Choosing a tablet for making digital art can be a daunting challenge. The market is saturated with models available in a wide range of price points, and sifting through the possibilities requires time and patience. Since you’re essentially looking for a specialized canvas, a good tablet should at the very least be responsive to your touch and translate each of your gestures into an appropriate and accurate mark. You should also consider a tablet’s compatibility with the devices you intend to connect it to, the size of the working surface, and its interface (plus that of the stylus). To help simplify your search, we’ve picked five of the best tablets from five different brands.
1. Huion Kamvas 22 Plus
An all-around excellent drawing tablet that more than meets the needs of a hobbyist or budding digital artist, the Huion Kamvas 22 Plus is our top pick under $550. With its 21.5-inch screen, it offers an expansive working surface on which to visualize your designs. The quantum dot display provides top-notch color accuracy, is effectively anti-glare, and—most notably—is laminated, therefore offering a thinner structure that reduces parallax. We also like the sensitivity of the pen, which feels natural in the hand and responds smoothly as you angle the nib.
2. Wacom One Digital Drawing Tablet
From one of the top tablet companies comes this well-balanced model, which is affordable, color accurate, and user friendly. Its 13.3-inch screen is large enough for most projects, has negligible parallax, and is finished with a slightly textured matte film that has a realistic paperlike feel. It’s easy to set up and control using your computer or laptop. However, it doesn’t feature any keys for setting up shortcuts, and the pen features a single control button and no eraser point—details that some people might find frustrating.
3. XP-Pen Digital Graphics Drawing Tablet
If you aren’t ready to invest in a tablet with the same longevity as the Wacom or Huion Kamvas products, consider this tool from XP-Pen. It doesn’t feature a screen; instead you draw on a plain black surface that responds to the touch of your pen, and your drawing appears on your computer screen. The 6.25-by-10-inch drawing area, smooth but not scratchproof, is accompanied by a column of eight programmable buttons. There’s generally negligible lag between the pen and the connected computer, but the software can be a little glitchy.
4. Apple iPad Pro
Offering a highly sensitive and touch-responsive screen in a sleek design, the iPad Pro is a tablet that pairs impressive resolution and color accuracy with more than enough features to meet the needs of a serious digital artist. You can doodle with your fingers or pick up the Apple Pencil, which feels almost like an extension of the hand as it glides across the brilliant and high-density pixel display with zero lag. Of course, you also get all the perks of an Apple product, including reliable hardware, a built-in camera, and tons of apps to streamline your workflow. Unlike other tablets on our list, you don’t need to hook this up to any additional device.
5. Gaomon PD1161
Another budget-friendly tablet, this model from Gaomon is a great option for young artists. It is very easy to use and comes with eight buttons you can program to suit your needs. At 11.6 inches, its screen is slightly smaller than the Wacom One’s but still very workable, and while not as bright or color-accurate as the Wacom, it feels satisfying to draw or write on. The pen is comfortable to hold and responds to pressure and tilts, but it can sometimes “skip” to produce inconsistent markings.