Using the best drawing tablets will help you to design beautiful digital artwork with ease. There is a wide range of products when it comes to drawing tablets, from those with their own screens to graphics tablets that have to be hooked up to an external monitor. Whether you’re new to the world of digital art, a student heading to school or a seasoned pro: be sure that our below list of the best digital art tablets will have something for you.
Drawing on a tablet feels more natural than ever now thanks to advancing artist tech. There are three main types of graphics tablet: pen display, graphics tablet and tablet computers (and if you’re not sure the difference, we have a handy breakdown of each type at the bottom of this page).
Choosing the best drawing tablet for your needs is where this guide comes in: we’ve put together a handy breakdown of the best drawing tablets on the market today based on a range of needs like varying budgets, connection and size so everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned pros can find the right drawing tablet for them. Most of the below picks are ones we’ve also tested ourselves,
This guide includes the major digital art brands like Huion, XP-Pen and Wacom, but we’ve also included a selection of computer tablets from the big players like Apple and Microsoft as they’ve developed some excellent digital art software over the years. If you’re looking for a tablet for the classroom, we have a dedicated guide to the best tablets for students and the best drawing tablets for animation. If you’re looking for art software to run on your shiny new tablet, why not take a look at the best digital art software. For now, let’s get down to business and find a tablet fit for you!
The best drawing tablets available now
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The Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is a drawing tablet that strikes an optimal balance between power, design, portability and price, and in our opinion that makes it the best drawing tablet you can buy right now. Relative newcomers to the market, Xencelabs boast among their roster a number of Wacom alumni, who have brought their tablet design nous to this newer brand.
One of the most important aspects of a drawing tablet is the texture of its drawing surface, and the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium gets it bang on the money. As we said in our glowing five-star review of the tablet, the level of “bite” against the stylus feels exactly right, and it makes the tablet immensely satisfying to draw on. The pressure and tilt sensitivty are also practically pitch-perfect, and having two styluses bundled in is also great, as you can set them up for different uses (e.g. one for line drawing and one for shading) to enable quick swapping and a smooth workflow.
Our reviewer said that “this tablet is well priced, offering tremendous value for money. If it’s too expensive for your budget, Xencelabs also makes a smaller version.” If you’d like to learn more you can check out our Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle review.
The iPad Pro offers the best of two worlds; if having the best drawing tablet simply isn’t enough for you, and you need to have the best tablet all round, there’s really only one choice: the all-new 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro. It’s so far ahead of the rest of the tablet market that it’s not even funny.
Not only is the iPad Pro powered by Apple’s blazing fast M2 chip for utterly stunning performance, it has a mini-LED XDR display with amazing brightness as well as local dimming to deliver astonishing contrast. Put the two together (and throw in the wonderfully smooth and intuitive Apple Pencil 2) and you have a near-unbeatable all-in-one system for creating digital art as well as showing it off to best effect.
So why, with all this, is it not our top pick? Well, it does depend on what you need. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2, 2022) is so powerful, and so priced accordingly, that if you are only looking for a drawing tablet and won’t need its many other features, it probably isn’t worth it, and a dedicated tool like those above will offer greater value for money. Still, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is the one of the best overall tablets on the market right now, and one of the greatest for drawing, no question. If you do fancy a slightly cheaper alternative from Apple, we have the iPad Air lower down the list. See our hands-on iPad Pro (M2, 2022) review (opens in new tab) for an early look at exactly what this device is capable of.
Wacom used to have the drawing tablet pretty much all to itself, but in recent years a whole load of challenger brands have turned up to take a bite out of its lunch, especially at the cheaper end of the market. However, despite increased competition the Wacom name is still very much one to be reckoned with, and as far as we’re concerned the Wacom Cintiq 22 is definitely one of the best drawing tablets you can get, especially for students who mean business.
Whilst reviewing, we found that the 22-inch display provides plenty of creative space to play with. It has Full HD resolution – not as many pixels as some newer, flashier tablets, but is more than enough for most people. You can get sharper screens on other Wacom tablets, but they tend to cost more, and this model is all about bringing Wacom quality with an affordable price tag. And let’s not forget that plenty of tablets, Xencelabs’ included, don’t have a screen at all.
