Are you looking for the best tablet for graphic design? Whether you need a professional-level tablet or a simple budget tablet to create your artwork or illustrations, this article is for you.
Tablets have recently become an important and necessary addition to the graphic design process for artists and designers. The improvement in tablet specifications and features has led to an easier and more precise artwork or design creation process.
Most of the tablets you can install and use on your laptop are also usable on tablets. This article will explore the best tablets for graphic design, illustration, and digital artwork creation.
As a graphic designer, I have seen tablets change the way I work on graphic design projects. Tablets will allow you to create quick drafts with a quick undo function if you go wrong. You can test brush styles and strokes before applying them to your final artwork more efficiently. This would have been otherwise impossible in the traditional pen-and-paper setup.
How we tested the best tablets for graphic design
To come up with this list of the best tablets for graphic design, we have considered some very important points so that our list is the most diverse and equally helpful to both professionals and beginner artists.
Some of these factors include screen size and resolution, processing power, color gamut or accuracy, price ranges, tablet types, and stylus pen sensitivity levels.
The best drawing tablets
- Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: Best Overall
- Apple iPad Pro: The Best iPad for Graphic Design
- Wacom Studio Pro: a professional tablet for designers
- Wacom Intuos Pro (medium) is the best tablet for graphic design beginners.
- XP-PEN Artist 15.6 Pro: Best Budget Tablet with a Screen
- The GAOMON PD1561 is the best tablet for graphic design with a large display.
- Huion Kamvas 24 Plus: The Best Huion Tablet
- Microsoft Surface Pro 8: Windows Tablet
- Wacom Cintiq 22-Inch Tablet Wacom Drawing Tablet with a Screen
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: Best Overall
- Screen Size: 27 inches
- Resolution: 3840X2160 pixels (4k)
- 8 customizable Express Keys
- Pen Pressure: 8192 Levels
- Compatibility: Windows 10 and later, macOS 10.15 and later
- Connectivity: USB-C (DP alt mode) x1, USB-C x1, USB-A x1, HDMI x1, Mini DisplayPort x1
If you are looking for a premium-level tablet with a large screen and 4k UHD resolution, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 is our best pick. It will display your artwork in rich vibrant and vivid colors thanks to the 99% Adobe RGB and 98 percent DCI-P3 color gamut.
The screen also features a matte finish display that protects your eyes from harmful UV light even with long working hours on the tablet. Additionally, it features a fast 120 Hz refresh rate, similar to an iPad Pro, that will ensure quick transitions on your screen display.
Overall the tablet body is sturdy and durable and features up to 8 free customizable keys that you can set to whatever shortcuts you want. This greatly increases your workflow speed.
The stylus pen features 8192 pen pressure Levels that will make it easy to draw different stroke weights just like you would on a piece of paper with a pen or brush.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 does not have an inbuilt computer system. It will use the software installed on your computer, and display the view on its in built screen.
Apple iPad Pro: Best Tablet for Graphic Design
- Large 12.9-inch screen
- Perfect Apple Pencil
- Best color accuracy
- Good battery life
- Wide HD Display
- Easy to set up
- sleek and portable
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch is our best overall pick. The iPad Pro is an industry-standard with top-of-the-line features you need in a professional tablet.
First of all, the Apple iPad is a standalone tablet and does not need a computer connected to use it. You can easily install applications on it and use it as your full graphic design studio.
Alternatively, you can also connect the iPad to a computer and use the software on your PC without having to install it. As a graphic designer, I know that the screen is an important part of any tablet. It is where you view and work on your work. The display on both Apple iPad 11 and 12.9-inch options is spectacular, with a liquid retina screen display at 2388 x 1668p (11-inch) and 2732 x 2048p (12.9-inch) resolution.
The screen is bright enough to use in bright light environments, with 1600 nits of peak brightness for 12.9 inches and 600 for the 11-inch tablet. Additionally, the tablet comes with true tone sensitivity.
This means that your tablet automatically detects environmental lighting and adjusts to the surroundings without having to keep adjusting.
