Top Ten Best Tablets for Art, 2020

Updated: Aug 5



1. Wacom Cintiq 22

A near-perfect balance of screen size, ergonomics and price 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 Fantastic price. Low screen res for the size.

Worth the money, the balance of a massive drawing area, a sublime drawing experience, a highly sensitive stylus and a budget-friendly price makes the Wacom Cintiq 22 the best drawing tablet on the market right now. It comes bundled with the Pen Pro 2, offering a class-leading 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and its well-engineered screen has an anti-glare surface that provides a satisfying level of drag when drawing. Cheaper alternatives are available from other manufacturers, but this tablet provides Wacom level of quality at a tremendous price.



2. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

One of the finest tablets around gets a 2020 refresh! Active drawing area: 10.32 x 7.74in | Resolution: 2,732 x 2,048 | Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (requires optional Apple Pencil) | Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: iPadOS 13.4

Faster-than-ever performance. Superb display. Apple Pencil purchased separately. Short charging cord.

Apple refreshed its exceptional iPad Pro 12.9 for 2020, and now this class-leading tablet performs better than ever thanks to its new A12Z Bionic chip with an 8-core graphics engine. Drawing with the Apple Pencil – which you do unfortunately need to pay extra for – is a sublime experience, and there are loads of little intuitive touches to make the artist’s life easier, like automatically charging the pencil when it’s attached to the magnetic storing strip at the top of the tablet. The Apple Pencil is also tremendously accurate and just feels right, with a pitch-perfect pressure sensitivity curve. All this tech doesn’t come cheap, of course, but if you’ve got the cash for it, the iPad Pro 12.9 is a drawing companion like no other.



3. Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5 inch)

The best Windows tablet for drawing right now – but it comes at quite a price 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

Impressively versatile Excellent build quality. Surface Pen costs extra.

One of the latest of Microsoft’s impressive laptop/tablet hybrids, the Surface Book 3 is very clearly a premium product from the moment you take it out of the box. Its build quality is gorgeous, and the display looks exceptional. Once you add the highly impressive Surface Pen to the equation (which does add an extra £100 or so onto the already not-inconsiderable cost of the enterprise) then you’ve got a fantastic drawing tool that’ll synergise beautifully with any Windows workflow you already have going. If this isn’t quite enough display for you, there’s also a 15-inch version – though this of course jacks the price up still further. 




4. XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display

A well-sized pen display at a price that might surprise you Active drawing area: 13.54 x 7.62in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C | OS: Windows or macOS

Good pen and drawing surface. Sound build quality. Stand not included.

All the basics you could want from a pen display are covered by the XP-Pen Artist 15.6, a reasonably sized drawing area, a comfortable pen with plenty of sensitivity levels, and a good screen. You don’t get quite the attention to detail or the advanced ecosystem of extras that Wacom provides, and the offset between the stylus tip and the on-screen cursor takes some getting used to, but this remains a pen display that can transform your digital creativity without breaking the bank.


5. Wacom One (2020)

Wacom's most affordable release, bringing a great tablet to the masses 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) Great on the go. Peerless Wacom quality. No iPhone compatibility. 'Small-ish' drawing area.

Wacom's newest tablet, the 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.


6. Wacom Intuos Pro L

The best graphics tablet for artists and illustrators Active drawing area: 12.1 x 8.4in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS Fluid drawing Wired or wireless connection Largest drawing area from the Pro series.

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.


7. Wacom Intuos Pro M

The best graphics tablet for designers Active drawing area: 8.7 x 5.8in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS Multi-touch support Shortcut keys Driver problems reported

Designers don’t typically require the range of movement that illustrators demand, making this smaller edition of the

Wacom Intuos Pro (medium)

graphics tablet just the job. As well as the drawing area, eight shortcut keys and a Touch Ring give you access to your most-used commands and tools, so you don’t have to keep flipping between your tablet and your keyboard while you’re focusing on iterating a concept. The Intuos Pro also supports multi-touch fingertip gestures, making it easy for you pan and zoom around your current document.



8. Wacom Intuos Pro S

A high-spec Wacom tablet for a newbie-friendly price Active drawing area: 6.2 x 3.8in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS Excellent Pro Pen 2 Great value for money Small drawing area No changeable texture sheets

It may have the 'Pro' designation in its name, but the extremely competitive price point of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small means that it's an ideal choice for the ambitious novice with plans to develop their skills. It's light enough to take everywhere, but also durable and solidly built, with all the commands and functionality of its Medium and Large siblings. The unbeatable pressure-responsiveness of the Pro Pen 2 gives it true creative depth, while the small footprint makes the Intuos Pro Small easy to take wherever you need to go.



9. Huion H430P

Get started with this low-cost but very usable mini drawing tablet Active drawing area: 4.8 x 3in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB | OS: Windows or macOS Low cost 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 H430P gives you all the basics without requiring an 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.


10. Wacom Cintiq 13HD

Wacom's 13HD Cintiq tablet is a winner Active drawing area: 16.6 x 11.2in | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: Micro USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS Excellent stylus No touch support Lower colour gamut

While not as affordable as some of its rivals from XP-Pen and Huion, the

Cintiq 13 HD is still much more attractively priced than many of its expert-oriented siblings. In the entry-level market it also has a trick up its sleeve in the form of the Pro Pen 2 stylus, which tops out at 8,192 levels of sensitivity, beating many similarly priced tablets.



SBBTO'S TAKE


The above selections are primarily in the high-end range of drawing tablets for serious creatives and artists that need high performing hardware to keep up with a range of techniques, styles and professions. Wacom has been a leader in this market for years, and is a no-brainer if you are in the market for a quality tablet. As these are compatible with Mac and PC platforms, selecting an Apple or Microsoft tablet isn't entirely necessary unless you need the seamless integration across your iOS or Android devices every step of the way. If you are a beginner, or a 'recreational' artist, the above options should still be explored as they will allow you to grow into your style, and open your world to possibilities creatively, and professionally.


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