The 8 best drawing tablets for beginners 2023
Want to move into digital drawing and painting? Here’s our pick of the best drawing tablets for beginners
Many artists would never dream of attempting any digital drawing or painting on a tablet. How can working away on a computer compare to the messy, tangible joys of drawing and painting?
The mistake most artists make is viewing digital art as a rival, rather than a friendly relation, of traditional media. It’s highly unlikely that digital art will ever supplant real-life drawing and painting - after all, it’s pretty hard to hang a JPEG on the wall. Lots of people also wrongly assume tablets are only used by graphic designers, architects, animators and the like doing client-based work.
Keen to get started? First things first: you’ll need to invest in a drawing tablet.
Read on to discover the best drawing tablets for beginners. All our options are affordable, simple to set up, and will see you well through many long hours of digital creation. We’ve also answered a few key questions so that you can choose the drawing tablet that's right for you.
How much are drawing tablets?
Drawing tablets come in a dizzying range of price points, but fortunately this reflects the target audience rather than quality.
There are two main types of tablet: standard digital tablets and display tablets. The first are faceless tablets you connect either via USB or wi-fi to your computer: you draw on the tablet, and your marks appear on your monitor through whatever software you’re using. These typically cost between £50 and £100, though you’ll find more advanced models can cost as much as £400.
Then there are display tablets, which are also known as pen display. These contain screens that you draw directly on to, which makes the process far more like typical drawing, with no disconnect between tablet and monitor. Sadly, these are considerably more expensive, with high-end models like the Wacom Cintiq Pro costing an eye-watering £1,668.37.
If you already own an iPad or other general tablet, you can invest in a standalone stylus like the Apple Pencil (£114.97 from Amazon). But these aren’t universally compatible, so if you’re set on using your stylus on a screen, make sure it’s labelled clearly to work with your device. If you're looking for a drawing app for your iPad, check out our guide to the best drawing apps for iPads.
Which are the best drawing tablets for beginners?
We suggest you invest in a standard digital tablet, since you’re new to this game, and unless you’re 100% certain that you wish to commit to digital artmaking, a screen-based tablet is too steep an investment at this point. Fortunately, the drawing tablet market has relatively few names - it’s monopolised for the most part by Wacom and Huion. If you see these two names, you know you’ll be buying a reliable tablet.
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Unsurprisingly, the larger the tablet, the more you’ll spend. Many notable drawing tablets come in a range of sizes. As with any art equipment, think about your available space and your daily commitments. You might want a larger tablet that never leaves your desk; you might want a compact-sized one that can be tucked easily into a backpack.
Other things to look out for are the number of pressure levels that the stylus can offer, and the tablet’s LPI. This stands for line-per-inch: essentially how many pixelated lines of detail fit into a square inch of your tablet. If you appreciate a cable-free workspace, check to see if the tablet supports wireless connectivity.
Best drawing tablets for beginners 2023
1. Wacom One
Not sure about this digital malarkey and keen to keep your spending low? There’s no other contender than Wacom’s entry-level digital tablet, which has a working area of 52mm by 95mm (6in x 3.7in). It actually has the same LPI (2540) as the pricier Wacom Intuos, although the stylus has around half the number of pressure levels (2048 versus 4.096). At £36, it’s seriously good value - you could easily spend more on a box of pencils. One thing to bear in mind is that the Wacom One doesn’t have any customisable button - that’s something you might miss later down the line.
2. Huion H1060P
Next up in price is Huion’s H1060P. As you can see, just little extra spending represents a significant jump in specs: the H160P has an LPI of 5080, and its stylus boasts an impressive 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. With an active area of 158mm by 99mm (6.25 x 3.9 inches), it’s a little larger than the Wacom One. The stylus has a 60-degree tilt function, which means the mark you make will change depending on the angle at which you hold it - just like real life!
It connects to your device with a Micro-USB cable, but comes with a USB-C adaptor, which is handy as that’s a connection that’s becoming increasingly common on laptops and even some smartphones. The Huion H1060P also has two banks of buttons along the top and left-hand edges, which you can tailor to your needs as you get more and more into digital work.
3. Wacom Intuos (small)
Wacom’s step up from the entry-level One is the Intuos. Even though it’s costlier than the Huion H1060P, it only has about half that tablet’s LPI. So why the extra dosh? Two reasons. Firstly, the Intuos can be used wirelessly (you can buy without bluetooth for £4 less on Amazon, but it’s such a meagre saving we can’t imagine anyone opting for that). Secondly, it comes with a trio of free software packages: Corel Painter Essentials 7 (for digital painting), Clip Studio Paint Pro (for drawing and painting) and Core AfterShot Pro 3 (photo post-production). That’s a great selection if you’re interested in trying out lots of different things with your tablet.
