So you or someone you know is thinking of starting their journey as a digital artist, and you’re wondering which is the best drawing tablet for beginners. It’s a commendable decision, and the journey to mastery of digital art is going to be a long and adventurous one, we can tell you that for sure.
It can, however, feel extremely overwhelming when shopping for the right tablet for your beginner needs.
In this article we aim to make this process much easier and show you the best drawing pads for beginners, for budgets of all sizes and catering for all the major beginner needs.
By the end, we hope you feel a lot more confident in the options available to you, and ultimately feel as comfortable as possible with your first drawing tablet purchase.
Roundup – What is the best drawing and graphics tablet for beginners?
Firstly for speed and efficiency we have reviewed and shortlisted the below top 10 products that form a list of what we consider to be the best beginner drawing tablets currently available on the market today:
Best Overall Winner: Wacom Intuos S
Best Runner Up: Huion Inspiroy H1060P
Best Upgrade: Wacom Intuos Pro
Best For Portability: XP-Pen Deco 01
Best For Large Working Areas: XP-Pen Deco 03
Best For Customized Shortcuts: Huion Inspiroy H1161
Best Appearance: Huion Inspiroy Ink H320M
Best For Beginners looking for Affordability: XP-Pen Star03
Best Pen Screen Display for Beginners: XP-Pen Artist 15.6
Best Beginner Wacom Tablet With Digital Display: Wacom One
The Wacom Intuos S is a very affordable entry level Wacom tablet. It’s an excellent pick for artists that are just starting out, and includes both Corel AfterShot for photo editing and Corel Painter Essentials 6 for drawing.
The 6 inch by 3.7 inch drawing area is small enough to make the tablet highly portable, but also large enough that you can draw with ease. It also connects with USB, though there is a Bluetooth enabled version if you’re willing to fork out about $20 more.
The Huion Inspiroy H1060P offers more drawing space than the Wacom Intuos S at 10 inches by 6.25 inches. It also has 12 customizable Express Keys and a battery free stylus with 8192 levels of pressure. It’s also much cheaper than comparable Wacom tablets.
Looking for an upgrade?
If you’ve already made some progress on your journey as an artist, and are looking to upgrade to something a little more professional, then the Wacom Intuos Pro is a great option. It has great build quality, accuracy, precision, and comes in both medium and large options.
It has tilt recognition, multitouch capability, Bluetooth, 8 Express Keys, and a convenient touch ring for analog functions. That said, considering that it’s a little expensive, so it might not be an ideal Wacom beginner tablet.
Who is this page for?
If you’ve ever tried drawing with the trackpad on a laptop or a mouse, then you know just how frustrating the experience can get. It’s hard to do anything meaningful. That’s the problem that a graphics (or drawing) tablet seeks to solve.
A graphics tablet, sometimes also referred to as a drawing tablet, lets you use a stylus to draw, with the strokes you make on the drawing surface being translated into actual ones on the tablet’s screen or a computer monitor. They are typically very precise and accurate, and feel almost as comfortable as actually drawing on paper.
This guide has been written for anyone who is just starting out as a digital artist and wants to make the journey easier for themselves. A graphics tablet is a great way to start your journey. They are affordable and easy to use, and learning to use them makes it easier to transition to screen displays later on.
Everything we recommend…
For us the best drawing tablet for beginners is the Wacom Intuos S Drawing Tablet, however as you can see below from the reviews that follow, there are several other very good contenders all sitting at different price points.
Follow the links provided to check the latest prices.
For beginners and new artists, it is advisable to start with an entry level tablet that generally sits below the $100 / $200 mark. As when just starting, you are unlikely to have had much (if any) experience of using a drawing tablet, and will therefore be unclear on what individual requirements you will need from a tablet in order to produce the best work.
We strongly recommend that new artists start with a graphics tablet, which as discussed is a blank and featureless pressure sensitive surface that the artist draws onto whilst simultaneously looking at the computer monitor it is connected to.
