Drawing tablets are the preferred option over other input devices by professional designers and artists, however some of the options can be expensive. Luckily, there are several options available for beginners that not only have a good range of features but perform respectably in a range of scenarios.
By taking advantage of the motions drawn using a pen on a tablet, it forms intelligent shapes and patterns that are superior to those created by a mouse for example. Some of the software used can be complex and there is a definite learning curve, but with perseverance you can use a simple graphics tablet / software combination to create realistic drawings.
Most tablets have pressure detection systems built in, with varying grades of accuracy. Usually, when greater pressure is applied a thicker line is drawn, depending on software configuration. It is usually also possible to trace paper drawings onto a tablet to create a digital representation of older work.
Before deciding which option is best, there are several considerations.
Pressure sensitivity – This defines the number of lines of definition the drawing will have. For a beginner, aim for something with around 1024 pressure levels as a starting point.
Resolution – The resolution is measured in LPI (Lines Per Inch), and typically those tablets with a higher resolution will have greater accuracy but usually the larger the LPI the larger the tablet.
Responsiveness – This is an important consideration because the last thing you want is a lag between your motions and changes on-screen.
Stylus Type – Most tablets have one of a choice of three types of stylus. Battery powered units offer a long battery life but have the associated cost of requiring replacement batteries and they can be larger than other choices. Rechargeable units are more compact, have reduced cost, but when they run out during use when you’re creative juices are flowing it can be frustrating having to wait for them to recharge, although they are usually quick to do so. The third option is EMR pens which do not have batteries and use electromagnetic frequencies instead. The power from the tablet keeps them going so they never need charging. This is the newest option available and they are both lightweight and comfortable to use.
Buttons / Controls – All units have some sort of buttons and some are usually programmable to perform certain functions required by the user. Most units have between 2 and 8 hotkeys. Some units have tilt detection so when the pen is tilted it adjusts positioning to mimic how a pencil would perform when tilted.
Battery Life – An important consideration when portability is important. Aim for a unit with a minimum of 4 hours battery life.
Optional Extras – Most tablets are input devices for use with computer hardware, although a few have built in screens. It is important to note the resolution of any screens, which should, at a minimum have a resolution of 1080P. Software is sometimes bundled with a device – ensure it is something you would use and any restrictions such as time limited trials. Some software is available freely online, so this limits the benefit of its inclusion as no value is added. Some units may have compatibility issues with certain devices, and this appears to be an issue for some with Mac devices.
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XP-PEN Deco01 V2
- Deco01 V2 features 10 x 6.25 inch working area and 8mm thickness. Take it anywhere, and get more space to create.
- Comes with a battery-free stylus which provides 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity. 60 degrees of tilt brush delivers more natural lines and strokes.
- Eight customizable shortcut keys fits easily to your finger tip, allows you to customize them as needed to fit you preferred tool.
- Included with the Deco01 V2, the new protective film protects your tablet and helps to reduce scratches and fingerprints.
- Deco01 V2 is compatible with Photoshop, SAI, Painter, Illustrator, Clip Studio and so on. Supports Windows 10/8/7, MAC OS X 10.10 and above and Android 6.0 and above, Linux (Detailed versions), Chrome OS 88.0.4324.109 and above.
XP Pen Deco 01 is a premium feel tablet which is suited to both beginner and experienced users alike. Available at a reasonable price, this unit has a minimalist design with a 10 inch by 6.25-inch workspace.
This unit has 8 programmable hotkeys which are controlled through drivers. The usable tablet surface is clearly marked and separated from the working area. This model is slim at just 8mm, with a rigid body and nicely rounded edges. A protective film is supplied with the unit to protect it from scratches. The Deco 01 V2 lights up at the ends of the drawing area and comes with adjustable brightness levels to control the ambience of the creative environment.
One of the highlights of this model is the inclusion of a battery-free stylus with 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and a 60-degree tilt feature. One-click toggle allows you to switch between pen and eraser modes instantly. The package includes a USB to USB-C adapter and one USB to micro USB adapter and will only work with devices with a USB type A port.
