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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
XP-PEN Artist 15.6 inch Full HD IPS Graphics Display Tablet
XP-PEN
Artist 15.6 inch Full HD IPS Graphics Display Tablet
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Feature-packed
Bottom Line

Powerful drawing monitor with tilt function and revolutionary Red Dial interface for maximum control and precision.

Pros

Vibrant 15.6" drawing monitor built to seamlessly work with most industry-standard graphic programs. 178 degrees of tilting power to fit your favorite drawing position. 8,192 levels of pen pressure for fine brushwork and broad strokes alike. Red dial makes it easy to get exactly where you want to go without compromising workflow.

Cons

Stylus slightly clunky for some users. Cable clutter a concern for those on the go.

Best Bang for the Buck
UGEE M708 Graphics Tablet
UGEE
M708 Graphics Tablet
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Bargain Pick
Bottom Line

Graphics drawing tablet with spacious 10" x 6" drawing pad, battery free stylus, and hot keys for custom functionality.

Pros

Affordable screenless drawing tablet with impressive 8,192 pressure sensitivity for a bargain price. Battery-free stylus is always ready to draw, plan when users are. Built for right-handed and left-handed artists alike. Should work with most creative software. 266 RPS prevents lag. Box includes gloves, refills, pen holder, and other helpful accessories.

Cons

Lack of screen may hinder those who prefer to look at their hand as they draw.

Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphic Tablet
Wacom
Intuos Wireless Graphic Tablet
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Portable Convenience
Bottom Line

It's easy to be creative using this black wireless graphic tablet, which comes with 2 free art software downloads.

Pros

Draw, paint, or color with precision and control using this tablet, which has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Pen is fast (speed 133 pps), doesn't need charging. Slim and portable, with generous drawing space of 6" x 3.7”. 4 customizable ExpressKeys to set up your own shortcuts. Includes 2 free downloadable art software upon product registration.

Cons

Some buyers had difficulty with set-up – installing drivers or compatibility issues. Pen nib appears to wear out quickly, requiring replacement.

VEIKK OSU! Tablet
VEIKK
OSU! Tablet
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

Screenless tablet for PCs, Macs, and several mobile devices helps with art, gaming, document signing, inking, and design on-the-go.

Pros

Slim and portable tablet useful for art as well as OSU! gaming, document signing, non-professional art work editing, inking, sculpting, etc. 6" x 4" active space, with a battery-free pen featuring precise, 8192 level pressure sensitivity. High monitor resolution, fast refresh rate, and good for right- or left-handers. Can be used with most major design software.

Cons

Doesn't have all the features other models we considered. Lack of screen a hindrance to some.

HUION H610 Pro V2 Drawing Tablet
HUION
H610 Pro V2 Drawing Tablet
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Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

Easy drawing tablet with that works with most computers, Android phones and tablets for creativity on the go.

Pros

Screenless drawing tablet that's not just for artists. Works well for presentations, word documents, PDFs, and more. Precision tilt control allows for better pressure detection, accurate cursor positioning. 8,192 levels of pressure with a battery-free stylus and up to 5080LPI, depending on the user's setup. Shortcut keys for customization.

Cons

While tablet works with Mac OS, it will not work with iOS devices. Lack of screen may turn off some buyers.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Models
Considered
60
Consumers
Consulted
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Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best tablets for art students

Once upon a time, an art tablet was a big, thick book of paper used for drawing or painting. Now, it’s a slim piece of advanced technology on which you can create illustrations and graphics, manipulate photos, and create animation. Instead of painting on paper and scanning the work into a computer, you draw directly on the tablet screen and use art software to configure your final work.

As you might imagine, there is a wide variety of styles, capabilities, and prices when it comes to tablets for art students. Whether you’re a hobbyist or an aspiring graphic design professional, it’s important to choose the right piece of equipment for the job.

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In a tablet, a larger “canvas” is helpful because you don’t have to keep zooming and panning to make larger illustrations.

Tablet type

Tablets for art students fall into two categories: tablet computers and graphics tablets.

