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The best drawing tablets for animation in 2021

Best drawing tablets for animation
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pros and beginners are discovering how the best drawing tablets for animation can be transformative to their digital art process. Fast becoming the industry standard, these tablets are the perfect way to bring your creations to life – and there are a whole host of brilliant options available.

The animation industry has mostly moved over to tablets from computers, so if you want to pursue a career in animation, it's vital you have experience of drawing on a tablet. Digital drawing is an intuitive process with a distinctive feel, and the more you get used to it the smoother you'll find it.

All of the best animation tablets will work with the most up-to-date animation software so it's now easier than ever to take their projects from sketch to completion. With offerings from industry leaders like Wacom to more affordable competitors such as XP-Pen, there's a whole world of choice out there. We've selected the best ones in this guide.

These tablets are at a range of price points and are pitched at different user levels so whatever your skillset or background, there will be a tablet here for you. Searching for more general drawing tablets? Take a look at our guides rounding up the best drawing tablets, and if you're shopping for a little one, don't miss our guide to the best drawing tablets for kids. Meanwhile, if you're seeking a laptop on which to create your animations, our list of the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives is worth a look, too.

Best tablets for animation: Wacom Cintiq Pro 32

(Image credit: Wacom)

01. Wacom Cintiq Pro 32

Wacom's dazzling pro tablet range provides a superior drawing experience

Drawing area: 854 x 506 mm | Screen resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: HDMI, USB 3.0, USB-C, DisplayPort

Superior colour rendition
Pro-grade drawing experience
4K may not be necessary

There's a reason that Wacom is one of the first names you'll hear when it comes to drawing tablets. Its top-of-the-range products are deservedly well-regarded among the digital art community for providing one of the best drawing experiences out there, and the Wacom Cintiq Pro 32 is an exceptional choice – and the best graphics tablet for animation out there right now.

The space you get for drawing here is absolutely luxurious. The 32-inch screen provides an enormous canvas with which to realise your creations, and the Wacom Pro Pen 2 with its 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity is one of the finest styli around. Wacom’s Cintiq tablets are fully compatible with animation software like Adobe Animate or After Effects, and the superb colour accuracy (98 per cent coverage of Adobe RGB colour space) means you can have absolute confidence in your creation.

It's expensive of course, and if it slightly exceeds your budget it’s worth looking at smaller Cintiq models like the Pro 24 or Pro 16. Discover more in our Wacom Cintiq 16 review.

Best tablets for animation: Huion HS610

(Image credit: Huion)

02. Huion HS610

The best cheap drawing tablet for on-the-go artwork

Drawing area: 254 x 158.8 mm | Screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: Micro USB (USB and USB-C adapters included)

Great value
16 customisable ExpressKeys
No iPhone compatibility
Requires external display

Tablets with their own displays tend to be much more expensive – so if you're looking to save a chunk of change, consider something like the Huion HS610. It has no screen, so to see what you’re doing you use the USB connection to hook it up to a computer, smartphone or other device. 

For the money, you get a tremendous amount of functionality here – with 8,192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, 16 ExpressKeys that can be customised to your preferred functions, and a generous workspace that lets you draw and create freely. The tablet is a little fussy with regard to compatibility – it'll work with macOS, but NOT iPhones – so make sure you check before you buy. Not sure? Check out our Wacom vs Huion comparison guide.

Best tablets for animation: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

03. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

Apple's finest iPad pairs a gorgeous display with a seriously powerful processor

Drawing area: 262 x 196 mm | Screen resolution: 2,732 x 2,048 pixels | Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified | Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Amazing processing power
Gorgeous display
... and Apple Pencil costs extra

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) is possibly the best tablet ever made, and the best digital tablet for animation. Its vivid and super-bright display is a pleasure to draw on, displaying vibrant colours and pin-sharp details, and the A12Z Bionic chip ensure it delivers best-in-class processing performance, making it hugely capable for all demanding animation work.

The price tag is not small of course, though you can save a little cash by plumping for the 128GB or 256GB versions rather than the 1TB whopper. Though do bear in mind that however much you spend on the tablet, you’ll have to fork out about $120 more for the Apple Pencil 2. Read about it more in our iPad 2020 review.