When designing and drawing, you need an accurate color display so that the color you set in your software is the exact color displayed. The Apple iPad’s color accuracy is also good, and the view is clean and vibrant.
The screen refresh rate can go up to 120 GHz with Promotion technology, which makes the Apple Pencil drawing on it without lags. This is one of the most important aspects of a perfect art tablet. A slow-running tablet can be very annoying to graphic designers and artists. It also has a direct effect on the speed of your output. You do not want to use a device that keeps slowing down and cannot handle many tasks at a time.
When it comes to speed, this tablet is super perfect. The Apple iPad 12.9 inches and 11 inches both come with a powerful Apple M1 processor. This processor is faster than most graphic design computers, with a 3.2 GHz speed. It can easily run almost all graphic design, video editing, and animation applications you may want to use with ease.
This processor speed, combined with 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, ensures the tablet can easily multitask. To store your files, you will have 128 GB to 2 TB of storage space. You can also expand using an external memory card slot, up to 1 TB.
One downside of getting this tablet is that, despite the very expensive price tag, the tablet does not come with a free pencil, and you will have to buy it separately. This makes the overall price quite high compared to other drawing tablets.
Despite that, the Apple Pencil 2 is one of the best stylus pens on the market today. The tilt recognition and pressure sensitivity, combined with the ergonomic shape that mimics a normal pen, make for a great user experience.
Wacom Mobile Studio Pro – Professional Tablet
- Large 16-inch screen
- Runs Windows Apps
- Perfect Pen Pro pen 2
- Best Professional
- Has shortcut keys
- Matte display
- 4K display
Wacom Mobile Studio is a massive tablet from Wacom, specially designed for creatives who are serious about their craft. This tablet takes the spot as the best professional-level tablet for both artists and graphic designers.
There are two alternatives for Wacom Studio Pro that you can choose from. You can either choose the larger but more expensive Wacom Studio Pro 16 or the smaller Wacom Studio Pro 13.
As the name suggests, the main difference between the two tablets is the screen size. Although both are large enough for any graphic design software, the Wacom Studio Pro 16 is better with a 16-inch screen size compared to the Studio Pro 13.
Carry out your projects with high clarity and precision with this 16.5″ 4K/UHD display and a resolution of 3840×2160. The screen gives you a chance to see the tiny details of your work, all thanks to 85% Adobe RGB coverage.
The smaller tablet has a 2540×1360 pixel resolution, which is perfect and in full HD. The Wacom Studio Pro 16, therefore, seems to be the better pick with a 4K view, but HD is good enough for designers.
You hardly find a tablet with advanced computing like Wacom Studio Pro. This tablet is a beast in terms of data processing and fast data transfer.
The tablet is powered by an Intel Core i7 and has a system memory of 16GB and 512GB of SSD storage, enabling you to work efficiently anywhere you are.
You can now draw with extraordinary precision with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. Generally, Wacom Studio Pro is an excellent tablet with the most high-end features ever found on a tablet. However, we don’t recommend this tablet if you’re just starting.
Wacom Intuos Pro – Best tablet for drawing with no screen
- Active Area: 224 x 148 mm (8.7 x 5.8 in)
- Physical Size: 338 x 219 x 8 mm
- Pen Pressure Levels: 8,192
- Pen Tilt Recognition: ±60 levels
- ExpressKeys: 8 customizable, application-specific
- Multi-Touch: Yes
- Pen Type: Wacom Pro Pen 2
- Weight: 700g (1.54lbs)
- Compatibility: Windows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.10 or later.
If you are a beginner, then Wacom’s Intuos Pro PTH660 is the best pick. For such a great price, Wacom Intuos is one of the cheapest tablets that have a screen. The screen is 13.2” x 8.5” with an 8.7 x 5.8-inch active area size.
You will use the new near-perfect Wacom 2 Pen that boasts high lag-free tracking, sensitivity, and tilt recognition. The technology used to make it is industry standard and has been borrowed by top brands such as Samsung to make their Samsung Galaxy S Pen.
Unfortunately, it does not come with a free Wacom 2 Pen and it will cost you a little extra to get the pen and drawing glove.
