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7 Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists | 2021

7 Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists | 2021

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The best digital art tablets for beginner artists are the types with pressure sensitivity, tilt control, palm rejection, and the proper price point that matches the end-goal of the beginner artists. 

Beginner artists will want a minimum of 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels, with 4,096 levels being ideal. If the tablet was intuitively easy to use, had all the features aritsts need such as tilt control, palm rejection, minimal flaws, then we rated these higher.

For beginners, you don’t need the most expensive tablet, but one with shortcut buttons, replaceable pen nibs, a drawing area of 6 x 3.7 inches minimum and a display built-in is optional, but recommend if you’re a serious artist.

The ultimate tool for beginners who want to become professional digital artists is drawing a tablet with a built in screen designed specifically for digital art. However, these do typically run at a higher price point; which I will cover more on in this article.

Related: What is a Wacom Tablet? (and is it worth it?)

In this article I’m going to cover the best tablets for beginner digital artists.

At a Glance – Best Drawing tablets for beginner artists

Our top picks:

  1. Wacom Student Best Digital Art Tablet for Beginners
  2. Huion Inspiroy Q11K: Best Tablet for Digital Art Professionals on a Budget
  3. XP-PEN Artist 15.6: Best Budget Tablets for Drawing with Screen Built-in for Beginners
  4. Wacom Bamboo Folio: Best budget Digital Art Tablet (Paper Smart-Pad)

What every Beginner Artist should know before Choosing a Drawing Tablet

What every Beginner Artist should know before Choosing a Drawing Tablet

Here are the three types of drawing pads and what level artist they are for. More casual users on a budget will want to consider the drawing tablet options without a screen built-in.

Here are the three types of drawing tablets both beginners and pro’s will need to choose from:

  1. Smartpad (Casual Artists): A paper notepad that uses electronic sensors to send your paper/pen drawings to a computer or tablet (digitizes your paper drawings). Wacom Bamboo Folio is a good example of this. These are aimed at beginner artists who want to sketch casually via mobile phone, tablet, computer.
  2. Paperless drawing tablet: Drawing tablet with no built-in screen. ‘One’ by Wacom is a good example of this. These are built for all skill levels; beginner, intermediate, and Pro Artists or those on a budget and are reqiured to be connected to a laptop or tablet.
  3. Digital Art tablet with a built-in screen: Ultimate tool for professionals, a large screen to draw on. Beginners who plan to create studio quality artwork can consider these as well. A Good example of this is the Wacom Cintiq, or the XP-Pen budget alternative to the Cintiq.  For pen tablets with built-in screen, I found that the XP-Pen allowed me to create everything I was able to on the Wacom Cintiq, it didn’t lack too many features, but did feel slightly premium with different shortcut buttons.

How we picked our drawing tablet choices in this guide:

How we picked our drawing tablet choices in this guide

We rated those that had a good pricepoint while still mantaining over 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels higher for beginner aritsts because this is the minimum requirement.

We also chose those with a screen built-in that were at a good price as part of out list since the price range can vary. Brand name, pen nib funtionality, and overall design when we tested these were considered..

Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists

Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists

We’re going to cover the best drawing tablets for new artists, beginner artists and even go over some intermediate and pro models for those beginners who plan to get serious with digital drawing or graphic design.

1. Wacom Student Best Digital Art Tablet for Beginners

Wacom Student Best Digital Art Tablet for Beginners

‘One’ by Wacom is a student is a highly popular, paperless Digital Art Tablet for beginners, specially created by Wacom for entry-level artists. And when Wacom, the leading brand for digital art tablets, creates a tablet, they never compromise on quality.

With the newest CTL version, you will be able to make great digital art in no time. With a super-affordable price tag, this tablet has everything a non-experienced or intermediate artist needs. Many experienced designers use this tab daily for good reasons.

In fact, the only thing the Wacom student drawing tablet misses is an integrated screen to draw on. Which many beginners don’t go for because of the increased price point.

I’ve found that the beginners that do choose a drawing tablet with a screen, typically go with the XP-Pen or Huion KAMVAS from my experience, due to the price of the Wacom Cintiq (I did initially).

Using a digital art tablet requires connecting it to a PC or laptop. The tablet will send your hand movements to that display. However, connecting this tablet to your laptop or desktop is super-easy, as the tablet can be connected both wirelessly and via USB-A. When it comes to compatibility, the CTL works with most Mac, Windows, and Chromebook devices. 