What really makes the Cintiq 22 such a pleasure to use is the Wacom Pro Pen 2, with a whole 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as tilt sensitivity. Wacom has been in this game a long time, and it’s hard to imagine an artist with any complaints about the Pro Pen 2. It just works really, really well.
An advantage of Wacom tablets for students, and those looking to break into digital art professionally, is that it’s pretty much the industry standard, so learning to use one is a very good step to take. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other tablets, it’s just something to bear in mind. Find out more with our Wacom Cintiq 22 review.
XP-Pen is one of the most well-regarded names in budget drawing tablets, and this 2022 refresh of a popular 15.6-inch tablet scored high points in our recent review. After spending a couple of months drawing with the tablet, our reviewer concluded that it has supremely solid fundamentals. Everything about the core drawing experience, from the high-quality display to the excellent X3 stylus, is very good indeed, and if you’re sourcing a tablet on a budget, it’s an excellent choice.
There are a few gripes, mostly to do with what’s not in the box. While the XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen) is broadly compatible with different operating systems, if you want to use it with ChromeOS or Android, you’ll need to source your own USB-C to USB-C cable, which is a little annoying. Also, while this isn’t uncommon for tablets at this price point, it’s worth knowing that the XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen) doesn’t come with its own stand.
Our XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen) review goes into detail.
The latest generation of iPad Air, the Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) is a simply stunning tablet. It sports one of Apple’s M1 silicon chips, the new processors that are currently transforming the firm’s laptops, computers and tablets, making them into virtual powerhouses. The 5th Gen iPad boasts an M1 chip, a 2360×1640 IPS LCD panel that delivers 264 pixels per inch, an a maximum brightness of 500 nits. It’s an absolute powerhouse.
The thing that makes the Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) one of the best drawing tablets you can buy is its Apple Pencil 2 compatibility, delivering one of the smoothest and most natural-feeling digital drawing experiences on the market. This was one of the many things we found to praise in our Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review, where we also discussed how this tablet blurs the line between the Air line and the flagship iPad Pro series. The Pros may be better, with brighter screens and faster refresh rates, but they’re also more expensive, which is why we’ve gone for the Air as our pick for the best Apple drawing tablet.
This unique tablet from budget-friendly brand Huion features the award-winning Huion Inspiroy Dial. This handy little tool allows you to quickly cycle through commands and tools that you can assign.
In our hands-on review, we found the Inspiroy Dial 2’s left-hand dual-dial Quick Key panel to be the real design star. The two dials can be customised with up to three functions per dial, and cycling through the functions feels satisfying thanks to the dial’s subtle clicking as it is moved.
Overal, this is a great option for both amateur artists and professionals looking for a sleek, updated device. It feels easier to use than more expensive models without skimping on quality.
Microsoft’s Surface tablets have never quite achieved the cachet enjoyed by Apple’s iPad range, but the latest Surface Pro 8 feels a lot more like a challenge to Apple’s dominance. Microsoft has clearly put in a lot of work to make this tablet look like a viable alternative, in terms of both looks and performance.
There’s plenty of power in even the basic model, which packs a Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and if that’s not enough for you there are even punchier configurations available, but be aware that this will drive the price up further still. When we tested it, we found the display to be excellent, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 and the option to bump the refresh rate up to 120Hz. This makes it highly responsive when used with the Surface Pen stylus, though be aware you’ll need to purchase this separately.
Having Windows 11 is also a major boon for this tablet, as it means you can use the full desktop version of programs like Photoshop, rather than messing about with tablet apps. If you’re already in the Windows ecosystem, then this tablet definitely makes sense as a purchase. Our Surface Pro 8 review looks at this tablet in more detail, and compares it to previous iterations of the Surface Pro.
