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Which cheap drawing tablet is best?

Whether you create art for fun or work, a drawing tablet can take your craft to the next level. These tablets often have textured screens that make them feel similar to paper. Still, drawing tablets can be pricey. If you’re looking for one that doesn’t break the bank,  you can’t go wrong with the XP-Pen Artist12.

What to know before you buy a cheap drawing tablet

Screen vs. no screen

Many of these tablets feature built-in screens, similar to an iPad or Kindle. Some plug into your computer and use its screen.

Tablets with screens are ideal for those who want to simulate using a pencil and paper. Still, they can make your neck sore, as you’ll have to look down at your desk to use them. You can buy tablet stands to alleviate neck soreness, but you’ll have to hold your hand up to draw, which may lead to wrist soreness.

Those without screens are usually more affordable and ergonomic. Still, they can feel unnatural since your drawing doesn’t appear on the surface you’re touching with your pen. Many drawing tablets with screens plug into computers, making them a better option for those who want to test both methods.

Cheap drawing tablet stylus

The stylus takes the place of your pen or pencil, so choosing one that feels good in your hand is essential. Many include programmable buttons, letting you map settings that you often use directly to the stylus. Some require charging, whereas others are battery-free. Those you need to charge usually have enhanced functionality but can be inconvenient if they run low on battery while you’re drawing.

Cheap drawing tablet screen size

These tablets come in various sizes. Larger screens are great for detailed drawings, but they can be cumbersome. Compact drawing tablets don’t give you as much room to work, but they’re easy to take on the go.

What to look for in a quality cheap drawing tablet

Cheap drawing tablet pressure sensitivity

When you create art using a pen, pencil or brush, the amount of pressure you apply changes how your strokes appear on paper. Adding more pressure results in darker, thicker lines, whereas lighter strokes lead to thin, soft lines. The best drawing tablets feature pressure sensitivity settings that mimic pen and paper. 

Many tablets have anywhere from 2,000 to 9,000 pressure levels. The tablet’s included pen often plays an essential role in pressure levels.

Cheap drawing tablet software

Some tablets include their own art software, although you may prefer to use third-party software. If you typically use programs like Krita or Photoshop, you’ll want to buy a tablet compatible with your program of choice. 

Most cheap drawing tablets don’t have an operating system. Instead, they plug into your PC and use its OS. These tablets should be compatible with most third-party software.

Cheap drawing tablet programmable buttons

Many feature buttons on the tablet that function as shortcuts for tools in your preferred drawing software. You can set the controls yourself so that the tools you use most are easy to access. Programmable buttons keep you from switching between your keyboard and tablet, making it easier to get work done. In some cases, both the tablet and pen feature programmable buttons.

How much you can expect to spend on a cheap drawing tablet

Drawing tablets without screens can cost as little as $50. Those with screens tend to run around $150-$200.

Cheap drawing tablet FAQ

Can you use a normal tablet as a drawing tablet?

A. You can use traditional tablets for art, but they aren’t ideal. Traditional tablet screens are smooth, meaning your pen won’t grip the surface as it does with a drawing tablet. Additionally, the screen doesn’t respond to pressure levels like a drawing tablet.

Is it harder to draw on a tablet?

A. There is a learning curve, but most drawing tablets do a good job mimicking paper and pen. Buying a tablet that responds to your inputs quickly makes drawing easier. Getting used to the drawing software usually takes longer than getting used to the tablet, so if you’re already familiar with particular software, you shouldn’t have much trouble.

Can you use a drawing tablet for other things?

A. Drawing tablets are ideal for 3D modeling, at-home education and working from home. You can use the surface as a digital whiteboard for presentations, taking notes and collaborating with co-workers.

What’s the best cheap drawing tablet to buy?

Top cheap drawing tablet

XP-Pen Artist12 11.6-Inch Drawing Monitor

XP-Pen Artist12 11.6-Inch Drawing Monitor

What you need to know: This features a slim design and is compatible with various drawing programs.

What you’ll love: The battery-free pen has 8,192 pressure levels, a programmable button and an eraser. The tablet features six programmable buttons. The included glove lets you rest your hand on the screen without unwanted smudges on your drawing. Setup is easy, and most people felt the tablet had virtually no lag.

What you should consider: Some users have trouble getting the cable to stay in the tablet; if the cord is loose, the screen flickers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cheap drawing tablet for the money

Wacom One Small Graphics Drawing Tablet

Wacom One Small Graphics Drawing Tablet

What you need to know: Wacom is one of the most well-known and trusted names in drawing tablets.

What you’ll love: It is available in two sizes and works with both Mac and PC. It’s durable and responsive. The pen is lightweight and comfortable. Setup only takes a few minutes.

What you should consider: This tablet doesn’t have a screen, and the included micro-USB cord is relatively short.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Gaomon PD1161 11.6-Inch Drawing Display

Gaomon PD1161 11.6-Inch Drawing Display

What you need to know: This features 8,192 pressure levels and is compatible with most drawing software.

What you’ll love: There are eight programmable keys on the tablet and two on the pen. It includes eight replacement nibs for the stylus. 

What you should consider: Some reports say that the pen scratches the screen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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