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The best drawing tablets in 2022: our pick of the best graphics tablets

Included in this guide:
Woman's hand using stylus to draw on best drawing tablet
(Image credit: VARAN NM via Pexels)

With the best drawing tablets, digital artists can bring their creations vividly to life. There are fantastic drawing tablets available for hobbyists, professionals and total newbies alike, no matter your needs and no matter your budget. In fact, there's so much choice out there that it can be quite challenging to choose a tablet. Fortunately, that's where we come in. 

In this guide, we've picked out the absolute best drawing tablets you can buy right now. We've made selections from all the varieties of drawing tablet. These include graphics tablets, pen displays and tablet computers – if you aren't sure what these terms mean, you can scroll to the bottom of this page where we've put together a quick jargon-busting explainer of what the technical terms mean.

We've made sure all the major tablet brands are represented here: so you'll see Wacom, Huion, XP-Pen and Xencelabs. However, it's also worth considering mainstream tablets like iPads or Microsoft Surfaces, as these have advanced to the point where they're some of the most sophisticated tools artists can buy. As such, they're well represented on our list. 

Whichever type of tablet you go with, you can be sure that any product on this list has been reviewed, tested and recommended by our team. Looking for more options? We also have a dedicated guide to the best tablets for students and the best drawing tablets for kids.

The best drawing tablets in 2022

Xencelabs tablet medium product shot with accessoriescb badge

(Image credit: Xencelabs)
The best pen tablet comes with some excellent accessories

Specifications

Active drawing area: 10.3 x 5.8in
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192
Connections: USB-C to USB-A

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic build quality
+
Lovely drawing experience
+
Accessories included

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires external display

The Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is an exceptional drawing tablet, and our top pick for the best drawing tablet you can get right now. Well-priced and beautifully designed, it has managed to justify the considerable hype that led up to its release (the designers were former Wacom employees), and its balance of quality and price is currently unparalleled. 

The texture of the drawing area is just right, with the perfect level of "bite" against the stylus that makes it highly satisfying to use. The tablet also comes with two styluses bundled in, a regular and a slim version, and allows you to customise them pretty extensively. This is a handy way to set the two styluses up for different uses, e.g. having one optimised for line drawing and the other for shading. Pressure sensitivity and tilt sensitivity are excellent. 

While we think this tablet is well priced, if it's out of your budget, Xencelabs also offers a cheaper, smaller version of the tablet that delivers a similarly premium drawing experience. 

Find out more by reading our full Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle review.

Wacom Cintiq 22 with stylusCB

(Image credit: Wacom)
This drawing tablet is still fantastic

Specifications

Active drawing area: 19.5 x 11.5in
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent pressure sensitivity
+
Fantastic price

Reasons to avoid

-
Low screen res for the size
-
No built-in ExpressKeys

In any conversation about digital art, Wacom is going to feature heavily. For a long time, the company was pretty much the only serious name in drawing tablets, and it’s only recently that rivals have started to catch up. As such, you’d still expect to see Wacom well represented on any list of the best drawing tablets, and one of its most popular models among artists is the Cintiq 22.

With a 22-inch display, this is a serious tablet with a lot of room to play. It’s got Full HD resolution – not as many pixels as some newer, flashier tablets, but is more than enough for most people. You can get sharper screens on other Wacom tablets, but they tend to cost more, and this model is all about bringing Wacom quality with an affordable price tag. And let's not forget that plenty of tablets, Xencelabs' included, don't have a screen at all.

Plus, it’s got Wacom’s ace in the hole – the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which boasts 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as tilt sensitivity. Wacom has been in this game a long time, and it’s hard to imagine an artist with any complaints about the Pro Pen 2. It just works really, really well.

An advantage of Wacom tablets for students and those looking to break into digital art professionally is that it’s pretty much the industry standard, so learning to use one is a very good step to take. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other tablets, it’s just something to bear in mind. 

Find out more with our Wacom Cintiq 22 review.

Apple iPad Air 2022 5th gen front and rear viewscb badge

(Image credit: Apple)
One of the most powerful drawing tablets you can buy

Specifications

Active drawing area: 9.74 x 7in
Resolution: 2,350 x 1,640
Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (requires optional Apple Pencil)
Connections: USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
OS: iPadOS 15.4

Reasons to buy

+
M1 chip power
+
Exceptional screen quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen tops out at 60Hz
-
No Thunderbolt 4

Apple has been hard at work over the past couple of years updating all of its products with its in-house M1 processing chips – and now it's the turn of the iPad Air. This refresh of a popular iPad line boasts super-fast and super-smooth performance thanks to its new chip architecture, and the fact that you get Apple Pencil 2 compatibility means it's also one of the best drawing tablets. 

