This guide is for anyone making their first foray into creating digital art or retouching photos. A beginner drawing tablet is an accessory that you can attach to any computer and monitor, which makes it versatile and useful for years to come. For this guide we were looking for a graphics tablet for drawing, painting, illustrating, and animating that could last years without requiring a paper refill.
Based on our research, expert interviews, and testing, we found that the most important features for a drawing tablet in order of importance are:. Wacom is to graphics tablets PDF what Google is to search, and every expert we spoke to recommended Wacom tablets for their reliability. Testing the Intuos line was an obvious choice. We also decided to test models from up-and-comers such as Parblo, XP-Pen, and Huion based on positive reviews and their value: These tablets offer a larger active area, more shortcut keys, and in some cases built-in wireless connectivity for the same or lower price as their Wacom equivalents.
With the help of four panelists, we spent a few weeks testing driver stability, program compatibility, and input lag. Our panelists drew and painted basic shapes to test input lag as well as line weight and consistency. They also created nuanced shades of gray—from very faint to almost black—and drew strokes that tapered to a point by lifting the pen. And since people are familiar with their own signature, our panelists signed away to see how close the tablet pen matched handwriting on paper.
We also looked for any glitches such as the cursor not appearing where it ought or moving as it should. We re-created our previous tests using Paint Tool Sai. Designed for beginners, the Wacom Intuos S offered the most precision and customizability of the tablets we tested aside from the pricier Wacom Intuos Pro. The accompanying pen is comfortable enough for long drawing sessions, too.
Create illustrations and animations with these drawing and graphic tablets
None of the other tablets we considered offered as many software options. Compared with the non-Wacom tablets, the Intuos S offered more control, and we experienced no driver issues or input lag. On this tablet, we found it easier to create consistently faint, medium, or dark lines and to go from one extreme to the other by varying the pressure we put on the pen. Although some other tablets offered twice as much pressure sensitivity—8, levels versus 4, on the Intuos S—in practice we were better able to control line weights and thickness with the Wacom tablets.
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The Intuos S is a small tablet, with a 6-by The drawing surface is also a bit textured, so it feels natural, like using a pencil on paper. The Intuos S pen is comfortable to hold for long drawing sessions, but it lacks the softer grip of the pen of the Intuos Pro or the Huion Plus.
This pen is about as thick as a typical ballpoint pen but closer in weight to a Sharpie. Because the Intuos S pen is battery-free, you never have to charge it. The pen has a storage compartment for spare nibs and a nib extractor inside, and it comes with three extra standard nibs. The Intuos S, like all Wacom tablets, lets you customize the pen and tablet to a much greater extent than the other tablet brands we tested. In the pen settings, for example, you can set the tip feel or pressure sensitivity.
This is like choosing between a soft 2B pencil, which leaves a lot of graphite on the page, and a harder 2H pencil, which leaves lighter, cleaner lines and requires more force to make a mark.
And you can even customize those options by individual program—an option not available on any of the other tablets we looked at. The Intuos S has four tablet keys, fewer than other tablets in this price range, which can have up to If you rely on such buttons frequently for keyboard shortcuts, this positioning might be an issue, but we think most beginners will use the pen more than the tablet keys.
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The Intuos S cannot connect wirelessly. If you want more space to draw or paint on, get the larger Huion Plus. The Plus features a large, by The Plus performed well in our tests, with no lag and only one glitch: The pressure sensitivity stopped working in Photoshop, but reinstalling the driver fixed it. Drawing on this tablet felt natural, and we could smoothly vary our line weight and opacity in all of the art programs we tested. The Huion HP measures just If you have the budget, the MobileStudio offers everything you could want in a drawing tablet.
But it also benefits from the same technology Wacom brings to its Cintiq pen display range, making the MobileStudio a pleasure to draw with. And if you want, you can even tether it to the more powerful PC or Mac in your studio with the optional Wacom Link. A 16in MobileStudio is also available. Also read: Wacom MobileStudio Pro review. The Surface Book 2 delivers true versatility for the designer on the go. You can use it as a regular laptop, then twist the screen to turn it into a flat tablet with a touch-sensitive screen. For drawing, you need to add the optional Surface Pen, which provides a respectable 4, levels of pressure sensitivity.
Also read: Microsoft Surface Book 2 review. The Pencil now offers magnetic docking and new workflow-improving shortcuts, such as double-tapping to switch modes. Active drawing area: 7. It's always a treat when you don't have to pay extra for the stylus, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 comes with its pen already in the box — an extremely welcome touch, especially given that this is the most expensive Android tablet yet, at a price on par with the iPad Pro.
Despite this, it's still the better buy compared to the more recently released S5e, which, although cheaper, does not offer pen support. Just as with Samsung's previous tablets, the drawing experience is smooth and satisfying; you'll find yourself gliding away in no time.
Drawing Tablets For Mac
There is a decent range of drawing apps and programs available for Android as well, though iOS still has the slight edge in this regard. Samsung's Dex software, designed to emulate a computer desktop, means the tablet is also useful for general productivity. A great all-purpose option, albeit an expensive one. It's hard to know what's more exciting about the GAOMON PD , the gloriously large drawing surface or the intelligent pen with 8, levels of pressure sensitivity. If you can't think of a better way to spend a day than holed up in the studio creating gorgeous digital paintings then this is a terrific buy.
It's easy to set up just the way you want it, with 10 shortcut keys that can be customised to streamline your workflow. However, if you like to create on the move then this isn't the one for you, given that it weighs more than 1. Wacom Pro Pen 3D 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.
Wacom Inking Pen For that traditional feel, the Inking Pen enables you to place a sheet of paper on your Wacom tablet then draw onto it with ink, while the tablet captures your drawing movements at the same time. The nib, combining a fine-point tip with a plastic circle to register on the tablet screen, looks curious but works well in practice.
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. This should only take a minute or two.
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All graphics tablets in this list come with a stylus, USB and rechargeable wire if separate , CD driver and a handy user manual. But for your money you get the best drawing experience and widest software support. There are two main models, Medium and Large. The Medium has a Each tablet has customisable keys and a touch ring for shortcuts, and you can purchase additional texture sheets depending on what you prefer artistically.
If you're a 3D artist you may be interested in using the Wacom Pro Pen 3D sold separately , which has extra buttons to pan, zoom, model, sculpt or modify. Each pen comes with a handy stand as well which can store spare nibs. Previously known as the Bamboo range, Wacom's non-Pro Intuos is a great choice for those on a modest budget. Again there are two sizes, Small and Medium - with the A6-ish Small version available with Bluetooth for wireless use, or without the Medium version has Bluetooth as standard.