Do you want to take your art to the next level? Getting started with digital art can be easier than you think.
Maybe you’ve been drawing your whole life and need a change. Or perhaps you’re hoping to stay professionally relevant in our increasingly digital world. Whatever the case, a tablet is the next logical step after traditional drawing.
Here, I’m going to help you find the best drawing tablet for beginners.
A tablet for drawing will give you a new set of challenges artistically and enable you to write, paint, share, and upload your digital art easily. If you’ve been stuck in a rut with your art for a while, the right device could reignite your inspiration.
A tablet opens the door for matte painting, video editing, and photo manipulation. It enables you to store all of your creations in a single place, meaning no more bent or ruined drawings.
And if you’re interested in game design or hope to become a concept artist of any kind, getting one is essentially unavoidable.
When you’re drawing with ink, you obviously can’t erase. While drawing with pencil, erasing too much can permanently smudge or damage the paper.
Working with a tablet, however, means banishing a mistake is as easy as using the “undo” feature. Alternatively, you can paint over or erase mistakes.
A single tablet stylus can function as an entire set of brushes, markers, charcoals, pastels, and as an eraser. This universal tool can be used to cover your screen with ink, “oil” paints or “acrylic” paints, or to mix them into something unique.
If you enjoy creating mixed media art but not keeping track of a ton of supplies, this eliminates that hassle for you.
Programs like Photoshop allow you to extend your artwork with other tools that aren’t related to drawing or painting.
These tools wouldn’t be possible with traditional forms of art but can be accessed easily on your tablet. Warping is a good example of this.
With traditional drawing, filling in an area requires carefully shading or crossing lines, both of which are time-consuming. With a tablet, on the other hand, this task can be as simple as using the Paint Bucket Tool. You can use copy/paste to reuse an image instead of having to tediously sketch it out by hand.
You also get the advantage of a single surface to make all your creations on, instead of needing to constantly restock paper and other art supplies.
When I paint, it seems like half of the experience is getting the canvas ready, hunting down my brushes, and laying down newspaper.
Traditional art requires a lot of general set-up tasks. A tablet can cut out all of that extra preparation, letting you focus on what matters most; creating your art.
Choosing the right tablet for your needs can be the difference between sticking with digital art for life or quitting right away because it doesn’t go smoothly.
When selecting a good beginners drawing tablet, here’s what you should look at:
All good drawing tablets for beginners should come with convenient connectivity options. This means easily connecting to your laptop and desktop computers. And if you’re using a drawing tablet with a screen and like photography, maybe your camera too.
The majority of modern computers will connect with HDMI or a USB cable, while cameras will use USB or HD.
You will notice a wide range of options when it comes to price, from inexpensive tablets to advanced devices that cost thousands.
Although money is always a factor when making a purchase, it shouldn’t be the main deciding factor for your first digital drawing tablet.
As someone who used to always buy the cheapest products just for the sake of saving money, I’ve learned the hard way that quality matters more than trying to save a few bucks.
But finding something affordable, comfortable, and long-lasting is the ideal. You’ll find a variety of prices on this list and a tablet for every budget.
When you’re just figuring out how to use a drawing tablet, it will take time to learn its pressure points and sensitivity.
Think about learning to draw with a pencil as a kid, it took a while to gain precision. It will also require some time and practice to get used to a drawing tablet and that’s perfectly normal.
If you are wondering what are the best drawing tablets out there, below I list my top 5 tablets for beginners.
First, I will cover three drawing tablets (without displays), followed by two tablets with screens.
The Intuos Pro is 9.9 by 15 inches in size with a usable drawing space of 5.5 by 8.8 inches. If you are interested in using your tablet for detailed Photoshop tasks or drawing illustrations, this size should work well.
One main advantage for beginners is that the Intuos Pro has a textured surface with resistance. This has a more familiar feel and eases the transition from paper to digital.
Overall, the Intuos Pro is a feature-rich tablet with a learning curve for newbies. This is something you would probably benefit more from if you’ve tried a graphics tablet before and are pretty certain you’ll stick with it.
If you’ve been looking for the best drawing tablet under $100, the Wacom Intuos Draw is designed especially for aspiring digital artists. This drawing pad enables you to edit, paint, and draw with the pen and has customizable shortcuts.
The Intuos Draw is like other Intuos tablets but without the multi-touch capability. As a beginner, you likely wouldn’t notice this feature missing and the tradeoff of paying less than $100 could be worth it to you.
But if you want to get a product you can become an advanced digital artist with, another tablet on this list could suit you better.
In terms of price, the Huion New 1060 is on par with the Intuos Draw covered above and comes with a few more features. The tablet works with programs such as Paint Tool Sai, and Krita. To make your creation process more efficient, you can use the included customizable shortcut buttons.
Some people have also used the Huon New 1060 for whiteboard sessions and live demonstrations along with ordinary, everyday doodling. If you want a tool you can use for work as well as pleasure, this is a good feature.
If you would rather be able to paint and draw directly on the screen, a display tablet like the Artist 16 could be a good place to start.
This enables you to draw in a more familiar way instead of having to worry about drawing without looking down at your hand. You will pay more for that function in most cases, though.
Other noteworthy features on the XP-Pen 16 are its 2048 pressure levels and adjustable stand.
While some higher-end tablets feature higher pressure sensitivity than this, 2048 levels of pressure makes this one of the best graphics tablets if you’re a beginner or intermediate user.
Another drawing tablet that shows a screen is the Huion GT-185HD. If you like to draw with sweeping, flowing motions, it’s a good size. The screen measures 18.5 inches (diagonally) and has solid, smooth edges for comfortably resting your arm as you work.
The GT-185HD is compatible with programs like Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio, Corel Painter, Illustrator, and more. It has hotkeys that will let you undo, change brush size, and zoom. Using these will take some time to learn but will speed up your creative process after you get adjusted.
If I had to pick the best drawing tablet for beginners on this list, I’d go with the Wacom Intuos Pro.
Although it’s not as cheap as the Intuos Draw, the multi-touch capabilities will let you advance with a single device instead of having to buy a new one when you’re no longer a beginner. The adjustable active area will let you experiment to find your preference.
Price-wise, it’s in the middle of the road, so you don’t have to make a huge investment before you know for sure whether you like drawing with a tablet. And the fact that it’s not the cheapest means you get extra features to play around with later on.