The display on the iPad Air 2022 (the fifth generation of iPad Air) is simply superb, a 2360x1640 IPS LCD panel that delivers 264 pixels per inch for excellent detail. It's got comprehensive colour support and even backlighting, with a maximum brightness of 500 nits. Granted, the iPad Pro provides a superior display, with 600nits of brightness on the 11-inch version or a whopping 1,000 nits for the flagship 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The Pro also provides a much smoother refresh rate of 120hz rather than 60hz (more on all this very shortly), but it's also a significantly pricier proposition. 

Put the two tablets side by side with an Apple Pencil 2 and the different refresh rates will mean that you will notice the difference in terms of latency. But let's not get carried away here: in practical terms, 60Hz is more than enough, and the iPad Air 2022 is still one of the smoothest drawing experiences you can get right now – plus, you can watch Netflix on it when you're done drawing, which is not something you can do on a Wacom. 

Our Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review looks at this great tablet in detail. 

Huion H430P budget graphics tablet with stylus

(Image credit: Huion)
Get started with this low-cost but very usable mini drawing tablet

Specifications

Active drawing area: 4.8 x 3in
Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels
Connections: USB
OS: Windows or macOS

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant starter tablet
+
Low cost

Reasons to avoid

-
Four shortcut keys
-
Drawing area small for some

If you’re not sure whether a drawing tablet is something you’ll use regularly enough to justify the cost, the second Huion tablet on our list, the H430P, gives you all the basics without requiring a big investment. 

The drawing area is small, yes, but the pen is sensitive enough to give you a true sense of the creative benefits drawing tablets can bring. It may not take long before you outgrow this tablet, but it’s a very affordable way to get started. Just be aware that this is a graphics tablet, not a pen display, so you will need to hook it up to some kind of external display in order to be able to see what you're drawing. A monitor is ideal, though a smartphone or other tablet will do the job in a pinch. 

Our Huion Inspiroy H430P review explored why this small but mighty graphics tablet is a great choice for beginner artists. 

iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) front and rear views on white background

(Image credit: Apple)
An incredible drawing tablet with plenty of features

Specifications

Active drawing area: 10.32 x 7.74in
Resolution: 2,732 x 2,048
Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (requires optional Apple Pencil)
Connections: Thunderbolt 4, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
OS: iPadOS 15.4

Reasons to buy

+
Unbeatable processing power
+
New ultra-powerful display

Reasons to avoid

-
iPadOS needs a refresh
-
More than you need?

Apple is basically just showing off now. Like a Mario Kart player who's so effortlessly crushing the competition they start doing donuts in front of the finish line, the firm's flagship tablet is simply miles ahead of the rest, and as such it comes with quite a price tag. 

The 2021 refresh of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch comes with the M1 processing chip, which was previously only found in Macs. This enables apps to run faster than ever, and when it's paired with the all-new mini-LED-powered XDR display, produces a system for making and displaying digital art that's simply unrivalled.

Drawing with the Apple Pencil 2 is still a smooth and intuitive experience. The new screen really is an improvement across the board, with not only greater overall brightness, but improved control of local dimming, meaning that areas of contrast have greater nuance and definition to them. 

So why, with all this, is it not our top pick? Well, it does depend on what you need. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) is so powerful, and so priced accordingly, that if you are only looking for a drawing tablet and won't need its many other features, it probably isn't worth it, and a dedicated tool like those above will offer greater value for money. Still, let's not lose sight of the fact that this is the one of the best overall tablets on the market right now, and one of the greatest for drawing, no question.

See our iPad Pro 12.9-inch M1 (2021) review for a detailed look at why this tablet is so good. Also, note that the 11-inch iPad Pro is another excellent, though expensive, choice; our iPad Pro 11-inch (M1, 2021) review goes into detail.

Huion Kamvas 22 Plus angle view with stylus

(Image credit: Huion)
Huion’s 22-inch tablet boasts a superb screen at a tempting price

Specifications

Active drawing area: 18.77 x 10.56in
Resolution: 1920x1080 Full HD
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-A/USB-C/HDMI

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent screen
+
Great value for 22-inch tablet

Reasons to avoid

-
No touchscreen
-
Pen is quite basic

One of the most recent tablets to arrive in the mid-range space, the Huion Kamvas 22 Plus impresses with its beautiful and generously sized screen. A 16:9 display with Full HD resolution, it’s constructed from etched anti-glare glass, meaning it should last a lot longer than many comparable screens that rely simply on anti-glare film. It also improves the texture of the screen, making the drawing experience feel more tactile and, dare we say it, analogue. 

