This article tries to help artists who are looking for the tablet that best suits their needs and summarises 6 of the best options.
Update for 2016 - check out this wonderful review of the Apple Pencil - the review is entirely drawn and was drawn using... the Apple Pencil!
What are the Best Tablets for Artists of 2016?
What is the best tablet for an artist? Choosing the best (the one that best suits YOU) is hard because of the wide range of tablets that are available. There are specialized graphics tablets and there are some that can be used for more than just drawing - but no one device will fit all your needs perfectly. The art of choosing a drawing tablet is therefore one of compromise.
We hope these summaries of the 6 best tablets for artists will help you make an informed decision:
(Update - the Apple iPad Pro is out, and it's a contender. Check out our full review.)
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet
This one’s perfectly made and designed for artists only. The Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch comes in with a screen size of 14.9 x 9.9 x 0.4 inches, 2.2lbs of weight and a battery-free, pressure-sensitive pen and digital eraser at an affordable price (Link). The pen has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity which is more than enough for an artist, and the tablet is equally good whether you're left or right-handed. It also has 8 customizable application-specific Express keys. Its battery is pretty decent and the Intuos can connect to Mac or PC and will run with any software program. One disadvantage is that its wireless accessories are sold separately. I’d strongly recommend this as an ideal tablet for any artist who’s looking for a low-cost type.
As the device is relatively cheap, Wacom seems to have cut a couple of corners in terms of build quality. Specifically, the USB ports and cords aren't quite the right size, causing angst for customers who are ecstatic about all other features of the tablet. Still, it's used by many professional artists.
Wacom Cintiq 22HD 21-Inch Pen Display Tablet
Its 21.5 inch HD Display features a wide format, full high definition resolution and extra wide viewing angle that’s perfect for creating your next masterpiece. You can enjoy the experience of working directly on screen - many who try never go back.
Using the Cintiq feels like 'using Copic marker on marker paper'. The tablet has Wacom’s most advanced pressure- and tilt-sensitivity that replicates conventional tools such as pens and brushes. Comfortable, lightweight design, 16 customizable express keys, one-touch shortcuts - they all help to maximize your productivity. It can only be used via USB or HDMI cable and is rather pricey (Link). The Wacom Cintiq 22HD is totally worth its high price thanks to the overall quality which makes Cintiq the first choice among professionals. As the slogan says, “discover the artist within”.
Huion H610 Pro Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet
This staggeringly affordable tablet has an active area of 10 x 6.25 inches, a 2048 level of pressure sensitivity pen, and weighs 2lbs (Link). The rechargeable pen can be customized for either left or right hand, and it includes 8 physical express keys on the left side and 16 hot cells on the top of the tablet. The keys are recessed to ensure you don't tap them accidentally.
Its small size makes it easy to carry around and cheap enough to not worry about destroying it. It works with several software programs and can also be used as an alternate for your mouse. The Huion H610 Pro is great for artists on a budget - a comparable Wacom product costs four times more.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The aim of the Surface Pro line is to replace desktops and laptops, so if you buy one of these you're getting a powerful device that will run any program without compromise. This is a tablet that should be first choice for anyone from CFO to student.
It has a 12-inch HD Touchscreen Display, with 8GB RAM and 256GB Storage Capacity, 36W power supply and a Surface pen, perfect for pixel-perfect illustrations.
The pen is what makes this perfect for artists - it seems like Microsoft has listened to feedback on their previous tablets and crafted a pen that suits general use while being perfect for graphic designers, people using Photoshop, and so on.
The Surface Pro 4 is Microsoft’s thinnest, lightest, and best tablet yet, and it's a seriously good machine for graphical work.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet
If you’re looking for a 10-inch 2560 x 1600 Display, 3GB RAM with 35GB of storage, then you are someone with VERY specific tastes! Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is just right. Weighing in at just 1.19lbs, lighter than most tablets, and priced in the mid-range, this is a portable, versatile device.
Drawing on the tablet directly, the artist uses the 'S Pen'. With its multitasking feature, artists can become more productive than they would be on a normal tablet. It gets thumbs up for its preloaded sketchpad apps and other free content.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is more of an all-rounder, though, and not the first choice for professionals.
Ugee 19-Inch Graphics Drawing Pen Tablet
Here’s another impressive tablet for artists looking for a large screen. Its 19-Inch monitor can totally rock your artistic world. The 5MS TFT LCD panels creates a smooth, no-lag, high definition visual experience. The included rechargeable pen also has 2048 high level of pressure sensitivity, with a multi-angle adjustable stand flexible enough for the artist’s convenience and needs. Reasonably priced, it’s easy to use, faster than most tablets, and comes with all the cords that you need. The Ugee tablet is convenient enough for starter artists. It’s the best alternative to the complicated ones aimed at professionals.
The major drawback is that the Ugee 19 isn't compatible with every piece of software. It works fine with major products, but if you rely on some obscure program it would be worth checking out the compatibility before you buy.
These are just six of the best graphics tablets; more are available. In the end, the decision will be as personal as the type of art you draw. Remember - an artist doesn’t follow the crowd, he follows his heart.