Although ‘One’ by Wacom is one of the cheapest tablets on the market, it has very accurate movements and you will face very little lag. The fact that it offers 2048 Pressure Levels and a resolution of 2540 LPI is rare in this price range. Likewise, due to its drawing features, this Wacom tablet offers an amazing drawing experience. 

This beginner artist Wacom tablet offer a great tablet for all digital art software. The tablets working area is pretty small, making it one of the best compact and portable tablets on the market. It utilizes an active working area of 6.0 x 3.7, which can be easily configured for both left or right-handed users.

In a few words, One by Wacom is one of the most reliable, portable drawing tablets for new artists and proves to be  suitable for both beginners and more experienced users. 

2. XP-PEN Artist 15.6: Best Budget Tablets for Drawing with Screen Built-in for Beginners

XP-PEN Artist 15.6_ Best Budget Tablets for Drawing with Screen Built-in for Beginners

As XP-PEN’s flagship, the Artist PRO is a top pick by many beginner and professional artists who need a drawing tablet with a screen. This model is less pricey than Wacom. 

The drawing panel is equipped with 8 customizable shortcut keys to create a fully-adjustable drawing process. 

The P05R Battery-free Stylus has 8.192 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it highly capable of professional level digital art projects. The XP-pen’s stylus pressure will enhance your performance by enabling professional level precision lines, drawings, digital paint and sketches. 

What’s really nice is that the XP-Pen has models with different screen sizes; from 12’’ to 21.5’”. I personally use the 15.6’’ version. I consider this to be the best size for most beginner artists who want to become pro (or create pro level work)

Related: What Stylus Pen do Artists use to Draw on iPad? A Beginners Guide | 2021

The largest model has a display of 21.5 inches. It’s no surprise why most experienced artists tout & boast about this model so often; it’s fairly portable and not too bulky. 

Moreover, its price point isn’t much more than the 13 or 15.6 inch model, and as an artist myself it’s really worth the investment if you’re serious.. If you choose to buy a drawing tablet with a screen, then it’s certainly ideal to purchase a model that you won’t desire to replace in a few months (you’ll likely progress your digital art skills once you gain some momentum)

The newest XP-Pen Artist is an ideal solution for both beginners and professionals who want to take Digital Art as a profession. Casual users will be pleased they can create top-tier level animation and Digital Art on this tablet. 

Using a laptop instead? Many choose between the Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro for Drawing & Art (Compared)

The XP-Pen touts an impressive 88% color precision (IPS display), which offers a suitable drawing experience for both beginner and pro digital art projects.

XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro is compatible with both Mac and Windows devices. To sum up, if you need a large (yet portable) drawing tablet screen for your daily drawing, then this device, as specially created for serious artists, won’t let you down.

3. Wacom Bamboo Folio: Best budget Digital Art Tablet (Paper Smart-Pad)

Wacom Bamboo Folio_ Best budget Digital Art Tablet (Paper Smart-Pad)

Bamboo Folio is quite different than all the other drawing tablets on our list. This pad allows you to draw directly to paper, and then digitalize it straight to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.

With its advanced pen sensors, the newest drawing digitizer of Wacom helps with a common problem for most beginner and experienced graphic designers.

All you have to do is write or draw something on paper and then press the tablet’s digitization button. The Wacom Inkspace app will automatically recognize, take a picture of your handwritten notes or drawings, and convert them into PDF or JPEG format.  

When it comes to artists, the Bamboo Folio is ideal for beginner digital artists and casual drawing. Although it can’t connect to software like Photoshop or Illustrator, it is the perfect tool to digitize your sketches, before turning them into the perfect digital piece of art. Moreover, the Folio allows you to digitize an 80-page notepad (less than 8mm thick) and comes with a dedicated, normal Wacom pen. 

Finally, you can connect the Bamboo Folio easily to any smartphone (iOS and Android) via Bluetooth, or to tablets and laptops through the Wacom Inkspace app. To summarize, if you are an artist that always starts with a regular pen and paper before you start drawing virtually, then Bamboo Folio is an amazing tool for you.

4. Wacom DTC133 ONE: Best Tablet for intermediate Digital Artists (Animation)

Wacom DTC133 ONE_ Best Tablet for intermediate Digital Artists (Animation)

If you are looking for an intermediate and reliable drawing tablet with a screen, then Wacom DTC133 ‘One’ is the best for you. Wacom is the brand trusted by most professional digital artists, and this device indicates the reasons why.