Tablet computers

With these products, you draw directly on the screen using anything from your finger to a special pen or brush. It is just like drawing on a paper pad, giving you a realistic experience. These tablets have the benefit of being portable, which is useful for many work or classroom situations. They can also be loaded with apps for creating your projects, or you can send your files to a computer. Tablet computers are more expensive than graphics tablets and tend to be the technology of choice for professionals.

Price: For a top-end tablet computer, expect to pay between $200 and $500. If you splurge on a tablet with lots of memory and other capabilities, you’ll be out of pocket to the tune of about $1,700.

Graphics tablets

These tablets have a featureless flat screen that hooks up to your computer and monitor either by USB or wirelessly. You draw on the pad using a special stylus or pen and see the result on the monitor. There’s a bit of a disconnect between drawing and relating to what you’re seeing on the screen as you draw, which takes some getting used to. Graphics tablets are less portable than tablet computers because you need to be in range of the monitor. However, these are good introductory devices for many people because there are decent inexpensive models.

Price: You can get a basic graphics tablet for under $50, with most name brands in the $75 to $100 range.

Tablet features

Pressure sensitivity

This is a key factor when it comes to creating your art. The tablet captures both the motion and pressure on the screen, so the harder you press with the stylus, the thicker the stroke. Pressure can also adjust the transparency and even the color of the lines you put on the screen. The more refined and detailed you want your art to be, the more pressure sensitivity you need. The range is numbered from low (300) to high (3,000). A minimum of 1,024 pressure points is recommended, and most tablets today have at least 2,048, which is extremely effective for almost all applications.

Resolution

It’s no surprise that resolution differs between tablet brands, much like televisions. And just like TVs, it’s getting better all the time. Tablet resolution is measured in lines per inch (LPI), and the more there are, the higher the resolution. You need about 1,000 LPI for good resolution, and it improves up to 2,000 LPI, but anything more than that and you won’t really see a vast difference.

Report rate speed

Report rate speed, or reports per second (RPS), measures the responsiveness, or latency, of a tablet. This is the length of time between making a stroke and seeing the result on the screen. The less delay, the more natural drawing on the tablet will feel. An RPS of at least 200 is recommended, which means the tablet registers the command in 1/200 of a second — plenty fast enough for most mortals.

Function keys

Express keys, also known as “hot” keys, are useful for shortcut commands. Most graphics tablets have a few of these. Some tablets come with customizable buttons so you can adapt the device to your specific uses.

Drawing surface

How the pen feels as you draw is important and can affect an artist’s style. Some tablet surfaces are smooth, as you would expect, but some high-end models are textured so that it feels as though you’re drawing on paper.

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Did you know?
Battery-operated pens tend to be thicker because of the batteries inside.
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Tips

  • Check a tablet for right- or left-handed use. If you’re left-handed, make sure you can set up the tablet so you can use it comfortably.

  • Check that the tablet works with your operating system. Both graphics tablets and tablet computers are compatible with Windows and Apple computers, but check that the operating system that you’re running is supported, especially if you have an older computer.

  • Check that the tablet’s actual drawing area meets your needs. With a tablet, the screen size is all usable, but note that the dimensions given for a graphics tablet may be for the entire pad, including the bezel.
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Many tablets come with a pen, or stylus. You can upgrade and add more pens fairly inexpensively, and there is a wide choice of nibs, tips, and even erasers.

FAQ

Q. What software can I run with this kind of tablet?

A. Tablets are widely compatible with any program you use on your computer, such as Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, Painter, Clip Studio, Sketchbook, Zbrush, Gimp, Corel, and Krita. There are many drawing and graphics programs out there, so if you have a specific one you want to run, check the manufacturer’s website. As a bonus, some tablets also come with free downloadable software.

Q. How hard is it to set up a graphics tablet with my computer?

A. You need to install a driver, which can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website. Make sure you do this before you plug in the tablet. If you’re upgrading from a previous tablet, you might have to uninstall any other drivers. Some top-end tablets also require the use of a graphics card to get the full spectrum of colors.

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