In other words it has no digital screen display, and as a result is much more affordable.
Affordability is important for beginners, as it allows novice artists to experiment with working digitally and to establish a workflow fairly inexpensively, before they then become comfortable to commit further and purchase a higher spec’d digital tablet.
During this time many beginners will use several different graphic tablets before fully being comfortable with upgrading.
Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet – Overall Winner
Dimensions: 7.87 x 6.3 x 0.35 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 6.0 x 3.7 inches | Item Weight: 8.1 ounces | Multi-Touch: No | Pen Pressure Level: 4096 Levels | Customizable Express Keys: 4 | Supported Software: Windows, Mac | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB/Bluetooth
The Wacom Intuos S gives you an excellent hands-on experience as a digital artist. Wacom has a great reputation for making high quality products, and with high quality products come ‘high quality’ prices. That’s not true about the Intuos S, which has been designed with the same high quality and offers top of the line design, photo editing, and illustration capabilities at a low price of about $80. It is the entry level tablet in the Intuos series and makes for an awesome first tablet for beginners.
The Intuos S has many high grade features, including 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity on the stylus and a 7-inch working surface. You can also choose between the plain Intuos S and the Intuos S with Bluetooth. If you buy the Intuos Medium, a 10-inch graphics tablet, you get Bluetooth built in.
Wacom’s Intuos S is a screen free tablet, unlike the tablets in its Cintiq line, which are all drawing tablets with screens. For the Intuos S, you have a surface that maps onto your computer monitor. To get some intuition of how the graphics tablet works, imagine that moving the stylus over it is a lot like moving your finger over a laptop’s trackpad, only this is a much larger trackpad and the lines you trace with your stylus actually appear on the monitor.
It may sound less intuitive than drawing directly on the screen with, say, a mouse, but once you get the hang of it it’s very natural.
Most of the Intuos S is taken up by the drawing surface. This is about 6 inches by 3.7 inches. On top of the drawing surface are five buttons recessed slightly into the tablet to form a groove which, coincidentally, is also where you rest the pen when you’re not using it. These buttons are known as Express Keys. The middle button is an on/off switch for the tablet and also helps to set up Bluetooth for Bluetooth powered models.
The other 4 buttons are entirely programmable and can be customized to control whatever function you want to in whatever apps you use.
The pen feels quite natural, like any normal pen you might use in the real world. Even the point at the end is similar to the points on real world pens. The major difference is that it has 2 buttons on the side. Think of these as extra Express Keys, which you can customize to perform additional functions.
The design of the Intuos S is quite enticing. It has a smooth black look and reminds us of the keys on our MacBook. It looks equally at home on a professional artist’s desk and among a child’s playthings, and can coincidentally be used by both due to its intuitive interface. It has 4 rubber pads on the bottom, which provide grip and hold it steady when it’s on the tablet. It’s made from plastic, but of a very sturdy kind, making it high quality for its price.
Our biggest qualm is that, after many uses, scratch marks begin to form on the surface of the tablet, and finger smudges form easily, but that doesn’t affect the functionality of the drawing surface so it’s more an aesthetic shortcoming than anything else.
As mentioned earlier, the Wacom Intuos S is a budget friendly tablet and was designed especially for beginners who would like to start off with a graphics tablet. It has customization options that work seamlessly with Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, making it an excellent choice for photographers. It can also be used as a large mouse for the computer, making it still useful for a beginner that hasn’t figured out how to use it.
With tilt sensitivity, 4096 levels of pressure, customizable Express Keys, and a state of the art stylus, you can also use it to pursue your passion for digital art. In short, it’s the best place we can think of for a beginner to start their journey.