With an anti-parallax design, 140% sRGB coverage and ability to replicate 16.7 million colours, this is a very impressive tablet. The pen that comes with it is basically decent and will do the job – it’s a little no-frills perhaps, with only one type of nib supplied. Overall the Huion tablet is a sound buy, especially when compared to competition at this price point from the likes of XP-Pen – it’s got better colour coverage and a generally better drawing feel.

Read more in our full Huion Kamvas 22 Plus review

XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 front view

(Image credit: XP-Pen)
A swish-feeling tablet that offers a ‘pro’ experience at a tempting price

Specifications

Active drawing area: 13.42 x 7.55 inch
Resolution: 1920×1080 (full HD)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent drawing feel
+
Minimal parallax

Reasons to avoid

-
No stand included
-
Screen could be brighter

XP-Pen continues to carve out an impressive niche in the mid-range of drawing tablets, with the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 offering a premium-feeling experience at a consumer-friendly price. A minor upgrade on the Innovator 16, it offers an excellent drawing surface with 99% Adobe RGB coverage and virtually no parallax. 

The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 boasts a new stylus with an intelligent chip, promising a 10-fold increase in touch sensitivity. This allows for some real lightness of touch when it comes to making fine lines, requiring just 3g of pressure to make a mark. Having dual dials and eight customisable shortcut buttons makes controlling the Artist Pro 16 a pleasingly tactile process, as does the all-metal casing that surrounds it.

The lack of an included stand is a little disappointing, and some monitor setups may require a bit of a mess of cables to get working, which may annoy those who prefer a clean desktop. But otherwise this is an impressive, sleek, tempting tablet. 

Read more with our full XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 review

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 on stand, angle view

(Image credit: Microsoft)
The new flagship gives Microsoft's range a much-needed refresh

Specifications

Active drawing area: 11.25 x 7.5in
Resolution: 3000 x 2000
Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels (with Surface Pen)
Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, USB-C
OS: Windows 10 Pro

Reasons to buy

+
Runs Windows 11
+
Superb, responsive display

Reasons to avoid

-
Stylus costs extra
-
And it starts at $1099.99

The Microsoft Surface range of tablets was looking a little stale, but fortunately the tech giant has given it a facelift with the Surface Pro 8, competing with the top-of-the-line iPads. It's certainly priced to match, costing around the same as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which means Microsoft has had to work hard to make the Surface Pro 8 a viable alternative.

The starting model packs some serious computing power, with a Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD – and there's the option to customise it further with even more powerful parts, though be aware that this will drive the price up further still. The display is all-around excellent, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 and the option to bump the refresh rate up to 120Hz. This makes it highly responsive when used with the Surface Pen stylus, though be aware you'll need to purchase this separately.

Having Windows 11 is also a major boon for this tablet, as it means you can use the full desktop version of programs like Photoshop, rather than messing about with tablet apps. If you're already in the Windows ecosystem, then this tablet definitely makes sense as a purchase.

Our Surface Pro 8 review looks at this tablet in more detail. 

Wacom One drawing tablet angle view with stylus pen

(Image credit: Wacom)
Wacom's most affordable release, bringing a great tablet to the masses

Specifications

Active drawing area: 11.6 x 6.5in
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels
Connections: USB-C, HDMI
OS: Windows, macOS or Android (some devices)

Reasons to buy

+
Great on the go
+
Peerless Wacom quality

Reasons to avoid

-
No iPhone compatibility
-
Small-ish drawing area

Wacom's confusingly named Wacom One (not to be confused with any previous Wacom Ones) is an excellent and portable 13-inch tablet at an extremely competitive price point, no doubt designed to tempt users away from cheaper brands like XP-Pen. Its Full HD display provides 72 per cent NTSC colour and an anti-glare treated film, and the tablet even comes with little legs for standing up when you're out and about and want to quickly get some ideas down. An ideal tablet to slip into your day bag, the Wacom One provides a great drawing experience without costing the earth.

Read our in-depth Wacom One review for more on exactly what to expect from this device. 

XP-Pen Deco Pro Medium front view with stylus

(Image credit: XP-Pen)
Highly affordable Wacom alternative, though lacking a few features

Specifications

Active drawing area: 11 x 6in
Resolution: n/a
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-C
OS: Windows, macOS or Android
Active drawing area: 11 x 6in
Resolution: n/a
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-C
OS: Windows, macOS or Android

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value
+
Solid build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Software a little janky
-
No iPhone/iPad support

Undercutting Wacom considerably on price, the XP-Pen Deco Pro is an alternative to the likes of the Intuos Pro, offering a smaller slate of features but for about a third of the cost. So while the software drivers are a little janky, the fundamental drawing experience is rock-solid. The pen may not have the premium feel of a Wacom, but it still offers 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the overall design of the tablet has picked up a Red Dot awards. This isn't just a cheap knock-off – it's a premium knock-off, and if you're an artist on a budget, it definitely merits consideration.

