17 Best Tablets for Graphic Design, Drawing


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Are you looking for the best tablets for graphic design? Whether that be for illustration, drawing or art, we’ve got you covered!

Many artists, illustrators, and graphic designers have started to turn towards using tablets to complete their art projects. A good tablet offers an artist a light, handy, responsive, and electronic option to get projects done, even when they aren’t at the office.

Although everyone will have different requirements, these are the best drawing tablets for graphic designers in 2021.

What is the best tablet for graphic design to buy in 2021?

Check out our post below to see the best tablets for graphic design, drawing & digital art in 2021, as well as our extensive guide on how to choose the best drawing tablet.

Best Drawing Tablets for Graphic Designers in 2021

Once you’ve got your tablet, make sure you grab a too. And if you’re wanting a stylus pen to support your tablet, you may be interested in our feature. Have kids? Check out our feature on the .

Top 6 Best Graphic Design Tablets in 2021 Compared

Top 3 Most Popular Drawing Tablets

These are the three best selling drawing tablets on Amazon right now:

10 Best Graphics Drawing Tablets with Screen (Monitor)

For those that prefer a standalone drawing tablet to work directly on a screen or monitor, these are your top drawing tablet choices:

Top 7 Best Standalone Graphics Drawing Tablets without Screen (Flat)

Best Graphic Design Tablets List for 2021

1. Wacom Cintiq 16

If you’re after a larger display, see the . Or for a smaller display see the 13.3″ .The gorgeous display accentuates the quality that Wacom brings to the tablet marketplace. The Cintiq 16 from Wacom is a perfect example that a high-quality tablet doesn’t need to cost a small fortune. For any designer just beginning their career, this is a great tablet to start with.The very first question which comes to mind is – Which tablet is best for graphic design? The is the best tablet for graphic design because of its incredible blend of value, size and performance. It is an incredible entry-level tablet that is more attractively priced than other similar tablets. Being entry-level may invits some designers to dismiss it, the Cintiq 16 has a trick up its sleeve – the Wacom Pro Pen 2. Topping out at 8,192 levels of sensitivity, the pen beats out many tablets that are similarly priced.

Wacom Cintiq 16 Review

Want a closer look at this fine tablet? Check out this Wacom Cintiq 16 review video:

2. Wacom Intuos Pro (Medium)

Active drawing area: 8.7 x 5.8in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS

While on the surface, there is a lot of commonality between what designers and illustrators do. However, graphic designers don’t always need the kind of room that an illustrator may need. This is what makes the from Wacom such a great piece of technology.

By giving you all of the tools you need including eight shortcut keys and a Touch Ring which provide you with access to the tools and commands you use most often. This can certainly help your productivity and keep you from going back and forth between your tablet and keyboard. The Pro also supports multi-touch gestures from your fingertips, making it easy to pan and zoom any part of your work. This is our top pick for the best drawing tablet without screen right now.

3. XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display

A pen display with a great combination of size and price (Best budget tablet)

Active drawing area: 13.54 x 7.62in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C | OS: Windows or macOS

With a reasonable size to its drawing area, the comes with a comfortable stylus with a quality level of pressure sensitivity, plus a good screen. While it may not have the attention to detail of some other tablets, it is still a pen display that can help take your digital creativity to new heights, all without breaking your budget.

Without a doubt, the pen display from XP-Pen is one of the best budget-friendly options out there that doesn’t sacrifice quality for the price you’re paying. This is our top budget pick for the best drawing tablet with pen.

4. Apple iPad Pro

Active drawing area: 10.32 x 7.74in | Resolution: 2,732 x 2,048 | Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (requires optional Apple Pencil) | Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: iPadOS 13.4

With its new Apple M1 chip and brilliant 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color, the (2021) performs better than ever. Using the (sold separately, of course) is a dream and the iPad comes with some neat features to make it worth getting one, including 5G support. Features such as automatically charging the pencil when it’s attached magnetically at the top of the tablet make it stand out and the Pencil feels good in your hand and is incredibly accurate along with a perfect sensitivity curve.

Of course, any high-end Apple product isn’t going to be cheap but if you can afford it, the iPad Pro is like no other tablet out there, it’s Apple’s best tablet after all.

