Best Drawing Tablets for Animation

Contents

As we discuss here in our general round-up of the best drawing tablets, there are of course a vast and varied array of products to choose from, all of which have alternative levels of output that can strongly impact upon an animators workflow. 

When it comes to animation and as also discussed here, a drawing tablet is an incredibly diverse tool and you don’t have to look too far inside an animators tool box to find one. Whether you work within a 2D or 3D environment, when creating animations, a drawing tablet can be used for all manor of tasks from initial sketching and storyboarding, though to complex scene creation and animating full frames.

The following article discusses and rounds-up a carefully curated selection of drawing tablets that we feel are most suitable for producing animations, from amateur levels through to professional.

Which tablet is best for animation?

Our pick

Our Pick
Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet

With Wacom firmly positioned at the top of most of our guides, when it comes to architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, the Cintiq 22 is a clear winner with its exceptional performance and large high quality drawing area.

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With Wacom firmly positioned at the top of the market and the first choice for many professional animators, it is no surprise that it often features at the top of most of our guides. But when it comes to choosing just one of their many excellent models, the Cintiq 22 is a clear winner with its exceptional performance and large high quality drawing area.

Runner up

HUION Kamvas Pro 24

Hunion’s highest resolution tablet …and largest ever digital display

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With 2560 x 1440 resolution with 120% sRGB colour support this display is very sharp, line quality in consistent and predictable, and the matte laminated glass display protects the screen well from scratches. Costing 25% less than the Wacom 22, and with a slightly larger drawing surface, the Huion kamvas pro 24 is a very worthy contender.

…Also very good

Wacom Intuos Pro M

Possibly the best graphics tablet on the market …professional grade performance and feature upgrades that will take your workflow to the next level

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For animators and creators looking for a graphics tablet, but still want a professional graded product, then the Wacom Intuos Pro is a worthy option. It has fantastic build quality, accuracy, precision, and comes in both medium and large options (not to mention the popular “S” model featured below). It has tilt recognition, multitouch capability, Bluetooth, 8 Express Keys, and a convenient touch ring for analog functions to boot.

For speed and efficiency we only review the products that we feel are the most worthy of selection, and this often results in a list that is a little smaller than the “10 best” collections we commonly see elsewhere.

So the above and below carefully sourced 7 tablets form a list of what we consider to be some of the best products currently available.

Overall and despite the many other excellent contenders to the Wacom dynastie, the overall winners and best all-rounders for animation is for us the Wacom Cintiq 22. Despite the fact that Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 24 is currently dominating the professional studio market, and yes is superior to the Cintiq 22, for a lot of animators the price is just too high. 

So although the price tag is still comparatively high, the incredible performance of Wacom’s Cintiq 22 drawing tablet is within many more animators’ reach, and therefore in our opinion takes the win.

Drawing tablet reviews

Overall best all-round winner – Wacom Cintiq 22

Our Pick
Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet

With Wacom firmly positioned at the top of most of our guides, when it comes to architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, the Cintiq 22 is a clear winner with its exceptional performance and large high quality drawing area.

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Dimensions: 22 x 10.5 x 0.7 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 21.5 x 10.4 inches | Item Weight: 3.3 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Pixel | Screen Size: 21.5 inches | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported Software: Windows and Mac operating systems | Battery Power: AC power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels (via pro pen 2) | Express Keys: N/A | Customizable Express Keys: No

Aside from the very generous 22 inch workspace, one of the first aspects you will notice about the Wacom Cintiq 22 drawing tablet are the 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity achieved through Wacom’s pro pen 2. With compatible software, this enables an animator to execute almost any type of brush stroke with maximum accuracy.

Wacom’s reputation for build quality continues to excel here, and the drawing experience has further improved from its predecessor with a superior pen and matt screen.

The high refresh rate means that there is no noticeable lag as you make pen strokes. Even as you complete tasks continuously for several hours, the tablet does not overheat or get uncomfortable to use. 

Despite having the highest price tag in this review, it currently has a very competitive price for a tablet from the Cintiq range and for its size. And whilst many of its features are comparable to the below Huion Kamvas Pro 16 and the XP-Pen Artist22E Pro, the Cintiq 22 wins for overall build quality and user experience.

Pros

  • Professional through and through 
  • Excellent drawing experience
  • Highly durable

Cons

  • Expensive compared to others
  • No built-in shortcut keys

Best for new animators – Gaomon PD1560

Gaomon PD1560

Dimensions: 22 x 13.7 x 5 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 13.5 x 7.6 inches | Item Weight: 3.48 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Pixel | Screen Size: 15.6 inch | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported Software: Windows and Mac operating systems | Battery Power: AC Power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Express Keys: 10 | Customizable Express Keys: Yes

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With 8192 pen pressure sensitivity levels the GAOMON PD150 tablet comes with many of the advanced features of the more expensive tablets but with a much lower price tag. In fact we struggled to find a better tablet for the price. 

The large screen measuring 13.5” x 7.6” has a resolution of 5080 LIP and a report rate of 233 PPS, ensuring definition, fineness, accuracy of lines and image color.

Fully equipped with 10 express keys, animators can fully customize their workspace, aided by the adjustable monitor stand that effortlessly alters the tablet’s angle.

Pros

  • Full HD display
  • High-end features at a mid-range price
  • Includes 10 shortcut buttons
  • Lightweight and easily portable

Cons

  • Pen is rechargeable

Best for tight budgets – Wacom Intuos

Wacom Intuos S Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet

The best drawing tablet for beginners …excellent hands-on experience backed by the robust Wacom high quality guarantee.