Our XP-Pen Deco Pro review will tell you more.

Wacom Intuos Pro large drawing tablet with stylus

(Image credit: Wacom)
The best graphics tablet for artists and illustrators

Specifications

Active drawing area: 12.1 x 8.4in
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB, Bluetooth
OS: Windows or macOS

Reasons to buy

+
Great pen sensitivity
+
Fluid drawing
+
Wired or wireless connection

Reasons to avoid

-
Drawing area could be larger

When you’re creating artwork, you want room to sketch freely and a pen that feels as close as possible to the paper equivalent. You’ll find both in the Wacom Intuos Pro Large graphics tablet: it's one of the purest drawing experiences you can get from a digital device. The pen provides over 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and a drawing area that – while it’s not the biggest available – gives you more than the area of a magazine to play inside. All this is supported by Wacom’s broad ecosystem of alternative pens and Texture Sheets to give your drawing surface a distinctive feel.

The Intuos Pro is also available in other sizes, so if the asking price is a little steep and you’re willing to work with a smaller screen, you may want to consider the Intuos Pro Medium or Intuos Pro Small. Both of these tablets offer similar functionality to the largest version, just with smaller working areas. 

Find out more in our in-depth Wacom Intuos Pro review

The best drawing tablet accessories

Wacom Pro Pen 3D
A third button may not sound much of an innovation, but it enables the Pro Pen 3D to support pan and zoom in three dimensions, giving 3D artists unfettered navigation at their fingertips.

Wacom Inking Pen
For that traditional feel, the Inking Pen enables you to place a sheet of paper on your Wacom tablet then draw onto it with ink, while the tablet captures your drawing movements at the same time. The Inking Pen is only for Intuos tablets: it can damage the screen on Cintiqs and MobileStudios.

Adonit Jot Pro
If the Apple Pencil doesn’t appeal or your iPad isn’t compatible, the Adonit Jot Pro is a stylish pen that works on any iPad (or Android tablet). The nib, combining a fine-point tip with a plastic circle to register on the tablet screen, looks curious but works well in practice.

The best drawing tablets: What are the different types?

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of drawing tablet. Each takes a different approach to the central challenge of helping you draw on your Windows PC or Mac as if you were drawing on paper.

In terms of drawing tablets, there's everything from professional, high-resolution graphics tablets, to portable tablets that cost less than £40 and fit in a small backpack. There's also a growing market of drawing tablets for little ones, and you can check out our dedicated drawing tablets for kids guide if this is something you're looking for. Want to go unplugged for a bit? Have a look at our best lightboxes for more hands-on creativity. And if you're looking specifically for a tablet for editing, see our best tablets for photo and video editing.

Graphics tablets

The best drawing tablets

(Image credit: Wacom)

The traditional drawing tablet features a flat, featureless surface that you draw on with a stylus, with the image displayed on a computer monitor. Graphics tablets remain the most affordable drawing tablet category. Their main disadvantage is the sense of ‘disconnect’ between the drawing surface and the screen, although most people get used to this quickly. 

Pen displays

The best drawing tablets

(Image credit: Wacom)

Pen displays consists of a flat-screen monitor with a pressure-sensitive surface that you draw on with a stylus. They don't have the sense of disconnect experienced with graphics tablets, are more portable and cost more. However, you get a lot of cables between the display and computer (see the best computers for graphic design), and the display surfaces don’t offer the ‘bite’ that graphics tablets do. 

Tablet computers

The best drawing tablets

(Image credit: Apple)

Android and iOS devices like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro take on the other drawing tablets in two ways. You don't need another computer: just download an art app and start drawing with your fingertip or a stylus. Also, when you want to use the Creative Cloud suite on your main computer, these can function as graphics tablets with apps like Astropad

The best drawing tablets: Which one should you buy?

Right now, we're confident in saying that the absolute best drawing tablet you can buy is the Wacom Cintiq 22, which provides Wacom's famous quality in a pleasingly large tablet at a surprisingly affordable price. If you want something a bit smaller (and cheaper), then go for the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet bundle, which comes with some surprisingly cool accessories and is very affordable. 

If you're completely new to this market, it's worth pointing out that there are three different categories to be aware of.

  • Graphics tablets, which you draw directly onto with a stylus
  • Pressure-sensitive pen displays, which are hooked up to a monitor
  • Tablet computers, which can be adapted for drawing with an app

Need a recap? Here are the best drawing tablets, graphics tablets and tablet computers right now...

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-hill-39894246 Richard Hill has over 20 years’ experience in print and online publishing, including stints at Digital Camera, 3D World, ImagineFX and Practical Web Design.