- Natural grip
- 15 hours of battery life
- 6 Express Keys, including the ones on the pen
- Wacom’s proven build quality
- It is light and extremely portable
- It is sturdy and durable
- Can develop scratches on the drawing surface after a while
- Takes a while to adjust to using a graphics tablet
- Some may find the pen stand a little wobbly
- Difficult to access new pen nibs that are housed in the stand
Huion 1060Plus Drawing Tablet – Runner up
Dimensions: 14.17 x 9.45 x 0.39 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 10 x 6.25 inches | Item Weight: 2.7 pounds | Multi-Touch: No | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Customizable Express Keys: 12 | Supported Software: Windows, Mac, Android | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB
The Huion Inspiroy H1060P is actually an upgrade from the H1060 Plus, which was yet another great tablet. Our biggest qualm with that one was that the pen needed to be recharged after a while. The H1060P solves that problem by introducing a battery free pen.
Let’s start with the design. This tablet has a premium design and feels like the top-notch tablet it is in the hands. The horizontal edges are curved, lending a certain beautiful elegance to the body. The plastic finish is not only of the highest quality, but also textured, making for ergonomic handling. The tablet itself measures 360mm by 240mm by 10mm. Of that, 254mm by 158.8mm is the drawing space, which is more than enough for you to bring your imagination to life.
While the 10mm frame sounds rather thick, it’s for a good reason. It allows the tablet to carry its own body weight. It does, after all, weigh a whopping 770g. Now, we wouldn’t say that a tablet that heavy is impossible to carry around, but we also wouldn’t label it as super portable. That said, the middle ground is that you have a backpack where you can neatly pack it whenever you’re going out and anticipate you might want to bring it with you.
The drawing surface has a smooth finish so the pen won’t wear down easily. That said, the surface still has a sufficient amount of grip that drawing on it won’t feel slippery. They’ve nailed the sweet spot between smoothness and friction.
The H1060P comes with a whopping 12 Express Keys on the left side. There are also 16 so-called ‘soft’ press keys, which are located horizontally along the top. These ones are activated when the tablet is on, as they are not physical keys.
Another feature we like about this tablet is that it can be used on multiple platforms. You can use it on a machine running on Windows 7 or later, as well as MacOS 10.11 or later. With more and more tablets getting LCD screens, you will also be happy to know that you can use this one as a standalone device.
The tablet also comes with an installation disk with all the drivers you need to make it work on different platforms. You can also go to the Huion website and download the latest versions of the drivers, making it easy to get it to work if you don’t have the installation disk or if you’re trying to upgrade the drivers.
The H1060P also has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it quite responsive to everything ranging from a light tap to a hard press. The resolution of 5080 LPI also ensures you have a very smooth experience with things. Pen resolution is a measure of how accurate the cursor is when you place your stylus to the page. The more accurate, the closer the experience is to drawing with a regular pencil on paper.
Lastly and considering all the above features, this is an excellent alternative to the more expensive Wacom products, however for more advanced artists, we have a whole article dedicated to this topic here.
- High pressure levels
- Compatible with both Windows and MacOS
- High resolution ensures high accuracy
- Stylus is battery free
- The working area is spacious
- The design is sturdy yet light
- Soft Express keys are only useful on the touch screen
- It’s quite heavy, compromising on portability
- There have been reports of the canvas chipping after a prolonged use.
Wacom Intuos Pro – Looking for an upgrade?
Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 8.7 x 5.8 inches | Item Weight: 1.54 pounds | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Customizable Express Keys: 8 | Supported Software: Windows, Mac | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB/Bluetooth
In case you’re looking to upgrade, it’s hard to do much better than the Wacom Intuos Pro. It’s still fantastic for beginners, but adds some really great professional grade performance and feature upgrades that will take your workflow to the next level. This tablet comes in medium and larger sizes.
The medium sized tablet has an 8.7 inch by 5.8 inch drawing area. It also comes packed with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which is an upgrade on the well performing Pro Pen. It not only has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, but is also battery free, making it a joy to work with for long hours. It also has lag free tracking and remarkably good tilt response. It also has 2 buttons on the side for customizability.
