Drawing tablets are great because they hook up to your computer easily, offer many custom settings, and allow for a natural sketching motion. So, what should you look for when purchasing one? This article will explain it all for you.
Anytime you hear the word “tablet” nowadays, odds are you think of a Kindle or iPad. If you’re an artist, video editor, or photographer, though, something a little different may come to mind. A drawing tablet is an irreplaceable tool for digital artists that will improve your workflow and help you gain efficiency in multimedia pursuits.
Drawing is beneficial for many different reasons and can be done either as a fun hobby or for more professional reasons, but why should you get a tablet instead of using a mouse for your digital creations?
Drawing tablets are able to give you smoother curves while creating complex and small shapes much easier than a mouse will. Digital sketch artists who aren’t knowledgeable about interfaces on Adobe Photoshop and similar programs can say goodbye to these difficulties altogether and opt for a more intuitive way to draw.
Drawing tablets enable you to both recreate and create magnetic and memorable images. Let’s check out some of the best options for your very own drawing tablet.
The Best Drawing Tablets Under $100
Each of the following tablets was selected for affordability, quality of components, and value based on user reviews. Any of these products would be a great choice. After the list, we will run through the features that make each tablet unique.
- XP-Pen Star05 Wireless
- Wacom Intuos Touch Tablet
- Huion H610PRO Graphics Tablet
- Ugee M708 Drawing Tablet
XP-Pen Star05 Wireless
The XP-Pen drawing tablet comes with both wireless and wired USB capabilities. You only need to plug the receiver into a computer to use the FHSS and ISM 2.4G to wirelessly draw. You may also connect the tablet to a computer using the USB cable included to use it with standard wire.
“The Star05 is a beautiful device,” said Jacob at Side Art. “It is a sleek off-black, and very smooth. The beveled edges are a nice touch. It’s overall design is very minimalist, which is something I personally enjoy.”
This tablet’s built-in battery will charge conveniently and quickly with wired use. Just plug it in for 2.5 hours and enjoy a strong, long-lasting charge for up to 14 hours. The device is compatible with Mac 10.7 (and above), Windows Vista/7/8/10 and the latest drawing software like Paint, Clip Studio, Photoshop, and more.
It comes with six touch-activated shortcut buttons for easy and quick access to your most used functions. The 5 x 8-inch working space of the Star05 offers you plenty of room for comfortable painting and drawing. The stylus included is battery-free, doesn’t need charging, and has 2048 pressure levels, allowing you to draw and work free from inconvenient and unexpected interruptions.
This tablet is unique in that none of its parts look out of place or stand out a lot. The device has a good-looking, sleek, and subtle structure to it that’s elegant and simple. The drawing tablet is 0.4 x 7 x 11.7 inches and its active area is 5 x 8 inches, meaning that it’s pretty big for a tablet. However, it’s neither overly big nor too small.
Due to this larger size, your hands have plenty of space on the device and the tablet feels solid. Batteries are no concern with the XP-Pen Star05; just plug the USB in and let it charge up. This can be done as you’re drawing, as well, and no batteries makes for a better-looking and better-feeling tablet.
This tablet has a pen that looks good and offers a smooth writing and drawing experience, but the stylus does come with an eraser end, which some may miss. Installation on this device is quite simple and only requires plugging it in and installing your drivers. Remember that you may need to delete other drivers to do this, but that’s easy enough. You may obtain drivers through XP-Pen.com or with the included disk.
The tablet feels similar to a classic drawing pad, comfortable and natural, instead of feeling odd or fragile. The Star05 has good pressure and is balanced without being not sensitive enough or too sensitive. You won’t experience any lagging, even with continuous strokes. You can adjust the pressure on the device by accessing the settings menu.
Wacom Intuos Touch Tablet
This device is relatively lightweight and slim compared to previous models by Wacom. The Wacom Intuos tablet enables you to quickly edit your photos and make digital art with natural and comfortable pen control. The underside of the tablet has four pads that will prevent the device from slipping on smoother surfaces.
“The build quality of this stylus is excellent,” said The Tech Reviewer, “and the pen-tips are interchangeable as they wear down after extended use. Wacom includes one tip in the pen by default and ten replacement tips which can be swapped at any time.”
The tablet has a multi-function touch ring and eight customizable, application-related Express Keys. Navigate, scroll, and zoom your art using gestures and multi-touch surface. It has an accessory kit included (wireless) and has 2048 levels of sensitivity in pen pressure in both the eraser and tip of the pen.
The drawing device was crafted to fit right-handed artists, meaning that the touch sensor is over on the right side while the scroll wheel and buttons are located to the left. However, left-handed people can still use the device by just enabling the left-handed mode included in the tablet’s settings, then rotating the device 180 degrees.
The materials this device is crafted from give it a quality, substantial feel, matching its cost. The tablet is meant to last years and won’t show wear, even when you use it on a regular basis for months and months. You can travel with it in your bag without worrying that it will break.
The stylus included with the Wacom Intuos is about the size of a typical Sharpie pen and has a pen-like tip with a bigger, rounded tip at the other end for your virtual eraser. Over the tip of the stylus, you have two buttons with a soft material surrounding them for gripping. These two buttons work as your right and left mouse clicks as you would find with your computer mouse.