This versatile unit is compatible with most major software including ibis Paint X, FlipaClip, Medibang, Autodesk Sketchbook, Zenbrush and Artrage. The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 works with web conferencing or broadcasting software including XSplit, Zoom, Twitch, Microsoft Teams, ezTalks Webinar, Idroo, Scribbiar and wiziQ. In an office setting, you can record minutes or jot down ideas and inspirations with ease during web conferencing. Simultaneous digital inking with an XP-Pen Deco01 V2 is possible with Microsoft Office apps like Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and more. You can visually present your handwritten notes and signatures precisely – ideal for web conferencing. This model is compatible with Windows, Chrome, and Linux computers.
User reviews are overwhelmingly positive with most users impressed by the range of features and quality of the device given the price point. An exception to this was experienced by some Mac users who had difficulty installing the device in some cases. Some omissions include the absence of a kickstand and the lack of zoom in / out or a scroll wheel.
- VEIKK A30 drawing tablet is compatible with Window 7/8/10, Mac OS10.12 or above, Android 6.0 or above, Linux and Chrome OS 88 or later. Also working in most software like Adobe Photoshop, SAI, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter, Clip Studio, SketchBook , MediBang, Zbrush, Krita, Gimp etc.
- VEIKK A30 graphic tablet features 4 touch keys and 1 gesture pad, giving fully touch experience, as well as stable performance. With different modes for both right-handed and left-handed users.
- Battery-free stylus with 8192 professional levels pressure sensitivity, provides exquisite strokes. No battery or charging required, allowing uninterrupted using.
- A30 pen tablet has 10x6 large drawing area which provides more space for art creation. The cable has one end of USB-C for the tablet, and the other end of USB-A for the laptop or desktop.
- VEIKK provides one-year hardware warranty and lifetime free driver update. You will get professional suggestion if you meet any problem for all the VEIKK drawing tablets.
The VEIKK A30 is a versatile and easy to use unit with a range of features that makes it suitable for both beginners and more advanced users and is offered and an affordable price point given its size. This tablet is fitted with a large working area of 10x 6 Inches thus offering its users a decent drawing space and the screen has a resolution of 5080 LPI. This is a thin unit at just 9mm and is extremely portable.
There are 4 hotkeys on the tablet that can be programmed using the available drivers. It also has a smart gesture pad which offers easy zooming functions, the ability to scroll through pages and settings and various other functions, some of which can be customised.
This is an ergonomic unit and it works well for both right and left-handed users. The tablet comes in with a USB type C port for a wired connection. The A30 has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and has tilt recognition. The supplied pen is battery-free and light and is easy to use for prolonged periods without any wrist strain. The package includes a pen holder and 8 extra pen nibs which is a nice inclusion in this price range.
This model is compatible with both Window and Mac and can also be used with Android phones (some restrictions apply). Drawing software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, SAI ,Corel painter, Comic studio, Manga Studio and Clip Studio among many others are compatible. This tablet can be used for online teaching / learning and is compatible with the full range of Microsoft Office applications and teaching software such as Idroo and wiziQ. It can be a handy tool for remote working and supports various web conferencing and broadcasting software including Zoom and Teams.
Users are mostly pleased with the performance, although some have noted driver issues and problems with the pressure and tilt functions in certain scenarios.
- Wacom Intuos Small: Black, wireless graphics tablet with an active area of 6.0 x 3.7 inch (15,2 x 9,5 cm) – Perfect digital drawing pad with a variety of possibilities: whether photo-retouching, remote working or playing Osu
- Pen included: Thanks to the included battery-free Wacom Pen 4K with 4,096 pen pressure levels, your Wacom drawing tablet ensures maximum precision and natural feeling. Additional 3 standard Wacom Intuos pen nibs are cleverly stored inside your pen
- Easy to use: Via USB cable or wireless – connect your digital drawing tablet with your PC, laptop or smartphone. Wacom Intuos graphics tablet is compatible with Mac OS X 10.11, Windows 7, Android 6.0 devices and Chrome OS 87 or later versions
- Specials: Intuos pen tablet with integrated pen holder has 4 ExpressKeys (supported by Windows & Mac) and is for right- and left-handers. Pleasant to use whether with creative / educational software or all your favourite Adobe or MS Office programmes
- What's in: 1x Wacom Intuos drawing tablet small black with bluetooth; 1x Wacom Pen 4K; 1x USB cable (Type A to Micro B cable with L-shaped connector); 3x replacement nibs; 1x quick start guide
Wacom is renowned in the world of drawing tablets for their diverse range of quality products and are a long-established company with an enviable reputation. The Intuos is one of their lower range offerings but that is not to say that it is deficient – for a beginner this is an excellent choice as it comes bundled with a range of trial software including educational and remote learning software. Students can also get a 10% discount offered to Amazon Prime Student members.