The construction of the Wacom Intuos Pro is quite similar to its predecessor, the previous Intuos Pro, except this model is thinner and takes up less desk space. It also has the same great build quality customers have to come to expect from Wacom products. It has both a USB-C power and data transfer cable and Bluetooth capability, making it easy to use in both wired and wireless setups. The Bluetooth is so good, it’s really hard to notice any lag.
The Wacom Intuos Pro comes with a replaceable texture sheet drawing surface that blows the iPad Pro out of the water. It’s slightly rough, which makes it feel more like natural paper. It’s certainly a better solution than the super smooth surface on the iPad Pro. If you’re willing to cough up some more money, you can purchase the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper edition, which uses real paper with real pens.
The Intuos Pro graphics tablet comes with 8 Express Keys. These sit vertically on the left side of the tablet. You can customize them to perform any function you want, making your work a lot easier. There’s also a Touch Ring with a center toggle that you can use to customize more analog functions, such as adjusting brush size, zooming, and other functions.
Drawing with the pen is a breeze, as it is super sensitive. As you turn and tilt it, the brush on the screen mimics your moves, with tilts widening and narrowing the thickness of the strokes as needed. This isn’t new. The Wacom stylus has been able to do this for many years now. What makes the Pro Pen 2 particularly special is the fact that that’s even more responsive than its predecessors.
The Pro Pen 2 is also very comfortable in the hand. It has perfect balance and replaceable tips. Considering the slight roughness of the texture sheet, you can expect the nibs to wear out, though they won’t do this very quickly, and you can replace them with the replacement nibs that come in the box. The fact that the pen is battery free also means you can work for hours without having to recharge the pen.
- Offers great value for money
- Has an adequate drawing area
- Highly portable
- Great build quality
- Bluetooth has almost no lag
- The new pen nibs can be difficult to access for a newbie
- Quite pricey, as Wacom devices usually are
XP-Pen Deco 01 Drawing Tablet
If you’re looking for a budget XP-Pen product, then the Deco 01 is a good choice. It has a minimalistic but stylish design and a very slim profile that makes it easy to fit it into any backpack and greatly enhances its portability. The working area of 10 inches by 6.25 inches is also clearly demarcated by corner markings so you don’t have a hard time finding it.
One of the things we like about this tablet is that you can use it comfortably, whether you’re right handed or left handed. It’s also got great stability, with rubber pads on the bottom to prevent it from slipping.
The stylus is quite well balanced and comfortable to work with, with 2 shortcut buttons that you can customize to whatever functions you want. It’s also battery free and comes with 8192 levels of pressure, 5080 LPI resolution, and a durable pen holder that you can use to store it in either a vertical or horizontal position.
The tablet itself has 8 Express Keys, which are separated into two groups of 4 for convenient and ergonomic use. As expected, they can each be customized to whatever function you might want. In fact, while you can change the settings as you wish the Express Keys come preset to offer a variety of functions out of the box, including erasing, brush control, undo, and save, among others.
The compatibility of the XP-Pen Deco 01 is pretty great as it can work with both Windows and MacOS operating systems. It can also work w
- Very slim profile
- Very light
- 8 individually customizable Express Keys
- Sensitive and battery free stylus
- May have connectivity issues with Windows 10. It helps to download the latest version of the drivers.
XP-Pen Deco 03 Drawing Tablet
The XP-Pen Deco 03 is yet another graphics tablet in the Deco series. It’s a competitor to the Wacom Intuos Pro and comes at just a third of the price, making it a serious alternative for beginning artists who find the Intuos Pro a little too expensive for their budgets.
The tablet itself has a very minimalist but tasteful design. The only bit of flair on it is the red dial on the top left corner, which we absolutely love. Other than that, it has nicely rounded corners and a matte drawing surface that’s an absolute joy to draw on. While it has a plastic build, it’s high quality build and has a premium feel to it, making it great value for money at its price point. The working area is also quite generous at 10 inches by 5.6 inches, and the tablet comes with ample bezels for you to rest your hands on. That said, it is still light and slim enough to be portable.