Wacom Intuos Pro is a perfect budget-friendly tablet for any beginner graphic designer or artist that will help you before moving to more complex drawing tablets.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best Windows Tablet
Microsoft devices are known to be the best, and this Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is no exception. This tablet is the newest model, and just like its predecessors like the Surface Pro 7, it has incredible features that will turn your creative dreams into reality.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a 13-inch touchscreen tablet that carries all the laptop’s features. The tablet has a memory capacity of 128GB and a maximum screen resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels enabling you to watch your favorite videos with excellent precision.
Powered by Intel Core i5, Surface Pro comes with Windows 11 Home making it efficient to carry out your creativity smoothly. With a speed of 4.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD, this tablet can run multiple programs at high speed without any lags.
XP-PEN Artist 15.6 Pro: Best Budget tablet with a screen
- 15.6-Inch active area
- 1920×1080 Pixels Resolution
- Full Laminated Screen
- 8192 levels of pen pressure
- Tilt Recognition
- Battery-free stylus
- Compatible with Windows 10/8/7, Mac OS X version 10.10
- Including lots of accessories
The XP-PEN Artist 15.6 Pro is our top pick thanks to its powerful features at a very affordable price. If you are the kind of artist that prefers a large screen this line of tablets has got you covered with a 16-inch screen size.
Additionally, the screen is fully laminated and has a Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. You will get 8 customizable shortcut keys that you can use to speed up your workflow.
You will get a battery-free stylus on purchase with 8192 pen pressure sensitivity levels. The PO5R Battery-free pen supports + or – 60 degrees tilt recognition which is unique for its low price range.
When you buy the XP Pen Artist 15.6 pro Drawing tablet you get 1 x Battery-free Stylus, 8 x Replacement Nibs, 1 x Pen Holder, 1x Portable Stand, 1 x 3-in-1 Cable, 1x Extension Cord, 1 x Quick Guide, 1 x Drawing Glove, 1 x Cleaning Cloth.
It is compatible with Windows 10/8/7, and Mac OS X version 10.10 but is unfortunately not compatible with Android. Additionally, you must connect to a computer to use so it is not standalone.
Overall this cheap graphic tablet is a great choice thanks to a large screen and some powerful features. The screen needs calibration for professional use
Huion Kamvas 24 Plus – Best Huion tablet
- Screen: 24 inches
- Resolution: 2560 x 1440 Pixels
- Lamination: Fully Laminated with Antiglare
- Pen: PW517
- Battery Free Stylus
- +-60 tilt recognition
- Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
- Connections: HDMI/USB
- OS: Windows, macOS, Android
Huion Kamvas 24 Plus is the Best Overall option that you can buy from Huion. It features a large comfortable 24-inch screen with a 2.5k resolution at 2560 x 1440 Pixels.
This large size and high resolution combined with perfect color accuracy of 140%s RGB (97% NTSC) will provide a vivid and realistic color display on your screen.
The screen is fully laminated with anti-glare technology. This means that your screen is made of 3 fused layers that make it sturdy and eradicate any chance of forming air bubbles in between that can distort the view.
Huion Kamvas 24 Plus comes with a nice battery-free PW517 pen that is tilt-sensitive at +-60 degrees. Additionally, it features 8192 pen pressure levels that will allow you to draw precise strokes.
Unfortunately, this is not a standalone tablet and you must connect to a computer to use it. However, it is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android so you can use it with your Android Phone.
Wacom Cintiq 22-Inch Tablet
Wacom is another company that has grown its popularity by producing high-quality drawing tablets with screens and those without screens.
This Wacom Cintiq tablet is one of the biggest brands with a 22-inch screen and a whooping resolution of 1980 by 1080HD. The Cintiq 22 tablet also has an anti-scratch screen that resists any scratches, and you can draw outdoors without having to worry about reflections, all thanks to its anti-glare surface.
The Wacom Cintiq 22 comes with a Wacom Pro Pen 2 technology with 8192 pressure levels coupled with tilt recognition technology for a smooth drawing experience.
