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Cartoonists and comic creators are moving away from traditional pen and paper. Today, artists can use graphic tablets which allow them to achieve the same results on their computers.

If you’re just starting out on your digital art journey, you’ll need to buy a graphic tablet and download an appropriate editing app. It doesn’t matter whether you’re learning to draw manga comics These Tutorials Will Teach You How to Draw Anime and Manga Comics These Tutorials Will Teach You How to Draw Anime and Manga Comics Whether you want to make money drawing manga or just dabble in it for fun, here are several tutorials and resources to get you started. Read More  or you dream of becoming the next Joseph Barbera, having the correct tools is half the battle.

But which tablets and apps are right for you? In this article, we’re going to introduce you to the five of the best graphic tablets for beginners, then recommend some software for you to use.

Graphic Tablets

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in the number of graphic tablets on the market. Top-end models – such as the Wacom Cintiq 22HD – now retail for more than $1,750 (£1450). If you’re already an established artist, it’s money well spent. But if you’re a beginner who’s looking for your first big break, spending so much money on your first device would be foolish.

Instead, you should set your sights a bit lower. Here are some tools for you to consider, each of which is aimed at different subsets of users and has different price points.

1. Wacom Intuos Pro

“For the wannabe professional.”

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If you’re confident in your abilities and happy to spend the money on a quality tablet, you can’t go far wrong with the Wacom Intuos Pro. At $479 (£450), it’s considerably cheaper than the market-leading Cintiq, but it still packs a powerful punch.

The tablet comes in three different sizes, but you shouldn’t consider purchasing anything other than the 16.8″ x 11.2″ (42.6cm x 28.4cm) large edition. For $100 more, you can upgrade to the Paper version. It lets you export your pen-on-paper doodles directly to your computer.

Quick Specs

  • 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Pen tilt recognition
  • 5080 LPI
  • 200 points per second
  • Support for multi-touch gestures
  • Eight customizable express keys
  • Wacom Grip Pen included

What Are People Saying?

CNET – “It’s an essential buy for creatives who do a lot of digital freehand sketching.”
Fstoppers – “The Intuos Pro is an absolute joy to use . . . It’ll pay for itself in the time you save.”

Wacom Intuos Pro digital graphic drawing tablet for Mac or PC, Large, (PTH860) NEW MODEL Wacom Intuos Pro digital graphic drawing tablet for Mac or PC, Large, (PTH860) NEW MODEL New pen technology supports 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt-response and virtually lag-free tracking.Wacom Intuos Pro is our finest creative pen tablet to date, redefining the professional standard in creative pen tablets Buy Now At Amazon $499.95

2. Huion H610PRO

“The best entry-level model for hobbyists.”

If digital cartoon design is a hobby rather than a career, you should consider the Huion H610PRO. It costs $72.99 (£63.99) but consistently scores highly among users. It boasts an average of four stars from more than 1,200 reviews on Amazon.

Measuring 10″ x 6.25″ (25.4cm x 15.875cm), it’s significantly smaller than the Wacom Intuos Pro. As such, it’s unsuitable for professionals or people who like to work on large projects across several monitors How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors You need space for several documents, to get an overview and swiftly shift between tasks. What's true for your desk also applies to your virtual workspace. We show you how it matters. Read More . However, for beginners, its “bang for your buck” is unrivaled.

Quick Specs

  • 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Eight customizable express keys
  • 16 mappable hotkeys
  • 200 report rate
  • Weighs 635 grams
  • Left-handed driver for southpaws
  • Compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Painter, Autodesk Sketchbook, Manga Studio, Clip Studio, and Zbrush
  • Battery-free P80 Huion stylus included

What Are People Saying?

Fstoppers – “If you don’t own a tablet yet, don’t have the budget for a Wacom, or you’re looking for a smaller and cheaper digital art board to travel with, do not look further, this is most likely the solution for you.”
Tablets for Artists – “If you’re looking for a professional-quality drawing tablet that’s great value, the Huion 610 Pro is worthy of consideration.”

Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet Large Drawing Surface 10-by-6.25 inches, never feel restricted by space again Buy Now At Amazon $62.04

3. Ugee 1910B

“Simulates a traditional pen-and-paper experience”

Unlike the Wacom Intuos Pro and the Huion H610PRO, the Ugee 1910B shows your artwork in real-time on its screen. Accordingly, many users will find that the tablet provides a more natural usage experience; it feels like you’re working on a piece of paper rather than a computer.

It costs $409 (£350). That’s not much cheaper than the Intuos, but significantly less expensive than the similarly-equipped Cintiq. Much of your purchase decision will boil down to whether you would enjoy using the 19-inch 5080 LPI screen.

Quick Specs

  • 1440 x 900 screen resolution
  • 800:1 contrast ratio
  • 16.7 million display colors
  • 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Multi-angle adjustable stand
  • P50S Graphic Pen included

What Are People Saying?

Tablets for Artists – “The Ugee is a fine choice for artists on a budget, for students, or beginners wanting to try a tablet monitor without a big investment.”
Art’s Art Reviews – “The Ugee 1910B is a tablet display that may serve as a good alternative to the more expensive displays such as Wacom’s Cintiq line.”

Ugee 19" Graphics Drawing Pen Tablet Monitor with Screen Protector and Pergear Clean Kit Ugee 19" Graphics Drawing Pen Tablet Monitor with Screen Protector and Pergear Clean Kit 1. 19" 5MS TFT LCD panels, applies the new mirror design with smooth, bringing high definition and high brightness visual experience.LCD is well protected by high strength toughened glass, anti-scratch and shockproof. Rubber covers on base and bracket, anti-skid and stable. Buy Now At Amazon $409.99

4. Wacom CTL-471 ONE ($75)

“The cheapest graphic tablet worth buying.”

The Wacom CTL-471 ONE is in direct competition with the Huion H610PRO. If you’ve used Wacom tablets before, or you trust the Wacom brand name more than Huion, the $39 (£54) CTL-471 ONE represents a sensible purchase.

Wacom primarily aims the product at people who’ve never owned a graphic tablet before. In addition to painting, drawing, and sketching capabilities, it’s also ideal for editing photos and using on-the-go. Ultimately, with 4.5 stars on Amazon, you know you’re going to get a quality product.

Quick Specs

  • 1024 pressure levels of sensitivity
  • 2540 LPI
  • Weighs 240 grams
  • 152 x 95 mm active area
  • No multi-touch support
  • Pen included

What Are People Saying?

Art’s Art Reviews – “If you are a beginner looking for your first tablet, the Wacom CTL471 will serve you well. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the area of drawing space that this tablet provides.”
Sweet Monia – “It can be an excellent choice for first graphics tablets owners, it can also be a great option for those looking for a second tablet to carry on-the-go.”

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5. XP-Pen Artist 16

“A slightly cheaper alternative to the Ugee 1910B.”

At $490 (£400), the XP-Pen Artist 16 is more expensive than the Ugee 1910B. Apart from the price, there is little difference between them. Both let you design directly on the monitor’s surface.

The tablet’s biggest selling point is the quality of its screen; the 1080p 15.6″ FHD IPS display looks stunning. Size-wise, it measures 15.9″ x 8.6″ (40.5cm x 25.5 cm), making it slightly smaller than the Ugee.

Quick Specs

  • 16.7 million display colors
  • 1,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 2048 pressure sensitivity levels
  • 5080 LPI
  • 200 reports per second
  • Pen included

What Are People Saying?

Parkablogs – “Drawing performance is good. The pressure sensitivity works very well. The display is responsive, and lines appear instantly as they are drawn. There’s no lag.”
Surface Pro Artist – “The Artist 16’s FHD (1920 x 1080) display and 2048 pressure levels should be sufficient to satisfy most entry- and mid-level users.”

