The Best Graphic Tablets and Graphics Programs for Digital Design
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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 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? We’re going to introduce you to some of the best graphic tablets across several categories, then recommend graphics programs for you to download.

The Best Graphic Design 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 $1,500. If you’re already an established artist, it’s money well spent.

Wacom Cintiq 22HD 21-Inch Pen Display Tablet, Black (DTK2200) Wacom Cintiq 22HD 21-Inch Pen Display Tablet, Black (DTK2200) Buy Now At Amazon $1,699.95

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, set your sights a bit lower.

Here are some devices for you to consider, each of which is aimed at a different subset of users and has a different price point.

Best Computer Drawing Pad
Wacom Intuos Pro

best graphic design tablets

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 Buy Now At Amazon $479.99

“For the wannabe professional.”

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 under $500, 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.”

Best Cheap Drawing Tablet
Huion H610PRO

best graphic design tablets

Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet Buy Now At Amazon $47.40

“The best entry-level model for hobbyists.”

If digital cartoon design is a hobby rather than a career, you should consider the Huion H610PRO. You can pick one up for less than $100, 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.”

Best Digital Art Tablet
Ugee 1910B

best graphic design tablets

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 Buy Now At Amazon $354.99

“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 around $400. 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

  • 1440×900 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.”

Best Value Drawing Tablet
Wacom CTL-471 ONE

best graphic design tablets

Wacom CTL471 One Pen Small Tablet for PC / MAC Wacom CTL471 One Pen Small Tablet for PC / MAC Buy Now At Amazon

“The cheapest graphic tablet worth buying.”

The Wacom CTL-471 ONE is in direct competition with the Huion H610PRO. If you have used Wacom tablets before, or you trust the Wacom brand name more than Huion, the CTL-471 ONE represents a sensible purchase. It costs less than $50.

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 high ratings 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.”

Best Alternative Digital Art Tablet
XP-Pen Artist 16

best graphic design tablets

XP-PEN Artist16 Pro 15.6 Inch IPS Drawing Monitor Pen Display Drawing Tablet with Shortcut Keys and Adjustable Stand (8192 Levels Pressure) XP-PEN Artist16 Pro 15.6 Inch IPS Drawing Monitor Pen Display Drawing Tablet with Shortcut Keys and Adjustable Stand (8192 Levels Pressure) Buy Now At Amazon $459.99

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

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
  • 1920×1080 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 (1920×1080) display and 2048 pressure levels should be sufficient to satisfy most entry- and mid-level users.”

Best Drawing Tablet With Screen
Microsoft Surface Pro

best graphic design tablets

Microsoft Surface Pro (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) – Newest Version Microsoft Surface Pro (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) – Newest Version Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

“A great all-rounder with excellent graphical and productivity capabilities.”

Graphic tablets can be split into two categories: those that have a screen (like the Ugee 1910B) and those that don’t (like the Wacom models).

In the “best drawing tablet with a screen” category, we’ve gone for the Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s not necessarily the first device people think about when considering graphics tablets, but its productivity tools make it a great choice for people who want to do more than merely draw with their purchase.

The only downside? The price. You need to be ready to shell out the better part of $1,000.

Quick Specs

  • 12.3″ screen
  • 2736×1824 resolution
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
  • 8.0MP autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
  • A USB 3.0 port
  • A microSD card reader
  • The pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • 1.6W Stereo speakers
  • Wi-Fi and mobile data connectivity

What Are People Saying?

TechRadar: “Microsoft upped the pressure sensitivity of its pen to 4,096 levels of detectable pressure, meaning creators have more control over the width and intensity of their lines in illustrations or designs than before.”
Digital Arts Online: “The Microsoft Surface Pro is a welcome hybrid device which may no doubt feel like a step up for many people looking to be more creative.”

The Best 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

best graphic design tablets

“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, effects, and amazing free plug-ins 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.”

Adobe Elements is different from Adobe Photoshop and 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, and support for CMYK coloring.

GIMP

“A free option for beginners.”

GIMP is a free and open-source alternative to Photoshop. 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.

Krita

GIMP isn’t the only free app that can rival Photoshop. You can also try Krita. It’s a GIMP alternative that you really should try. Like GIMP, Krita is open-source.

Importantly for owners of drawing tablets, it’s heavily geared towards painting and drawing. With a color wheel, sliders, and a solid array of selection tools, you can make a masterpiece in minutes.

Graphic designs can also enjoy some benefits. There’s a text tool and plenty of functions to work with lines and shapes.

Krita does offer photography and animation tools, but they’re not as feature-rich as the painting and graphic options.

Do You Know How to Draw Digital Art?

We’ve introduced you to the best graphic tablets for anyone who wants to break into digital cartoon design.

But you won’t get far if you can’t draw. Luckily, there are YouTube videos that teach you how to draw Learn to Draw at Your Own Pace With Awesome YouTube Videos Learn to Draw at Your Own Pace With Awesome YouTube Videos Are you interested in learning how to draw? You can learn at your own pace when you have moments to spare thanks to awesome YouTube videos. Read More and websites that teach you how to draw 10 Sites That Will Teach You How to Draw Well 10 Sites That Will Teach You How to Draw Well We all want to draw well. But, drawing skills can only come through daily practice. Go to these ten websites and their fantastic tutorials to begin your journey. Read More .

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  1. Brad
    July 12, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Sketchbook pro by autodesk is now free and easily one of the best apps for any tablet based artist.