Choosing the right graphics tablet to channel your creative mind can often be really confusing as there as so many competing brands and models out there. You are often faced with the problem of having to choose between two tablets with similar specifications, but vastly different prices. While Wacom tablets have been the choice of the vast majority of creative artists and home users, there are a number of brands out in the market that offer comparable performance at much lower prices. When you are on the look for a good drawing tablet that suits your budget, you need to answer certain questions before making the big choice.
What to look for when buying tablet for drawing and sketching?
- Is the screen size suitable for you? Will you be more comfortable with a smaller screen, or are you an artist who is accustomed to large hand movements while working on a drawing sheet?
- Are you an artist by hobby or a professional? If you are not a professional, are you aiming to be a professional soon?
- What kind of surface and stylus fits you? Do you like a light, gliding sort of surface or a more textured surface that gives the feel of friction like a pencil on paper? Also, do you need a wired tablet or would you rather prefer a wireless model?
These are the most important questions that are going to decide which tablet you are going to buy. If you are not a person who likes to make large hand movements, you are better off choosing a small or medium sized tablet, such as a 8″x5″ model or something like a 10″x6.5″ model. The smaller ones are the best choice for home and office users as well as casual artists and intermediate level learners. Remember that the bigger the working area on the tablet, the bigger its cost. Don’t invest in a giant digital drawing board if you are not a professional.
If you choose to get a professional grade tablet, then the two most important things will be the resolution of the tablet, measured in lines per inch, and the pressure sensitivity of the tablet. For professional use, choose a tablet with a minimum resolution of 5000 lines per inch, and a minimum pressure sensitivity of 2048 levels. You might also want to go for features such as tilt and rotate functionality on the pen, a stylus that is equipped with an eraser and good, programmable side buttons. In case you are buying a graphics tablet with built in display, choose the tablet with a good high resolution IPS panel, and multi touch functionality.
Finally, choose the tablet that best suits your preferences. Choose a stylus that feels comfortable in your hands, styluses with interchangeable tips seem really good as they allow for a more natural feeling workflow. Make sure the working surface of the tablet has a good texture and feels smooth while you work on it. Too much friction, as well as too much glide is bad. A stylus that requires batteries is heavier and more clumsy, but cheaper.
So, after doing a whole bunch of research and analyzing the reviews of multiple customers we came up with a list of the best tablets for artists, drawing and sketching out there, both for professionals as well as home users and hobbyists. We have listed the pros as well as cons of each tablet so you can make an intelligent choice as to which tablet is the best for your artistic needs.
Best PEN DISPLAYS for artists, drawing and sketching
XP-Pen Artist22 Graphic Monitor Drawing Tablet
Pro: Amazing monitor, colors are really deep.
Con: Build quality feels flimsy.
First of all, the display on this beast is absolutely incredible, it is a 22″ full HD IPS display that brings your drawings to life in real time. Absolutely fantastic for the price and the stylus provided with it is extremely well fitting on most hands and has an eraser function along with programmable side buttons. The device comes with everything you need, and more- 2 pens, 2 pen chargers, an HDMI cable, VGA cable, USB extension cable, Apple display cable, pen holder, software CD, power adapter, and 1 black glove.
The display is pressure sensitive to 2048 levels and has a resolution of 5048 lines per inch, enough for professional grade work. Everything works like a charm, and you are getting an absolute bargain at this price. Frankly, the only problem we could find with it was the fact that some users complained about its build quality, which apparently seems a little flimsy. But that is nothing that cannot be resolved with a little bit of careful use, and at this price we cannot ask for more.
Ugee UG-2150 Pen Tablet Monitor
Pro: Display is just brilliant.
Con: Setting it up may take some time and research.
This tablet monitor from Ugee combines the best of two worlds – it is a great professional grade tablet and a great professional grade full high definition touch display, rolled into one neatly designed product that is sure to help creative professionals achieve amazing results. Its monitor is pressure sensitive up to 2048 levels and features an ultrahigh resolution, along with really good contrast ratios and brightness levels. It makes sure that you see what you draw in real time, and thanks to the accurate color reproduction on the monitor, you can be confident that the rest of the world sees your art exactly the same way that you do on your screen.
No more tinkering around in Photoshop to fix the colors and brightness, the monitor of your dreams is here. The best part about the deal is you get a cleaning kit, an antistatic glove, a screen protector and many such accessories bundled along with the product, saving you about $100 in expenses. The device works like a charm, and although you may find the setup and calibration process slightly difficult, thanks in part to the crappy manual provided by Ugee, however it’s nothing that a little bit of internet research and self-exploration cannot fix.
Wacom Cintiq 13HD Creative Pen and Touch Tablet
Pro: Unmatched build quality and user experience, tilt sensitive pen.
Con: Screen catches stains, some problems with the cord.
