Most cartoonists began drawing the good old-fashioned way – with pen and paper. In the 21st century, the horizons of cartooning have expanded into the digital realm as well.
The advent of the computer drawing pad, also known as a drawing tablet, has changed the world of cartooning for the better, providing cartoonists with realistic stylus pens and flat, smooth surfaces on which they can create digital cartoons. Gone are the days of scanners and clumsy computer-mouse-drawn images. Whether you’re an amateur cartoonist or a pro looking to finally enter the world of digital cartooning, what is the best drawing tablet? – these are the top drawing tablets to consider.
BEST ENTRY-LEVEL TABLET: Huion 610PRO Graphic Pen Tablet
The Huion 610PRO drawing Pen Graphics Tablet is an ideal computer drawing pad for beginning cartoonists. The tablet is light-weight and highly affordable, offering such professional features as 2048 pressure sensitivity levels (allowing for a broader range of line widths to be drawn) and a great screen resolution. If you are searching for a tablet that had a reasonable amount of active drawing area, is fairly versatile and affordable. The Huion 610PRO tablet fit that bill with room to spare.” In short, for cartoonists seeking an affordable drawing tablet, Huions 610PRO is a great option to consider. Dimensions:
The Huion 610PRO has surface dimensions of roughly 36cm by 24cm. The tablet, at a mere 1cm thick, is one of the thinnest on the market. Weight: The Huion 610PRO weighs a mere 635g. If you’re a novice cartoonist who’s frequently on-the-go, the 610PRO might just be the best option for you. Resolution: 5080 LPI (lines per inch) Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels
Controls: The 610PRO is a pen-only tablet. Once users adjust to using a pen stylus for computer navigation, most find the pen-only controls to be no problem whatsoever. If, however, you’re looking for touch-screen capabilities as well, the Huion 610PRO may not be for you. The 610PRO also comes with programmable macro keys, allowing for one-click access to such applications as Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, and more.
Connectivity: The tablet must be connected via USB to a computing device.
Design/Appearance: The black tablet (also available in white) is study and well-constructed, with a smooth and comfortable drawing surface. Operating System (OS)
Compatibility: Users have had success with a number of operating systems, ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8 to Apple’s Mountain Lion OS. Some, but not all, users encountered driver difficulties with Apple’s OS.See latest price
*See also our review on the Wacom Pen and Touch Medium Graphics Tablet – another great entry level tablet that won’t break the bank and provides superb results
BEST DRAWING TABLET WITH DRAWING SOFTWARE: Intuos Manga Pen and Touch Small [Wacom]
The Intuos Manga Pen and Touch (Small) is a compact, high-tech, affordable tablet produced by Wacom, the most established drawing tablet brand on the market. As affordable as the Huion 610PRO, this tablet offers up the additional perk of coming pre-loaded with software specifically tailored to drawers of manga, cartoons, and anime. Additionally, this tablet features both pen and touch control options. As one reviewer stated, “The combination of pen and touch is amazing. The touch feature is accurate enough to use as a mouse replacement alone and I find myself using the best of both worlds with this device.” If you want a functional tablet that makes cartooning easier than ever, this may be the best option for you.
Dimensions: The Intuos Manga is 8.2″ by 7″ in surface area and only 0.4″ thick. Weight: At 10.9 ounces, the Intuos Manga is by far the lightest tablet on our list. This is the perfect drawing pad for computer cartoonists who are always on-the-go. Resolution: 2540 LPI Pressure Level: 1024 pen sensitivity levels Controls: The Intuos Manga is, as its name suggests, a tablet with both pen and touch-screen capabilities.
If you’d like your tablet to double as a functional mousepad, or if you simply like to get “hands-on” with your work, this tablet will offer you the freedom and flexibility you desire. Four customizable control buttons also offer you quick access to the functions you need.
Connectivity: The Intuos Manga requires USB connectivity. A separate wireless accessory kit, however, may be purchased for a modest fee, enabling the tablet to be cord-free.
Design/Appearance: The Intuos Manga is available in both black and silver. The tablet has a thin, sleek design and realistic, paper-like surface texture that prevents the stickiness often found with sleeker drawing surfaces. The tablet’s stylus pen is ergonomic and has a built-in eraser as well. Operating System (OS)
Compatibility: The Intuos Manga is compatible with Windows Vista and later, as well as Mac operating systems later than 10.6.8. N.B. Bundle not currently available on Amazon U.K. See latest price
MOST AFFORDABLE LARGE TABLET (WITH SOFTWARE BUNDLE): Genius Graphic Tablet Bundle with Adobe PS Elements 9 and Corel Painter Essentials 4 (Genius PenSketch M912A)[Genius]
The Genius PenSketch M912A is a powerful device all on its own. The PenSketch’s resolution and surface area allow cartoonists to make large, detailed drawings better than most mid-range tablets on the market. This package is perfect for amateur and novice graphic artists, as the computer drawing pad comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Corel Painter Essentials 4, providing cartoonists with two of the best drawing programs on the market.
As one reviewer states, “The performance is absolutely outstanding, the huge size lets you draw naturally, the bundle was super awesome, and the shortcut buttons are way more useful than I thought.” This is a reasonably cheap drawing tablet which is packed with a lot of extras.
Dimensions: The Genius PenSketch M912A has large dimensions of roughly 18″ by 15″, and is 2.6″ thick. Weight: Despite its size, the PenSketch is still relatively light, weighing only 1.6 pounds. Resolution: 5120 LPI Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels Controls: The PenSketch M912A comes with a battery-free mouse in addition to the standard stylus pen. The eight buttons on the tablet provide shortcuts to useful features, including zoom, undo, layer addition, and more.