The stylus is battery free, which is a rising trend among modern tablets. It has a large rubber grip and a bulge near the bottom to give you a comfortable grip. It doesn’t come with an eraser at the top. For that, you can set one of the two shortcut buttons to act as an eraser flip. That said, the case can open on both ends. The larger cap reveals the pen itself while the other side is used as storage for the 8 replacement nibs that come with the stylus, as well as a USB receiver.
The tablet has 6 shortcut keys, as well as the red dial mentioned at the beginning. These can all be customized individually to whatever shortcuts you wish. The dial is well placed for convenient and ergonomic use. It spins very smoothly and makes a satisfying click with every 15 degrees of rotation. Other than that, the tablet is fully compatible with both Windows and MacOS operating systems and runs all the popular graphics software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
- Beautiful design
- Very affordable
- Large drawing area
- Battery free stylus
- Light and portable
- No eraser on the back side of pen
- Pen does not have tilt support
Huion Inspiroy H1161 Drawing Tablet
Huion have developed quite a reputation over the years for producing high quality products at bargain prices. The Huion Inspiroy H1161 graphics tablet is no exception to this trend, and certainly does not disappoint.
The design is quite stylish, even though minimalist. It has a wide drawing area of 27.94 cm by 17.46 cm. The plastic is semi matte, making it just textured enough to draw on comfortably. The pen also comes with 8192 levels of pressure, which makes it more sensitive and accurate.
The tablet itself comes with 10 hard Express Keys, which you can customize to perform any function you like. It also has 16 programmable soft keys, in case you want to enhance and speed up your workflow even more.
Coming back to the stylus, it’s light but comfortable and holds easy in the hand. It has 2 buttons on the side which provide you with more customization options. It’s battery free and has tilt sensitivity up to 60 degrees, making it super accurate. The only downside, in our opinion, is that the package does not come with drawing gloves, which would make working with the pen and tablet an absolute joy. Huion has a tendency to include drawing gloves with their products as part of the package, so we found it a bit disappointing that they did not do that with this tablet.
As for compatibility, you will be happy to hear that not only is this graphics tablet compatible with both Windows and MacOS operating systems, but also Android 6.0 or higher.
- Stylish design
- Very lightweight and portable
- Ample working area
- Several Express Keys, both hard and soft
- Battery free stylus
- Tilt functionality
- No anti-slip glove
07 – Huion Inspiroy Ink H320M Drawing Tablet
The Huion Inspiroy Ink H320M is yet another great tablet from Huion. It comes in two colors: Coral Red and Quartz Black, and they are both absolutely stunning. The Coral Red is much like the Quartz Black, except the edge is red, so the color is not overdone. Both options have a matte black drawing surface that feels very natural to draw on.
The design is minimalistic but stylus. You get 6 Express Keys on the left, as well as 4 direction keys in a circular dial in the middle, with 3 Express Keys on either side. The right side of the tablet consists of the drawing surface. You can flip the drawing surface programmatically so as to use it however you like: vertically and horizontally aligned to either your left or right hands.
There is also a loop on the right, where you can store the stylus when you’re not using it. There is also a single button on the right, which you can use as an eraser shortcut.
Another thing we love about the Ink H320M is the Whiteboard feature. You can use the back of the tablet to do your rough work and erase it with the button on the right hand side, making it quite handy. The pen also comes with 8192 levels of pressure and tilt support up to 60 degrees.
- Very affordable
- Lots of express keys
- Pen comes with tilt support
- Light and portable
- The drivers can sometimes feel unstable
- Does not have a touch wheel
XP-Pen Star03 Drawing Tablet – Most Affordable Tablet
We like the design of this tablet. It’s a no-frills design that nonetheless manages to look quite tasteful and certainly won’t look back on anyone’s table. It has a sturdy feel and gives you confidence that the build is strong enough to withstand many years of frequent use.
