The best drawing tablets are the perfect investment if one of your goals for 2022 is to draw more. Whether you’re a complete novice to digital art, or are looking to push your craft to the next level, a new drawing tablet is the ideal way to get into better habits for the new year. Both drawing for work and drawing for pleasure can be greatly enriched with one of the best drawing tablets – and there are absolutely loads to choose from.
The first thing to suss out is which kind of tablet you want. In brief, you’re picking between a graphics tablet, a pen display or a tablet computer. Graphics tablets are the cheapest option, providing a great drawing experience, but needing to be hooked up to an external display like a computer monitor or even a smartphone. Pen displays come with their own screens, providing a more intuitive experience but adding to the bulk and the cost. Finally, tablet computers are the more versatile kind – think iPads or Samsung Galaxies. These offer a superb artist’s experience that’s comparable to professional drawing tools – but all that power comes at a cost.
In this guide we’ve included a range of tablets from all the major manufacturers, including Wacom, Xencelabs, Huion, XP-Pen and more. We’ve included tablets all across the price spectrum, so whatever your budget, there should be something here for you. And for more options, we also have a dedicated guide to the best tablets for students and the best drawing tablets for kids.
The best drawing tablets in 2022
Xencelabs is a relative newcomer in the world of drawing tablets. Founded by former staff members of Wacom, it has taken plenty of cues from the market leaders in designing its high-quality, well-priced drawing tablet. The Xencelabs Pen Tablet is a triumph, a superb drawing tool that offers top-notch quality and is hugely enjoyable to use. The texture of the drawing zone is pitched just right, with a perfect level of “bite” against the stylus.
Speaking of the stylus, the Xencelabs Medium Tablet comes with not one bundled in, but two – a regular and a slim. Both are excellent and can be extensively customised, which is handy as you can fine-tune them for different purposes, e.g. one for line-drawing and the other for shading. With fine pressure sensitivity and 60-degree tilt sensitivity, drawing with one of these styluses really does feel like the real thing. There’s no lag, no skipped lines – the pens don’t miss a beat.
The Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet is the only one in the series currently – there’s no small budget model or large high-end version. We’re eagerly anticipating these in the future, but for now, the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet is a fantastic drawing tablet that’s going to suit a huge majority of artistic users.
Find out more by reading our full Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle review.
In any conversation about digital art, Wacom is going to feature heavily. For a long time, the company was pretty much the only serious name in drawing tablets, and it’s only recently that rivals have started to catch up. As such, you’d still expect to see Wacom well represented on any list of the best drawing tablets, and one of its most popular models among artists is the Cintiq 22.
With a 22-inch display, this is a serious tablet with a lot of room to play. It’s got Full HD resolution – not as many pixels as some newer, flashier tablets, but is more than enough for most people. You can get sharper screens on other Wacom tablets, but they tend to cost more, and this model is all about bringing Wacom quality with an affordable price tag. And let's not forget that plenty of tablets, Xencelabs' included, don't have a screen at all.
Plus, it’s got Wacom’s ace in the hole – the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which boasts 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as tilt sensitivity. Wacom has been in this game a long time, and it’s hard to imagine an artist with any complaints about the Pro Pen 2. It just works really, really well.
An advantage of Wacom tablets for students and those looking to break into digital art professionally is that it’s pretty much the industry standard, so learning to use one is a very good step to take. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other tablets, it’s just something to bear in mind.
Find out more with our Wacom Cintiq 22 review.
If you’re working to a stricter budget, then XP-Pen drawing tablets are definitely worth considering. The firm has marked itself out by offering highly affordable alternatives to the more expensive tablets produced by the likes of Wacom, and with a tablet like the XP-Pen Artist 15.6, you get a lot for your money.
There’s a good-sized drawing area and a highly sensitive stylus offering a sophisticated degree of control, not to mention a comfortable hold. The parallax – meaning the perceptible gap between the tip of the stylus and the line on the screen, caused by distance between the layers of the screen – might take a little getting used to for some people, but it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker.
If you’re looking for a starter tablet that offers plenty of room to learn and grow with your digital art, or a step-up from a basic beginner’s tablet, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 is an ideal choice, one that won’t break the bank. It’s for sure one of the best cheap drawing tablets you can buy.
Find out more about this drawing tablet in our XP-Pen Artist 15.6 graphics tablet review.