The XP-Pen Deco MW is a fantastic graphics tablet that is a great starter option for new artist. Retailing at around $69.99/£79.99, this tablet is a nice medium size that fits perfectly into a more compact work space. It comes in a pretty range of colours that includes blue, green and pink. It can connect to your main device via USB or Bluetooth too, so you don’t need to worry about wires. You can read more about why we like this tablet in our detailed XP-Pen Deco MW review.
For creating artwork on a drawing tablet you ideally need lots of room to work with as well as a pen that feels just like the ones you’d use on paper. In which case you should opt for the Wacom Intuos Pro Large, which delivers pretty much the most natural drawing experience you can get digitally.
While its drawing area isn’t the biggest you can get, it still gives you plenty of space, and the pen’s 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity make it feel as close as you can get to using an actual pen. All this is supported by Wacom’s broad ecosystem of alternative pens and Texture Sheets to give your drawing surface a distinctive feel.
The Intuos Pro is also available in other sizes, so if the asking price is a little steep and you’re willing to work with a smaller screen, you may want to consider the Intuos Pro Medium or Intuos Pro Small. Both of these tablets offer similar functionality to the largest version, just with smaller working areas. Find out more in our in-depth Wacom Intuos Pro review.
Huion’s a name that’s been giving Wacom a run for its money over the past few years, with a range of drawing tablets that deliver impressive features at great prices. If you’re just starting out and not entirely sure whether a tablet’s something you want to drop a lot of money on, the Huion H430P is the perfect way to test the waters, delivering just enough features without costing you very much at all.
Yes, the drawing area is small, but the pen is sensitive enough to give you a true sense of the creative benefits drawing tablets can bring. It may not take long before you outgrow this tablet, but it’s a very affordable way to get started.
Be aware, however, this is a graphics tablet and not a pen display, so you will need to hook it up to some kind of external display in order to be able to see what you’re drawing. A monitor is ideal, though a smartphone or other tablet will do the job in a pinch. Our Huion Inspiroy H430P review explored why this small but mighty graphics tablet is a great choice for beginner artists.
If you’re looking for a good entry level pen display drawing tablet then the updated Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is a very good option. This is a pen display that can be used for many different types of art, as well as being used as a screen for playing video games, editing video and studying.
In our Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) review we noted that this device features a full HD screen with excellent colour accuracy making it also ideal as a good second screen. Our reviewer also noted the stand for this device is sold separately but is well-worth a purchase as it’s ergonomically designed to make drawing easier.
Wacom’s long had a reputation for being reassuringly expensive, so it’s good to see the company reacting to an influx of challengers by releasing a much more reasonably-priced drawing tablet to tempt users away from cheaper brands. The Wacom One (not to be confused with previous Wacom Ones) is a great little portable 13-inch tablet that provides a fantastic drawing experience but won’t cost you a fortune.
Its Full HD display provides 72 per cent NTSC colour and an anti-glare treated film, and the tablet even comes with little legs for standing up when you’re out and about and want to quickly get some ideas down. It’s the ideal tablet to slip into your day bag; see our in-depth Wacom One review for more on exactly what to expect from this device.
If you’re after a cheap alternative to Wacom’s Intuos Pro, it’s well worth considering the XP-Pen Deco Pro. It comes in at about a third of the Intuos Pro’s price and, honestly, it shows in places; it doesn’t quite have the Wacom’s premium feel, and the software drivers can be clunky, but when it comes down to it, it delivers a solid drawing experience.
You get a smooth drawing surface and a pen with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the overall design of the tablet has picked up a Red Dot awards. This isn’t just a cheap knock-off – it’s a premium knock-off, and if you’re an artist on a budget, it definitely merits consideration, as our XP-Pen Deco Pro review attests.
Been eyeing up the Wacom Cintiq 22 further up the page but can’t quite stretch to the price? The Huion Kamvas 22 Plus would like a word. It comes in significantly cheaper than the Cintiq, but this is still a quality drawing tablet with a beautiful and generously-sized display. It’s 16:9 and Full HD resolution.
The big selling point is that it’s made from etched anti-glare glass rather than having an anti-glare film; the end result is a pen display that feels really nice to draw on, with a drawing experience that’s tactile and distinctly analogue.