The stylus, meanwhile, has two customisable buttons and 4,096 pressure levels. In a particularly nice tough, the tablet’s four customisable buttons are grooved so you have somewhere to rest the stylus.
4. XP-Pen Deco03
With a 254mm by 143mm (10 x 5.62 inch) working area, the XP-Pen Deco03 is perfect for beginners looking for a larger-sized tablet - more space will ultimately offer your hand scope for more expression. It’s another one that supports a wireless connection, and it has the same 5,080 LPI resolution as the Huion H1060P. Although it only has a modest six keys, the Deco03 boasts a dial that will no doubt be popular with people who are doing things like subtly tweaking colours or brightness.
You’re also well set up for the long term - the package contains 8 replacement stylus nibs, and an anti-fouling glove.
5. XP-Pen Artist12
XP-Pen Artist12 is a drawing tablet that effectively works as a second screen and can be used in conjunction with the art software on your laptop or PC. This is an incredibly useful feature for budding digital artists. The screen has a sharp HD display and an anti-glare coating to protect your eyes – this means that you can see your work easily, even on bright and sunny days.
The surface of the tablet is very sensitive to pressure, which helps you to get the effects you want to achieve when you’re drawing. This tablet comes with a XP-Pen advanced P06 passive pen which won’t slip on the surface. It feels like using a traditional pencil!
The X-Pen Artist-12 drawing tablet is excellent value for money for beginners. It’s a high-quality tablet that’s less pricey than most professional drawing tablets.
6. Wacom Creative One Display
Okay, okay: we know we said that display tablets aren’t really aimed at beginners. But also we know that lots of people are much more comfortable with the idea of stylus-to-screen drawing and painting. So if you’re dead set on a tablet with a screen, we’re going to point you in the direction of Wacom’s Creative One Display, which was developed as an entry-level, cheaper alternative to the professional-oriented Cintiq range.
There are curious trade-offs in terms of quality - the included Wacom One Pen has a modest 4,092 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the screen doesn’t have the full colour range of the Cintiq 16. But for casual artists and hobbyists who want to see their digital creations growing directly beneath the tip of their pen, this is the ideal choice.
7. 2020 Huion Kamvas 22
If you have a bigger budget, consider buying a tablet like the 2020 HUION KAMVAS 22. This is a good choice to go for if you want to get into graphic design or illustration more seriously – if you just want to do it occasionally then we’d recommend choosing one of the cheaper drawing tablets.
This is a high-quality drawing tablet for beginners that can be used with a computer or laptop. It can also be connected to an iPad Pro if you have one. This tablet is suitable for kids, students or amateur artists to use.
It has a large 21.5in screen, the colours display clearly and it works with minimal setup – so you can start drawing straight away.
8. iPad Pro
If you’ve been thinking about getting a drawing tablet for beginners, consider whether an iPad might actually be better suited to your needs. An iPad such as an iPad Pro can be used to produce stunning digital artwork and there are lots of great illustration and photo-editing apps available.
The iPad Pro has a beautiful liquid crystal display, which has a high number of pixels per inch. This means that the pixels on the screen are not visible to the naked eye.
This iPad doesn’t come with a stylus, so you will need to buy an Apple Pencil separately.Some people find that the stylus slips on the screen – if this is a problem for you, you can buy rubber stylus tips fairly cheaply online.
Looking to develop your artistic skills further? Check out our acrylic painting guide. If you're looking for new drawing projects, learn how to draw a flower step by step, how to draw a dog or try our how to draw a cat easy tutorial. We've also put together a selection of the best drawing books to help you improve your skills.
Do you enjoy watching art TV shows to improve your skills? Read our guides to Grayson's Art Club, Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, Sky Landscape Artist of the Year and Watercolour Challenge.
Matt Breen is a digital writer for the tech section of RadioTimes.com. He writes buying guides, product reviews, how-to, explainers and news stories about everything from flagship smartwatches to bendable televisions (no, really). He keeps a beady eye on all the latest news in the consumer tech world. Matt has also written for Expert Reviews, BikeRadar, Coach, Gardens Illustrated, Gathered.how and The Week. When he's not obsessing over the latest tech products, you might just find him painting and drawing - anything to limit his screen time.
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