5. Wacom Cintiq 22

Active drawing area: 19.5 x 11.5in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0

With its combination of a huge drawing area, a highly sensitive stylus, and a comfortable drawing experience, the is the best option on the market today. Bundled with the Pen Pro 2, the stylus has a pressure sensitivity of 8,192 levels plus the screen comes with an anti-glare surface that will provide anyone with a level of drag when drawing that any artist will be satisfied with.

While not exactly budget-friendly, the Cintiq 22 is a tablet that provides a level of quality that is simply unmatched making this the best large drawing tablet for graphic designers & artists.

If you’re after a slighter smaller display, see the . Or for a small display see the 13.3″ .

6. Wacom One (2020)

Best value tablet at an incredibly affordable price (Best budget drawing tablet)

Active drawing area: 11.6 x 6.5in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB-C, HDMI | OS: Windows, macOS or Android (some devices)

The newest tablet from Wacom, the , is a separate release from the manufacturer’s previous releases under the same moniker. The 13-inch tablet has an affordable price tag, which may turn some who were considering the tablets from their competitor, XP-Pen to look elsewhere.

A full HD display comes with 72% NTSC color as well as an anti-glare treated film. The tablet itself comes with legs that help it stand up to work at a comfortable angle. Not too large, the tablet slips easily into your day bag and gives you a great experience without an astronomical cost.

7. Wacom Intuos Pro (Small)

Active drawing area: 6.2 x 3.8in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS

Don’t let the ‘Pro’ moniker on the fool you. While you can get it for a great price, the tablet is also the perfect jumping-on point for beginners or novices looking to improve their skills. Durable, the Intuos Pro Small is light enough to take with you and built strong enough to handle a few knocks here and there.

Like its bigger brothers, the tablet comes with all of the commands and functionality and the Pro Pen 2 with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity give you the tools needed to create amazing artwork wherever you go.

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Active drawing area: 7.65 x 5.04in | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: Android 8.0

Having to buy an accessory when you buy something can be super annoying. Thankfully, the includes a stylus in the box. It’s a small touch but extremely welcome. A smooth and satisfying drawing experience awaits anyone who tries the Tab S4 and although iOS has an advantage, the Android marketplace has a decent number of drawing apps that you can use.

Samsung’s Dex software, designed to emulate a computer desktop means that you can use the Galaxy Tab for general work as well. While it is a tad expensive, the Galaxy Tab S4 is the best android tablet available and a great all-purpose option.

9. Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5 inches)

Active drawing area: 11.25 x 7.5in | Resolution: 3000 x 2000 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels (with Surface Pen) | Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, USB-C | OS: Windows 10 Pro

An impressive hybrid, the feels like a premium product from the moment you open the box. With an exceptional display and impressive build quality, the Surface is already a great laptop and tablet machine.

Add in the (for an additional cost) and the Surface turns into a great graphic design tablet with a fantastic stylus. Along with its 15-inch display, there isn’t much that any designer can find fault with on the Surface Book 3, except the price is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum.

10. Huion H430P

Active drawing area: 4.8 x 3in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB | OS: Windows or macOS

Normally, if you saw a graphics tablet at such an affordable price, you might think there was something wrong with it and avoid it completely. In the case of the , you’d be wrong. The incredibly affordable tablet gives you all of the basics that you need without having to make a huge investment.

While the drawing area is small, the pen has enough sensitivity to provide a true sense of the benefits that a graphic design tablet can offer. While you will probably outgrow the tablet pretty quickly, it is a great tablet for beginners or even as a backup on the road.

11. Wacom Intuos Pro (Large)

Active drawing area: 12.1 x 8.4in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS

Having enough room to create your artwork is generally number one on many designers’ wishlists and thankfully the provides more than enough room and one of the best experiences drawing on a tablet anywhere.

With over 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, the pen feels natural in your hand and the active area, while it’s not the largest, gives you more than enough room to draw comfortably. With a wide array of alternative pens and texture sheets from Wacom to support your brand new drawing surface and give you a distinctive feel for every project, you work on.

12. Huion H610 Pro V2

Active drawing area: 10 x 6.25in | Resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: Micro USB (USB-C adapter included) | OS: Windows, macOS or Android

A much more affordable tablet than most on our list, the is anything but a piece of cheap, flimsy technology. Huion, a maker of great, quality products does so again with the Pro V2. It doesn’t have a screen, meaning that to see your work, you’ll need to hook it up to a monitor via USB to your PC, Mac, or Android device.