Keeping in mind that this article is mostly for beginner artists, we suggest Wacom One as an extremely easy-to-use drawing tablet. The device has all the comfortable features that the brand is known for. The tablet comes with express keys and shortcuts that are easily customizable. 

The touch features like multi-touch gestures and the most advanced radial menus are amazing and will make your life easier in no time. The included Wacom pen is also premium, has amazing accuracy, and will make you feel like using a real pen. Wacom argues that the 13.3’’ HD screen is extremely suitable for students, and it is true that One is small, lightweight, and thus extremely portable. 

If you plan on using an actual tablet or something more powerful, you may want to consider choosing between the Best Touch Screen Laptops for Drawing

On the other hand, its price is the same as XP-Pen’s 15,6’’ model. For this reason, your final choice has to do with your priorities. For example, if you think that a big Full HD screen is a must when purchasing a drawing tablet, then XP-Pen is the best way to go. 

Nevertheless, Wacom’s One is easier-to-use, much more portable than XP-Pen 15.6’’, and it is developed by the best brand on the virtual drawing market.  

5. XP-Pen Star05: Best Tablet for Digital Art (Beginner Professional)

XP-Pen Star05_ Best Tablet for Digital Art (Beginner Professional)

Star05 is a paperless digital art tablet, with similar characteristics as Wacom’s CTL. However, it has different pros and cons and this is the reason why this tablet worths a place on our list.

Just like the CTL, XP-pen Star05 is created by a reliable, premium brand. It is not a standalone product, as you have to connect it to a computer, laptop, or tablet. The tablet recognizes your hand movements and automatically transfer them to the connected display. 

When it comes to drawing experience, Star05 has amazing accuracy, and you will not have any problem with lags. The XP-PEN stylus is battery-free and has 8192 pressure levels (which is four times more than the CTL’s pen) to provide a natural experience. 

Related: Best Drawing Tablets that Dont Need a Computer (Standalone)

Apart from that,  Star05 has an active working area of 8 x 5 inches, which is bigger than CTL’s canvas. It can be easily configured for both left or right-handed users and has six touch-sensitive shortcut keys for quick access to the functions you use frequently. 

Those are the main reasons why Star05 is slightly more expensive than Wacom’s CTL. Although both tablets are ideal for beginners who consider themselves more than a casual digital artist, XP-Pen has developed a more advanced (yet less portable) tablet.

6. iPad Pro: Best Apple Tablet for Graphic Design and Digital Art

iPad Pro_ Best Apple Tablet for Graphic Design and Digital Art

Although the latest iPad Pro isn’t a drawing tablet, it is an amazing tool for beginner and more experienced graphic designers. It was obvious during our review, that the 2020 iPad Pro was built for creators and artists.

The iPad Pro might be expensive, but for good reasons. It comes with an amazing 12.9-inch display, which is a great canvas size for an artist. The new Liquid Retina display offers incredible color accuracy and can run up to 120Hz, offering an amazing drawing experience.

The iPad Pro is also by far the most powerful tablet on the market, strong enough to run demanding art software like the Adobe suite or Procreate. When combined with the latest Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro becomes the ultimate drawing tool. 

If you’re choosing between a tablet and a drawing input, then you’ll want to know the difference between iPad vs Wacom: which is better for digital art

Although Apple hasn’t released the extract pressure specs, the Pencil is amazing and known to be one of the best on the market. The Apple Pencil has an amazing feature most other pens don’t have. It includes a small gesture area on its flat side, which you can tap to quickly switch between your recent tools.

IPad Pro is also a standalone drawing device, meaning you won’t need a second screen for your digital drawing experience. The latest iPad Air works for digital art too but is a bit weaker in terms of speed/power. However, if you need the most premium standalone drawing device, to use not only for drawing, then the iPad Pro is the smartest choice. 

Related: 7 Best Cheap Tablets for Watching Movies

7. Huion Inspiroy Q11K: Best Tablet for Digital Art Professionals on a Budget

Huion Inspiroy Q11K_ Best Tablet for Digital Art Professionals on a Budget
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The HuionInspiroy Q11K offers plenty of advanced features at a great price. The device works like the XP-Pen’s Star05 and Wacom’s CTL. It is a screenless drawing pad you have to connect to an external screen to use. 

Huion is a brand made by artists and architects. For this reason, this tablet is pretty much everything a beginner graphic designer needs.

The drawing area of Inspiroy is the biggest amongst the three, allowing you to draw in an 11 x 6.8 inches workspace. Huion’s pen has 8192 pressure levels, similar to Star05, and offers a great drawing experience.