Various configurations are available including different colours and sizes and units with and without Bluetooth connectivity. Wacom Intuos is primarily designed for those who are drawing, painting and photo editing with their Mac or PC for the first time. The stylus is both light and accurate with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and it features a rubberised design offering exceptional grip and durable nibs and also features 2 control buttons. Spare nibs are included in the package along with connection cables. The pen is an EMR unit so does not require a battery and easy to set up. There are 4 customisable hot-keys available on the tablet and these are logically positioned.
Some fully featured free software is included and these include Corel Painter Essentials, Clip Studio Paint Pro and Corel AfterShot Pro 3. Depending on the model purchased you can have from one to all three packages and these are full versions with licences, not time restricted. Teachers, students, and virtual teams all benefit from Wacom Intuos and the new educational software bundle. Teach and learn remotely with Collaboard, Explain Everything, Kami, Limnu and Pear Deck. Wacom makes virtual learning and interaction more human, engaging, and effective. Collaboard, for example, is a virtual whiteboard app that can be used to sketch, write, and draw and can combine users’ ideas.
Despite being one of the more popular tablets available there are a couple of limitations to be aware of. The unit is extremely portable although not as thin as some. Unfortunately, the usable writing area is a little too small for more advanced users, especially on the 6” unit. Users are mostly impressed, however some have commented that it is not possible to trace from paper using this unit because of the surface type and others have mentioned a lack of multi-touch gesture support, especially for Mac users, to be a negative.
XP-PEN Artist12 Pro
- 11.6 inch portable Full HD display equipped with 88% NTSC color gamut and 178° viewing angle，makes it easy on the eyes and creates a distraction-free working environment. Comes with a anti-glare optical film to keep your screen crisp and clear even bright light.
- 8 express keys on the left side is crafted to make the creative workflow as smooth as possible. Combine with breakthrough red dial design, to help capture and express your ideas faster and more easily.
- PA2 battery-free stylus comes equipped with finer pen nibs. Pairs 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 5080 LPI resolution, allowing you draw and paint naturally and smoothly. Supports up to 60 degrees of tilt function.
- Convenient 3-in-1 USB cable design is easy to connect for convenience and efficiency. User-friendly brightness adjustment button is designed for adjusting to your preferred brightness while working.
- Support Windows 10/8/7(32/64bit), Mac OS X version 10.10 or later, Compatible with most graphics tablet software like Photoshop, Manga Studio, CorelPainter, SketchBook Pro, Illustrator, Clip Studio, Fire Alpaca,Zbrush, GIMP, Krita, SAI, openCanvas and more.
Something slightly different, his unit features a full colour screen and is larger than the other units on review. The Artist12 Pro has an11.6-inch portable Full HD display equipped with 88% NTSC colour gamut and 178° viewing angle with a 1080P resolution making it easy on the eyes and creating a distraction-free working environment. The screen is fitted with an anti-glare optical film to keep it crisp and clear even bright light. The unit is only 9mm thick and can be transported easily in a backpack.
There are 8 express keys which are customisable on the left-hand side of the unit and a red dial for scrolling and other functions. The unit is supplied with a battery-free stylus which has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 5080 LPI resolution, allowing you draw and paint naturally and smoothly. It also supports up to 60 degrees of tilt for a pencil-like experience. The stylus has built in controls for pen or eraser and a handy pen holder is supplied. The package also includes 8 replacement nibs, a portable stand, USB cable and extension, power adaptor, cleaning cloth and a drawing glove. This is quite a comprehensive set of accessories.
This unit offers broad compatibility and can be used with both Windows and Mac systems using software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, SAI, CDR and many more. This is also a handy tool for use with Zoom and Teams and you can create good interactive content and annotate in real-time. For teaching and learning the unit can be used with Udemy, Ding Talk, WiziQ, XSplit and others.
Customer reviews indicate satisfaction with both the quality of the device and the range of features it offers. This unit is an economic way of getting a tablet with a full colour screen as other similarly sized options are often far more costly. The only negative aspect is that compatibility with the latest Mac operating systems can be troublesome, although this could be down to lack of configuration awareness among the users.