Graphics Editing Programs

The graphics editing program is the software the cartoonist uses with a graphic tablet in order to draw on the computer. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on software that specializes in producing 2D raster art.

Photoshop and Corel Painter

“The professional options.”

Photoshop and Corel Painter are two of the most powerful tools used by professionals in the comic industry. They come with a wide array of brushes A Beginners Guide to Creating Custom Brushes in Photoshop A Beginners Guide to Creating Custom Brushes in Photoshop Adobe Photoshop brushes are a handy way to add interest to your designs, and just as you can create your own custom patterns, you can just as easily design and create your own brushes. Read More , effects, and plug-ins 10 Free Adobe Photoshop Plugins for the Best Creative Suite 10 Free Adobe Photoshop Plugins for the Best Creative Suite Photoshop plugins and extensions are an easy way to add functionality to the leading image processing app and to improve your workflow. Read More that provide digital cartoonists with all the versatility they need to produce beautiful art.

Additional features include support for layered editing and masks, professional text editing for typographers, and more.

Photoshop Elements

“The perfect balance of price and functionality.”

Photoshop Elements is targeted at hobbyist cartoonists and the occasional user. It’s sold at a fraction of what Photoshop sells at, and may be given as a freebie when purchasing certain graphic tablets.

It doesn’t include many of the advanced features that Photoshop has, including advanced selection and editing tools, advanced text editing How to Warp Text in Photoshop or Illustrator How to Warp Text in Photoshop or Illustrator There are plenty of ways to warp text in Photoshop or Illustration, but you have to be careful because they can look tacky if they aren't warped well. Read More , and support for CMYK coloring.

GIMP

“A free option for beginners.”

GIMP is a free, open-source alternative to Photoshop GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One is Right for You? GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One is Right for You? Photoshop is the most popular image editing app out there and GIMP is the best free alternative to it. Which should you use? Read More . It runs on all major operating systems and is designed to work smoothly with Wacom tablets.

The app provides most of the same core functionality as Photoshop offers (for 2D image editing) and is a true lifesaver for anyone who needs basic features while saving money.

Which Graphics Tablet Will You Buy?

In this piece, we’ve introduced you to five of the best graphic tablets for anyone who wants to break into digital cartoon design.

Now it’s your turn to contribute. Which graphic tablet would you recommend to a beginner? What makes it so unique? Or perhaps you’ve already used one of the five devices we covered? If so, let us know what you thought of it.

As always, you can leave all your opinions and input in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Don Edwards
    July 5, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Hey there. Discovered this site a few weeks ago, now it's part of my daily ritual. A more budget friendly and ROBUST drawing, editing, coloring, lettering and layout software for creating comics and animation is Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio 5). As a professional indie comic artist and illustrator, I use it and my Intuos Pro everyday and swear by it. If you ever decide to "reboot" this article, you should include CSP as it's a well received prog in the comics community and completely gives Photoshop AND Illustrator a run for their money! Thanks!

  2. Luis
    November 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    drawing with a mouse is totally doable.. i think ive actually become better with a mouse than i ever have been with a pen.. just saying
    if you dont agree.. GIT GUD

  3. GiftedArt
    August 19, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Hi am a cartoonist but I notice that my painting on the image are not smooth and real after working on an image please can you tell me the app or tool to use to get a real and attractive cartoons on my work? I use samsung laptop for my work.. Please hint me on what to do!

  4. Michelle Chrisner
    June 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    I am a screenwriter and author. I'm wanting to get into creating my own short animation/storytelling. I have researched it seems everywhere, trying to get an idea of what type of software and components that are needed. I am wanting to implement my own characters and have them rendered into a storyline. If I obtain the drawing tablet and use a 3D rendering software or something like Iclone, I will be able to create my own work rather than the software's template of their catalog of characters? I am using a Mac Pro. Thank you.

  5. Erika
    February 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Hello, need so advice I want to start a t shirt business . I'm creative , but I don't know how to draw well can anyone suggest a tablet I can use to enhance my drawing.