While it can take some getting used to, it becomes much easier thanks to the wonderful drawing experience that the H610 gives you. A battery-free stylus and highly sensitive surface help make every movement rendered with incredible accuracy and along with the affordable price, make this one tablet to consider.

13. Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

Active drawing area: 11.6 x 6.5in | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: 3 x USB-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: Windows 10 | Requires: Windows or macOS (with optional Wacom Link)

The first thing that you’ll notice is the price of the and with good reason. While it is quite an expensive tablet, the MobileStudio Pro 13 brings designers a choice of an Intel Core processor and solid-state drive capabilities, effectively giving you a complete Windows computer.

The tablet also benefits from the technology Wacom brings to their Cintiq line, making the MobileStudio an absolute joy to use. You can even tether it to your PC or Mac with the optional Wacom Link.

14. XP-Pen Deco 03

Active drawing area: 10 x 5.62in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C, wireless (with USB dongle) | OS: Windows or macOS

Blending style with functionality, the follows the trend that the company sets with every tablet they create. The overall design with its matte black color and ultra-sleek build not only looks good on your workstation but is also a joy to use. This is in large part to the generous active area and pen that is very well-made and comfortable to use.

A multi-functional dial and customizable express keys help your overall productivity so you can spend less time fiddling around and more time working. While for some, the overall thickness of 8 mm may be a cause of concern, those who don’t feel that way will find a great tablet at a good price.

15. Huion Kamvas Pro 24

Active drawing area: 20.7 x 11.6in | Resolution: 2.5K 2560 x 1440 QHD | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: HDMI/DP/VGA

In 2020, Huion refreshed the tablets that they offer and the is the best that the newest line from the manufacturer has to offer. While it’s more affordable than some higher-end tablets on this list, the specs aren’t lacking in any way with a 1440p QHD display that looks beautiful.

A delightful drawing experience awaits any designer with a stylus included that touts pressure sensitivity of 8,192 levels. With a big drawing surface to work on, you have more than enough space for all of your designs and with the tablet covering 120% of the sRGB color gamut and its ability to display 16.7 million colors, the Kamvas Pro 24 ensures that your image is rendered with perfect accuracy.

16.Xencelabs Pen Tablet 

Active drawing area: 10.3 x 5.8 inches | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C to USB-A


Xencelabs Pen
Tablet is new to the graphics tablet world. It is an ideal tablet for graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers looking for an option that is a solid and reliable value for their money. It has an ergonomic, curved front edge with a beautiful design. So for those who are considering this piece of beauty for long hours of drawing, it is the perfect pick. The active area of the tablet has four customizable LEDs, which you can set for different apps. And there are three customizable buttons at the top for quick access to programs and switching apps.

The pens that come with this tablet are lightweight and customizable for different operations. These pens offer the ultimate drawing experience; smooth lines and no lag issues. So, whether you’re a professional or just getting started, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet is a good choice, especially considering the reasonable price.

17. XP-Pen Innovator 16

Active drawing area: 13.54 x 7.62in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: HDMI | OS: Windows, Linux, or macOS

Reasonably priced, the is a welcome addition to their already amazing stable of pen display tablets. With a good build design and a sleek profile, the Innovator is built for artists on the go.

Packed with Artrage 5, a free drawing software, the Innovator is a pretty incredible piece of tech. This is not to say that the tablet doesn’t have some faults. Without a touchscreen, adjustable stand, or brightness that could be better, the Innovator is not going to be replacing your high-end drawing pad.

It may not beat some of the best options on our list, it doesn’t have to. This is especially true if you are looking for incredible value and portability, you have found your tablet.

How to choose the best drawing tablet for graphic design

While tablets have been around on the marketplace for more than a decade, for professional graphic designers, many of the tablets that would be considered professional grade won’t be available at your local electronics store.

With all of the tablet choices available, today we’re going to narrow it down and take a look at the best graphics tablet for graphic designers. If you’re ready, we’d like to get started by letting you know what you should be on the lookout for when you start shopping so you can make sure that you’re choosing the tablet that’s right for you.

Type of Drawing Tablets: Graphics tablets vs Pen displays vs Tablet computers

For many artists, the choice of tablet typically resulted in either a graphics tablet or pen display. With the advancements in tablets like the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, they have provided artists another avenue to create amazing work. Let’s take a closer look at each option.

Tablets for Graphics Design

A graphics tablet features a flat, plain surface that you use a stylus to draw on, with the image being displayed on your computer monitor. While these remain the best budget-friendly option, their downside is that they can give a user a feeling of disconnection between the tablet and the monitor although many will become accustomed to this quite easily.