For those who do professional work with these types of devices, the cost of this valuable tool is well worth it. If you’re seeking a pen tablet but are concerned about the cost, this model could be what you’ve been searching for. As far as ease-of-use goes, a pen is much more comfortable and natural than a computer mouse, which may lead to wrist pain eventually.
The Touch feature is useful for browsing the web and can be toggled on or off with an actual button included on the device. The working feel on this device is great, with the texture slightly more matte than other drawing tablets. The tablet color is slick, has a nice finish, and comes with slightly rubberized areas.
Huion H610PRO Graphics Tablet
The Huion H610 PRO is easier to use and lighter than the version that came out previously with a rechargeable style that will take two hours to charge and last for up to 800! The device comes with a handy “pen rest” for balancing the stylus on.
“The H610 lived in my laptop bag for six months and the H610 Pro improved upon the H610 in enough small ways to warrant replacing it,” said Frenden.com. “It boasts 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The LPI is better. It has a detachable mini-USB cable.”
The buttons on the pen allow you to left click, right click, or double click with the left or right, just like a computer mouse, but don’t allow you to add more commands. Keep in mind that the pressure curve with the rechargeable Huion pen is a bit harder than other drawing tablets and will not make “blobs” very easily. The sensitivity on the pen can be adjusted as you see fit.
The drawing surface is large at 6.25 x 10 inches and the drawing lines increase in thickness when you apply 2048 pressure levels. There are 16 hotkeys and eight customizable express keys at the top which can be adjusted to your preference and are usable for both right-handed and left-handed people.
This tablet works with Mac OS X on versions 10.8 and later, Windows 10/8.1/8/7, with Clip Studio, Manga Studio, Autodesk Sketchbook Corel Painter, Illustrator, and Photoshop. When you purchase the tablet, you will receive a one-year warranty.
Some may find that, as with other UC-Logic hardware, the challenge doesn’t exist in using or purchasing the device, but in setting it up. Go to Huion’s website to download the UC-Logic driver and install this before you first hook your tablet up. Keep in mind that the device may act oddly in OS X if there are any third party apps installed for mouse-steering.
When you use the tablet with Windows, ensure that you install your drivers before hooking the device up as the default drivers from Windows don’t work as well and will install on their own otherwise.
In addition, when using the tablet with Windows 7, go to the services menu and disable PC services for the device, then uninstall components of the tablet PC, disable Pen Flicks, and un-select the support option for Tablet TC Features. This will all have a positive impact on your drawing performance with the device.
Ugee M708 Drawing Tablet
If you want a drawing tablet that works effortlessly with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Mac OS, and Photoshop CS6, go for the Ugee M708 tablet. The pointer accuracy on this device is great, which may surprise some people due to the tablet’s price point.
“The active working area for the Ugee M708 Tablet is 10 x 6 Inches, which makes it suitable for most users and monitors sizes,” said Sweet Monia.
This device is simple to work with and used widely by professional illustrators, artists, students, and beginner artists. Use it with drawing software like MAYA, Illustrator, Photoshop CC, regular Photoshop, and more. When you pull the pen away from the device, it will return to the same point on the screen after bringing it close again.
You will find eight customizable buttons on the Ugee M708, which can be set with the included software to operations you perform using graphics software, such as copy/paste, choosing a canvas, and switching tools like pen, lasso tools, or brush. The drawing area on the device is large at 6 by 10 inches and has a 230RPS report rate and 5080LPI resolution.
The pen is similar to the feel of drawing with a pencil on real paper at 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Please note that some may find it inconvenient to have to take the battery out each time you’re done using the pen instead of having an on/off switch for it.
This pen and tablet are super accurate and make Photoshop a lot easier than a mouse. You may find that it’s the only device you need for editing photos in the post processing stage. Users will find that the tablet’s aesthetics are very nice, including its height and low profile. As soon as you load and run the driver, it works well and has been compared to a simpler version of Wacom’s driver.
Some may find that the USB connection’s location is inconvenient since it can get in the way of your keyboard, so keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
Seven Tips for Getting Used to a Pen Tablet
Many artists compare trying to use a mouse to draw to tying a pencil to a rock. It’s very difficult to get any accuracy with a mouse and it doesn’t have any pressure sensitivity. Although a drawing tablet is far more comfortable and comparable to traditional art, getting past the learning curve that comes with the change is a challenge. Here are some tips for getting used to your new art device.
- Hold the Pen Comfortably: The stylus that comes with your drawing tablet is meant to make working on a computer more comfortable, so use it just as you would use a drawing pencil, holding it in the same way.
- Aligning your Tablet: When you’re first beginning, align your drawing tablet to the display. When you make your tablet parallel to your display, it’s easier to get absolute positioning faster. Keep in mind that each corner stands for a corresponding corner on the display, even when there are multiple displays.
- Be Confident about your Tablet: The tablet may take some getting used to, but that’s no reason to fear it. They are designed to feel natural as input devices. Although many of them come with touch surfaces now, touch doesn’t get activated if you have the stylus close to your tablet. This enables you to comfortably rest your hand on the device, just like you’d do with normal paper.
- Mind your Tablet’s Side Switch: A lot of people think you need to press or hold the pen’s side switch for it to fulfill any functions. Depending on your drawing tablet, the side switch ends can be changed to Double Click, Pan/Scroll, or Right Click. If you just want to click something, use the pen tip to touch the screen.
Although it takes some getting used to, your drawing tablet will soon become your best friend if you follow these handy tips.