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Become a Digital Artist With the Best Drawing Tablets for Beginners
Last updated: 17 Jan 2023
If it’s your first time buying or using a drawing tablet you may be surprised at how many little details there are to consider when comparing devices. Not only does the way drawings appear on the screen differ, but the stylus type, pixel quality, pressure sensitivity, compatibility, and functions all play a big role in the experience the artist will have when using the device. If you’re committed to learning the craft of digital artistry, splashing out a little will allow you to have a good quality tablet with extensive features from the beginning. If you want to try it out first, getting a more basic model may be a better choice with the option to upgrade to something pricier once you’ve improved your skills. In this guide, we list a few of the top drawing tablets for beginners in 2023 and offer tips for choosing your device.
Comes with an adjustable stand for perfect drawing positioning
If you’re committed to advancing your digital drawing skills and ready to invest in something with advanced features, Huion Kamvas Pro 16 is a high-quality drawing tablet for beginners with full HD resolution. The laminated, anti-glare 15.6-inch screen allows you to draw with clarity and in detail. Together with the battery-free stylus, the device offers 8192 pressure sensitivity levels to vary line thickness, ±60° tilt recognition to mimic real pencil angles, and lag-free tracking. The pen offers 2 side buttons for customizable programming while the tablet has 6 quick-access keys and a touch bar for shortcut functions. Huion states the software version compatibility and connections required (power adaptor included) since it is not a stand-alone tablet. Check these before purchasing:
The Gaomon M10K2018 drawing tablet for beginners comes with a fantastic range of customizable features. It is suitable for both right and left-handed users with 180-degree rotation. The drawing tablet’s active area measures 10 x 6.25 inches and has 10 hotkeys to program according to your preference for quick access. There is also one round key and one-touch ring that can be customized for scrolling, zooming, erasing, or brush adjustment. The tablet is not Linux compatible but is compatible with most drawing programs including SketchBookPro, Krita, Photoshop, Illustrator, FireAlpaca, and OpenCanvas.
Compatible with Windows, Mac, and other editing software
8192 pressure sensitivity levels
Anti-reflective screen protector prevents glare
6 shortcut keys can be customized to zoom, scroll, undo, repeat, and erase
XP-Pen Artist12 features an 11.6-inch full HD drawing tablet for beginners and comes with a battery-free stylus, 8 replacement nibs, a pen holder, and a drawing glove. The connection cable is also included since the tablet needs to be connected to a computer to work. Once connected, you can use the stylus to draw directly on the screen and see your images as you would on paper. The graphic monitor is perfect for sketching, photo editing, animation, 3D sculpting, and online teaching with zoom compatibility.
One by Wacom is a compact black, non-display graphics drawing tablet for beginners with an active area of 6 x 3.7 inches. The small size makes it perfect for traveling, taking to school, studying, and for anyone just learning the ropes of digital drawing. It is ideal for taking notes and sharing notes and comes with a 3-month EdTech software trial when you register your tablet. The tablet connects to your PC or laptop with a USB cable. Now you can edit photos, interact in online classes, share ideas, and draw with a compact and affordable digital tool from anywhere.
Simbans PicassoTablet drawing tablet for beginners is less geared towards highly specialized drawing features and more geared towards multi-functionality. This means that besides being able to draw pictures and take notes on the screen with the stylus, you can also play games, watch movies, and connect to social media. The 64GB ROM allows you to download a multitude of free apps from the play store, and Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to browse the internet or share your work. The purchase includes an active battery-operated pen, protective tablet case, power adaptor, and drawing glove.
New art tools and gadgets inspire creativity. They’re fun to use but sometimes figuring out how they work and navigating new setups and features can also be a little frustrating. The finest drawing tablets for beginners should allow you to comfortably familiarize yourself with digital artistry while being able to apply your own creativity, art skills, and customize the device to your own working style. Consider the below features when choosing a device that best suits your skill level, budget, portability, and artistic needs.
The two main types of digital drawing tablets are display and non-display types. Display tablets may make sense for beginners since you can draw on the screen itself as if it were a piece of paper, seeing the lines as the pen moves. It’s a natural drawing experience except that your pen and paper may feel and look a little different than usual. There are still some pros and cons to using display tablets. On the plus side, you can create high-quality drawings of professional standards and it takes less practice to familiarize yourself with transitioning to digital drawing. On the downside, these tablet types, generally speaking, have a higher price tag.
As the name suggests, non-display drawing tablets, also known as general graphics tablets, require you to draw on a black drawing pad. The pad is linked to your PC screen via USB. As you draw on the drawing pad with a stylus, the lines will appear on the screen in front of you. This may take some getting used to as you’ll have to look up to see what you are drawing, but with practice, you can master it quickly. The actual drawing pad or tablet is compact. If you are traveling with it, you do need to keep in mind that to use the device it will need to be plugged into a screen.