With an anti-parallax design, 140-per cent sRGB coverage and ability to replicate 16.7 million colours, this is a very impressive tablet. The pen that comes with it is basically decent and will do the job – it’s a little no-frills perhaps, with only one type of nib supplied.
Overall, as we noted in our Huion Kamvas 22 Plus review, this Huion tablet is a sound buy, especially when compared to competition at this price point from the likes of XP-Pen – it has better colour coverage and a generally better drawing feel.
The best drawing tablet accessories
+ Three buttons to pan, zoom and tumble in applications
+ Sleek design
– High price point
– Mainly an upgrade for 3D work
A third button may not sound much of an innovation, but it enables the Pro Pen 3D to support pan and zoom in three dimensions, giving 3D artists unfettered navigation at their fingertips.
+ Compatible with a range of devices
+ Traditional stylus design
– Only comes with three extra pen nibs
– Stock can be hard to come by
This nifty little stylus has a range of compatibility options, meaning you can pair it up with many different tablet models. It features built-in Bluetooth for easy connection and excellent battery life.
+ Unique design
+ Cheaper stylus alternative for tablet users
– Not officially licensed like the Apple Pencil
– Pen nib takes getting used to
If the Apple Pencil doesn’t appeal or your iPad isn’t compatible, the Adonit Jot Pro is a stylish pen that works on any iPad (or Android tablet). The nib combines a fine-point tip with a plastic circle to register on the tablet screen.
The best drawing tablets: What are the different types?
Broadly speaking, there are three main types of drawing tablet. Each takes a different approach to the central challenge of helping you draw on your Windows PC or Mac as if you were drawing on paper.
In terms of drawing tablets, there’s everything from professional, high-resolution graphics tablets, to portable tablets that cost less than £40 and fit in a small backpack. There’s also a growing market of drawing tablets for little ones, and you can check out our dedicated drawing tablets for kids guide if this is something you’re looking for. Want to go unplugged for a bit? Have a look at our best lightboxes for more hands-on creativity. And if you’re looking specifically for a tablet for editing, see our best tablets for photo and video editing.
If you’ve been around computers for a long time, this is what you probably think of instinctively at the mention of a drawing tablet: a plain surface that you draw on with a stylus, with your work displayed on a separate computer monitor (opens in new tab). Graphics tablets remain the most affordable drawing tablet category. Their main disadvantage is the sense of ‘disconnect’ between the drawing surface and the screen, although most people get used to this quickly.
Pen displays consists of a flat-screen monitor with a pressure-sensitive surface that you draw on with a stylus. They don’t have the sense of disconnect that you might get with graphics tablets, and they’re more portable; however they cost more. Furthermore, you get a lot of cables between the display and computer (see the best computers for graphic design), and the display surfaces don’t offer the ‘bite’ that graphics tablets do.
Android and iOS devices like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro take on the other drawing tablets in two ways. You don’t need another computer: just download an art app and start drawing with your fingertip or a stylus. Also, when you want to use the Creative Cloud suite (opens in new tab) on your main computer, these can function as graphics tablets with apps like Astropad (opens in new tab).
The best drawing tablets: Which one should you buy?
Right now, we’re confident in saying that the absolute best drawing tablet you can buy is the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle, which comes with some super-cool features and is very affordable. Our second spot goes to the powerful iPad Pro as it’s easy to carry around, features Apple’s excellent digital art software and has Apple Pencil 2 support. If you want a more well-known name, the Wacom Cintiq 22 comes in next. This provides Wacom’s famous quality in a pleasingly large tablet at a surprisingly affordable price.
How did we choose these drawing tablets?
Our above list is based on a variation of factors. Most of the choices come from personal, hands-on experiences and extensive testing of each tablet. For the few choices that we haven’t personally tested, we carefully researched reviews and opinions from other reputable sites and creatives. By considering features like connectivity, pressure sensitivity, operating systems and more, we have made sure to include a wide range of the best drawing tablets that can fit every artist’s needs.
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