How To Find The Best Drawing Tablet

best drawing tablet

How to find the best drawing tablet

Drawing tablets and stylus pens are practical and essential tools for any graphic designer worth his or her salt. They make creating designs infinitely more comfortable than if you had to draw by hand or mouse. But how do you find the best drawing tablet? We’ve put together this guide for those of you uncertain where to spend your money and what to look for. Enjoy!

What are the different kinds of drawing tablet?

The first thing we should look at is the three different types of drawing tablet. Which one of these will be the best drawing tablet for you will largely depend on the kind of work you do.

Best drawing tablet #1: Graphics tablet

The most common type of drawing tablet is the graphics tablet. It has a flat and blank surface you can draw on with a stylus pen (which we’ll cover in a bit). It mostly works as a mousepad you draw on and is connected to a computer. Some designers find it distracting that they can’t see what they’re drawing on the tablet, and feel disconnected from the image displayed on the screen. Seasoned designers will be used to this kind of disconnect, so it is a matter of preference.

Best drawing tablet #2: Pen display

Pen displays are halfway between graphics tablets and tablet computers. They are mostly flat screens that have a pressure sensitive surface just like a tablet computer. The advantage of pen displays is that you won’t experience the same disconnect between you and the image the way you do with a graphics tablet. Pen displays are also portable, which makes them infinitely more practical. The downside is that they cost considerably more for this very reason.

Best drawing tablet #3: Tablet computer

The tablet computer is what most laypeople think of when you say tablet — whether you mean a drawing tablet or not. You can, in theory, create a graphic design with any pill, whether it be from Samsung, Apple, or any of the other major manufacturers. Not all of them are equally suited for full-time professional work, however. Some graphic designs also find the slippery surface of an iPad challenging to draw on accurately. That said, an iPad Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud is not a bad bet for your work.

Should you have a display or a non-display drawing tablet?

Before diving into some of the minutiae, you should consider whether or not you want a display. This will impact how you work, and how portable your workstation is. Although having a screen seems like an obvious choice, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

Best drawing tablet #1: Display

Beginner graphic designers find having a display tablet easier than a non-display tablet for the simple reason that it’s more intuitive than a non-display tablet. A display tablet will make it feel more like you’re drawing on paper than on a device. As mentioned, this kind of drawing tablet tends to be a lot more expensive than the non-display tablet.

Best drawing tablet #2: Non-display

More seasoned graphic designers might prefer non-display drawing tablets for the simple reason that it’s what they’re used to. Non-display drawing tablets have been around before everyone had an iPad, so it has become a habit for many designers. They tend to be more compact than display tablets but will require you to bring a display separately if you’re traveling. Non-display tablets are a lot cheaper and more durable than they display counter-parts, so it’s a good solution for a small business.

How do you choose the best drawing tablet?

Now that you understand the three types of drawing tablets it’s time to dive a little deeper into the technical specifications. We’ve listed some of the features you should make a note of when you’re out looking for the best drawing tablet for you.

Size

Bigger is always better when it comes to creating graphic designs on your drawing tablet. That said, you might be a designer who’s still on the go and want to work in between client meetings. In this case, you should consider size and portability.

Pressure sensitivity

The best drawing tablets will not only track the movement of your stylus pen but will also record the amount of pressure you apply with it. Depending on the tool you’re using, the pressure you apply can either draw a thicker line or erase more of what you’ve already brought. The pressure sensitivity will typically be either 1024 or 2048, with the latter being more sensitive than the former.

Resolution

The resolution of your drawing tablet will influence how accurate you can draw on it. Resolution is measured in LPI, which stands for ‘lines per inch.’ You will be able to add more details to your design the higher the LPI on your drawing tablet is. You should go with a larger tablet if you can afford it, as they tend to have a much higher resolution than smaller and medium-sized ones.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness is as essential to your working process as pressure sensitivity and resolution. The more responsive your drawing tablet is, the less delay you will experience between drawing a line on the pad and it appearing on the screen. Although most modern drawing tablets will be so fast that you’ll barely notice the delay, it can be bothersome to work on a tablet with slow responsiveness.