Q11K is also compatible with most computers, laptops, and tablets and works without lags with all drawing applications, such as Illustrator, CorelPainter, PS, and Krita. Further, Huion’s tablet is wireless and the brand promises it covers an area of up to 10 meters.

To sum up, the Q11K is a great alternative to Wacom’s CTL, specially created for those of you that want a huge workspace at a great price.

Comparison of different types of drawing tablets for beginners, intermediate, and professionals

Below is a comprehensive chart of the different types of drawing tablets for beginners. I couldn’t find anything like this online so I am sharing this for beginner artists who want a bigger picture:

Drawing Tablet TypeFunctionDisplay TypeSkill levelRequirements
SmartPadSends your paper drawings to your computer Paper, no screenAll LevelsLaptop, computer, or SmartPhone
Paperless drawing tabletConnects to a laptop and mimics your pen input to your app on your computerNo display, plasticBeginner, Intermediate, Pro Laptop, Computer
Drawing tablet with screen built-inConnects to a laptop and you can draw on the tablet screen for digital art.Built-in DisplayBeginner, Intermediate, Pro Laptop, Computer

Related: Use tablet as a picture frame

How to choose a drawing tablet for beginner artists and graphic designers

Expectations as a beginner artist: beginner casual, or beginner aiming at professional digital art are very different and it will be crucial to understand the differences between your choices.

If you are more serious about digital art, graphic design, animation and need a beginner drawing tablet then you can certainly go for a display-free option such as the more inexpensive Huion, Wacom, or Xp-Pen tablet models we’ve listed in this post.

Keep in mind, those drawing tablets and graphics tablets recommended typically don’t have speakers. This is a good reason not go with a iPad or reach for the benefits of a touchscreen laptop if thats a requirement. (it’s uncommon). If so, see the Best tablet speakers.

If you’re looking to get serious and create pro-level, professional, studio quality digital art, then I reccomend a drawing tablet with a screen built-in.

Related: Best Tablet Speakers for Loud Sound (Wireless and Bluetooth)

Screen/display Size

A minimum screen or drawing pad area siz eof 6 inches by 3.7 is what I reccomended beginner digital artists. The Bigger the drawing area, the better your results will be because you’ll have more room to comfortable draw, sketch, and paint digitally.

However, the larger the drawing tablet, the more bulky and heavy it becomes. This means if you are only using your tablet in one designed area and not bringing it to travel, a smaller screen size works well.

Alternatively, you can consider using an iPad or tablet as a drawing tablet so you don’t have to connect it to a computer or laptop. This is ideal only if you are not creating CPU-intensive animations. See our post, Best Drawing Tablets that don’t need to connect to a laptop

Pressure Sensitivity & Precision

Most tablets for beginners who are serious about getting a digital art tablet will want to aim for 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. This allows the drawing tablet to react responsively to the pen input, which is something even beginners will benefit from.

I found that 2,048 levels worked well for casual and beginner artists as well; you’ll notice a slight difference, but if you’re just getting started and unsure if you’re moving forwar dwith pro level art, then this will work.

Stylus Pen, Nibs, and Tips

Stylus pens have different nib types. Fine tip, and textured nibs have gainied popularity amongst the digital art spaces online. When choosing a stylus pen it’s ideal to consider the pen native to the drawing tablet you are using. These often come with replacement tips, nibs, and are fairly inexpensive to replace.

It’s important for a beginner to know the difference between an active and passive pen. Active pens have more control over the drawing tablet and allow for true pressure sensitivity, but also cost more than passive/capacitive stylus.

When using an active pen, you must hold the pen in your hand and keep it in contact with the tablet surface to allow for finer control. Passive pens are less expensive and also work great with a drawing tablet, but the cost-benefit just isn’t there for advanced artword.

If youre not using a dedicated drawing tablet to draw, then youll want to consider an alternative option like a standard tablet. The stylus choices change in this case:

Shortcut buttons

Shortcut buttons allow you to adjust everything from the brush size, to eraser, to express keys on a drawing tablet. All these buttons allow you to draw and sketch more seamlessly without frustration. For example, some drawing tablets for beginners will have a dial, where others may have a different function provided based on the name-brand and tablet model.

These buttons vary between different name brands. For example; Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen will have different types of shortcut buttons. Wacom by far has the best I’ve used yet, but the others were not falling far behind as technology has advanced amongst these devices.