Apple is basically just showing off now. Like a Mario Kart player who's so effortlessly crushing the competition they start doing donuts in front of the finish line, the firm's latest tablet is simply miles ahead of the rest. The 2021 refresh of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch comes with the M1 processing chip, which was previously only found in Macs. This enables apps to run faster than ever, and when it's paired with the all-new mini-LED-powered XDR display, produces a system for making and displaying digital art that's simply unrivalled.
Drawing with the Apple Pencil 2 is still a smooth and intuitive experience. The new screen really is an improvement across the board, with not only greater overall brightness, but improved control of local dimming, meaning that areas of contrast have greater nuance and definition to them.
So why, with all this, is it not our top pick? Well, it does depend on what you need. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) is so powerful, and so priced accordingly, that if you are only looking for a drawing tablet and won't need its many other features, it probably isn't worth it, and a dedicated tool like those above will offer greater value for money. Still, let's not lose sight of the fact that this is the best overall tablet on the market right now, and one of the greatest for drawing, no question.
See our iPad Pro 12.9-inch M1 (2021) review for a detailed look at why this tablet is so good. Also, note that the 11-inch iPad Pro is another excellent, though expensive, choice; our iPad Pro 11-inch (M1, 2021) review goes into detail.
If you’re not sure whether a drawing tablet is something you’ll use regularly enough to justify the cost, the second Huion tablet on our list, the H430P, gives you all the basics without requiring a big investment. The drawing area is small, yes, but the pen is sensitive enough to give you a true sense of the creative benefits drawing tablets can bring. It may not take long before you outgrow this tablet, but it’s a very affordable way to get started.
Our Huion Inspiroy H430P review explored why this small but mighty graphics tablet is a great choice for beginner artists.
One of the most recent tablets to arrive in the mid-range space, the Huion Kamvas 22 Plus impresses with its beautiful and generously sized screen. A 16:9 display with Full HD resolution, it’s constructed from etched anti-glare glass, meaning it should last a lot longer than many comparable screens that rely simply on anti-glare film. It also improves the texture of the screen, making the drawing experience feel more tactile and, dare we say it, analogue.
With an anti-parallax design, 140% sRGB coverage and ability to replicate 16.7 million colours, this is a very impressive tablet. The pen that comes with it is basically decent and will do the job – it’s a little no-frills perhaps, with only one type of nib supplied. Overall the Huion tablet is a sound buy, especially when compared to competition at this price point from the likes of XP-Pen – it’s got better colour coverage and a generally better drawing feel.
Read more in our full Huion Kamvas 22 Plus review.
XP-Pen continues to carve out an impressive niche in the mid-range of drawing tablets, with the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 offering a premium-feeling experience at a consumer-friendly price. A minor upgrade on the Innovator 16, it offers an excellent drawing surface with 99% Adobe RGB coverage and virtually no parallax.
The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 boasts a new stylus with an intelligent chip, promising a 10-fold increase in touch sensitivity. This allows for some real lightness of touch when it comes to making fine lines, requiring just 3g of pressure to make a mark. Having dual dials and eight customisable shortcut buttons makes controlling the Artist Pro 16 a pleasingly tactile process, as does the all-metal casing that surrounds it.
The lack of an included stand is a little disappointing, and some monitor setups may require a bit of a mess of cables to get working, which may annoy those who prefer a clean desktop. But otherwise this is an impressive, sleek, tempting tablet.
Read more with our full XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 review
One of the latest of Microsoft’s impressive laptop/tablet hybrids, the Surface Book 3 is very clearly a premium product from the moment you take it out of the box. Its build quality is gorgeous, and the display looks exceptional. Once you add the highly impressive Surface Pen to the equation (which does add an extra $100/£100 or so onto the already not-inconsiderable cost of the enterprise) then you’ve got a fantastic drawing tool that’ll synergise beautifully with any Windows workflow you already have going. If this isn’t quite enough display for you, there’s also a 15-inch version – though this of course jacks the price up still further.
Wacom's confusingly named Wacom One (not to be confused with any previous Wacom Ones) is an excellent and portable 13-inch tablet at an extremely competitive price point, no doubt designed to tempt users away from cheaper brands like XP-Pen. Its Full HD display provides 72 per cent NTSC colour and an anti-glare treated film, and the tablet even comes with little legs for standing up when you're out and about and want to quickly get some ideas down. An ideal tablet to slip into your day bag, the Wacom One provides a great drawing experience without costing the earth.
