An artist and illustrator who decides to choose the best digital drawing tablet for himself is faced with a large number of different devices that are quite difficult to understand. You need to have basic technical skills, evaluate the quality of computer stuffing, deal with the stylus, design, number of clicks and memory. I did all this for you, as I once became interested in choosing the best graphics tablet for creating my digital illustrations. My choice fell on professional models of the middle and more expensive price segment, available to both a novice artist and an experienced author.
First, let’s look at interactive displays from Wacom, a well-known manufacturer of monitors and tablets for digital artists and illustrators. These tools are considered the most professional and the prices for them are the highest; due to their size and weight, most Wacom displays are designed for stationary use near a computer. Toward the end of the list, I will also show tablet computers (tablets) that are convenient to carry with you to draw on the couch or on the road.
I will also give a list of the best analogues of Chinese and other manufacturers, which are chosen by artists around the world. These are tablets at a lower price point, but their quality satisfies the needs of aspiring digital artists. Also, the tablets of this group can be considered as an excellent gift for a teenager who decided to try his hand at drawing, but has not yet embarked on the path of a professional artist who earns money with his work.
It is important to note that artists usually use the word “digital drawing tablet” to mean two completely different technical devices:
- interactive display (connects to a computer and often requires external power, as it does not have its own battery);
- mobile tablet computer (self-powered device that you can carry around, you can use it without connecting to a computer).
Sometimes by the word “tablet” artists also mean a digital drawing device that looks like a mobile tablet, but its surface does not have its own display, but is only equipped with sensors for sensing stylus pressures. Such a “tablet” is connected to a computer, and when you move the stylus over its surface, the picture appears on the monitor of the computer to which it is connected. Such devices are cheaper, but drawing on them is a dubious pleasure, in my opinion.
So, let’s move on to an overview of the main professional digital tablets for the artist.
WACOM one interactive display
This basic professional model has a convenient size and high performance at an affordable price. If you are an aspiring artist or a professional who appreciates minimalism and functionality, this option is likely to suit you. Sufficiently high sensitivity to pressing the stylus (more than 4000 levels), size of A4 sheet, light and convenient. This option is preferable for artists who have a small work space and don’t have a separate desk that you want to completely occupy with a digital tablet. This interactive display must be connected to a computer in order to draw on it.
Interactive display WACOM Cintiq 16 / 22
Very convenient monitor-tablet for stationary use, can be installed at an angle on the holder. Sensitivity – more than 8000 clicks, bright pleasant screen, quite heavy and requires power, it is most convenient to connect it as a monitor to a computer or laptop. This is a simpler version of the classic Cintiq series, which is suitable for stationary use in the studio or in a separate workplace. Since this is an interactive display, you will need to connect to an external computer for full operation.
Interactive display WACOM Cintiq Pro 24 / 32
This is probably the best option for a digital artist, but also the most expensive; a pro version of the classic Cintiq series. The large display size accommodates the interface of art programs and leaves a lot of room for creativity. Multi-touch allows you to operate images with your fingers, which simplifies the work. The screen supports 4k resolution, 99% Adobe RGB, more than 8000 levels of stylus clicks; there are 4 USB ports and a USB-C port. The kit includes a remote with buttons that you can customize to use in place of the keyboard. The tablet can be raised on its feet or placed on a vertical stand. The size of the display is just huge and the weight is quite large, so these are 100% stationary solutions for the artist.
Keep in mind that these displays are actually very large and heavy. If you install your monitor somewhere, it will stay there forever. You will not move it, shift it, take it with you to the balcony. No! It’s like an old chest of drawers that you brought into your apartment one day, and it will be the last thing you take out of the house if you decide to move or redecorate. And also immediately buy a holder for it, otherwise it will be quite inconvenient to draw on the display lying on the table, you need to raise it to eye level. Like other interactive displays, it also needs to be connected to a computer.
Wacom Mobile Studio Pro Tablet
This is the only mobile tablet from Wacom, which I found to be quite functional and convenient. Although the price is sky high, but in terms of quality, this is probably the best mobile option for digital illustration with a stylus. This is essentially the same WACOM Cintiq Pro that was made from a portable tablet computer that does not require connection to an external power source or device. The tablet itself is running Windows 10 or higher, which means you can install Photoshop, Krita, or any other art program on it.
Screen resolution 4k, more than 8000 degrees of stylus clicks, color quality is slightly worse than in the stationary version, but the display brightness is noticeably higher (up to 310 cd/m²). There are USB-C / 8Thunderbolt 3 ports. The tablet supports screen rotation, which allows you to reproduce the effect of dripping paint when the tablet is tilted in different directions (for example, when painting with watercolors). The downside of this model is the presence of lags / slight delays when drawing, if you are used to working on a good computer, then the tablet will seem somewhat sluggish.
While Wacom has traditionally been considered the digital artist’s top choice, you can actually draw just fine on other tablets, such as the iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy tablet. I found a rather original solution for digital drawing quite by accident when I decided to buy myself a new laptop for an artist and creator and came across a convertible Lenovo Yoga laptop with a touch screen. For several years now I have been drawing on the screen of my laptop using the Lenovo Active Pen 2 stylus (more than 4000 sensitivity levels) and I am very pleased with the result, I am especially pleased that the computer has a powerful nvidia geforce gtx 1050 video card installed, which allows drawing and making high-quality streams at the same time.
Cheaper alternative to Wacom
List of the best on my opinion digital tablets in a more affordable price range:
What will you choose for digital art?