    • Joyesh
      May 28, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Tablets don't help to enhance drawing unless you're good at traditional art. If you're just starting out, then I recommend a Wacom One (small) CTL-471, It's the perfect size for artists, I don't know if it'll work for you. I chose the small because it was perfect for the digital art I do, but the large is better for longer continuous lines.
      Other than that, I suggest you get drawing lessons or something. I taught myself (I've been doing traditional since 2009, and digital I started early this year) so I've had plenty of practice. If you're still in school, I would recommend going to an art class there, that might help enhance your drawing.
      Other than that, I don't know what could help 'enhance' drawing other than tools like Smooth Stroke (comes in Gimp, Photoshop, paint tool sai, etc.) that makes your strokes lag farther behind your cursor so they can be calculated to be much smoother.

      • LCB
        July 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm

        I'd suggest the same as what Joyesh recommended, but I also suggest that if you want to draw better ( which you most likely do, unless you're not a fan of getting places in life ) you should create a drawing a day, and if you're willing to create characters for your shirts you should also try to create some character concept art and such before you do anything to your shirts.
        Then again, I'm only a 12 year old girl trying to live out my dream of becoming a professional artist, but I hope you take my advice, I'm always willing to help!
        - Leah ( leahcbooth on Instagram )

  6. Nikola
    May 17, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I used wacoom tablets, yesterday i bought Ugee M708 GT.
    i can say its great one, and not expensive.

  7. Blake Brady
    March 17, 2015 at 2:32 am

    I've noticed that if you're looking for a specific type of tablet (a specific size), the price varies from product to product, website to website. Honestly, I feel your best option would be to just search a little bit. Say you want to buy a certain tablet (my example tablet is a Huion H610 pro), you can go to Huion's offcial website right now an order one for around 80$. But, you can also go to Sanisonic.com, and find the SAME one, for almost thirty dollars cheaper. Like I said if you want to buy one, do a little research, find what you like, and look for a good price.

  8. Bajanlaxus
    January 10, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Robert,you forgot to mention Cinema 4D

  9. Gabrielle
    December 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    SO if get a bamboo tablet I wouldn't have to download any programs to be able to draw? Btw I'm a beginner at this so can you explain everything to me from set up to using it if you don't mind?

  10. lance burn
    September 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I have gimp with the paint plugging added

  11. Ralph Ivy
    August 1, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Are there android tablets for drawing directly on the screen and viewing it on the screen there, and battery powered? I am a life-long sketcher, doodler, and I want to carry a tablet or pad with me to "draw" or "sketch" on. Also, being able to create a slideshow on it to use displaying my work. I am not interested in using it to connect to the internet; just to my computer at home. Any info appreciated. I am a 73-year-ol' artist coot. And I love digital art. Thank you.

    d

    • Tina
      August 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      Ralph,

      I think you can do this with almost any tablet. You just need to find the right app for you. Here is a selection from Google Play:
      Pencil Sketch
      Sketch Free
      Paint Joy

  12. Cerese Minetti
    July 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I need to get my hands on some cash!!! A Graphic Tablet would be so convenient for me to use as a designer.

  13. Dave
    May 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I am interesting in finding out on what exactly is the best way to go as far as software. I recently purchased the Wacom cintiqu12x and do not have software for it as of yet. My computer operating system is Windows Vista. To my knowledge, the majority of web and digital comic artist use Mac. Are there any suggestions that anyone may have as far as what software would be a good choice for a rookie cartoonist without breaking the bank however, still creating great quality work? Thanks in advance for responses.

    • Robert
      June 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Hi Dave,
      I do not know if you know anything about the Linux OS and the rest of the open source software community or not but in case you are unfamiliar with it you need to take some time and acquaint yourself with it because there are a lot of really good applications that are free and are under the GNU v2 or v3 software license that allows you to use it on as many pc's and give it away to friends as often as you like. I have been using Linux as well as Windows for a number of years and have run across software that I like, some of it may not be quite as capable as the commercial offerings but neither do they have the 300 to 600 dollar price tags. I will give you a list and their URL's so that you can check them out and they have Windows versions in case you do not want to use the Linux OS.