Connectivity: The tablet itself requires USB connectivity, however the stylus and mouse are wireless.
Design/Appearance: The PenSketch is a large, black, sleek tablet. The tablet has a stylish design, with shortcut buttons conveniently located at the top of the drawing pad. The tablet is slightly angled, making drawing easier than ever. Operating System (OS)
Compatibility: The PenSketch is compatible with Windows XP and later as well as Mac OS 10.4 and later. See latest price
If you’re looking to make an investment in a great mid-range tablet, the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet by Wacom is likely for you. The tablet can be connected to your computer not only via USB, but wirelessly as well. With a high resolution and a drawing surface that’s neither too big nor too small, the Intuos Pro Medium is guaranteed to meet the needs of any cartoonist looking to get serious about his or her digital work.
As one reviewer stated, “[I totally recommend this] for the people who want to draw or work in animation in general. Its extremely precise and perfectly designed.” Who could ask for anything more?
Dimensions: The Medium Intuos Pro model is larger than most entry-level tablets, but is still modest compared to professional drawing tablets. The tablet is 15″ by 10″ and is a mere 0.45″ thick. Weight: The Intuos Pro is a bit heavier than other tablets on the market, weighing in at 2.2 pounds, making this a better drawing pad for computer cartoonists who plan to stick to one location. Resolution: 5080 LPI Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels
Controls: The Intuos Pro Pen and Touch, as its name suggests, comes with a stylus pen for drawing and navigation while also providing artists with a touch-screen interface. Users need only “swipe” to navigate or “pinch” to zoom in on the tablet, allowing for a versatile and intuitive design experience. The tablet also comes with a customizable touch-ring that can be used for various design functions.
Connectivity: The Intuos Pro provides users with USB cables to connect to computing devices, as do all tablets on our list. The Intuos Pro, however, also includes a wireless kit, allowing cartoonists to use the tablet wirelessly as well as by USB cable. For many, this feature is a major draw.
Design/Appearance: The Intuos Pro is perhaps the most aesthetically simplistic tablet on our list. The tablet is solid black with unobtrusive black buttons, providing users with a top-notch artistic experience with no unnecessary distractions. Operating System (OS)
Compatibility: The Intuos Pro is suitable for both Microsoft and Apple loyalists, and is compatible with Windows Vista and later operating systems as well as Mac OS X 10.6.8 and its successors. See latest price
If you’re looking for a truly powerful drawing tablet that displays what you’re drawing right on the tablet itself, look no further than Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD. Though much more expensive than entry-level tablets, this powerful device offers up a precision and feel that serious artists will appreciate.
Why opt for the 13HD over another tablet? “I think the intuitiveness of seeing what you draw as you draw it is a major win over [the] touch gestures [offered by tablets like the Intuos],” one reviewer frankly declared. For the artist who’s serious about drawing, Wacom’s Cintiq tablets are in a league of their own – the elite digital drawing pads.
Dimensions: The Cintiq 13HD is roughly 15″ by 10″ and is 0.5″ wide. Weight: At 2.6 pounds, the Cintiq 13HD is only slightly heavier than the average tablet and packs a huge punch for the weight. Resolution: 5080 LPI; full HD 1920 X 1080 screen resolution Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels
Controls: The Cintiq 13HD’s main control is the stylus pen included with the tablet. The ExpressKey buttons on the Cintiq are so well-programmed and convenient that, according to reviewers, the need for keyboard commands was almost entirely eliminated from their design process.
Connectivity: The Cintiq 13HD takes connectivity to the next level, offering up a 3-in-1 cable that condenses the USB, HDMI, and power cords all into one single cable.
Design/Appearance: The Cintiq 13HD is deceptively simple in appearance. The drawing pad is black with well-positioned buttons, and features a full HD drawing screen in the center. The tablet comes with an ergonomic adjustable stand as well, allowing for perfect drawing and viewing at any angle. Operating System (OS) Compatibility: The Cintiq 13HD is compatible with Windows XP SP3 and later, as well as Mac OSX 10.6.8 and succeeding operating systems. See latest price
If you really want to push the boat out the Wacom Cintiq 22HD is possibly the very best direct draw tablet on the market. It offers the same quality and performance as the 13HD but has a much larger screen. However the price difference is quite considerable. There is an even larger version at 27″ but for the additional cost it does not appear worth it. I have also experienced problems ordering the larger version and personally I would steer clear of it and opt for either the 13″ or 22″. If you would like more information see my review of the Cintiq range of direct draw graphics tablets here…
So it’s down to you to decide what is the best drawing tablet for you!
Whether you’re looking for an entry-level tablet or a professional drawing pad for digital cartooning, you’re sure to find what you need with one of these high-quality tablets.
It is quite a different experience drawing on a graphics tablet and it may take a while to get used to it. however, once you are comfortable with the pen on plastic you will find huge benefits and find techniques and tricks that you cannot do on paper. Take a look at this short video clip by Wacom which gives you a quick overview of what a tablet can do for you and demonstrates both direct and indirect drawing tablets.
If you feel that you can’t move totally from paper to digital art that’s fine as a drawing tablet is a great art ‘polisher’. I often scan and import my paper based black and white cartoons into the tablet and use it to tidy up errors, color, add lettering and make other effects. A tablet is so versatile and accurate that you will wonder how you ever managed before the digital age!
If you have cool stuff to draw be sure you enter the world of digital cartooning, you’ll never want to turn back!