The texture on the surface is a little rough, though still smooth enough that writing does not feel like an absolute chore. The edges are curved, giving you an easier time when drawing for extended periods as it isn’t hard on your wrists. Under the tablet you’ll also find 4 rubber pads, which hold it in place on the table when you’re working so it remains stable.
On the left hand side you will find 8 express keys. They do feel a little cheap, to be honest, and make an annoyingly loud clacking sound when clicked. That said, they work just fine and, if you can get over the noise, are as good as those on any other tablet.
The pen itself is made of matte plastic. It is well balanced and comfortable to hold. It’s pretty lightweight too, so if you don’t like lightweight pens this one might not be your cup of tea. That said, holding the pen is very comfortable, what with the great grip in the middle and the way it bulges toward the tip. It also comes with shortcut buttons which you can further customize besides the Express Keys on the tablet. There is also a set of replacement nibs in a pen stand that comes with the package.
The tablet drivers make it compatible with both Windows and MacOS operating systems, and are very easy to install.
- Large working surface
- Battery free pen
- Compatible with both Windows and MacOS
- Very affordable
- Very portable
- Made of cheap plastic
- Pen does not have an eraser
XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Drawing Tablet – Best Pen Screen Display for Beginners
This is a screen display, so it’s an excellent purchase for those who prefer to see what they’re drawing right under their pens as they’re drawing it. Since it can be used as a standalone tablet, it’s also great for productivity. As the name suggests, it comes with a 15.6 inch screen with a full HD resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels.
The screen has a color gamut of 84% Adobe RGB, which is higher than its competitor, the Wacom Cintiq 16 (75% AdobeRGB color gamut). That said, it doesn’t come calibrated, so you’ll need to calibrate it on receipt in order to ensure accuracy.
The screen is laminated and bonded, making it very accurate, with low parallax. The tablet also comes with an anti-fouling glove so you don’t have to feel the rather smooth texture while you’re drawing. The tablet overall has a premium feel and high end build, despite costing a fraction of what the Wacom Cintiq 16 costs.
The stylus has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt support up to 60 degrees. It also comes with a high quality pen holder where you can store it when it is not in use. The pen holder also holds 8 replacement nibs for when the one that comes with the pen starts to wear out.
There are 8 shortcut keys on the left side of the tablet, as well as a stylish red dial for more analog functions. All of the keys, as well as the dial, can be individually programmed to perform whatever function you like. The tablet also comes with a stand to hold it up if you like to work in an upright position. In our opinion, it is the best display drawing tablet for beginners.
We have a full breakdown and review on drawing tablets with digital displays here.
- Very affordable
- Lots of shortcut keys
- Tilt support in stylus
- Does not come color calibrated
- Stand feels a bit unstable and is made of cheap plastic
Wacom One Drawing Tablet – Best Beginner Wacom Tablet With Digital Display
As mentioned above, Wacom primarily offers tablets aimed at artists with higher budgets and the experience to justify them. However that was until the Wacon One was released!
This tablet is a 13-inch device specifically aimed at beginners who want a high quality display drawing tablet without the high Wacom prices.
This tablet is perfect for artists who want a display tablet that can be taken anywhere, however it is not a standalone tablet and still requires a connection to a computer monitor.
With a very similar aesthetic to an iPad, the tablet is well designed in both appearance and functionality, with a foldable 19 degree stand and an uninterrupted drawing surface.
As with a lot of screen displays, this tablet comes with an anti-glare screen with a slight texture to it, helping to ensure that there is enough grip when drawing.
Different from the above cintiq ranges, this tablet comes with the new Wacom One Pen as opposed to the Pro Pen 2. The pen comes with tilt recognition and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, that combined produces excellent drawing performance.
The Wacom One tablet bridges the gap between the simpler functions of graphics tablets and the more expensive high performing display tablets at an affordable price …and is well worth your consideration.
