I’m a 3D modeller, graphic artist, and animator. Have been for 20 years, but I didn’t buy my first drawing pad for PC until about 10 years ago. I’ve never looked back. With a graphics tablet for the designer, I found myself doing much more refined work. I could sketch and paint in imaging software with a wider natural range of flexibility. Best of all, it wasn’t long before any signs of carpal tunnel dissipated.
To this day, even if using a word processor or spreadsheet, I keep a tablet pen close. Well, I try. There have been [tough] times when I was between tablets and not in the financial position to snatch one up. Like now. Which leads to this list. In my search for a replacement computer drawing pad, I saw the range of features has grown extensively since my last Intuos. This led me to break down each digital drawing tablet I reviewed.
How do I choose the best graphics tablet drawing for me?
My criteria for putting together the best of the best included:
What I could afford to spend versus functionality. In other words, would I spend a little more for specific features, less for a decent device that wouldn’t let me down?
Size compared to my work area and screen.
Responsiveness. This is important because I use my tablet and stylus for everything. Someone who only sketches could get by with low responses. Another someone (like me) performing 3D modelling and digital art might want higher sensitivity.
Stylus. I like one with a good grip and, if battery operated, want to know how fast they go through batteries.
Sensitivity levels and functions have to be good. Natural drawing can require tilting which some tablets may not be happy about. Pressure can also affect designing comics, cartoons, and graphics.
I want a natural drawing surface, an easiness when you run the pen across it.
Now, I won’t say I personally tested each drawing tablet with a screen on the list, but I did play with many of them and used my personal experience to gauge how the few I didn’t might hold up. I also reviewed online comments from users.
I present my pick of 2016’s top 10 graphic tablets for drawing and design.
2016’s Top 10 Graphic Tablets for Drawing & Design
10. Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet – For its low price, this pen has a lot of offer any designer, artist or webmeister
This one has a huge screen. I mean, massive. Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with the tablet pen, working with a 14-inch screen and having a huge drawing surface is unnecessary. Get a tablet right for your screen size. I also like the Huion’s compatibility with everything from Autodesk to Zbrush.
9. Adesso Widescreen Media Graphics CyberTablet – A spacious tablet in a class all its own, the CyberTablet performs a broad array of tasks
This is a great art table for the architect, graphic artists, engineers and web designers who edit images, model or paint. It has a pressure sensitivity for accomplishing any computer design task. This graphics tablet for designer comes with an ergonomic pen. It has tech that converts handwriting into typed text.
8. Turcom Graphics Tablet Drawing Touch Pen – Refined and responsive, this is easily the best tablet pen for the artist on a budget or the kid looking to explore mouse-free drawing
Turn your computer into a digital canvas. Tighten up your anime, manga, photo editing, industrial and architectural design, and documentation with a battery operated wireless pen. The 2048 levels of pressure allow precise variation in opacity and line width.
7. Ugee M708 Graphics Drawing Tablet – A perfect digital drawing tablet for the professional, it’s also ideal for beginners and students
Sturdy, this drawing tablet with a screen has rubber feet to keep it from sliding and, unlike a lot of tablets, side buttons with a good clicking motion. That means the tablet doesn’t move with persistent clicking. It has an impressive large drawing area. In fact, make sure you have room for it.
6. Wacom Intuos4 Wireless Pen Tablet – With its tip sensor tech, this tablet provides an exceptional level of control
Many of my colleagues can’t live without a wireless tablet. While my preferences contradict that thinking, I include a wireless drawing tablet or two to ensure this is a well-rounded grouping. The pen does have a nice grip with a contoured barrel that reduces stress on the wrist and hand. It has a slim profile, gentle sloping and glide palm rests.
5. Parblo A610 Graphics Drawing Tablet – Thin, sleek and lightweight, this art table for the architect is great for traveling.
Perfect for sketching, painting, handwriting, marking, signatures and more. I especially appreciated its large active area as I tend to do major editing and graphics on a 32-inch monitor. The tablet has up to 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity promising a precise experience in all your productions.
4. ELMO CRA-1 Wireless Slate Drawing Tablet – Designed for educational environments, you control a digital whiteboard for use in presentations and lessons
Educators, administrators, and others will appreciation this easy to use platform for creating interactive whiteboard events. You will have a range of recording modes as well as the ability to stamp, insert images and input text. It has a 50-foot wireless range. An optional document camera is available for live image capturing.
3. Wacom CTH461 Bamboo Craft Tablet – When it comes to the computer drawing pad, Wacom maintains its creative leadership with this great pen
Besides the easy use of a stylus, this digital drawing tablet lets you scroll, rotate and zoom with fingers and hand gestures. Of course, you’ll want the pen for precision work with the tablet screen calibrating for its use. Features include a battery-free pen with a solid grip and a textured work surface that will feel like pen on paper.
2. Huion® Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet – If I were going to buy a wireless drawing tablet, this would be the one
Touch sensor express keys, rechargeable pen, sleep mode, on/off switch to preserve the 200-hour battery life. Users have commented that this extremely inexpensive drawing pad for PC can go toe-to-toe with products that cost three times more. I admit, I knew very little about this manufacturer outside of its name before this list, but I can’t help being impressed with their products.
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – No, it’s not a drawing pad for PC in the traditional sense, but there isn’t a digital artist out there that’s not drooling over this beast
It’s both an ultra-portable tablet and a laptop. i7 processor, 6th Gen Intel Core m3, a high contrast screen with a low glare that lets me enjoy some of the richest palettes I’ve ever seen. While I prefer working on larger screens, I was highly impressed with what I was able to do on the Pro 4.
There it is, the best. With this list, you have the starting point for choosing a pen for any skill level or budget. If you’ve never tried a computer drawing pad, I couldn’t recommend one enough. I’ve found them to be completely advantageous to everything digital.