Low End/Intro Drawing Tablet Recommendations?

I’d like to play around with a digital drawing tablet, to see if it suits me. Since this is a trial run, I’d like to start off with a low end/affordable model that will still be decent enough to last a while.

The Wacom tablets have been mentioned a lot here, but they seem to have a huge product range. Having never used one of these things, I have no idea what features to look for. I’d appreciate any suggestions that you all can offer.


I been drawing with a Samsung Tablet Galaxy note. Since I’m only learning this works well so far. Many more established artists use the iPad that is compatible with the apple pen. I would have done that had I had the forsight

I would drool for the Cintaq but that’s way beyond my skill

1 Like

I’ll be interested in the responses here. I have an old Wacom tablet that I use and it works fine. But with the advent of actual tablets you can draw on (screen displays - iPads, Samsung, etc) , I wonder how that impacts the market of non-display drawing tablets. Obviously less horsepower than most laptop/desktop PCs. I guess I could research the various resolutions and sensitivity between the two methods if I were in the market.


I have an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil…I know, it’s not budget level, but…

There are some really fine apps available now for both bitmap and vector art creation.

For a lower cost solution you could look at Wacom’s entry level tablets tethered to your computer.


Oh, thank you for mentioning that factor! I think it would drive me nuts … so much so, that I might be willing to spend more to avoid it.

1 Like

So here is a topic I actually know a little about. I have gone through a pretty wide range of tablets and digital drawing aids for the past 18 years.

We will start out with Wacom as they are the most well know. They will be the most expensive by far, but with lot sof good tools you do get what you pay for. I started with a Graphire back in 2000 and jumped to the cintiq style tablet displays in the 2010’s. My original 12" still works great (my husband claimed it when i upgraded to the 22) and you can usually find the 12 and 13 inch on ebay used for a decent price. So if you want name brand at a budget go see whats there.

Monoprice has an alternative, but I have friends with some horror stories of multiple DOA units and a less then friendly return staff while trying to get a working model. So try at your own risk there.

The most popular Cintiq alternative I find is the Yinova. They are functionally very good products and much cheaper then the Wacom Alternative. They lack a little bit of the responsiveness of the Cintiq’s but not enough to make a massive difference. A very friendly and helpfull support team. I know at least one artist who had to return a DOA unit but they were very fast to resond and ship a new working one asap. The one down side I know of with this brand is the life span. Liek i said my old 12" cintiq still runs great, a Yinova has about a 2-3 year lifespan in general.
Yinova Site

All of the above are tablets that need connected to a PC or laptop, now lets get into stand alone options.

First and foremost, Avoid the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or earlier. The pen to screen responsivness is pretty awful. I had one for less then 6 months before reselling it. I can’t attest to the Pro4 or the Surface Studio as I have had no hands on time with them.

Wacom also has an all in one called the companion. Its pricey but has all the desired functionality of the Cintiqs in a portable form. However they have notoriously short battery lives. So having power access is always vital with them

Ipad Pro: This ois my current travel tablet and I LOVE it. It’s a decent starter price and there are tons of great apps. Most export in file types that can then be taken to the PC to be refined. So if you are looking for something lightweight and portable I recommend it.

I know there are more things out there but this is what I can attest to personally. More then happy to answer any questions!


Thank you so much for sharing your experience in such detail! Your post was extremely helpful.

1 Like

I thought you deserved more than just a heart. That’s a ton of great information. Thank you!


Not a problem!
Hope your hunt for a tablet is fruitful!


My limited knowledge (and skill) is eclipsed by @Mossfox but since you asked for a cheapy; i bought a Wacom Bamboo and love it.

Disclaimer: i ain’t got many PC drawing skills and mostly use it for mock-ups that i pass on to real artists.

The Bamboo is great to start, the Graphire I bought in 2000 was the about the same in quality. If you are not particular about having a screen tablet it’s more then acceptable, and really affordable as well.

1 Like

The Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, Surface Studio all have excellent pen response (disclaimer: I work for Microsoft).

I haven’t used the refreshed Surface Pro (the 2017 version dropped the number) but I expect they are also good.

If there’s a Microsoft Store near you, you can go and get a feel for them.

@Drea I’m going to throw another vote for a Wacom Bamboo for your situation.
As a professional designer for over 15 years I’ve had almost every tablet or there. Currently I’m favoring the Surface line for my work but those are dedicated, full computers that happen to have integrated tablets, and therefore hefty price tags. A Bamboo will run you less than $100 and will work well and very reliably. It’s an excellent starter tablet that’s also suitable for much professional work.

Edit/addendum: an iPad pro with Pencil works well, and can function like a plug in Wacom Cintiq if you have a recent Mac. If you want freedom of design software/OS choice any non Cintiq Wacom (work directly in your computer of choice without futzing with exporting, etc) will be less complicated. Don’t let hand eye coordination intimidate you - think of it as a more precise way to use a mouse. The tablet/pen works across your whole system, not just in design software.


I think a lot depends on what you want and what you’re willing to spend. For some people, “entry level” is $100. For others, it’s $1k. So, don’t be offended or discouraged if I talk about an option thats well outside of your budget.

First thing to decide is if you want a tablet that works with your current computer, or if you also want it to be the computer.

