Using the best drawing tablets can make creating art digitally as natural as sketching on paper or painting on canvas. The top drawing tablets used to be costly and exclusive to professional artists, but over the last few years as new brands enter the market these art devices have come down in price.
Whether you're a novice, a hobbyist or a dedicated pro looking for a bargain or a good replacement for your drawing tablet there are a lot of options to choose from. In fact with so many new brands and models to choose from it can be daunting. That's why I've compiled this buying guide to the best drawing tablets.
Our reviewers have tested all of the drawing tablets in this list – and more that didn't make the cut – so you can rest assured the range of devices I've selected have been rated by artists who use these tablets on a daily basis. Whether you're looking for a graphics tablet, a pen display or a tablet computer (and if you're not sure which you're after, scroll to the bottom of the page where we explain what these terms mean), you'll find the very best options right here.
All of the best brands are in my list, including drawing tablets from Wacom, Huion, XP-Pen and Xencelabs. However I also recommend some broader tech brands such as Apple and Microsoft as tablets from these manufacturers can also be used as drawing tablets – the excellent Procreate, for example, works beautifully on iPad Pro.
If you're looking to drill down further into what drawing tablets are available then take a look at some of our other guides, including the best tablets for students and the best drawing tablets for kids. We also take a closer look at the best drawing tablets for animation if you're passionate about this unique art form.
The best drawing tablets available now
For our money, the best drawing tablet you can get right now is the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium. Xencelabs is a relative newcomer to the market, and while the name sounds like it might be yet another cheap Chinese knock-off brand, its designers cut their teeth at Wacom and the results speak for themselves. This is an outstanding drawing tablet that's beautifully designed and hits the absolute sweet spot of price and quality.
When we tried the tablet, we found the texture of the drawing area to be just right, with the perfect level of "bite" against the stylus that makes it highly satisfying to use. The tablet also comes with two styluses bundled in, a regular and a slim version, and allows you to customise them pretty extensively. This is a handy way to set the two styluses up for different uses, e.g. having one optimised for line drawing and the other for shading. Pressure sensitivity and tilt sensitivity are excellent.
While we think this tablet is well priced, if it's out of your budget, Xencelabs also offers a cheaper, smaller version of the tablet that delivers a similarly premium drawing experience.
Need to know more? Take a look at our Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle review, where we gave the tablet bundle five stars.
Apple's in-house M1 chips have been an absolute game-changer over the past couple of years. They've beefed up Apple's laptop and desktop computers, transformed the iPad Pro and now they can be found in the iPad Air, bringing super-smooth performance with them. This, along with Apple Pencil 2 compatibility, means that the latest iPad Air is one of the best drawing tablets available now, as well as being an outstanding all-round tablet.
We've reviewed the Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) and we found an awful lot to love about it. Its display is absolutely stunning: a 2360x1640 IPS LCD panel that delivers 264 pixels per inch for incredibly clarity, with comprehensive colour support and even backlighting, with a maximum brightness of 500 nits. Admittedly the iPad Pro provides a superior display, with 600 nits of brightness on the 11-inch version or a whopping 1,000 nits for the flagship 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The Pro also provides a much smoother refresh rate of 120hz rather than 60hz (more on all this very shortly), but it's also a significantly pricier proposition.
Put the two tablets side by side with an Apple Pencil 2 and the different refresh rates will mean that you will notice the difference in terms of latency. But let's not get carried away here: in practical terms, 60Hz is more than enough, and the iPad Air 2022 is still one of the smoothest drawing experiences you can get right now – plus, you can watch Netflix on it and much more besides when you're done drawing, which you can't do on a Wacom.
The iPad Pro offers the best of two worlds; if having the best drawing tablet simply isn't enough for you, and you need to have the best tablet all round, there's really only one choice: the latest 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. It's so far ahead of the rest of the tablet market that it's not even funny.
Not only is the iPad Pro powered by Apple's blazing fast M1 chip for utterly stunning performance, it has a mini-LED XDR display with amazing brightness as well as local dimming to deliver astonishing contrast. Put the two together (and throw in the wonderfully smooth and intuitive Apple Pencil 2) and you have a near-unbeatable all-in-one system for creating digital art as well as showing it off to best effect.
So why, with all this, is it not our top pick? Well, it does depend on what you need. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) is so powerful, and so priced accordingly, that if you are only looking for a drawing tablet and won't need its many other features, it probably isn't worth it, and a dedicated tool like those above will offer greater value for money. Still, let's not lose sight of the fact that this is the one of the best overall tablets on the market right now, and one of the greatest for drawing, no question.
See our iPad Pro 12.9-inch M1 (2021) review for a detailed look at why this tablet is so good. Also, note that the 11-inch iPad Pro is another excellent, though expensive, choice; our iPad Pro 11-inch (M1, 2021) review goes into detail.