Pen Displays

A pen display is a flat-screen monitor that has a pressure-sensitive surface you draw on using a stylus. Unlike graphics tablets, users don’t experience the disconnect that can happen. They are also better at portability and do cost relatively more. There do tend to be a lot more cables between the display and monitor than with a graphics tablet, and for some, a pen display doesn’t provide the same feeling that a graphics tablet does.

Tablet Computers

A tablet computer such as the Apple iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab does things that the other two options don’t. With a tablet computer, you don’t need to connect to an external monitor or use another computer. Simply download the art app you want and start creating. While the price can range from affordable to super expensive, they are portable and a great combination of the features of both other options.

What are you using your tablet for?

Like any other purchase, buying a graphics tablet can be quite an investment. Making sure that you know what you’re looking for before buying can help you narrow down your choices so you get exactly what you need. To help narrow down your choices, you should ask yourself questions such as the following:

The answers to these questions will help you pick the right option that meets your needs and your budget.

Do graphic designers need a tablet?

Having a graphic tablet as a designer is an option but not a requirement. Tablets offer a more natural way for designers to draw and interact vs just using a mouse or a touchpad. They are particularly useful for illustrators.

What’s your budget look like?

No matter what you’re buying, at some point, it always comes down to what you’re able to spend. Graphics tablets can vary greatly in price from $20 up to $3000. This doesn’t mean that if you can’t afford to spend $3000 on a graphics tablet, then all you’ll be able to get is bargain-basement products. There are quite a few tablets that are of excellent quality for less than $100.

If you do spend less, you will have to compromise on the active area the tablet has. Generally, the more expensive a tablet is, the larger area it comes with.

Does it work with your OS/software?

While you could find the perfect tablet that checks off all of your boxes from features to price and everything in between, if it only runs on macOS and you own a Windows PC, there’s nothing that will get them to work together.

While the majority will work with both, some will only work with one or the other. Compatibility with the software you use is important to check as well. Again, most of the major design software names such as Photoshop, Corel, and others will be supported but it doesn’t hurt to double-check.

Do you have enough real estate?

No, we’re not talking about the land in your backyard. When it comes to tablets, there will generally be two important measurements:

Considering both when choosing a tablet is important. There are small, portable tablets that come with a large amount of drawing surface and the larger the drawing area the graphics tablet comes with, the more comfortable you will be using it.

EMR styluses use low energy levels that are generated by the pen’s circuits which react with the active area on the tablet. They tend to be thinner than battery-operated styluses and have a thicker point. On the other hand, a battery-operated stylus is designed with a finer point and made to be used for pen-to-tablet drawing.

On-screen Monitor or Flat Models

When you’re looking to buy a tablet to use for your projects, you’re going to run into one of two basic tablet designs. Flat and on-screen monitor models. Now, obviously there can be a price difference between the two of them, but which one is better for you generally comes down to personal preference. The LPI (lines per inch) for an on-screen tablet will generally be the same as the LPI for a flat model tablet.

For some though, using a flat model can take some getting used to. Drawing on a tablet while looking at your monitor or laptop screen can be discombobulating at first, while those who prefer drawing on an on-screen tablet are comfortable drawing right on the screen as they do not have any other option.

Pressure Sensitivity

A drawing tablet typically isn’t something that someone would buy unless they need it for a specific purpose such as drawing, illustrating, or graphic design work. The one that is ultimately chosen has many things considered, but one of the most important is the table sensitivity. Everyone has a different drawing or illustration style. Depending on yours, you may want to choose a tablet with an ultra-sensitive and responsive surface.

Another major factor is the pressure sensitivity, although this is a hardware issue for the tablet. Pressure levels on tables start at about 300 levels of pressure and go up to around 3000. In this case, the higher the number, the more responsive the tablet will be for you. For illustrations and design work, the optimal pressure level to look for on a tablet is in the 1024 range.

Resolution

If you work in a field where you need to make very high-resolution images that also have very sharp graphics, picking a tablet with a high LPI would be best suited for you. Think of LPI the same way that people think of 4K resolution found on televisions and computer monitors. With 4K resolution, the image on the screen is as bright and sharp as it can be, and a higher LPI can provide the same effect on a tablet.