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Dimension: 7.87 x 6.3 x 0.35 inches | Display Area: 6.0 x 3.7 inches | Item Weight: 0.55 pounds | Display Resolution: 2540 LPI | Screen Size: 7 inches | Connectivity Type: USB | Supported Software: Windows and Mac | Battery Power: 1 Lithium-ion batteries included | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 4096 | Express Keys: 4 | Customizable Express Keys: Yes

Whilst we recommended that animators stick to display tablets, not every artist can initially afford one, and so with this in mind the Wacom Intuos tablet range is an excellent substitute, and a very cost effect animation tablet.

The Intuos range comes in three different size (small, medium and large), and whilst the above “small” model with a 7 inch drawing platform is still highly effective, animators would find the 10 inch “medium” model slightly less restrictive. 

The Intuos tablets ooze the exceptional build quality that Wacom is so famous for, and although this is a graphics tablet, combined with a replaceable texture sheet to provide a paper like drawing experience, animators will quickly adapt to looking at a second monitor whilst working.

Additionally the supplied Pro Pen 2 offers superb comfort and balance and comes fully equipped with replacement nibs. Combine this with the 8 fully customizable express keys, and you have a highly effective and creative platform.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Highly portable
  • Supports multi-touch

Cons

  • Pen stand doesn’t grip well
  • Small model, has small active drawing area

Best mid range animation tablet – Huion KAMVAS Pro 16

HUION Kamvas Pro 24

Hunion’s highest resolution tablet …and largest ever digital display

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Dimensions: 17.3 x 9.84 x 0.4 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 15.2 x 7.3 inches | Item Weight: 2.6 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Pixel | Screen Size: 15.6 inch | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported Software: Windows and Mac operating systems | Battery Power: AC Power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level (pressure sensitivity): 8192 Levels | Express Keys: 6 | Customizable Express Keys: Yes

The KAMVAS Pro 16 drawing tablet by Huion sits within the low to mid price range for a display tablet, but provides many of the features and outputs of the above and more expensive Wacom Cintiq 22 tablet.

The fully laminated anti-glare 15.6 inch screen provides ample drawing space, yet is small enough to remain relatively portable.

The lamination provides a paper-like feeling whilst drawing, that when combined with the 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity the battery free pen provides, users will quickly forget they are drawing onto a screen.

Together with an adjustable stand, the 6 express keys provide animation artists with a fully customizable workspace.

Pros

  • Good build quality with premium feel
  • 15.6-inch matte surface drawing screen

Cons

  • Some will find the connection wire too short

A good Wacom alternative animation tablet – XP-Pen Artist22E

XP-PEN Artist22E Pro & AC19 Shortcut Remote Express Keys Keyboard

Dimensions: 22.3 x 12.8 x 1.2 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 476.64 x 268.11 mm | Item Weight: 10 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Pixel | Screen Size: 21.5 inches | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported Software: Windows and Mac operating systems | Battery Power: AC power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level (pressure sensitivity): 8192 Levels | Express Keys:16 | Customizable Express Keys: Yes

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Rivaling Wacom’s Cintiq 22 tablet for screen size, the XP-Pen Artist22 strengthened drawing area measures 21.5 inches. Costing less than half the amount of a Cintiq 22, this tablet has been created for professionals, and firmly sits within the “Wacom alternatives” family. 

The screen features adjustable backlighting with a pristine color output, that is capable of also functioning as a second monitor.

Its strengthened glass reduces scratches and minor damage, and if smudges are a problem, the tablet comes with an anti-fouling artists glove to aid a clean drawings process.

With regards to express keys, this tablet has 16 (two sets of 8), however only 8 of these are customizable as each set mirrors one-another to provide both right and left handed animators with a complete workflow. 

A distinct difference with this tablet to others, is that the stylus is re-chargeable and therefore animators must be diligent in when to charge its battery to avoid being inconvenienced.

Pros

  • Accurate and responsive drawing
  • Very affordable for a professional level digital display
  • Suitable for both right and left handed animators

Cons

  • No tilt or rotation sensitivity
  • Pen button customization is limited
  • Rechargeable pen

Selecting the right animation tablet

Every animator whether a hobbyist or professional will have alternative methods of working, procure different types of animations, and have their own set of bespoke requirements.

Which in truth means that there is very little chance of there ever being a one size fits all, and therefore no tablet that could ever truly be crowned the best. But we can however get as close as possible to this through deciphering and narrowing down certain specifications that are better than others for each animator.

So when it comes to what to consider before buying such a product, ask yourself:

  • How often will I use this, and is it going to be a worthwhile investment?
  • Are you an experienced animator and artist?
  • Or are you a novice looking for their first animation tablet?
  • Is portability important?
  • Do my current and future skill sets meet my chosen specifications?
  • …and of course, what is my maximum budget?

Display – We cover the difference between digital tablets and graphics tablets, and since animators require instant real time feedback, we strongly recommend buying a display tablet (as most the above are) over a graphics tablet.

However if you are a novice/ hobbyist and/or on a tight budget, a solid graphics tablet such as the Wacom Intuos range will suffice until ready to upgrade.

Ultimately a good display tablet must provide a clear, sharp and bright output.

Size – A larger screen isn’t always better and so rather than going for the largest dimensions you can afford, consider where and how it will be used. Not all animation projects require the large 22” screen that the Wacom Cintiq provides, and equally this isn’t very portable.

Shortcut keys – shortcut or express keys are located on the sides of the drawing tablets and on the stylus. For maximum benefit, ensure that these are customizable and can be mapped to your individual requirements, as some are not.

Price – For a lot of us, this is a significant factor and one that may result in not quite initially reaching the drawing tablet goals you set out to achieve.

Be honest with yourself when asking the above questions, as maybe its not the right time to buy that Cintiq Pro 24 tablet just yet!

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