Best tablets for animation: XP-Pen Deco 03

(Image credit: Xp-Pen)

04. XP-Pen Deco 03

This is the best animation drawing pad around

Drawing area: 254 x 142 mm | Screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C, wireless (using USB-C receiver)

Sleek, minimalist design
Simple wireless connection
External display required
No pen tilt sensitivity

Not everyone has loads to spend on a tablet for animation, and we really rate the XP-Pen Deco 03 for those who just need a simple solution that works. Plugging easily into a computer or smart device via the USB connection, the Deco 03 provides a generous drawing surface and a battery-free stylus with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. You don’t get the fancier features like tilt sensitivity, but the broad compatibility means this is a drawing pad pretty much anyone will be able to use. It's lightweight and slim, with a pleasingly sleek design and customisable keys that can be mapped to your preferred function. Here's our XP-Pen Deco Pro review for more.

Best tablets for animation: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

05. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

The best Android tablet for animation is a winner with a fabulous screen

Drawing area: 287 x 185 mm | Screen resolution: 2800 x 1752 pixels | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Exceptional display
S Pen included
Not great battery life
Android is poorer on tablet

If you're already an Android user, it may make sense to use an Android tablet for animation. We'd recommend considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which is top of the range right now and the best drawing tablet with screen for animation. Its gorgeous display is ideal for drawing on, with punchy colours and a generous working area, while the up-to-date processing power ensures that your chosen apps should run well. Having the S-Pen included in the price is also welcome, giving you everything you need from the moment you open the box. If this version is too expensive, consider also the Galaxy Tab S7, which uses a smaller, non-OLED screen but still works really well. Find out more in our Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review.

Best tablets for animation: Wacom One

(Image credit: XP-Pen)

06. Wacom One

Get used to the feel of tablet drawing with the best animation tablet for beginners

Drawing area: 294 x 166 mm | Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB, HDMI, wireless

Great value
Easy, streamlined setup
Screen isn't very bright
Somewhat basic stylus

While Wacom makes tablets used by top industry professionals, it also has a few entry-level models for those just starting to dip their toes into drawing or animation. A good example is the Wacom One, which is a great beginner’s tablet and offers tremendous value, providing that Wacom drawing experience at a very friendly price point. Okay, it’s not as cheap as some others on this list, but you are getting a Full HD screen and a tablet that interfaces seamlessly with Mac and Windows alike. We wouldn’t have minded the screen being a bit brighter, and the stylus is a less sophisticated model than you get with the top-range Wacom models, but this is a fantastic starter tablet for animators nonetheless. Need more info? Here's our Wacom One review.

Best tablets for animation: XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro

(Image credit: XP-Pen)

07. XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro

This pro-spec tablet offers great fine-detail definition for manga drawing

Drawing area: 526 x 296 mm | Screen resolution: 2K QHD 2560 x 1440 pixels | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C, USB, HDMI

Excellent, high-resolution display
Comfortable stylus
Screen a bit reflective
Very hefty

If you're looking to draw some manga, we'd really recommend the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro as the best animation tablet for manga drawing. It's a high-quality tablet that’s obviously been specifically tailored to undercut Wacom, offering a comparable experience to the Cintiq 24 but for about a third of the price. The battery-free stylus is perfect for manga drawing, providing top-of-the-line pressure sensitivity as well as tilt response, delivering superior definition of even the finest lines. Give your manga drawings more detail and depth than ever – the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro makes it easy. The 2K QHD display also features 90 per cent coverage of the Adobe RGB colour gamut, which is very impressive for a tablet at this price. Our XP-PEN Artist 24 Pro review explains all.

Best tablets for animation: Wacom Intuos Pro (Large)

(Image credit: Wacom)

08. Wacom Intuos Pro (Large)

The best Wacom tablet for animation

Drawing area: 311 x 216 mm | Screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB 2.0, Bluetooth

Generous drawing area
3D pen compatibility
Bluetooth can be laggy

We've recommended two Wacom tablets on this list already – the Cintiq Pro 32 and the One, which are for pros and beginners respectively. The reason we'd also recommend the Intuos Pro Large for animation is that it’s a solid all-rounder that'll work for pretty much anyone! Easy to hook up to a laptop or other device, the Intuos Pro provides a dependable drawing surface, and is easy to take with you wherever you go. It's also compatible with the Wacom Pro Pen 3D, which is a great asset if you're looking to create 3D animation. Head over to our Wacom Intuos Pro review to explore more.

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