The 7 Best Drawing Tablets 2018

There are no clear cut absolute best drawing tablets.

Because even the undisputed industry leader Wacom comes with it's own set of problems. And as already implied, most artists would agree, the smartest choice for a serious artist is a Wacom tablet.

But... that doesn't mean that you need to to pay a lot to get a quality device or even go with Wacom.

By Gabriella Germano

"Red" - Gabrielle Germano

Before you decide on a drawing tablet you need to know that the 3 main features of a good graphic tablet are size, pressure sensitivity and accuracy (otherwise known as parallax).

7 Great Drawing Tablets

Who is it for?
The new Intuos Small Black Art is the best drawing tablet for beginners. It's also one of the best drawing tablets for animation.

What does the new model have?
The 4 new upgrades are bluetooth wireless, higher pen pressure (4096), improved design and 2 free software. It is the same device in all other aspects and a bit more expensive.

What size to get?
We recommend you get the medium if you can afford it because size really matters in this case.  A bigger size will reduce extra movements on your part and increase your productivity. 

Last update on 2018-10-22

The great perk of any Wacom product is the EMR stylus that does not require a battery nor recharging. Just like the industry standard the mouse has 2 buttons that function like the right and left click of your mouse.  But it lacks an eraser at the end of the stylus. The tablet will function with most operating systems and art software. For more in-depth information check our review

Want cheaper a drawing tablet?
Check out the Huion Inspiroy. It's not a Wacom tablet but Huion is also very reliable and a good choice for beginners or teachers who want to keep costs low.

PROS & CONS

  • Powerful and affordable
  • Robust and good customer support
  • No recharging of stylus
  • No screen
  • No eraser

It's the best drawing tablet with a screen. Although there are cheaper alternatives none match the relative price and functionality of the iPad Pro.  At 9.7 inches and an impressive 2048 x 1536 resolution the crystal cool display is stunning.

Although I complain about Apple products being constantly overpriced. They've found a perfect middle ground between profit and a quality product this time.

They handled palm rejection (multi-touch) and they have introduced competitive pressure sensitivity (although they haven't specified what it is). 

Overall the artist community thinks that they still prefer the Wacom stylus experience but that's to be expected with a company that's been in the business for so long.

Last update on 2018-10-22

What are the cons?
With drawing software like Procreate drawing will be a sweet experience since it let's you adjust the pressure curve to your liking. The only real downside to the Ipad Pro is the fact that the stylus, much like the Surface Pen, has to be recharged.

Not too often and they don't charge long but still a downer. Not to forget the stylus also has pen tilt. Also don't expect this machine to be able to run full Photoshop.  

PROS & CONS

  • Powerful and cost efficient
  • High quality manufacturing
  • Multifunctional
  • Can't run full photoshop
  • thumbs-down
    Stylus needs to be recharged
  • thumbs-down
    Repair can be costly

The best android tablet for drawing is the Galaxy Tab 10.1 A with S pen. The stylus does not need recharging or a battery. It's a capacitive stylus which you could replace, if you so desired, with something prettier.

Unfortunately, also no pen tilt or rotation on default except on certain android apps. But not even the Surface Pro nor the iPad Pro have those features mastered.

What not to expect?
Also don't expect this to be a digital art workhorse. Do not buy it, if you're looking for more complicated work with high resolutions or details. Frankly, no traditional tablet other than the Wacom MobileStudio Pro can. 

Last update on 2018-10-22

Who is it for?
Regardless, for someone who wants to do it all - draw comics, simple sketches, write notes, email, watch movies and surf the web - the Tab 10.1 is perfect. It's relatively low cost which is amazing when you look at the Super AMOLED 1920x1200 pixel display and 1.6GHz octa-core  running it.

Solid 3GB of RAM which isn't a lot but considering again all the power in this neat package, we'll take it. I think it's the most bang for buck tablet on the market right now. If you aren't convinced you'll be surprised that it also boasts up to 13 hours of battery life

PROS & CONS

  • Good price for anime artists
  • No recharging
  • Multifunctional
  • Can't run full photoshop
  • thumbs-down
    Not a workhorse for true artists

Who is it for?
If portability is important for you and you need a powerful drawing device then MobileStudio Pro is the solution for you.  

