Digital art and illustration are extremely popular these days, especially in the freelance market. The graphic design industry is growing day by day, and new artists are discovering their talents all the time. However, there is a distinct difference between drawing on a piece of paper and drawing on a tablet. Textures are different, the style can be different, and even the techniques.
A lot of people invest in drawing tablets as it’s a worthy investment for digital art. Technically, you can draw with a mouse, but it is too unnatural. Drawing on a tablet is more intuitive, and while there might be a learning curve as you need to be familiar with different drawing apps, you can learn to draw on a tablet with time.
Good drawing tablets don’t have to be expensive all the time, there are plenty of cheap options out there. So no matter what your budget is, we are looking at some of the best drawing tablets for beginners in 2021.
If you are even slightly familiar with the drawing tablet market, you’ve likely come across Wacom at some point. Wacom is the most successful digital art tool maker in the industry, and they’ve definitely earned their respect. Naturally, they have a large dedicated following as well. Fortunately, not all their products need to be expensive to be good. The Intuous CTL4100 is a great example of that.
You can get the Intuous in two sizes: Small and Medium. The medium one has Bluetooth built-in, while the smaller one can be bought with or without it. As a starting point, we recommend the small version with Bluetooth as a great entry-level tablet.
The small tablet has a drawing area of 6 inches by 3.7 inches. It’s thin, light, and portable, which are all important factors if you want to carry it around. Battery life is also excellent, and you’ll get a lot of work out if before you need to recharge. The included pen is battery-free and has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
As for actual drawing, this tablet is excellent. Even if you are an intermediate artist, this tablet will do you just fine for the most part. It has a great texture and feels well balanced and nice to draw on. The pen grips well to the tablet, and it never feels like you’re sliding around aimlessly.
Wacom includes three bonus software with this tablet, but they aren’t the best, and actually claiming them can be a bit frustrating. However, that’s the only complaint I have here, and that shows just how excellent this tablet is.
The following sentence I am about to write will most likely sound strange to many people, but hear me out. Apple’s 7th Generation iPad is the best bang for your buck you can get when it comes to drawing tablets. A bold claim for sure, but allow me to prove it.
This iPad comes in 32GB or 128GB of storage, with a powerful A10 Fusion processor to power it, 3GB of RAM, and a stunning 10.2-inch Retina IPS display. With iOS, you get access to incredible drawing apps like Procreate, Affinity Designer, Astropad, and much more.
The fact that iOS has a wider range of drawing apps as compared to Android already makes it superior. But the Apple Pencil is what really ties it all together. Now, it does cost an extra $100, but an optional peripheral has never been this great. Apple doesn’t describe the actual pressure levels, but the Apple Pencil has tilt support, 20ms latency, and 12 hours of battery life. It is by far the best drawing stylus out there.
Now if you do opt for more storage and the Apple Pencil, the cost does start to add up. But even after crossing that limit, you’re getting the most enjoyable experience you can get on a drawing tablet. Did I mention it can handle games and is an exceptional device for consuming media?
As within any community, the digital art community also has many loyal and dedicated fans that will only buy from a certain brand. For a long time, that brand has been Wacom. However, Huion has been catching up, and as of right now, they make a very compelling value with the 2020 Kamvas 13.
Keep in mind that this is different from the Kamvas Pro 13, and there are some noticeable differences. First off, it costs considerably less, and second of all, it has Android support built-in. Remember, this is a pen display and not a traditional simple drawing tablet. You still need to connect with cables to a computer or Android tablet/phone.
That’s where the first problem comes in. You can use the provided 3-in-1 cables or you can use a USB-C. Obviously, having one cable is convenient but you’ll have to select Huion’s own branded cable for it to work properly. The USB-C port is a bit recessed and most cables won’t fit properly. A minor inconvenience, but still a bit annoying.
Other than that, this is an excellent drawing tablet. It has a 1080p resolution with a laminated display and the battery-free pen 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It also has 60 degrees of tilt. Shortcut keys are included at the left edge of the display to make your workflow more productive and easier.
It’s an excellent pen display for drawing, and it’s a very compelling value overall. However, if you plan to use this on Mac with Photoshop, turn off brush smoothing to get rid of occasional blobs during otherwise clean lines.
Up until now, we’ve included an iPad, a traditional drawing tablet, and a pen display. With that said, there are a lot of people out there who are Android diehards. For those people, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite could be the best Android tablet for drawing.
The Tab S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch TFT 1200 x 2000 display, 4GB of RAM, an Exynos 9611 processor, and Android 10. Sounds like a decent Android tablet at first glance, but the included S-pen which is powered by Wacom is what makes this an excellent drawing tablet. The pen magnetically sticks to the side of the tablet, similar to the newer iPads.
The display feels great to draw on, but it lacks a bit of texture. I’d recommend finding a matte screen protector so you can have a bit more grip while drawing. The TFT display itself is actually surprisingly good, but when compared side by side with an IPS panel its not the most color-accurate thing in the world. Luckily, you can barely tell the difference while drawing in real life.
You even get 4 months of free Youtube Premium when you purchase it. The included speakers are excellent, and the tablet is powerful enough to multitask and switch between apps seamlessly. However, the main issue is with Android rather than the tablet itself. There’s a limited variety of drawing apps, and there are very few which I’d refer to as pro-grade applications.
There are a large number of people reading this guide who were looking for this exact tablet. Digital art doesn’t always have to be expensive. But how much money can you realistically save while still getting a great drawing experience? Turns out it can be a lot. The Huion 420 drawing tablet is the cheapest good drawing experience you can get.
Say what you will about Huion, but they have actually delivered an incredible drawing experience for not a lot of money. If you are just starting out, this will let you show off your creative muscles without breaking the bank. However, the tablet is undeniably small. It has an active area of only 4 x 2.23 inches. But that does make it compact and portable.
The pen has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which isn’t the highest count out there but it hardly matters in real-world usage. It’s compatible with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and much more. Huion does include some extra nibs in the box for the pen. The version we’re looking at even includes drawing gloves and other accessories.
So, you can get a decent drawing experience for a really low price, but at what cost? Well, you’ll have to zoom in a lot since the tablet is so small, and you’ll have to deal with a carpal tunnel over time. Build quality is also questionable. Still, if you’re on a very tight budget, this will get you started off till you can afford a better tablet.