Finding What You Need
If you’re a complete beginner with little-to-no digital experience then any one of these drawing tablets can work.
But what you need can depend on your desk space, how often you practice, and how long you want the tablet to last. If you’re OK buying a new tablet in 1-2 years then you can get by with a cheaper option for now.
But if you want a tablet that’ll last you 5-6 years, maybe even a decade, then going with a higher-end brand like XP-Pen is the best solution.
I’ve tried to curate this list with all different artists in mind. I know some readers are newer artists still practicing their fundamentals trying to move into digital. Other readers are skilled artists with years of traditional art experience who want to do more digital work.
And many readers may be inbetween just looking to dive into digital drawing/painting. The two biggest things you should consider are price and usability.
If you want a display tablet then you’ll need a larger budget. However if you just want a portable tablet then you have a lot more options to pick from.
Either way dig through this list and see what you think. If any tablets catch your eye be sure to bookmark them for later.
A cheap yet durable tablet that can last you quite a while is XP-Pen Star05 Graphics Drawing Tablet . This is one of their signature designs modeled after XP-Pen’s Intuos with eight express keys and a plain black drawing area.
The stylus for this tablet is battery free and it’s powered by just a USB cable. It’s one of the lightest units you’ll find so it’s worth considering if you want a cheap durable travel tablet.
The active drawing area measures 10″ wide by 6″ tall which is plenty of room for a beginner. That’s almost a foot of drawing space with eight express keys to the side.
Whenever you make a mark it can be detected instantly with surprising precision. Most of XP-Pen’s tablets have incredible drivers that play nice with all Windows and Mac computers. This translates to a smooth drawing experience regardless of what OS you use.
Everything runs through one USB cable so you’ll avoid having too many cables sticking out. This also simplifies drawing on your laptop with just a single cable. On your bed, on the couch, or in the nearby café.
The stylus pen is super light and comes with 8 replacement nibs(or tips) if any get too dull. Plus you’ll get a handy pen clip holder to keep it stashed away on your desk when not in use.
Star05 is one of the more affordable tablets that doesn’t come with any noticeable downsides. It really is fantastic and it delivers exactly what you expect.
Bottom Line: The Star05 tablet is a wonderful choice for newer artists on a tight budget. The battery-free pen is light and easy to learn, and the 8 hot keys can help you nail down a professional tablet workflow.
If you’re confident in your art practice then why not splurge on a high-end tablet? The XP-Pen Artist15.6 is the best display tablet for beginners with a simple design, a built-in stand, and a very simple setup process.
All the specs are incredible with a 1080p display, four express keys, and a battery-free XP-Pen pen designed to last for years of consistent use.
I only suggest this tablet for beginners who take art seriously and know they’ll be in it for the long haul. This is pricey but worth every penny if you know you’ll put in the hours to practice.
XP-Pen’s displays are phenomenal and they’re able to charge premium rates because their hardware is the best in the business. The Artist15.6 screen feels much like the size of A4 printer paper.
The active display area measures about 12″ wide by 7″ tall and it’s used in landscape orientation like a widescreen monitor. Since this is a display tablet it can also work like a second monitor for your setup.
Every part of the drawing surface is sensitive to pen touch so you can draw anywhere, even the corners, with accuracy. And XP-Pen’s drivers support all major OS’ including Windows XP-Win10 and up through all recent versions of Mac OS X.
It comes with a three-in-one cable containing a USB cord, an HDMI cord, and a power cord all rolled into one. This is far superior to using two or three different cables and it makes wire management so much easier.
You can draw for hours and never feel any sort of real warmth under your hand. This tablet is built to last and the hardware proves it.
As a beginner you probably want to start cheap. But if you’re willing to splurge then the XP-Pen Artist15.6 Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet can easily last a decade or more with a quality drawing experience and unrivaled accuracy.
Bottom Line: The Artist15.6 is not cheap but it’s worth every penny. It’s perfect for artists who will put in the hours to improve and want their first tablet to be something that’ll last.