
  • Easy setup, for both left and right handed use; The pen…
  • System requirements: Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (excluding Windows…

The Wacom Intuos tablet is very pressure-sensitive and thus ensures precise and fast work processes. It is not only suitable for drawing, but also for image editing and typing.

The design of the tray is also very modern and also offers a shelf for the drawing pen. Both left and right-handers can use the drawing tablet.

The drawing tablet convinces its customers with its compact size and low weight, which makes the drawing tablet easy to transport.

Drawing Tablets: Purchase Criteria

The following factors should help you compare and evaluate drawing tablets. This makes it easier for you to decide which tray is right for you.

In summary, these are:

  • With or without a display?
  • Size of the drawing area
  • Dimensions & Weight
  • Colour
  • Resolution
  • Display resolution
  • Pressure levels
  • Multi-touch
  • Express Keys
  • Connections
  • Compatibility
  • Detecting the angle of inclination

In the following sections we will explain each of these factors to you. This way you can better classify the respective values and properties of a tablet.

With or without display

We have already discussed the question of a display on the drawing tablet in detail above. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized once again that this question is probably the most important criterion before buying a drawing tablet. Whether your drawing tablet has its own display will have a major impact on how you will work with your tablet.

If it is important for you to get as close as possible to drawing on paper, canvas and the like, you should take a closer look at drawing tablets with displays. Only with such devices will your drawings be visible where you draw them.

If, on the other hand, you don’t want to invest so much money, drawing tablets without a display are more interesting for you. A separate display is a big price factor for drawing tablets and after a period of getting used to it, the lack of a display is usually no longer a problem.

Size of the drawing area

Drawing pads are available in different sizes. Which size is best for you depends mainly on the purpose for which you want to use the tray. However, it should also be taken into account that a larger tablet takes up more space on the desk or in the pocket.

Smaller models have a drawing surface that corresponds to size A6 or A5. If you are primarily interested in simple computer operation and sketching, this is the size for you.

If you also want to create or edit more detailed graphics, a larger drawing area of ​​size A4 or A3 is better for you. If you have an A4-size tray, this is likely to be exactly the size of your printer paper. This will give you a better idea of ​​what a copy that you print out at home will look like.

Make sure, however, that the size information here only refers to the active drawing area. The entire tray will be a little bigger.

Dimensions & Weight

In addition to the size of the drawing area, you should also consider the overall dimensions and weight of the drawing tablet. Both of these will affect the tablet’s handiness.

Depending on how big your workplace is or how much space is still available there, you can choose a larger or space-saving product. If you want to stay mobile, you should avoid models that are too large. Larger drawing tablets also tend to be heavier and more difficult to transport.

For example, since a sheet of paper is very thin, drawing on a pad that is too thick could feel unnatural.

Colour

Which color you prefer for your drawing tablet is of course a purely personal decision. However, the choice of colors for most models is not very large. Black is the dominant color across all manufacturers, with white and blue following in the next few places. How important this quality is to you in comparison to the others is up to you.

Resolution

As is so often the case, a higher resolution of the drawing area is better. The higher the resolution, the more precisely your movements will be implemented with the pen on the tablet.

The unit in which the resolution of a drawing tablet is specified (lpi) comes from printing technology. Lpi stands for “lines per inch” and means something like “lines per inch”. The higher the resolution of the drawing area, the closer the individual pressure points are together, so that more precision can be guaranteed.

If the resolution of the active area is particularly important to you, you should take a closer look at drawing tablets with at least 5080 lpi. This value is offered by high-quality trays, but also by some models at an entry-level price.

Display resolution

If the drawing tablet has a display, its resolution is of course also of interest. A higher resolution ensures that your results can be viewed more clearly. A more detailed view of your results allows you to work in more detail as well. You also want to see the wages of your work as nicely as possible.

Unlike the resolution of the drawing area, the resolution of the display is specified in DPI. DPI stands for “dots per inch” and means something like “dots per inch”. A resolution of 1920 x 1080 DPI ensures full HD on your tablet screen. With models at entry-level prices, however, the resolution is usually a bit lower.