- Small size makes it highly portable
- Display has a smooth, matt finish to imitate paper
- Good stylus for price
- Smaller drawing area than other Wacom products
- Multi-cord setup can get in the way
- No express keys
What makes a great beginners tablet?
Before graphic and drawing tablets, artists primarily expressed themselves using only analogue tools such as brushes, pencils, pens, and paper. And it was necessary to keep what was often a fairly large supply of different sizes and types of each tool in order to bring out alternative effects and styles in their work, which was not always efficient.
Obviously this way of working is very much still alive (and probably always will be), however with the introduction of drawing tablets, artists are now able to draw, paint, write, and store their work with far more ease.
Digital art has opened the doors for video editing, photo manipulation, matte painting, among many other disciplines. However, with so much variety in drawing tablet design and purpose, it can be hard to identify exactly what you need, especially if you’re a beginner.
For those who still need a little more persuasion and information, the below guidelines highlight what the important attributes of a good beginner tablet are…
Drawing tablets use pressure sensitivity to record the depth of your stroke, which varies depending on how much pressure the artist applies to the drawing surface.
Pressure sensitivity is one of the key determinants of the quality you will achieve in your drawings. If you intend to do uncomplicated sketches, pressure sensitivity may not be an important priority, but for serious design and artwork, it is crucial.
The more pressure sensitivity that your pen has, the greater the ability to vary the width of the lines that you are drawing, which will make for a generally smoother drawing experience.
For beginners looking for a high level of accuracy, consider going for pen pressure sensitivity level of 8192.
Driver stability and compatibility
Not all new users will be familiar with installing and downloading software, and whether you plan to use your chosen tablet with a laptop, computer, or even a smartphone, it is of utmost importance for it to be compatible with your system.
Fortunately most good beginner drawing tablets are compatible with both Windows and Mac systems, with others even being compatible with Linux.
You will also want to ensure that the tablet is compatible with your animation and/or drawing software. Most products are designed to work with commonly used software such as Clip Studio Paint, Corl, Moho Pro, and Photoshop, among others.
Lastly beginner artists must ensure that they won’t experience any disturbance and lagging whilst drawing. This is usually determined by the tablet’s drivers as well as your computer’s specs (RAM, CPU, and GPU)
Report rate (RPS)
When a computer/laptop and a drawing tablet communicate, the tablet sends what is referred to as a “report” of the pen’s position. Measured using RPS, or the rate of reports sent per second, this is a measurement that can have an impact on the quality of your drawing.
A high RPS will allow for more precision in terms of following the pen movement, but the higher the RPS, the longer it may take for your PC/laptop to register the movement of the pen, which may consequently result in more frequent lagging.
Therefore, it is important for the RPS you select to be compatible with the hardware of your computer as well as the software you use.
Due to the nature of the above graphics tablets, there is no need to consider screen resolution. However for those looking for an entry level digital display tablet, resolution is usually measured in LPI (lines per inch), which is a designation that refers to the total number of distinct pen positions that the working area of a drawing tablet can sense within an inch in either direction.
Resolution is especially key when you are working on tasks that require fine detail such as photo-realistic drawings and/or intricate fine art.
Essentially, a higher LPI combined with a higher RPS (as discussed above) will increase the precision of how you draw lines, allowing for more detail in your work.
More examples of this type of tablet Here
Whether searching for a beginner or even professional tablet, price is an important factor to consider. You’re not necessarily looking for something cheap, but it does help to find a good quality tablet that doesn’t require you to sell a kidney.
If you are a beginner and/or intend to perform basic and simple tasks, then as discussed, you should aim for a lower priced model as your work won’t require a lot of the functionality that an expensive high performance model provides.
Normally, bigger is usually perceived as better, but this is not always the case when it comes to drawing tablets. For beginners, a larger size tablet means a higher cost, which means you will have to adjust your budget as a result.
Small graphic tablets like the Wacom Intuos small have an area of approximately 6 by 4 inches, which means that they are around the size of a mousepad and are highly portable. As a result, they can be used beside your keyboard and also serve as a trackpad.
