If you’re new to digital drawing, you’ll quickly want to make your life easier with a graphics tablet. Here are our recommendations.
If the traditional graphic arts still have a bright future ahead of them, the democratization of computers has brought with it the popularization of digital drawing. And as with any form of art, it is important to choose the right tools. Opting for a graphics tablet is a good solution. Indeed, it replaces the mouse with a stylus, which is the guarantee of a more precise drawing, while giving you access to many styles of “brushes”. However, there is no shortage of graphics tablets on the market, which can quickly be disconcerting for a novice. Especially since an expensive tablet is not necessarily easy to learn or satisfactory to use.
Don’t let your lack of knowledge of graphics tablets, however, be a barrier to your creativity. To help you see more clearly, we have put together a buying guide highlighting products that will cover most of your expectations.
Note that if you are looking for a more versatile alternative, classic graphics tablets are more and more interesting. All the major manufacturers now offer good styluses and the software ecosystems are well developed, especially on the iPad OS. For more details, direction our tablet buying guide.
And if you need a good PC to run your favorite authoring software, we invite you to visit our guide to laptops.
Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth: a compact graphics tablet to get started
A major player in the market, Wacom has long proven its expertise in the field of consumer graphics tablets. The Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth is no exception to the rule.
This graphics tablet is intended the perfect introduction to the art of computer drawing. Compact, the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth offers a 7 inch work surface for a weight of 249 g. You will understand, it is far from cumbersome on a desk, and it can easily slip into a bag on the go. Especially since the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth is bluetooth compatible, which allows you to skip cables when connecting to a computer.
Despite these dimensions, the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth is no less precise. Indeed, its stylus, configurable, supports 4096 different pressure levels, for a detailed trace. And with just 4 freely programmable buttons, the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth is very easy to usewhether you are right-handed or left-handed. Not to mention that it comes with three free drawing software: Corel Painter Essentials 6, Corel Aftershot 3, Clip Studio Paint Pro. Finally, its price, which hovers around a hundred euros, makes the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth a particularly attractive tablet for beginners.
Huion H610 Pro V2: the unbeatable price-performance ratio
Ergonomics seem to have been Huion’s guiding idea when designing the Huion H610 Pro V2. Although it is 34 cm long, more than double the Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth, 24.5 cm wide, and its weight is close to 635 g, the Huion H610 Pro V2 remains easily transportable thanks to its thickness. barely 1 cm. On the other hand, such dimensions allow this graphics tablet to offer an 11 inch drawing surface.
Too often forgotten, left-handed people can enjoy a great user experience thanks to the interface of the Huion H610 Pro V2 which is easily adjusted for drawing with the left hand. Not content with understanding 8,192 different pressure levels, the Huion H610 Pro V2 is especially capable of detecting the angle of your stylus for increased precision when drawing.
If the Huion H610 Pro V2 skips Bluetooth, relying on a classic USB cable, it is generous with regard to the physical buttons. The Huion H610 Pro V2 into account 8, which can be programmed to give you access to 16 different shortcuts. And here again, the price not exceeding a hundred euros is particularly interesting for those who are new to digital drawing.
Wacom Intuos Pro Medium: get down to business
If entry-level models have shown their limits and you’re not interested in a model with a display, the Intuos Pro is right for you. Compared to the classic Intuos, it has a larger work surface for it and above all offers a size L which exceeds the A4 format. In return, it is more bulky and heavier.
The resolution is doubled, as is the number of pen pressure points. In short, you will have access to much more finesse in your creations. We also gain several additional buttons, practical to optimize your workflow. Connectivity side is complete: we have the choice between Bluetooth or USB-C.
Among the new functions, we note the arrival of multitouch which allows the tablet to be used as a trackpad giant. It will not be unanimous, but a button allows you to activate or deactivate it in an instant.
In short, Wacom offers here what is best in terms of tablet without screen, only the high price may cool some.
Wacom Cintiq 16: the best graphics tablet with display
Let’s go straight to the real (and only) downside of this graphics tablet: its price. The Wacom Cintiq 16 can often be found at a price of around 600 euros. One may wonder what justifies such a high price, 2, 3 or even 4 times higher than a conventional tablet. Simply the fact that the Wacom Cintiq 16 is a graphics tablet with an integrated screen, and that it ranks as one of the best value for money on the current market in this category.
L’16 inch screen with Full HD definition from Wacom Cintiq 16 provides an excellent display surface, while fairly faithfully restoring the colors thanks to a good calibration on the part of Wacom. Calibration which, by the way, adapts to many types of external displays. The touch screen of the Wacom Cintiq 16 is also able to detect the angle of the stylus, for an ever more organic rendering. As for its “passive” stylus, supporting 8,192 pressure levels, it makes the latency almost imperceptible. A good thing that would almost make us forget that we draw on a graphics tablet.
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: the mobile screen
Screen tablets are convenient, but they are complicated to transport and often require a dedicated power supply which makes them inconvenient to move. A limitation that this XP-Pen 13.3 Pro does not have is powered purely via USB. It will however need two connectors and an HDMI output to function, a compromise which we find quite acceptable. However, we hope to see a purely USB-C version land in the near future.
It’s nice to use, but only supports 2,048 pressure levels where most of the competition is more at 8,192 levels. The 13.3-inch panel adopts a Full HD resolution and offers a correct brightness given the limits of the power supply. The stylus on its side is of the passive type.
Last strong point of this tablet: its price, frankly interesting in view of its benefits.
What should you know when choosing a touchscreen tablet?
As with a computer, mouse, keyboard or screen, it is important to take several points into consideration when choosing your graphics tablet.
What are the different types of graphics tablets?
There are three types of graphics tablets. The so-called “classic” tablet is the most common. This model with an opaque drawing surface offers greater fidelity than its counterparts since you have the possibility of modulating your line simply with the pressure of your stylus. Then come the tablets with screens. More expensive and cumbersome, however, they allow better supervision of the current project. However, be sure to calibrate the built-in screen. Finally, the “scanner” tablet is rarer. It allows you to digitize and vectorize a paper drawing.
What are the essential characteristics of a good graphics tablet?
In our opinion, four essential points should be checked before purchasing a graphics tablet, namely:
- The dimensions. It is important to take into account the ratio between the overall size of the tablet and the area allocated to the drawing. No need to take a large tablet if the work area is only a quarter of the device. Conversely, a small tablet that gives pride of place to its drawing surface will tend to sacrifice the physical buttons.
- Ergonomics. As a touchscreen tablet can be complicated to learn, it is essential that you have all the keys in hand to learn how to use it quickly and especially without (too much) constraints. An abundance of physical buttons will quickly get you lost. To start, favor tablets that do not include more than 8 buttons. Likewise, be aware that a tablet with a screen is often heavier and more bulky than a traditional tablet.
- The precision. The stylus is just as important as the tablet itself. The more pressure a stylus can take, the more precise your stroke will be. Below 3000 levels, better to avoid.
- Compatibility. It would be a shame to buy a new graphics tablet and realize that it does not work on our computer. Always check that your future graphics tablet will be compatible with your version of Windows or macOS. Likewise, make sure your drawing software supports your graphics tablet.
What is the value of drawing on a graphics tablet?
Drawing on a graphics tablet does not provide the same experience as traditional drawing, which can be confusing for the first few uses. You have to get used to the slight latency between pressing the stylus on the drawing area and the appearance of the result on the screen. However, a battery-less stylus (also called a “passive” stylus) can reduce this latency.
Finally, and this is probably the only important point to remember apart from the technical characteristics: using a graphics tablet will not reward you with a better technique of drawing. To draw better, nothing replaces constant and often long training.