Pressure levels

The pressure sensitivity of a drawing tablet is an important component for simulating the feeling of “real drawing”. If you put more pressure on a piece of paper with a pencil, the line will become thicker. This effect should also be transferred to the tablet.

Basically, one can say: the more pressure levels a drawing tablet can depict, the better. It is also interesting how the individual sensitivity levels are programmed. Unfortunately, there is no information about the latter in the product specifications.

Of course, a higher pressure sensitivity is also expressed in a higher price, so you should personally weigh up whether the additional sensitivity is worth the price to you. Most drawing tablets are equipped with 2048 pressure levels, 1024 levels are the minimum that should be observed.

Multi-touch

Most people are familiar with the possibilities of multi-touch input from their smartphone. Zooming in and out with two fingers, rotating an image and much more is also possible on a drawing tablet thanks to multi-touch.

In addition, you can simply enter other commands such as starting a program or opening a folder via the touchscreen of the display, if it has multi-touch. Especially when it comes to tablets with displays, we are now used to dealing with multitouch. It would be a shame to have to do without it.

It also enables you to paint with your fingers. If you would like to see more precision in your work again, you can still use the pen at any time. Incidentally, both tablets with and without a display can theoretically be able to implement multi-touch inputs.

Express Keys

Many drawing tablets have some Express Keys that are attached to the drawing surface. You can use it to make important entries (e.g. switch between pen and eraser functions) even faster and easier.

In addition to the question of whether the respective tablet even has buttons, it is also interesting whether you can program them yourself. Reprogrammable Express Keys allow you to assign exactly those commands to the keys that you personally use very often or that are otherwise difficult to use. They therefore help to adapt the tray exactly to your requirements.

In some cases the pen also has additional buttons. Depending on your preferences, these can be even easier to use when working with the tablet than those next to the drawing area.

In addition, some manufacturers differentiate between the two terms “Express Keys” and “Function Keys”. While the Express Keys represent actual keys that can be pressed, function keys are often additional fields on the tablet that you can select with simple touches.

Connections

The question of the connections is particularly important when the respective drawing tablet can only be operated together with a computer. The most common connection is USB. HDMI, VGA, DVI or a wireless variant via WLAN are also represented.

With a WiFi connection, there is less cable clutter at work. In addition, a connection to the Internet can theoretically also be used with independently functioning devices apart from graphics applications.

However, if you want to draw in places where no stable internet connection is guaranteed, you prefer to rely on USB or other cable connections. It should be said that most drawing tablets require a cable connection to the computer.

Compatibility

If you have decided to buy a drawing tablet, it should of course also work with your computer.

Therefore, find out before you buy whether the respective tablet is compatible with a Windows PC, Apple computer (Mac), or other operating system such as Linux or Android.

Most drawing tablets are compatible with Windows and Mac as standard. So you don’t have to worry too much about it. Usually no information is given about compatibility with Linux operating systems. If in doubt, you better ask the manufacturer.

Detecting the angle of inclination

The angle at which you hold a pencil over the paper affects how the drawing will look. To get closer to the feeling of “real drawing”, it would be nice if the digital pen can reproduce this effect.

In addition, the digital pen should sit comfortably in the hand and resemble a high-quality pen in terms of weight, size and material. Personal preferences naturally play a major role here.

Types of Drawing Tablets

Basically, you can differentiate between two types of drawing tablets:

  • Drawing tablet without display
  • Drawing tablet with display

Both variants have advantages and disadvantages that affect how you can draw on your tablet.

Depending on your preferred way of working and willingness to invest money, either a drawing tablet with or without a screen may be more suitable for you. In the following section we would like to help you find out which type of graphics tablet is best for you.

For this purpose, we will introduce you to the two types of graphics tablets mentioned above and show you the respective advantages and disadvantages.

Drawing Tablets without Display: Advantages & Disadvantages

The great advantage of drawing tablets without a display is the usually significantly lower purchase price. So if you are looking to get a relatively inexpensive device, you will be more likely to find a model without a monitor.