Microsoft's Surface tablets have never quite achieved the cachet enjoyed by Apple's iPad range, but the latest Surface Pro 8 feels a lot more like a challenge to Apple's dominance. It comes in at around the same price as the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and Microsoft has clearly put in a lot of work to make this tablet look like a viable alternative, in terms of both looks and performance.
There's plenty of power in even the basics model, which packs a Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and if that's not enough for you there are even punchier configurations available, but be aware that this will drive the price up further still.
When we tested it, we found the display to be excellent, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 and the option to bump the refresh rate up to 120Hz. This makes it highly responsive when used with the Surface Pen stylus, though be aware you'll need to purchase this separately.
Having Windows 11 is also a major boon for this tablet, as it means you can use the full desktop version of programs like Photoshop, rather than messing about with tablet apps. If you're already in the Windows ecosystem, then this tablet definitely makes sense as a purchase. Our Surface Pro 8 review looks at this tablet in more detail, and compares it to previous iterations of the Surface Pro.
Wacom used to have the drawing tablet pretty much all to itself, but in recent years a whole load of challenger brands have turned up to take a bite out of its lunch, especially at the cheaper end of the market. However, despite increased competition the Wacom name is still very much one to be reckoned with, and as far as we're concerned the Wacom Cintiq 22 is definitely one of the best drawing tablets you can get.
With a 22-inch display, this is a serious tablet with a lot of room to play. It has Full HD resolution – not as many pixels as some newer, flashier tablets, but is more than enough for most people. You can get sharper screens on other Wacom tablets, but they tend to cost more, and this model is all about bringing Wacom quality with an affordable price tag. And let's not forget that plenty of tablets, Xencelabs' included, don't have a screen at all.
What really makes the Cintiq 22 such a pleasure to use is the Wacom Pro Pen 2, with a whole 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as tilt sensitivity. Wacom has been in this game a long time, and it’s hard to imagine an artist with any complaints about the Pro Pen 2. It just works really, really well.
An advantage of Wacom tablets for students and those looking to break into digital art professionally is that it’s pretty much the industry standard, so learning to use one is a very good step to take. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other tablets, it’s just something to bear in mind. Find out more with our Wacom Cintiq 22 review.
For creating artwork on a drawing tablet you ideally need lots of room to work with as well as a pen that feels just like the ones you'd use on paper. In which case you should opt for the Wacom Intuos Pro Large, which delivers pretty much the most natural drawing experience you can get digitally.
While its drawing area isn't the biggest you can get, it still gives you plenty of space, and the pen's 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity make it feel as close as you can get to using an actual pen. All this is supported by Wacom’s broad ecosystem of alternative pens and Texture Sheets to give your drawing surface a distinctive feel.
The Intuos Pro is also available in other sizes, so if the asking price is a little steep and you’re willing to work with a smaller screen, you may want to consider the Intuos Pro Medium or Intuos Pro Small. Both of these tablets offer similar functionality to the largest version, just with smaller working areas. Find out more in our in-depth Wacom Intuos Pro review.
Huion's a name that's been giving Wacom a run for its money over the past few years, with a range of drawing tablets that deliver impressive features at great prices. If you're just starting out and not entirely sure whether a tablet's something you want to drop a lot of money on, the Huion H430P is the perfect way to test the waters, delivering just enough features without costing you very much at all.
Yes, the drawing area is small, but the pen is sensitive enough to give you a true sense of the creative benefits drawing tablets can bring. It may not take long before you outgrow this tablet, but it’s a very affordable way to get started.
Be aware, however, this is a graphics tablet and not a pen display, so you will need to hook it up to some kind of external display in order to be able to see what you're drawing. A monitor is ideal, though a smartphone or other tablet will do the job in a pinch. Our Huion Inspiroy H430P review explored why this small but mighty graphics tablet is a great choice for beginner artists.
Alongside Huion, the other company that's made great advances into the drawing tablet market is XP-Pen, and the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 is a great example of its range, providing a professional drawing experience at a surprisingly affordable price. It's an upgraded version of the Innovator 16 that provides a fantastic drawing surface, complete with 99% Adobe RGB coverage and hardly any parallax.
The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16's new stylus comes with an intelligent chip that, says XP-Pen, gives you ten times more touch sensitivity than previous offerings. This allows for some real lightness of touch when it comes to making fine lines, requiring just 3g of pressure to make a mark. Having dual dials and eight customisable shortcut buttons makes controlling the Artist Pro 16 a pleasingly tactile process, as does the all-metal casing that surrounds it.
The lack of an included stand is a little disappointing, and some monitor setups may require a bit of a mess of cables to get working, which may annoy those who prefer a clean desktop. But otherwise this is an impressive, sleek, tempting tablet. Read more about the stylus, as well as how this tablet compares to others with our full XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 review
If you're looking for a good entry level pen display drawing tablet then the updated Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is a very good option. This is a pen display that can be used for many different types of art, as well as being used as a screen for playing video games, editing video and studying.
In our Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) review it is noted this device features a full HD screen with excellent colour accuracy making it also ideal as a good second screen. Our reviewer also noted the stand for this device is sold separately but is well-worth a purchase as it's ergonomically designed to make drawing easier.