If you’re looking for an on-screen drawing experience, then this tablet can provide you with all your creative needs.
How did I choose drawing tablets?
While their functions are similar, tablets were designed with different features to cater to people’s needs. Some tablets come with a massive drawing area or display, and some come with smaller active areas.
Your choice depends on what you want your tablet to do for you. You can choose a simple graphics tablet go for a pen display, or better still, settle for a standalone tablet. It all depends on your needs.
In this section, we will discuss some of the things you need to consider when purchasing a graphic design tablet.
The active area refers to the amount of space available for you to draw on. This means that the larger the active area a tablet has, the greater the space to draw on.
Pick a tablet with a screen size that fits your creative needs. However, you need to understand that it doesn’t mean a large active area is the best. The ideal size for you goes down to your needs.
There are different types of tablets flat screen, on-screen, and portable tablets. Table tablets are the cheapest, and they are super light. If you purchase a flat tablet, you’ll need to connect it to your PC as a peripheral, so it reflects on the computer screen when you draw.
On-screen tablets are also connected to a computer, and they are some of the most expensive tablets. You can draw on the same screen as your tablet with an on-screen tablet.
Portable tablets are well-equipped tablets with operating systems like macOS, Android, and Windows. A portable or standalone tablet doesn’t need to be connected to a computer, and you can draw with it anywhere.
When choosing your graphics tablet, you want to make sure that you check its pressure sensitivity levels. Choose a graphic tablet with a pressure sensitivity of at least 3000 for professionals and 1024 to 2048 for armatures.
When we talk about the resolution of a graphic tablet, we mean the number of strokes that can be executed per inch. If you’re a professional and need something for professional projects, then a resolution of 2540 LPI and above is ideal.
A stylus pen is also called an optimal pen, and there are two different types of stylus pens. A pen with a battery and a pen without a battery. Most stylus pens with batteries seem heavy compared to stylus without batteries.
If your tablet uses a stylus with batteries, then you’ll need to replace the batteries or recharge the batteries from time to time.
Short cut Keys
Also known as express keys, hotkeys give you the flexibility of accessing shortcuts directly without using a mouse, thus saving you time. You can customize your express keys the way you want to fit your needs.
Some graphic tablets come with scrollers. You will navigate through your tablet’s screen using a stylus, especially when handling complex artwork. You can zoom in and out with scrollers and move around your artwork easily.
Tablets come in two forms for connection, corded and cordless or wireless using Bluetooth connection. Corded or wired tablets rarely have connection issues, but the wires can frustrate you at times. Wireless graphic tablets give you the freedom to work without stress from cords, but you might face connection problems.
Do graphic designers need to Have a tablet?
A tablet is an awesome addition to improving your workflow as an artist or designer. Drawing tablets are not a must-have for designers. However, it is a sure way to work faster and easier, especially for digital artists and illustrators.
The pen-to-paper feel on a tablet screen and using a natural pen instead of a mouse can be a more comfortable user experience. It is however important to note that you do not have to get an expensive device to work.
For example, Wacom Intuos is one of the tablets for beginners. It is a very cheap tablet, probably under 100$, and apart from having to work in a small working area, can work as a good tablet for designers.
Which are the best tablets for designers?
Is a tablet worth it for graphic design?
Graphic designers like using tablets for drawing or photo editing because of the natural pen-to-paper approach offered by a tablet that a mouse can not achieve. Adding a drawing tablet to your workflow will make your work easier.
Are tablets good for drawing?
Tablets are not the best devices for graphic design. However, with improvements and modifications, they are capable of getting graphic design work done just like your computer does.
Do graphic designers need to Have a tablet?
A drawing tablet is not a must-have for graphic designers. However, for most graphic designers, it greatly improves workflow when added.
What’s the difference between a tablet and a pen display?
A tablet allows you to draw on a sensitive area of your tablet while looking at your computer screen for the view. A pen display on the other hand lets you draw directly on your tablet screen as you look at the inbuilt screen. Pen display tablets have a screen while tablets have a sensitive working area.
Written by: Denis Maina
I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.