Scrollers

Moving around the screen on your tablet using the stylus to get around or even your finger could cause mistakes to be made on your project, meaning you’d have to spend more time fixing errors and not meeting your deadline. Thankfully, many tablets have a scroller built into the tablet already. This will help you move around the project quickly without unforeseen errors occurring.

Wireless or Wired

Like the tablet you choose, whether you decide to use a tablet that is wireless or wired is a personal choice. While a wired tablet keeps you at your desk and doesn’t give you the freedom of movement that a wireless tablet may, it will give you a direct connection to your workspace or monitor.

Wireless tablets have become a default choice for a lot of graphic designers. The freedom that it gives you to move around without accidentally pulling on the cord and possibly damaging the tablet is beneficial. However, with a wireless tablet, you’re reliant on having a good connection to your monitor or workspace, which may not be as secure.

The best drawing tablet accessories

1. Adonit Jot Pro

The features an etched aluminum body that makes it appear more expensive than it is but doesn’t let the affordable price fool you this is a surprisingly good stylus. Available in four colors, the Jot Pro 3 comes with a magnetic cap for protection. While it’s not pressure-sensitive, it doesn’t need to be paired and there is no battery to charge which makes it a perfect pick up and go option. The only downside is that the little disc surrounding the nib can get annoying, especially if your display isn’t perfectly clean.

2. Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus

Made specifically for writing, the from Wacom may only have a pressure sensitivity of 1024 levels but that doesn’t mean that it can help you take notes during your next meeting. The Fineline is adequate if you’re doing some quick sketches or scribbling diagrams but it’s not meant for more detailed forms of digital artwork.

t’s a great choice for taking notes with its nice design and simple twist mechanism to turn it on and off. While it has a battery life of around 15 hours, the Fineline comes with a single programmable shortcut button, charges via USB, and comes in four different colors.

3. Logitech Crayon

The Apple-affiliated from Logitech is a great, affordable stylus that works with the iPad and all of Apple’s apps. While it was originally only available for schools and educators, Logitech changed directions and made it available to everyone. The Crayon features palm rejection, tilt support, and an instant wireless connection. While the features that the Crayon comes with are nice, they aren’t groundbreaking but it is an affordable option and comes with a quality battery life of 7 hours. This is the perfect Procreate Pen if you’re into digital illustration!

4. Apple Pencil

There is no denying that when it comes to the iPad, there is no better stylus than the .

Providing artists with the best drawing experience possible, it comes with palm rejection, pressure sensitivity, and doesn’t experience any lag. The biggest downside is the price. While the Apple Pencil may be an incredible tool, it may also be outside many designer’s budgets which is why we wanted to highlight some of your choices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best graphic tablet for beginners?

Wacom Intuos S is a perfect graphic tablet for beginners. It is Wacom’s least expensive, entry-level tablet that will last for years.

What is the difference between a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet?

To use a graphic tablet, you’ll need to attach it to a screen to see your work. This isn’t necessary with a drawing tablet, as you can draw right on the display.

What tablet do most graphic designers use?

Wacom Intuos Pro (PTH660) is the one tablet graphic designers use the most.

Is the iPad suitable for drawing?

Yes, the iPad is an excellent choice for any work, be it drawing, designing, or editing pictures.

What is the best drawing tablet for animation?

The 2021 Apple iPad Pro is the best drawing tablet for animation. It houses Apple’s new M1 Chip that produces 40% faster graphics than previous versions of the iPad and has a luminous 12.9-inch liquid retina XDR display.

The Best Drawing Tablet in 2021: Our Top Pick

Like any artist, having the right tools is key. The right tools can take a piece of art that might otherwise end up on your parent’s refrigerator and instead place it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With the choices we’ve highlighted on our list of the best graphic design & drawing tablets, you can grab the best tools for your work and take your career to new heights!

The  is the best overall drawing tablet with its combination of a huge drawing area, a highly sensitive stylus, and a comfortable drawing experience.

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  1. Hello! This is an awesome post like always, the factors listed are indeed the important ones and all factors I took into consideration when picking a tablet for my work. And as now a really happy owner of a Star06 by XP-Pen(Wireless version), however, I realized that the image of it shown in the post actually seems to resemble more the Star03 Model. It is easy to spot because the description of the Star06 under the image states that it has a wheel and 6 hotkey buttons, while it is clear in that Screenshot that the tablet has 8 hotkeys and no wheel, exactly like the Star03 model. Other than that a great post like always! Keep up with the good work!