      The first is called GIMP, it stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program, it is free software and is very similar to Photoshop. It can be found at http://www.gimp.org There you will find the download links for the program but do not forget to check out the Documentation section, there you will find lots of info about using GIMP, it even has the capability to do animations.

      The next program is called Pencil, I think it was originally created for the Mac but it runs on Windows as well as Linux. It is a 2D cartooning and animation program. This is a fun program, and I have been using it for a few years.
      http://www.pencil-animation.org/

      The next two I have only recently discovered and I have not used them very much but I intend to spend more time with them in the future. I believe that both of them started out on Linux but both have windows installers.

      My Paint "MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters" This is the opening statement on their website. Once you check out this software it becomes apparent that Corel Painter is the target for this programs development and is definitely worth a look. They released version 1.0 back in November of 2011 which moves it out of the beta software category.

      Krita Krita is an application written for the KDE desktop (one of the popular desktops for Linux). It is similar to Photoshop and also will be like Corel Painter. Here are some URL's to check out, the first is its main page but note that the download link is not working, I think it is because Softpidea has it for download as well as the other url. It is still early in the development of this software so expect to find frequent bugs, crashes etc. However it definitely has a lot of potential and should be checked out often as it is undergoing heavy development.
      http://www.krita.org/
      http://www.softpedia.com/reviews/linux/Krita-Review-42956.shtml
      http://www.kogmbh.com/download.html

      The next program is a vector graphic package similar to Corel Draw.
      Inkscape http://inkscape.org/

      I am not sure if you have any interest in 3D modeling and rendering but you might want to check out Blender a 3D content creation suite similar to Maya or 3D Studio Max.
      http://www.blender.org/

      Also if you have a need for a free office suite similar to MS Office check out Libre Office.
      http://www.libreoffice.org/

      If you like any of these and use them check their websites every month or two because all of them are in constant development and new versions come out frequently with bug fixes as well as new features. All of them have active user communities so join their user forums. If you use GIMP there are a lot of tutorials on the web teaching you how to use the various features and tools that the Gimp has. Check out the galleries on their websites to see what other artists have created using these programs.

      Hope that this has been helpful, oh one last parting comment. I have a Wacom Bluetooth Intous 4 tablets that came bundled with Painter 11. If you can afford to buy Painter it is an amazing piece of software.

      good luck to you
      Robert

  14. Harrison
    April 6, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Try smoothdraw- works nice.

  15. Pablo
    March 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Thanx! usefull information! i'm gonna get a bamboo one to start, the cintiq is only a dream for now

  16. Geri
    March 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

     @Idan - Thank you!  I'll look into upgrading

  17. Geri
    March 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Do you know if Bamboo Create supports pen tilt and rotation when using CS5?

    • Idan
      March 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Geri,
      To the best of my knowledge, none of the Bamboo tablets support tilt. However the various Intuos and Cintiq tablets do support tilt. If you want to be extra sure before making a purchase, you can contact a Wacom salesperson at their site or Facebook page.

  18. Jane
    March 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    @Henry keep your rubbish spam off this site please. Don't ruin posting easy posting options for others.

    Mods, a report option? Thanks.

    • Tina
      March 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Jane,

      you can flag comments. Hover over the post, then the option becomes available. Sorry that Disqus isn't more intuitive!

  19. Chris Hoffman
    March 9, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Kind of off topic, but I loved the "How Smartphone Users See Each Other" comic. Very funny.

    • Idan
      March 10, 2012 at 5:21 am

      Thanks Chris, glad you like it!

  20. phone service
    March 9, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Intuos Tablets are very expensive but it is also worth buying. If you are a Graphic Artist and thinking to buy a tablet, Intuos tablet is perfect for you because it can provide you anything you need for your drawings.