Best drawing tablets iMore 2021
If you're trying to get serious about digital art, then a great drawing tablet is the best accessory to help develop your craft. Whether you draw for work, pleasure, or both, the best drawing tablets will allow you to sketch your works of art on a screen and make your drawing sessions as easy as possible. When you combine price, quality, and function, the XENCELABS wireless graphic tablet is our top pick for anyone looking for a drawing tablet. Whether you're just starting or you're looking for the best value, this list has you covered.
- Best Overall: Xencelabs wireless graphic tablet
- Best value: iPad Air 4
- Best premium option: Wacom Cintiq 22
- Best starter option: Huion Inspiroy H430P
- Best portable screen: XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro
Best overall: Xencelabs wireless graphic tablet
Xencelabs may be a newer company, but a few ex-Wacom employees have made their way over there, which may be part of the reason this tablet is pretty great.
While the Xencelabs wireless graphic tablet does require a display, it's the perfect size for a drawing tablet measuring 10.33-by-5.8-inches. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio to match industry-standard displays, and it comes with two pens, both of which have lag-free input. So, your drawings will appear on screen in real-time. Plus, the pens also have 8,192 pressure levels and tilt recognition.
Lastly, what makes the Xencelabs really stand out is the inclusion of the Quick Keys accessory. A small wireless keypad that allows you to customize up to 40 different functions. Regardless of what drawing program you use, the Quick Keys will undoubtedly make your workflow much more effortless.
- Accessories included
- Great quality
- Great price
- Needs external display
- Not the industry standard
Best value: iPad Air 4
While the iPad Air 4 may not be a traditional drawing tablet, combined with the Apple Pencil 2, it makes drawing on the go a breeze. With tons of great drawing apps available on iPadOS, your Apple Pencil 2 on the iPad Air 4 can register not only force but also angle, which makes shading easy to do.
What really makes the iPad Air 4 stand out as a drawing tablet is the value it brings to the table because it's an iPad. You can use it for drawing all day and in the evening, play a game, surf the web, or control your HomeKit accessories. It's Apple's big ecosystem that makes sharing your drawings and art seamless with your iPhone or Mac, which can make the iPad such an excellent hassle-free drawing tablet. Of course, it's likely better suited for people who prefer to move around when they create art or for people just starting their artistic journey. There's a reason we call the iPad Air 4 one of the best iPads you can buy.
- No extra screen is necessary
- Works wonderfully with Mac
- Apple Pencil 2 sold separately
- Limited storage
Best premium option: Wacom Cintiq 22
Wacom has been the big name in drawing tablets for a while, with good reason, and the Wacom Cintiq 22 is a great premium drawing tablet that has it all. The large 1080p drawing screen is beautiful; it's wonderful to sketch on because its drawing surface is 19.5-by-11.5-inches; it gives you lots of room to make big dramatic strokes if you wish.
The drawing surface comes with an anti-glare finish, and the included Wacom Pen 2 has 8,192 pressure levels, so you can get the fine detail you need in your artwork. Plus, the tilt sensitivity is perfect for capturing even the tiniest little tweaks in your movement.
- Massive drawing surface
- 8,192 pressure levels
- Great tilt sensitivity
Best starter option: Huion Inspiroy H430P
In case you hadn't noticed, drawing tablets tend to be expensive, and if you're just starting in digital art, you may not want to swallow such a hefty price tag. Luckily, the Huion Inspiroy H430P is the perfect small, inexpensive drawing tablet that will let you cut your teeth without breaking the bank.
Of course, the small drawing area of 4.8-by-3-inches isn't going to give you a ton of room to work with, and the included pen is battery-free, meaning you don't have to ever charge it. Plus, the pen has 4,096 pressure levels, so you can still get a lot of detail into your drawings.
The four express keys on the tablet allow you to customize your workflow, and the tablet works great in many popular drawing programs such as CorelDraw, Photoshop, Illustrator, and more.
- Small and portable
- Very inexpensive
- Four express keys
- Small drawing area
Best portable screen: XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro
If you like drawing on a big screen but don't want something so massive that you can't carry it around, the XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro is the perfect middle ground.
The 15.6-inch screen uses XP-PEN's full-laminated technology, making the screen not only gorgeous to look at but amazing to draw on. With all 8,192 pressure levels that most professional drawing tablets have, the XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro specializes in allowing artists to get really fine strokes. You only need about three grams of pressure to make a mark, perfect for those fine details.
It doesn't come with any stand, which sucks if you prefer working in a more upright position. Still, the eight customizable shortcut keys, adjustable brightness, and beautiful metal construction make for an awesome tactile experience while handling the tablet.
- Great metal construction
- Eight customizable shortcuts
- Express keys
- No included stand
It's hard not to love everything the Xencelabs wireless graphic tablet has to offer. It has all the pressure levels (8,192) and tilt sensitivity that you require from a professional drawing tablet while still being at a pretty competitive price point. Yes, we know it doesn't come with a screen, which means it requires an external display, but it offers two pens instead of one.
What's more? It comes with the added Quick Keys accessory, which allows you to customize up to 40 different functions, giving you a ton of options to optimize your drawing workflow.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz may not be the best artist around, but his background in graphic design has allowed him to use some drawing tablets he's really liked.
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