Digital drawing and illustration have become extremely popular over the past few years. With the right tools, anyone can now create stunning digital artworks and comics from the comfort of their homes. A graphics tablet or pen display is an indispensable tool for digital artists today. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best drawing tablet?
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the top 5 drawing tablets in 2022 and provide tips on what features to look for when deciding on your ideal digital drawing device. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, you’re sure to find your next creative gear here!
Overview of Digital Drawing Tablets
A digital drawing tablet allows you to draw directly on a surface using a pen, similar to traditional paper drawing. The tablet transmits your pen strokes to your computer. Drawing tablets come in different types:
- Pen tablets: These are tablets without a display screen. You draw on the tablet surface while looking at your computer monitor. Wacom Intuos tablets are the most popular pen tablets.
- Pen displays/digitizers: These have an attached display screen that allows you to draw directly on the screen. Popular pen displays include Wacom Cintiq and Huion Kamvas.
- Convertible 2-in-1 laptops: These laptops can be converted into digital drawing tablets by using a compatible stylus. Examples are Microsoft Surface Pro, Lenovo Yoga, etc.
The main benefits of drawing digitally include:
- Access to digital brushes, colors, canvases unmatched in physical art
- Artwork looks clean and refined
- Easy corrections and edits
- Ability to create copies and prints
- Digital artwork easy to share online
Top 5 Best Drawing Tablets in 2022
Here are the top 5 graphics tablets highly recommended for digital illustration, painting, sketching and other creative work in 2022:
1. Wacom Cintiq Pro
The Wacom Cintiq Pro is considered the gold standard among professional digital artists. It’s an expensive high-end pen display that offers:
- 4K HD display for vivid, accurate colors
- Ergonomic multi-function ExpressKeys and Touch Wheel
- Battery-free pen with 8192 pressure levels and tilt support for natural drawing
- Fully customizable shortcut keys to streamline workflow
The Cintiq Pro delivers incredible performance, comfort and control. It’s the choice of top animators, illustrators and conceptual artists.
2. XP-Pen Artist 22 Pro
For artists seeking a large pen display at a more affordable price, the XP-Pen Artist 22 Pro is an excellent option. Key features include:
- 21.5 inch full HD display with vivid color accuracy
- Battery-free pen with 8192 pressure sensitivity levels
- Sleek red dial interface for shortcut customization
- 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution and 72% NTSC color gamut coverage
This tablet offers incredible value for money. The large display size gives you ample room to draw with flexible arm movements.
3. Huion Kamvas Pro 16
If you want a highly portable pen tablet, the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 is an excellent choice. Key features:
- 15.6 inch QHD screen with 120% sRGB color gamut
- Battery-free pen with 8192 pressure sensitivity
- Only 5mm thick and under 4 lbs in weight
- 6 express keys for shortcuts
The Kamvas Pro 16 has one of the best displays in its price range. The slim, light tablet is easy to transport for drawing anywhere.
4. Apple iPad Pro + Apple Pencil
The iPad Pro coupled with the Apple Pencil offers one of the best digital drawing experiences. Key advantages:
- Stunning Retina display with ProMotion technology
- Apple Pencil has great precision, low latency, tilt/pressure sensitivity
- Intuitive touch gestures supported by fantastic drawing apps
- Super portable and long battery life
- Seamless integration with creative Apple ecosystem
For amateur doodlers or hobby artists, the iPad Pro + Pencil is a top choice for casual sketching and drawing on the go.
5. Microsoft Surface Pro + Surface Pen
The Microsoft Surface Pro is a versatile 2-in-1 laptop with superb drawing capabilities. As a tablet, it offers:
- Bright, high-res touchscreen works great with Surface Pen
- Pen has 4096 pressure points and tilt support
- Runs full Windows 10 Pro for access to powerful creative software
- More portable than a Cintiq but can still handle productivity tasks
The Microsoft Surface Pro strikes a good balance between drawing functionality and laptop versatility. It’s ideal for hybrid creative professionals, students and anyone who wants maximum flexibility.
What to Look for When Choosing a Drawing Tablet
Here are the key factors to consider when choosing your graphics tablet:
Drawing Surface – Size and proportions that suit your workspace needs. Larger surfaces allow flexible arm movements.
Screen/Display – Brightness, resolution, color accuracy. Standalone tablets have a display screen while others need to be connected to a monitor.
Pressure Sensitivity – Minimum of 1024 levels, 8192 or more is ideal. Needed to vary stroke weight and opacity.
Shortcut Buttons – Programmable buttons to optimize workflow. More useful for frequent tablet users.
Pen Ergonomics – Shape, weight, material that suits your grip. Rounder, thicker pens reduce fatigue.
Responsiveness – Low lag and fast tracking from pen to screen. Improves drawing experience.
Portability – Tablet size, weight, battery for easy mobility if required. Useful for drawing on the go.