Wacom's long had a reputation for being reassuringly expensive, so it's good to see the company reacting to an influx of challengers by releasing a much more reasonably-priced drawing tablet to tempt users away from cheaper brands. The Wacom One (not to be confused with previous Wacom Ones) is a great little portable 13-inch tablet that provides a fantastic drawing experience but won't cost you a fortune.
Its Full HD display provides 72 per cent NTSC colour and an anti-glare treated film, and the tablet even comes with little legs for standing up when you're out and about and want to quickly get some ideas down. It's the ideal tablet to slip into your day bag; see our in-depth Wacom One review for more on exactly what to expect from this device.
If you're after a cheap alternative to Wacom's Intuos Pro, it's well worth considering the XP-Pen Deco Pro. It comes in at about a third of the Intuos Pro's price and, honestly, it shows in places; it doesn't quite have the Wacom's premium feel, and the software drivers can be clunky, but when it comes down to it, it delivers a solid drawing experience.
You get a smooth drawing surface and a pen with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the overall design of the tablet has picked up a Red Dot awards. This isn't just a cheap knock-off – it's a premium knock-off, and if you're an artist on a budget, it definitely merits consideration, as our XP-Pen Deco Pro review attests.
Been eyeing up the Wacom Cintiq 22 further up the page but can't quite stretch to the price? The Huion Kamvas 22 Plus would like a word. It comes in significantly cheaper than the Cintiq, but this is still a quality drawing tablet with a beautiful and generously-sized display. It's 16:9 and Full HD resolution.
The big selling point is that it's made from etched anti-glare glass rather than having an anti-glare film; the end result is a pen display that feels really nice to draw on, with a drawing experience that's tactile and distinctly analogue.
With an anti-parallax design, 140% sRGB coverage and ability to replicate 16.7 million colours, this is a very impressive tablet. The pen that comes with it is basically decent and will do the job – it’s a little no-frills perhaps, with only one type of nib supplied.
Overall, as we noted in our Huion Kamvas 22 Plus review, this Huion tablet is a sound buy, especially when compared to competition at this price point from the likes of XP-Pen – it has better colour coverage and a generally better drawing feel.
The best drawing tablet accessories
Wacom Pro Pen 3D
A third button may not sound much of an innovation, but it enables the Pro Pen 3D (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 Inking Pen is only for Intuos tablets: it can damage the screen on Cintiqs and MobileStudios.
Adonit Jot Pro
If the Apple Pencil doesn’t appeal or your iPad isn’t compatible, the Adonit Jot Pro (opens in new tab) is a stylish pen that works on any iPad (or Android tablet). The nib, combining a fine-point tip with a plastic circle to register on the tablet screen, looks curious but works well in practice.
The best drawing tablets: What are the different types?
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.
In terms of drawing tablets, there's everything from professional, high-resolution graphics tablets, to portable tablets that cost less than £40 and fit in a small backpack. There's also a growing market of drawing tablets for little ones, and you can check out our dedicated drawing tablets for kids guide if this is something you're looking for. Want to go unplugged for a bit? Have a look at our best lightboxes for more hands-on creativity. And if you're looking specifically for a tablet for editing, see our best tablets for photo and video editing.
If you've been around computers for a long time, this is what you probably think of instinctively at the mention of a drawing tablet: a plain surface that you draw on with a stylus, with your work displayed on a separate computer monitor (opens in new tab). Graphics tablets remain the most affordable drawing tablet category. Their main disadvantage is the sense of ‘disconnect’ between the drawing surface and the screen, although most people get used to this quickly.
Pen displays consists of a flat-screen monitor with a pressure-sensitive surface that you draw on with a stylus. They don't have the sense of disconnect that you might get with graphics tablets, and they're more portable; however they cost more. Furthermore, you get a lot of cables between the display and computer (see the best computers for graphic design), and the display surfaces don’t offer the ‘bite’ that graphics tablets do.
Android and iOS devices like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro take on the other drawing tablets in two ways. You don't need another computer: just download an art app and start drawing with your fingertip or a stylus. Also, when you want to use the Creative Cloud suite (opens in new tab) on your main computer, these can function as graphics tablets with apps like Astropad (opens in new tab).
The best drawing tablets: Which one should you buy?
Right now, we're confident in saying that the absolute best drawing tablet you can buy is the Wacom Cintiq 22, which provides Wacom's famous quality in a pleasingly large tablet at a surprisingly affordable price. If you want something a bit smaller (and cheaper), then go for the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet bundle, which comes with some surprisingly cool accessories and is very affordable.
If you're completely new to this market, it's worth pointing out that there are three different categories to be aware of.
- Graphics tablets, which you draw directly onto with a stylus
- Pressure-sensitive pen displays, which are hooked up to a monitor
- Tablet computers, which can be adapted for drawing with an app
Need a recap? Here are the best drawing tablets, graphics tablets and tablet computers right now...