There are pluses and minuses to both. A huge plus of the tablet that pairs with a separate computer is that they don’t automatically become obsolete in 6 years, or however long a computer normally lasts. Its essentially just a mouse and/or monitor. And even if you get a top-of-the-line wacom tablet, they haven’t changed all that much in the last 5-10 years. Yeah, they add features like touch screen and express keys, more levels of pressure sensitivity, and endlessly larger tablet sizes, but the core of what it does and how it works hasn’t really changed.

The downsides are they’re pricey if you want to draw on the screen. Even “cheap” alternatives like Huion Kamvas series will cost $500-1k. That is a ton of money for something that needs a computer to even work. But it’s also less money than a wacom cintiq.

If you want it to be a computer, you have a lot of options. From the absolutely dreadful wacom companion 1 & 2 monstrosities they need to take outback and shoot (I may have strong feelings about those that do not accurately reflect other people’s experiences). I hate them. How did they design the lovely cintiqs and then go so dreadfully wrong? The world may never know. To iPad (have not used a pro. I have used an older iPad to draw and the palm rejection was nonexistent, so it was very awkward and uncomfortable to use. But I would expect youd be able to try one in store before buying, which could help you decide. Whereas you probably don’t have that option if you want to try a wacom product). I will say, there are some very nice, inexpensive apps for iPad that I really enjoy.

I have a surface pro something something laptop that I got a couple of months ago after I smashed the aforementioned iPad and then dropped in the sink (it still works sort of. Those things are surprisingly resilient. The surface pro is not. I smashed that last week. I am not a careful person, I think). I quite like drawing on the surface, but I do not like the actual touch screen aspect of it. Or rather, it doesn’t like me. It doesn’t pick up my touch very well at all. That said, the palm rejection works great when you get the settings right. I run a fairly large art program on it and never have any problems with it not being able to handle it. Lenovo makes a tablet, too, that quite a few artists like, but the name of the specific one escapes me.

If you don’t feel you need to draw on the screen, and are just looking for a tablet, I would recommend checking out bamboo or intuos pros. If you’re comfortable buying used, there are always gently used intuos pros around, and they are great. I think they tend to be better for certain types of art (like, painting vs precise line art), but they’re much more affordable.

So… That’s a ton of information without an answer😊 Probably not very helpful, but there are so many more options now than even just 5 years ago, that there are a lot of avenues to explore. You might have an easier time narrowing down your search if there are some things you know you definitely do it do not want.

Portability is one that will eliminate quite a few. Are you the sort who wants to work at a cafe and on the couch and on the plane? If so, forget every wacom option. Even if the cintiq companions were amazing (and they arent, in case I’m being too subtle here), they’re too big and heavy. And you can’t really balance a laptop and a separate tablet in your lap. I love my cintiq, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one. But they’re just not good for on-the-go. For portability, I’d go with a laptop or iPad or something like that. They’re lighter and smaller. Just, ya know, don’t smash them. Or buy the extra warranty. Best Buy is probably going to regret upselling that little add on by the time I’m done with them.

If price is the most important factor, I’d look at used wacom bamboo and intuos tablets. You should be able to find something that works well for $100-300, depending on size and model. Or maybe even cheaper.


You can also link your iPad to the Mac - Windows too i think - so you can use it as a Cintiq style tablet, using all your existing PC software.

Also, the Bamboo is great - if you have good hand/eye coordination.

1 Like

What?! Woah. I didn’t know that.

I can’t vouch for any of this info but here are some details and apps to do it with:

1 Like

When using an Apple Pencil the iPad Pro has very good palm rejection.

1 Like

Here is a suggestion from the low end of the spectrum. I teach design at the high school level. From Wacom I have used (and use) a cintiq tablet, the Med and XL Intuos tablets and the small Bamboo tablets but there was no way I was going to be able to afford any Cintiq for the classroom. For the students, I have some Huion 610 Pro tablets… and I have used them too. They work well as an alternate to Med Intuos, but for only $70 to $80 USD. They do NOT have the same feel as the Wacom tablets, (and you have to remember to charge the pen battery) but they are pretty good - they have a good sensitivity for pressure, are easy to set up and program the buttons. And for the price (about $250 less than an Intuos) are quite incredible. I have had students using the ones I have for about a year and a half with off and on (medium, not heavy use) The Huion tablets feel light, but the ones I have are still going.



Not knowing what you want to do, if you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber you can put Adobe Draw on an existing Android or iWhatever and pull your creations right into Adobe Illustrator on your main machine. Works good enough for my basic needs, but I’m not an artist.


@Shell recommended an entry-level Wacom, Intuos to break into tablet use. I bought one for around $80 and it performs well for me. The pen doesn’t need charging and there is an optional wireless kit that I like.
I almost bought another Wacom offering ‘Intuos 3D’ for around $150 or $180 because it comes bundled with Z Brush core which by itself sells for around $300. But I have a keen interest in depth mapping and 3D engraving. The one I got had ‘Artrage lite’ bundled with it. A neat drawing program that is pretty capable for bundled software.

A pen on a surface feels better to me than pushing a mouse around, the pen is very sensitive and quicker too. I can span across both 27" monitors with a flick of my wrist.

Probably 30 years ago my first tablet was a Wacom, and I came close to wearing a hole in the surface. Very reliable.