Controls

General purpose tablets will come with a few buttons as possible. It’s what the public wants, sorry! Purpose-built drawing tablets, on the other hand, will often come with different controls to make your life easier. Professional drawing tablets will have additional commands near the drawing area. Some will also have controls built into the stylus pen that comes with the tablet. This can be extremely practical and time-saving, so you should consider it if you design a lot.

Additional features

Computer tablets like iPads will already come with multi-touch displays. However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this feature if you’re going for something a bit more specialized. Multi-touch displays will allow you to scroll and zoom with your fingers, which will significantly improve your workflow. Some tablets are also tilt-sensitive. The tilt sensitivity will let you change the angle of the pen or the brush when you’re designing.

Battery

Battery life is an essential factor to consider if you’re traveling a lot. How long a given drawing tablet can keep you going is worth considering before you spend any money. Working on complex designs can quickly eat up your battery life, so you’ll want as much of it as possible.

Warranty

Checking the warranty period for all electronic equipment should be second nature. Something can always go wrong no matter how expensive the tablet is, so its good to know how long the manufacturer covers it. Although there is a standard all manufacturers adhere to, there are some who offer more extended warranties than others. This often means you’ll have to shell out a bit more money for the tablet as well.

What are the different types of stylus pen?

You could draw with your finger, but since you’re a severe professional, you will probably prefer using a stylus pen. Like there are three different types of drawing tablets, there are three different kinds of stylus pens. Let’s have a look at them to see what each of them does.

Best drawing stylus #1: Battery-powered stylus

The battery-powered styluses are a good choice if you have big hands. Not only will the pen feel more comfortable, but it’s also practical for designers on the move. Designers with smaller hands will most likely find it too bulky to draw accurately. Another downside of battery-powered styluses is that you need to carry extra batteries around.

Best drawing stylus #2: Rechargeable stylus

Rechargeable styluses are usually a better bet than their battery-powered counterparts. You will easily be able to recharge them just like the tablet itself, and don’t have to carry anything extra around. Rechargeable styluses I also a good choice for designers with smaller hands.

Best drawing stylus #3: EMR stylus

Electromagnetic resonance (EMR) is the latest in graphic design styluses. Rather than being powered by a battery that has to be replaced or recharged, they draw their energy directly from the tablet itself. Heat will flow wirelessly from the tablet surface to the pen when they are connected. Although this is much more practical than the two other options, it is also the more expensive kind of stylus.

How to buy the best drawing tablet

Finding the best drawing tablet can be a daunting task, but hopefully, our guide here has helped you make the decision a bit easier. We use drawing tablets in our work every day, so naturally, we’ve been through a few different models. We’ve listed the best ones you can find on the market here below.

Best drawing tablet #1: Wacom Intuos Pro 

Get it in just two days with Amazon Prime.

Wacom Intuos Pro Small Graphics Tablet

Best drawing tablet #2: Huion INSPIRON Q11K

Get it in just two days with Amazon Prime here.

HUION Inspiroy Q11K Wireless Graphic Tablet with 8192 Pen Pressure Sensitivity

Best drawing tablet #3: Wacom Intuos CTL 4100

Get it in just two days with Amazon Prime.

Wacom Intuos Pro Small Graphics Tablet

Best drawing tablet #4: XP-Pen Deco 01

Get it in just two days with Amazon Prime.

XP-PEN Deco 02 Graphics Drawing Tablet With Hexagonal Design Stylus & 6 Shortcut Keys 8192 Levels Pressure

Best drawing tablet #5: Ugee M708

Get it in just two days with Amazon Prime.

Ugee HK1060 Drawing Graphics Tablet 10x6 with 8 Express Keys (5080 LPI 230 RPS 2048 Levels) Windows & Mac - UK Stock

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Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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