The Cintiq is Wacom’s flagship model and represents the best technology that the company has to offer. It is designed for serious professionals and comes with a full HD 13″ touch display which recognizes multi gesture touch and tilt input, along with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity for incredible control on your input. The Cintiq 13HD Touch is the smaller version of the Cintiq lineup, however 13″ is fairly adequate and makes the device portable like a tablet or notebook computer. The stylus comes with interchangeable tips and side buttons that are programmable. The cable that comes with the Cintiq is a 3-in-1 cable that allows you to connect your tablet to your PC as well as Mac with just a single cable. It seems that some users faced issues with the cable disconnecting too often, however the company seems to have resolved it, as that problem had something to do with the way the connector was designed on the first models.
It sports 4 programmable shortcut keys and a touch sensitive rocker ring to carry functions such as changing your brush, or color or anything that you program the wheel to do. Overall it is certainly recommended to any professional graphic artist or CAD designer who wants a handy upgrade from his/her previous tablet. The Wacom is feature packed, and guaranteed to last at least half a decade, which kind of justifies its high price tag.
Best PEN TABLETS for artists, drawing and sketching
Ugee G3 Graphics Drawing Tablet
Pro: Cheap, comes with a battery free stylus and a large working area.
Con: Issues while setting up the driver, surface catches stains.
The Ugee G3 graphics tablet is one of the best entry level digital tablets out in the market right now, and it is extremely affordable as well, making it the tablet of choice for beginners. It has a fairly large working area of 9″x6″ which means you get more than ample space to channel your inner Picasso in Photoshop and Illustrator. It comes with a rechargeable pen, which despite containing a battery feels very natural and lightweight. The pen can work for as long as a week before it needs a recharge, but that can vary depending on the usage.
The G3’s stylus is also equipped with two buttons, the top button switches the stylus and eraser mode, while the lower button functions as a right click. Both those buttons are programmable and can be assigned any function depending on your preference. It also boasts an impressive resolution of more than 5000 lines per inch and a pressure sensitivity of 2048 levels. Both of these specifications are unheard of at this price range, and are very helpful if you are an aspiring sketching starter.
Wacom Intuos Draw Graphics Tablet
Pro: Amazing build quality, high level of pressure sensitivity.
Con: Lacks sufficient amount of side buttons, stylus does not come with eraser button.
This drawing tablet from Wacom may be cheap, but it embodies all features of the Wacom lineage that have kept the company on top for so long. To begin with, the device is super durable and incredibly easy to setup and use. Just install the drivers, plug it in and you are good to go. The stylus is light, feels like an ordinary pen which is really helpful, and it contains no battery. Instead the stylus draws its power via radiation from the tablet itself, which means you never have to recharge it for the many years that this tablet is going to be by your side.
It supports all major software suites such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga Studio, Sai, Maya, Zbrush and much more. The working surface is very smooth and sometimes it may feel a little too slippery, but that is something you will get accustomed to instantly. There are rubber pads on the bottom to prevent it from slipping on your desk and the form factor ensures you can easily fit it upon a crowded desk. There are only 4 side buttons, but they are all programmable, and the stylus has two side buttons as well, although some users complained that the side buttons on the stylus were hard to access during real time usage.
Huion H610Pro Graphics Tablet
Pro: Large drawing surface, very pressure sensitive.
Con: Driver support is inconsistent.
Huion is one of the better known brands in the graphics tablet market apart from Wacom, and the H610Pro tablet is a marvelous piece of technology that is more than sufficient to fulfill the needs of casual artists as well as budding professionals. The best part is, you don’t have to shell out a massive fortune to get professional grade performance. It has an incredible 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and a resolution of 5080 lines per inch, which means that no matter how complex or detailed your drawing or sketch, you can draw it exactly the way you had imagined it in your mind, perhaps even better.
Also worth noting is the rechargeable stylus with eraser buttons and a super natural feel. The drawing surface was reported to be too hard by some users which may result in the feeling that you are scratching the surface with your pen, but the sensation is very mild and only a few users noticed it. It is all on personal preferences, and the screen size is sure to fit everyone’s preference- at 10″x6.25″, it is neither too big, nor too small. Driver support is not provided offline in the form of a CD, you have to download it from the company website, and make sure to uninstall any drivers from previous tablets to reduce the risk of interference with your new Huion tablet.
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Tablet
Pro: Professional grade pressure sensitivity, 8 programmable side buttons.
Con: USB port and connector may malfunction, stylus nibs wear out soon.
Designed for professional drawing and sketching users, this graphics tablet comes with all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a premium product. Its working area is generously sized at 8.8″x5.5″ which is just perfect for artists and designers. It supports 2048 pressure levels and most importantly, tilt functionality which really helps you input your data to the system more naturally and allows for more detailed and accurate sketching. The pen is battery free and comes with an eraser button, as well as 10 replaceable nibs. You are going to need all ten of them, as users complain that they wear out pretty fast.
It also has a rubber grip to reduce fatigue on your hands. The tablet is shipped with a wireless kit that allows you to hook it up to your workstation without having to worry about cables. The tablet is equipped with multi touch recognition that recognizes gestures made by your fingers such as pinching, and scrolling, and can be used within creative application suites to speed up your overall workflow. All things considered, it is a great tablet for dedicated professionals who wish to step up their game, and achieve better results in less time.