Connectivity – Wired/wireless, device compatibility. Bluetooth tablets don’t need wires but may have slight lag.
Software Support – Compatibility with your preferred drawing programs and devices.
Extra Features – Tilt recognition, multi-touch input,lamy support etc. for added convenience.
Making the Switch to Digital Art
Transitioning from paper and pen to digital drawing requires adjusting your tools, techniques and creative process. Here are some tips:
- Take time acclimatizing to drawing on the tablet surface. Adjust your grip and pressure as needed.
- Start with basic software like Sketchbook before exploring more advanced programs.
- Customize your tablet preferences and shortcut buttons to best suit your workflow.
- Use the undo tool liberally to correct mistakes as you get used to the digital space.
- Explore brushes that mimic familiar traditional media like pens, pencils and paints.
- Leverage online tutorials to quickly learn digital art features and tricks.
- Stick to simpler sketches and studies before creating finished illustrations.
- Draw bigger or zoom into the canvas for more detail until you’re comfortable.
Don’t be discouraged if digital drawing feels unnatural at first. Stick with it and you’ll be creating amazing artworks in no time!
Frequently Asked Questions About Drawing Tablets
What are the key differences between Wacom, Huion, XP-Pen tablets?
The main differences are in price, display quality, express keys, accessory availability, pressure sensitivity and color accuracy. Wacom tablets are the most expensive but deliver better build quality, more express keys and greater color accuracy. Huion and XP-Pen offer more affordable tablets with high pressure sensitivity and good displays, but may compromise slightly on color reproduction and accessories.
Should I get a pen tablet or a pen display?
Pen tablets are more affordable and lightweight. But drawing without directly looking at the screen has a learning curve. Pen displays allow you to draw while looking at the screen, providing a more natural experience. But they are bulkier and more expensive. Choose based on your budget and portability needs.
How important is display resolution and color accuracy?
Better resolution like 4K and QHD allows clearer details and analyzing artwork. Good color accuracy ensures the final digital art matches the actual colors. Lower resolutions and color quality are acceptable for beginners, but intermediates/professionals need better quality displays.
Should I get a wireless tablet or wired?
Wireless tablets allow more drawing freedom but may experience minor lag issues. Wired tablets ensure fast, uninterrupted data transmission but restrict your drawing area. Most artists prefer the consistent performance of wired over potential wireless lag. Wireless works for casual users.
What tablet features are most important for drawing vs other creative work?
For drawing/illustration, prioritize display quality, pressure sensitivity, pen ergonomics and low latency/lag. For graphic design, animation, 3D, productivity features like express keys, multi-touch input,shortcut buttons, and software compatibility are more important. Know your work type and choose suitable features.
What’s the difference between capacitive and electromagnetic pens?
Capacitive pens use electrostatic sensitivity for power, allowing lightweight pens that don’t require charging but have some lag. Electromagnetic resonance pens are powered by the tablet’s energy field and minimize lag but need batteries or charging. Electromagnetic is better for drawing where responsiveness is vital.
Which software applications are best for drawing on a graphics tablet?
Photoshop, Procreate, Illustrator and Clip Studio Paint are among the best and most popular drawing programs. They provide realistic brushes, advanced layers functions, perspective/3D tools, and are fully optimized for pen tablets. Some tablets include free creative software bundles to get started.
Any tips for avoiding wrist strain or fatigue when using a drawing tablet?
- Use a thicker pen that allows a relaxed grip
- Customize the pressure sensitivity to lighten your touch
- Position tablet at a slight tilt to maintain neutral wrist angles
- Keep shoulders relaxed and elbows close to your body
- Take regular short breaks to stretch and relax the hands
- Avoid over-gripping or pressing hard on the pen
What tablet accessories are useful to have?
- Screen protector film to prevent scratch damage
- Portfolio case for safe portability
- Glove can reduce hand-to-screen friction and near vision strain
- Extra nibs for replacing worn nibs
- Pen stand provides a convenient pen holder within reach
- Wireless keyboard can aid shortcuts and efficiency
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Tablet for Digital Art
The options for digital art tablets can seem overwhelming as a beginner. By focusing on your experience level, workflow needs and budget, you can narrow down the choices. Wacom Cintiq Pro offers the best professional drawing experience for serious full-time artists. For intermediates, the XP-Pen Artist 22 Pro or Huion Kamvas Pro 16 balance display quality and affordability. Entry-level and hobby artists gain great value from the iPad Pro combo or Microsoft Surface Pro.
Invest time optimizing your new tablet’s settings and software to create a comfortable digital studio. Learn specialized techniques utilizing your tablet’s capabilities for next level digital illustrations. Most importantly, enjoy the limitless creative freedom your new drawing tablet provides! Digital art is an exciting journey, so choose a tablet that inspires you to create your best work.