What is it like?
Quite quiet compared to it's peers but not as quiet as the Ipad Pro. No parallax between where the pen touches down and where the dot or mouse appears on the screen.

The high 8192 pressure levels are best in industry. Much less switching between brushes when going from grand strokes to more light strokes.

Last update on 2018-10-22

Due to the impressive 13 or 16 inches of size, larger than any other conventional tablet, you'll spend very little time zooming in and out. Stunning depth of vision with a high resolution of 2560 x 1440 and borderline perfect color quality of 96% Adobe RGB.

Retractable pen tip is a bit off putting but you get used to it and it actually helps with my work. Pen tilt, rotation and multi-touch as usual. It's great if you travel a lot and really need to get more out of your time away from your desktop. Otherwise a graphic monitor with even more diagonal space might be a good idea. Accommodates you if you're left handed.

PROS & CONS

  • Can handle most projects
  • Be super productive
  • Multifunctional
  • Expensive
  • thumbs-down
    Can get warm

Who is it for?
The best graphic tablet for drawing is the Intuos Pro Medium. It feels comfortable to hold at 1.5 pounds and so much active area (A5 paper size) you can crush your face against it.

From grand landscapes or portraits of old monarchs to the next big manga. This is a graphic tablet that can do everything. ​

What is it like?
The drawing surface is coarse like paper. Not to forget, it also has a wireless set included, which is handy for slouching while drawing or Netflix and chill.

Last update on 2018-10-22

The new model beats every other drawing device in this price range with 8192 pen pressure levels.  While keeping all the proprietary functionality of the Wacom devices like pen tilt and rotation. The Intuos Pro Small is also the perfect drawing tablet for photographers and photo retouching. The only downside is that it has no screen.

What is the best drawing tablet for Mac?
Generally Wacom tablets tend to have the best compatibility with iOS. Another thing to watch out for is whether the computer is running a AMD or Nvidia graphical processing unit. If I'm not mistaken Nvidia GPU's tend to have less compatibility issues.

What is the best drawing tablet for photography?
Photographers generally agree that the Intuos Pro M or S are great for photo retouching.

PROS & CONS

  • Best device for the price
  • Robust, reliable, smooth
  • Everything an artist truly needs
  • No screen

Who is it for?
It's a good alternative for a professional who needs a good sized screen but can't afford a Cintiq. Although the color gamut isn't perfect Adobe RGB (72%), it's still a solid Cintiq alternative due to the 8192 pressure sensitivity and cost.

Alternatives are notorious for issues but not even Wacom gets it right all the time. As of writing this there are no other Cintiq alternatives in this price range with 8192 pressure levels.


The IPS display is a standard to always be on the look for. Because not any old LCD screen will do for artists. Full 1080 HD resolution is to be expected and although it's not the highest on the market it's the minimum you need.

Last update on 2018-10-22

Any problems?
What concerns me is the relationship between pressure sensitivity and resolution. Much of the potential of 8192 sensitivity is wasted on a 1920 x 1080 resolution monitor. As a buyer be aware that that you also want more resolution if you have more sensitivity.

My experience with Huion customer support is that of any Asian graphic tablet company it's a bit slow and the language barrier can sometimes be a problem. But nothing too bad.

When installing...
As with all drawing devices I recommend you uninstall any conflicting drivers from other drawing device manufacturers. The stylus and the tablet will work even with other drivers installed but it will only do so seemingly. It will lack pressure sensitivity or it will leave jitters. When installing follow the instruction manual.

PROS & CONS

  • Good standard features
  • Decent customer support
  • Best non-Wacom on the market
  • No pen tilt or rotation
  • thumbs-down
    Relatively low screen resolution

Who is it for?
The Cintiq QHD27 is for the serious professional. The main advantage of a monitor tablet is the massive increase in productivity. When compared with a graphic tablet such as one of the Intuos Pro series, it does not have have any other advantages.

What is it like?
The main value is in the close to perfect viewing angle, the surface feel, the anti-glare and the quality 97% Adobe RGB.

Being able to draw on a screen directly brings a lot of joy you might have forgotten as you've grown up. This graphic screen will bring back that childhood joy.


Last update on 2018-10-22

With a Intuos stylus it also supports up to 2048 pen pressure, pen tilt and rotation. No need to recharge or change the battery.