Drawing tablet features
Choosing the nicest-looking drawing tablet off the shelf is a terrible idea. Digital drawing tablets are one of those items that require a fair amount of homework to ensure that the features, quality, and pricing match up. Luckily for you, we’ve done all the homework already. You can simply pick out the features that suit your needs best from the list below and look for a model that meets the determined requirements. Here’s what you need to look out for:
When considering size, you need to look at both the entire size of the device as well as the actual active area of the drawing pad or screen.
The active area is the section of the drawing pad that registers pressure when drawing. The benefit to having a large active area is that you can work on bigger drawings without having to pan and zoom to adjust details.
The size of the actual tablet includes the active area as well as the frame and buttons. The best choice for you will depend on your setup at home or the office and whether you plan on traveling with your device. If you need something comfortably portable for travel, a compact device may be an easier option. If you are keeping the tablet in one place or generally only take it between home and an office, you may be happy to enjoy the benefits of a more spacious design.
The battery life of your device will depend on the user mode, the battery age, the type of connection you are using, and even the weather. A power-saving mode will help your battery last longer on a single charge. When choosing your device, check the charge time, as well as how long the battery lasts on a single charge. If you’re mostly in an office or at home when using the tablet you could probably keep it plugged in the majority of the time. However, if you need to take it to school, or use it while traveling we suggest you opt for something with superior battery life.
If your drawing tablet is not compatible with your connecting device and software it will be useless. Always check that the device is compatible with both the operating system you use as well as the version you have. Some devices are only compatible with the latest versions while others will work with new and older versions of your operating system.
Drawing tools (stylus)
The stylus is the pen that you’ll be using to draw with on your tablet. It doesn’t have ink, but instead, the tablet pad or screen will detect the pressure applied to display lines. Although most drawing devices do come with a stylus, it is worth confirming this rather than making that assumption. Lower-cost models may not include a stylus that necessarily suits your needs. Consider that you may have to purchase a stylus separately down the line that really feels comfortable for your drawing style and grip.
There are three types of digital drawing pens to consider. A battery-powered pen needs to be thick enough to hold batteries which can make it uncomfortable to work with. You will also always need a spare pair of batteries on hand in case your batteries die.
Rechargeable pens may be slightly thinner, but as with battery-operated pens, they need to have power or charge at all times to work.
The most recent type of stylus addition to the world of digital drawing pens is an electromagnetic resonance (EMR) type. This neither requires charging nor batteries. It works on an electromagnetic frequency. This design transfers wireless power from the tablet to the pen so you can work anywhere, any time.
Check for devices that include extra stylus tips in the purchase in case you need to replace one.
The resolution quality determines the level and clarity of details. Higher resolution devices feature in-depth detail allowing you to work on, edit, and view good-quality images. The higher the number of lines per inch (LPI), the more detailed your images can be. Larger drawing tablets often have a higher resolution, while different models of a similar size usually have a comparable resolution quality.
This is the response time from applying pressure with the stylus on the drawing pad to when the line appears on the screen. When drawing with real pencils and paper the line appears as you draw. It should be the same with a digital tool. However, if your tablet or computer doesn’t have the required specs or is slow, this can cause a delay between stylus movement and seeing the drawing on the screen. Always check the software requirements. Reading other customer reviews may also be helpful.
Devices with a higher pressure sensitivity enable the artist to make more accurate distinctions in the weight of the lines by applying increased or decreased pressure for varying line thickness.
Most devices allow you to customize a set number of buttons to functions you use often. This may include ‘undo’, ‘erase’, or ‘repeat’ commands. Being able to program buttons for certain actions prevent continually having to switch between tasks and finding the action command key you need.
Only opt for devices with at least a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. A manufacturer should have enough pride and faith in their own brand to offer at least one year warranty on the drawing tablet. The stylus might not be included in the warranty.
People Also Asked
Q: What can I do on a drawing tablet besides sketching?
A: Besides sketching, a drawing tablet is also wonderful for editing photos, creating animations, designing 3D models, and illustrating comic books. What you can do will largely depend on the software you have.
Q: Can a drawing tablet work without a computer?
A: Standalone drawing tablets work without needing to be connected to a computer. Since they feature a built-in computer, they are a lot more expensive than traditional drawing tablets that need to be connected to an external device.
Q: Can I connect my drawing tablet to an iPhone?
A: Some models are compatible to work with an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, however, you need to check the compatibility since this is not the case for all drawing tablets.
Nicole is a first grade teacher who entered the field of education for one simple reason: she loves helping people. True satisfaction for Nicole comes when her students demonstrate improvements due to her teaching, and she hopes her input will help educators around the world enhance their classrooms.