Customizability

Beginner digital artists should know that shortcut buttons aim give a more comfortable view and function on the digital canvas. It allows you to interact with creative tools. This means that better customizability is ideal for an advanced artists, and beginners may not need to worry too much until the time comes they need to advance in their art endeavours

Using a keyboard is also an option and many artist swap from keyboard to digital art tablet when using shortcuts. A Good example of this is in photoshop where customizable buttons are very useful and the drawing tablet used does matter. Here are a few drawing tablets for photoshop and illustrator to consider. 

Compatibility

Drawing tablets work in iOS, windows, and android, but vary based on the model. Some drawing tablets are more ideal for animation, while others are ideal for photo editing and photoshop. Different app types are present in standard tablets like the iPad or Samsung, while a pen tablet (the ones discussed in this post) are compatible with whatever operating system it is connected to since a laptop is required.

Price compared to other alternatives

The cost of a decent drawing tablets ranges anywhere from $30 to $1200+. Drawing tablets with screens typically cost more because they allow you to draw on the tablet’s display surface and allow for functionality animators and cartoonist aspire. This level of art is typically not easily created with drawing tablets that do not have screen, but is do-able for many who are motivated and on a budget.

The least expensive brand was Huion and XP-Pen, but this changes quite often. The Huion Kamvas was my favorite for the budget tablets with a screen built-in because it mimic’d that of a Wacom. The XP-Pen felt like the ultimate budget pick because the price point was desirable while being able to get a very large display up to 21.5 inches.

What are the best Name Brand drawing tablets to consider for digital art?

There are three main brands of tablets I reccomend that beginner artists check out and research before purchasing: Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen. I also consider the iPad because it can compete well for drawing, but it is a different type of drawing tablets than these.

Wacom is by far the most popular brand of drawing tablets, but many of their models are aimed at experts/pros.They are popular because they appear to consistently produce products with great software and hardware that have been proven time and time again and touted by many experts in the community.

There is a reason artists choose Wacom – they have a very advanced set of tools for illustrators, animators, photographers and designers alike. They will continue to be a go-to while other brands may rise or fall to the trends of any given year. Huuon and XP-Pen have continued to comepte with them for some time. 

Apps to use on a drawing tablet as a beginner artist

Art tablets and graphic tablets for drawing can be found in iOS, windows, android also. In drawing apps, there is specific software depending on the tablet you have as well as a downloadable app that allows you to draw on the screen of your device.

These types of apps have various abilities depending on the setting and what you plan to create. For example some apps come pre-loaded with sketching features that allow you to draw straight lines and doodles, while others are more free-form.

There are many popular drawing apps to be used with a drawing tablet. Beginners should consider Procreate only if they are using an iPad Air or Pro.

Drawing apps to consider as a beginner artists using a drawing tablet.

Animators may want to consider TVPaint, Krita, blender or ToonBoom. Graphic designers may want to consider adobe illustrator, in-design, photoshop.

  • ArtRage: A digital art studio for painters, illustrators, and graphic artists. It combines natural painting tools, flexible drawing tools..
  • Krita: A free and open source digital painting application, aimed towards artists, illustrators, and many other types of art.
  • SketchBook Pro: A fan favorite app for sketching and drawing. Extremely popular amongst online art communities and digital artists of all skill levels.
  • Paint Tool Sai is a free and open source vector graphics editor touted by many experienced artists.
  • Adobe Photoshop is a very well known software that allows artists and photo editors to manipulate photographs, deisngs taken with cameras or scanned into computers.

Both artists and designers may use the same tools and apps. People who are more artistic have a natural talent that beginners can develop with experience and the right tools. 

Conclusion

In this article, I’ved discussed how the Best drawing tablet for beginners are the types with pressure sensitivity, tilt control, and palm rejection. These are the types that will allow yo uto advance as an artist at the proper rate.

Some casual artists aim to go professional and may want to choose a more powerful drawing tablet. A minimum of 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels is ideal for beginner artists, though 40,96 is ideal if you’re creating studio level art.

The graphic tablets with more shortcut buttons are easier to use since this makes switching between brushes and tools seamless. If you’re a serious artist, one with a display built-in is optional, but you don’t need the most expensive tablet for beginners.

A built in screen designed specifically for digital art is the ultimate tool for beginners who want to become a professional artist. Though they offer a whole other user experience and are a bit more expensive than other tablets, so be prepared to spend more money if you are considering one.

The larger the dispay, the better for most artists. However, some may want the benfit a small portable tablet offers. There are afew different types of drawing tablets to consider. More casual users on a budget will want to consider the drawing tablet options without a screen built-in.