Large (10 by 6 inch) and medium (8 by 5 inches) graphic tablets are almost as wide as a keyboard, so they are more suitable for dedicated graphics work.
New users may not know that no matter your monitor size, when you move the pen from one edge to the other, the cursor will follow your exact movements even if you are using multiple displays. The smaller the active area of the tablet, the less you will need to manipulate the cursor which means less arm fatigue.
Pens that need batteries need frequent recharging, and if you skip a recharge, you may have to stop what you are doing and wait. In this case, a battery-free is the preferred choice as you won’t ever need to swap batteries or charge it.
Buttons and customizability
Most graphic tablets will allow you to map out keyboard shortcuts and perform other actions to buttons accompanying your tablet and pen. However some tablets will allow you to map only the buttons physically featured on the pen to a few set actions, whereas others provide full customization.
With more customizability, you will be able to fine-tune your workflow, which is something a beginner artist can slowly build towards.
Multitouch and tilt recognition
Multitouch allows you to use your fingers to navigate the tablet by rotating or zooming in, my like a smartphone and tablet.
Tilt recognition allows you to come up with a variety of strokes based on the angle that you hold the pen, allowing for a bit more control over your lines.
However, unless you are an expert, multitouch and tilt recognition are not particularly important factors to consider, so can be ignored if required.
Digital artists come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and when it comes to categorizing a beginner, we consider anyone from 12 years and up to fit into this amateur category. For those below this, we strongly recommend considering a much more child friendly tablet such as the products listed and discussed here.
Lastly brand choice is an important consideration, and won where it pays to stay with the industries leaders; Wacom, Hunion, and XP Pen. But how do these compare to each other and what are the benefits of the much more expensive Wacom products? …several articles dedicated to this very topic below:
Do you need a computer for a drawing tablet?
Unless using a standalone drawing tablet, the answer here is always YES. Whether you are using a graphics or digital display tablet, it will always require a computer to function unless explicitly stated that it is a standalone product. These as discussed in the above linked article, require far more hardware and software support to function, and as a result are a lot (a lot!) more expensive.
For new artists looking for an extra level of portability, you may want to consider using an iPad. We highlight the pro’s and con’s of this here.
Which Wacom tablet is best for beginners?
As touched on at the beginning of this article if you can afford any of the Wacom Intuos range of tablets, then we advise that as a beginner, this is the route you go down.
Despite the excellent build qualities of both Huion and XP-Pen, Wacom has for a longtime dominated the drawing tablet industry and for good reason.
Beginner to expert artists can expect to have and use their Wacom tablets at full capacity for an unrivalled amount of time, with some being reported to be over a decade old and still fully functioning.
What is the best drawing tablet with screen for beginners?
Despite the advice here to start with a graphics tablet and work your way up, some new artists will of course want to jump straight into a digital display.
For the same reasons and where possible, beginners should initially opt for a modest sized display that won’t break the bank, and as above we think the XP-Pen Artist15.6 Pro is one of the best drawing tablets for this category.
What is the most affordable drawing tablet for beginners
When it comes to affordability and quality, XP-Pen are among one of the most competitive and reliable brands out there. The above reviewed XP-Pen Star03 is a very good option for beginners on a budget.
It’s important to note that this is by no means the cheapest tablet available, but we feel it is the most affordable tablet that also provides the best performance for beginners.
With a large 10″ by 6″ active working area, eight express keys and a battery free stylus, combined with XP-Pen’s superb build quality, this tablet has a lot to offer for its price tag and is well worth considering.
And with that we come to the end of our review. As you can see, there are plenty of options out there for you if you’re just starting your journey as a digital artist and are looking for a proper graphics tablet.
There’s even a great screen display if you prefer that sort of thing (XP-Pen Artist 15.6). All of the above options are great to start off with, and will help you launch your career. The important thing is to take that first step. Until next time, happy d