PROS & CONS

  • 97% Adobe RGB
  • 27 inches of productivity 
  • Everything a true artist needs
  • 2048 pen pressure
  • thumbs-down
    No touch on this model

Features explained:

1. How does pen pressure sensitivity work?
pen pressure sensitivty on a graphic tablet

The picture above is a demo of pen pressure levels at 1,024 in Photoshop Illustrator.  Pen pressure levels normally come in 256, 512, 1,024, 2,048 levels and now in 8096.

If you're making a poster for a billboard or a grand portrait for the Queen of England then that's when you want the absolute highest pen pressure. However if you're a comic book artist then you will probably not need to impress anyone with high resolution pictures. Which means you should get whatever tablet you like and can afford.

2. What is an active area?

Active area on a graphic tablet is the surface on a tablet that responds to a stylus. Having a larger active area will make it easier for you to draw in sharper detail without having to zoom into your work. If you are looking for a super accurate feel between your drawing pad and the screen choose a bigger drawing area combined with higher pen pressure levels. 

3. Pen tilt and rotation

The cursor rotates as you twist the pen in your hand just like a real brush would.

4. Touch Feature

Meaning does it react to your fingers or palm? Some love it, some don't. Often hand sensitivity can be turned off or switched for left-handed users.

5. Wireless

Pens are wireless however the tablets are commonly connected via USB. In order to get a wireless function, you need to buy the wireless set.

6. Eraser

Some people like having an eraser on the other end. Some pens that come with tablets have that functionality, some don't. Check our drawing tablet chart for more info. You can also buy an independent Wacom pen with an eraser if you wish.

7. Express Keys

If you're a serious artist express keys will matter because you can add functions to them for quicker access.

8. Pen Response Time

Reality is that the human eye cannot distinguish between such fast speeds in most cases. Don't give it thought. Otherwise known as PTR.

9. Resolution

Much like with PRT the difference between products is not big enough to warrant concern.

Frequent Questions and Answers

1. Does the graphic tablet work on Mac or PC?

Yes, it does. We know that no company is going to exclude a big market share such as the Windows or Mac. Seeing how most modern digital tablets offer support for either operating system there is no best drawing tablet for Mac or PC. It all boils down to how much you want to pay. What qualities are important to you and what not.

2. Are Wacom tablets compatible with Linux?

Yes. Since 2011, most Linux distros offers support for Wacom graphic tablets. For more information about setting up the drivers go to the Ubuntu Help Center.

3. What about wireless?

All Intuos Styluses function without batteries and do not need to be recharged. However, Huion tablets have different conductivity and function with a rechargeable battery. The Huion 610 PRO does not have wireless functionality. Every newer Intuos has wireless functionality if you buy the extra equipment required.

4. Multi-touch, palm rejection concerns or being left handed

It's possible to turn off skin sensitivity and force the tablet to react to only the stylus. Sometimes it's also possible to switch the tablet into left-handed mode.

5. Accessories and replacement parts

Most products we endorse come with accessories and replacement parts. Generally, the pen tips last a very long time and they won't be an immediate concern. Basic USB cables and driver CDs for establishing a connection included.

6. Brand history who to trust and who not?

Among graphic tablets Wacom, Huion and Panda City are the primary players in the market. Wacom being the industry leader and Huion the underdog. Do not let Wacom holding the majority of the market, however, push you off from buying a Huion product.Companies such as Turcom and Monoprice are actually just rebrands of Huion. Another company to consider is VisTablet, much like Huion they are affordable but they not might have all the functionality that's present in Wacom Pro products. Other graphic tablet companies.

7. Problems with drivers?

Generally, driver problems are not just the manufacturers fault. It's not uncommon for the customer who refuses to follow the guidelines specified in the manual and then thinks they got a faulty product. Although even Wacom has occasionally messed up.

Wrapping it up

In most cases you should always aim to get a medium size drawing tablet. At least around 10 inches. This is really important if you're getting a regular drawing tablet with a screen.  You don't want to zoom in for details, having a larger resolution and a larger screen helps with that.

A few extra key functions would be nice as well for quick access to an eraser or some other primary tool you use in your craft. Pen and Touch are always handy (pardon my pun) and it's always possible to turn off Touch sensitivity.

If you have money to spend go for a Wacom product like the Intuos Pro Medium if not choose Huion and don't worry about the price.

Last update on 2018-10-22

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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