In the case of a drawing tablet without its own display, an entry is first made on the tablet. You can use a digital pen for input. The result is then displayed on the screen of a connected computer, since the tablet does not have its own screen.

A connection between the tablet and the computer can be established using different connections. The most common connector on drawing tablets is USB. HDMI and VGA connections are also more common. Particularly high-quality products can also be connected wirelessly via WLAN.

Advantages

  • Relatively cheap
  • Tends to be more handy and lighter
  • Less eye strain
  • Computer power supply

Disadvantages

  • Longer getting used to
  • Hand-eye coordination requirement
  • Can only be used together with a computer

As is already known from smartphones, televisions, etc., it can become a great strain on the eyes to look at a brightly shining screen for long periods of time. A drawing pad without a display can therefore protect your eyes during long work, as you only work with one bright display instead of two.

Dispensing with a screen also means that the drawing tablet can be lighter and more energy-efficient. The size also plays a somewhat less important role than with graphics tablets with a display. Thus, representatives without a screen tend to be handier.

The fact that you cannot see the drawings directly where you draw them requires a certain amount of time to get used to. Comparatively high demands are placed on hand-eye coordination. This is simply because you are not used to drawing on one surface (graphics tablet), but seeing the results on another surface (computer screen).

However, this should only be a minor issue at the beginning. The mouse cursor, which is displayed on the computer screen, shows you where you are holding the pen at any time. By the way, this also works if you just hold the pen lightly over the surface of the tablet. This is how you avoid graffiti if you have lost your bearings.

Drawing Tablets with Display: Advantages & Disadvantages

The reason why screen drawing pads are so popular is that they are much closer to drawing on paper. Every line is immediately visible where you have drawn it. So getting used to paper on tablet is easier than with a model without a screen. Drawing on devices with a screen is just more intuitive.

The way a drawing  tablet with a screen works is not that different from that without a display. Here too, entries can be made with a digital pen or with your fingers on the pressure-sensitive drawing surface of the tablet. In contrast to the drawing pad without a screen, the result is visible directly on the tablet.

Advantages

  • More intuitive operation
  • Closer to drawing on paper
  • Mobility and flexibility (self-sufficient systems)
  • space-saving (self-sufficient systems)

Disadvantages

  • Relative expensive
  • With increasing size, more unwieldy and heavier
  • Increased eye strain
  • External power source required (self-sufficient systems)

A connection to a computer is therefore not absolutely necessary to be able to view your works of art. However, a further distinction must be made here between models that function completely independently and those that still require a connection to a computer. The majority of drawing tablets with a screen still require the use of a computer.

If the drawing tablet can be used completely without a computer, this means increased mobility and flexibility. You are not tied to one job, but can also paint in nature or on long journeys by train. You also don’t have to start the computer every time, which can take a little longer with older devices.

Isn’t your workplace particularly big? An independently running graphics tablet with a screen can be the solution here to save as much space as possible, since you don’t need an additional PC.

However, it should not be forgotten that a self-sufficient device requires an external power supply or a battery. So there could be times when the drawing tablet shuts down while you are working with a low battery and possibly losing part of your work.

A graphics tablet with a screen is more expensive than one without a screen. But drawing is more intuitive and therefore easier, especially in the beginning.

FAQ's: Drawing Tablets

What is a drawing tablet and what can it do?

Drawing tablets are tablets with a pen that are used for digital drawing and other graphic applications. They mostly serve as input devices for a computer, but there are also models that function as a stand-alone system. The surface of the tray replaces paper, the easel or the like. A digital pen or fingers replace pencil, brush, etc.

drawing tablets allow you to create drawings in digital form. Unlike drawing with pen and paper, each of your works is immediately saved on a computer or other storage medium.

This has some advantages: You can print them at any time in any number and size, correct errors more easily and cleanly or create and edit copies without changing the original. In addition, a good drawing tablet summarizes all your utensils for painting compactly in one device.

Image processing in Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, Corel Painter and similar programs is also one of the areas of application of a drawing tablet. In addition, the ability to digitize your own handwriting is very popular. So you can e.g. Attach a handwritten greeting to an email or online application, or design personal digital invitations.

