Drawing tablets are a staple for digital artists, photographers, and graphic designers who prefer using a “pen” to create artwork rather than a clunky mouse. These tablets are typically designed with accuracy and pen pressure sensitivity in mind to give artists the same natural feel of drawing they would have with a regular pencil and paper. But with so many options from companies like Wacom, Huion, and Apple, people looking for the best art tablets on the market might feel overwhelmed by their choices.
That’s why Mic has gathered a list of the most top-notch tablets available, ranging in price from $80 to $1500. Whether you’re a self-taught student learning to draw, a hobbyist, or a bona-fide professional, there should be something fitting for you from the options below.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 16
Wacom has a reputation for being the industry standard for professional artists, animators, design engineers, and game developers with its high quality, state-of-the-art technology that consistently improves with each new product. The Cintiq Pro 16, a pen display tablet that allows artists to see what they are drawing directly on the tablet screen, is no exception. The 4K Ultra High Definition display spans a good 16 inches, offering plenty of drawing space and an etched glass screen to reduce glare from lights. The tablet comes with Wacom’s latest pen, the Pro Pen 2, which has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and a built-in stand for angling.
Although this tablet was designed with professionals in mind, small business owners and freelancers who create their own designs might benefit from the Cintiq Pro 16, too.
Wacom Intuos Pro
If you don’t need the most high-end product available, Wacom’s Intuos Pro is a less expensive option that still offers great quality. This is a pen tablet that does not come with a display screen; rather, artists draw on the device while simultaneously watching their computer screens to see what they’re doing. The buttons on the side of the tablet allow for programming quick commands, like an instant undo button, and the Pro Pen 2 helps maintain high levels of pen pressure sensitivity for smooth and natural drawing.
There are two sizes available (medium and large), both of which are smaller than the Cintiq, so you can keep your desk space shared between the tablet, keyboard and mouse — perfect for amateur artists or home office freelancers.
Huion KAMVAS PRO 22
Huion’s KAMVAS PRO 22 is a pen display tablet with a large, 21.5-inch screen; a battery-free pen with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity; and an etched glass screen to reduce glare and eye-strain. The tablet itself is not as slender as its main competitor, Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 16, but the price point and excellent features makes it a great option for skilled artists shopping for cheaper alternatives.
Huion H610 Pro V2
The 610 Pro is a budget-friendly pen tablet without a screen, with a paper-like texture that helps designers draw with a natural feeling. The tablet includes a battery-free pen that, like many other models, has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity for high accuracy. The H610 Pro does not have touch control or commands, but is otherwise comparable to models like the Intuos Pro in terms of features.
This is a lightweight tablet, ideal for traveling especially if you also have a laptop with you. If you’re an artist who doesn’t need touch control, the H610 Pro is a very reasonably priced and worthwhile option.
XP-Pen Artist Display 16 Pro
XP-Pen offers a pen display tablet with a 1080p HD display. It also has anti-reflective coating that reduces glare in bright lighting conditions, as well as a removable, built-in stand for screen angling. If the 15.6-inch drawing surface is not large enough for you, the tablet is also capable of supporting 4K displays.
The Artist Display 16 Pro has an impressive color display with a color accuracy of 92 percent, according to the company’s website, ideal for illustrators who create and sell prints of their artwork. The pen, meanwhile, offers the typically impressive 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Microsoft Surface Pro + Microsoft Surface Pen
The Microsoft Surface Pro requires a separately-bought Surface Pen that has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and works with most drawing apps. With a light and portable body, the tablet is ideal for travel or use as a sketchbook. Reviews of the Surface Pro note that it’s a solid choice for hobbyists and beginners who might also want to use their tablet for non-art purposes, especially since it’s less expensive than many other models.
However, because this tablet isn’t primarily meant for art, a lot of its drawing quality depends on the apps you choose, as some might produce varying line quality or accuracy. If you decide to go with this model, take the time to pick and choose which drawing apps work best for your needs; Sketchable is a popular one, as is CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
iPad Pro + Apple Pencil + Procreate
Apple’s multi-purpose iPad Pro, combined with the separately-bought Apple Pencil and Procreate app, make for an exceptional art tablet trifecta. First, there’s the tablet’s sleek design that keeps it lightweight, while the large screen displays vibrant colors and graphics at almost any angle. The Apple Pencil, meanwhile, feels and handles so much like an actual pencil that it blew away the reviewer at Creative Bloq with its comfortable, natural performance. Finally, there’s Procreate, a paid app that offers artists tools to create images such as layers and various brush options. The app’s reasonable cost makes it a good option for new digital artists looking to develop their skills, but if it’s not your thing, you can use other popular drawing apps such as Autodesk Sketchbook and CLIP STUDIO PAINT instead.
The choices for art tablets are aplenty for both amateur and veteran designers, so artists looking to invest in one should carefully compare each model’s features and prices before making a decision.