Read our in-depth Wacom One review for more on exactly what to expect from this device.
Undercutting Wacom considerably on price, the XP-Pen Deco Pro is an alternative to the likes of the Intuos Pro, offering a smaller slate of features but for about a third of the cost. So while the software drivers are a little janky, the fundamental drawing experience is rock-solid. The pen may not have the premium feel of a Wacom, but it still offers 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the overall design of the tablet has picked up a Red Dot awards. This isn't just a cheap knock-off – it's a premium knock-off, and if you're an artist on a budget, it definitely merits consideration.
Our XP-Pen Deco Pro review will tell you more.
When you’re creating artwork, you want room to sketch freely and a pen that feels as close as possible to the paper equivalent. You’ll find both in the Wacom Intuos Pro Large graphics tablet: it's one of the purest drawing experiences you can get from a digital device. The pen provides over 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and a drawing area that – while it’s not the biggest available – gives you more than the area of a magazine to play inside. All this is supported by Wacom’s broad ecosystem of alternative pens and Texture Sheets to give your drawing surface a distinctive feel.
The Intuos Pro is also available in other sizes, so if the asking price is a little steep and you’re willing to work with a smaller screen, you may want to consider the Intuos Pro Medium or Intuos Pro Small. Both of these tablets offer similar functionality to the largest version, just with smaller working areas.
Find out more in our in-depth Wacom Intuos Pro review.
The best drawing tablet accessories
Wacom Pro Pen 3D
A third button may not sound much of an innovation, but it enables the Pro Pen 3D to support pan and zoom in three dimensions, giving 3D artists unfettered navigation at their fingertips.
Wacom Inking Pen
For that traditional feel, the Inking Pen enables you to place a sheet of paper on your Wacom tablet then draw onto it with ink, while the tablet captures your drawing movements at the same time. The Inking Pen is only for Intuos tablets: it can damage the screen on Cintiqs and MobileStudios.
Adonit Jot Pro
If the Apple Pencil doesn’t appeal or your iPad isn’t compatible, the Adonit Jot Pro is a stylish pen that works on any iPad (or Android tablet). The nib, combining a fine-point tip with a plastic circle to register on the tablet screen, looks curious but works well in practice.
The best drawing tablets: What are the different types?
Broadly speaking, there are three main types of drawing tablet. Each takes a different approach to the central challenge of helping you draw on your Windows PC or Mac as if you were drawing on paper.
In terms of drawing tablets, there's everything from professional, high-resolution graphics tablets, to portable tablets that cost less than £40 and fit in a small backpack. There's also a growing market of drawing tablets for little ones, and you can check out our dedicated drawing tablets for kids guide if this is something you're looking for. Want to go unplugged for a bit? Have a look at our best lightboxes for more hands-on creativity. And if you're looking specifically for a tablet for editing, see our best tablets for photo and video editing.
The traditional drawing tablet features a flat, featureless surface that you draw on with a stylus, with the image displayed on a computer monitor. Graphics tablets remain the most affordable drawing tablet category. Their main disadvantage is the sense of ‘disconnect’ between the drawing surface and the screen, although most people get used to this quickly.
Pen displays consists of a flat-screen monitor with a pressure-sensitive surface that you draw on with a stylus. They don't have the sense of disconnect experienced with graphics tablets, are more portable and cost more. However, you get a lot of cables between the display and computer (see the best computers for graphic design), and the display surfaces don’t offer the ‘bite’ that graphics tablets do.
Android and iOS devices like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro take on the other drawing tablets in two ways. You don't need another computer: just download an art app and start drawing with your fingertip or a stylus. Also, when you want to use the Creative Cloud suite on your main computer, these can function as graphics tablets with apps like Astropad.
The best drawing tablets: Which one should you buy?
Right now, we're confident in saying that the absolute best drawing tablet you can buy is the Wacom Cintiq 22, which provides Wacom's famous quality in a pleasingly large tablet at a surprisingly affordable price. If you want something a bit smaller (and cheaper), then go for the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet bundle, which comes with some surprisingly cool accessories and is very affordable.
If you're completely new to this market, it's worth pointing out that there are three different categories to be aware of.
- Graphics tablets, which you draw directly onto with a stylus
- Pressure-sensitive pen displays, which are hooked up to a monitor
- Tablet computers, which can be adapted for drawing with an app
Need a recap? Here are the best drawing tablets, graphics tablets and tablet computers right now...