In addition to simple photo editing, drawing pads can also be used for 3D modeling and texturing. Popular programs for such applications are ZBrush, MudBox and Blender.

Real aficionados use a drawing tablet as a mouse and keyboard replacement, even when far away from graphic applications. Graphics tablets impress with their precise positioning of the mouse cursor.

If you type on the drawing tablet e.g. on the upper left corner, the cursor jumps directly to that point. To move the cursor with a mouse in the same corner, the mouse has to be pulled to this point – a little more laboriously. Thus, graphics tablets are even interesting as input devices for certain computer games (mostly strategy games).

If the respective device has a display, this can also be used as a second screen for the PC or Mac. For example, you can operate your music playlist using the drawing tablet monitor.

What are the advantages of a drawing tablet compared to conventional tablets, smartphones or the mouse?

You can also work in graphics programs on the computer using a mouse and keyboard. Conventional tablets such as the Apple iPad and various Android and Windows tablets or smartphones can also be used as replacements for a drawing tablet. However, anyone who deals intensively with graphics software over the long term will appreciate the advantages of a real drawing tablet.
In summary, a drawing tablet offers you the following advantages over conventional tablets, smartphones and the mouse:

  • Greater precision
  • Pressure sensitivity

Compared to the mouse, drawing with a digital pen is much more intuitive and familiar. In terms of precision, a good digital pen is in no way inferior to a “normal” pen. With the mouse, on the other hand, you make hasty and uncontrolled movements much faster. In addition to results that are not really satisfactory, drawing with the mouse can also be frustrating.

Conventional tablets and smartphones do not have the disadvantage of a lack of precision. However, they always have their own display and always run without an additional computer. Nevertheless, they also have a decisive disadvantage compared to graphics tablets: the pressure sensitivity.

The drawing surface of a graphics tablet senses exactly how much pressure you are applying with the pen. So you can vary between thinner (less pressure) and thicker (more pressure) lines. Just like with analogue drawing with pen and paper.

Conventional tablets and smartphones cannot make these distinctions. They are therefore more suitable for small sketches, while a graphics tablet lets you work in more detail. Most smartphones are also significantly smaller than graphics tablets. This makes precise work more difficult.

Which drawing tablets are suitable for beginners, advanced users or professionals?

It is often said that drawing tablets with monitors are more suitable for advanced users and professionals because of their significantly higher purchase price. Beginners, on the other hand, should get by with a cheaper model without a screen for now.

Dispensing with a display makes it possible to get a very good tablet at a price that is more comfortable for beginners. If you are ready to invest more money even as a beginner, it should be said: There are no features of a drawing tablet that beginners cannot directly benefit from.

Basically, every drawing tablet is also suitable for beginners if you are willing to pay the respective price. Professionals, on the other hand, will most likely opt for devices with a display in order to be able to submit the most precise work possible.

Are drawing tablets suitable for left-handers?

Basically, you can say that every drawing tablet is suitable for both right and left-handers.

Drawing on a tablet is comparable to drawing on paper in this regard. The arrangement of possible function keys alone could benefit right-handers. But that shouldn’t lead to major problems. Some devices also have a left-handed mode, which deals with possible problems with the Express Keys.

Where can I find exercises and tutorials for drawing tablets?

Helpful tips and tricks are particularly interesting for beginners. However, some exercises or tutorials can also be found on the Internet for advanced users.

You can find many videos on YouTube or on sites that specialize in tutorials for drawing tablets or individual graphics programs.

Can I draw manga on the drawing tablet?

Mangas are something like the Japanese counterpart to comics. They tell a story with drawings and the typical speech bubbles and are usually kept in black and white.

Mangas have also become increasingly popular in Western cultures. The many anime series, which are often based on mangas, have played a large part in this development. Some successful examples are Dragonball, One Piece, Naruto, and Detective Conan.

Many fans of the series or books want to create their own manga-style drawings. A drawing tablet can be used wonderfully for this. If you’d like to draw manga-style, this page can help you get started.

Last product update on 2021-03-08 | Source: Amazon Affiliate