best drawing tablets for animation

8 Best Drawing Tablets For Animation 2D & 3D – A Must-Have For Animators

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XPPen 2024-06-04 10:18:50 5 min read

Do you know the original word of animation means "the state of being alive" in Latin? Just like the name implies, by getting a chain of individual images to change subtly but progressively, graphic characters are brought to life, moving and acting like living humans, making audiences laugh and mourn alongside them.

While traditional animation relies on the diligent work of illustrators to create thousands of images, higher productivity, refined visual effects, and compatibility with various platforms and devices are possible thanks to the 2D and 3D animation techniques nowadays. 

Want to kick-start making a cartoon as your personal passion project? This blog covers the basic tools you need on this creative journey. Read on to learn about basic facts about 2D and 3D animation software and the best animation tablets.

2D & 3D Animation: Comparison & Software

Popular 2D animation software includes Adobe Animate CC and Toon Boom Harmony. Creators will need to hand-draw basic images for the characters and environments, then the body movement can be simulated in the software. Rotoscoping is one of the methods to create animated sequences of characters.

hand-draw characters.jpg

3D animators, aided by computer technology that arose in the 1970s, use computers and software to create characters based on skeleton structures. No more hand drawing is necessary. 

3D Animators are primarily responsible for fine-tuning details in order to improve dimensional visual effects. The characters' motions can then be reproduced using motion capture technology. Popular 3D animation applications include Maya and 3DS Max.

Applications of Drawing Tablets for Animation

Whether you plan to explore the world of 2D or 3D animation, drawing tablets and styluses are the must-have gadgets you need besides a fast computer. Basic animation design procedures where a drawing tablet comes into play include:

  • sketch up concepts of characters and environments

  • create 2D/3D characters by painting or 3D modelling

  • complete a storyboard with keyframes

  • animate the scenes

Aside from the procedures outlined above, drawing tablets can be useful when creating a script for the tale and capturing daily inspirations. Instead of painstakingly dragging the awkward mouse around, you can easily get painting and writing experience closer to paper and pen with a tablet and a stylus.

What to Look For in Animation Tablets

When navigating the strange sea of drawing tablets, what should you look for? Here is a full breakdown of the critical factors curated by our tablet experts. You can also view the video below to grasp the key points.

Responsiveness

To fine-tune the details on character’s costume, or render the tiniest aspects of a 3D model, responsiveness between the stylus and the tablet is the key. To ensure that, look for higher pressure levels of at least 8192 in the stylus.

For those looking for an advanced gadget, the latest X3 Pro Chip developed by XPPen has shattered the ceiling of pen parameter to 16K, bringing pen sensitivity to a new high.

Screen Size

Drawing tablets are available in various sizes. Tablets with screens smaller than 15.6 inches are lightweight and easy to carry. They can be easily packed into a luggage or briefcase, ready for your creation even when on the go.

If you spend a lot of time at home painting on a screen, we recommend 20-inch or larger screens for more area for pen motions and to relieve eye strain.

However, keep in mind that the actual painting area differs from the tablet's size. A wide black ring across the screen will also limit the working area.

Resolution

To display brightest colors on the screen, choose drawing tablets with high LPI resolution. The minimum required is 2000 LPI, however most professional manufacturers, such as XPPen, offer 5000 LPI and above in their products.

Pricing

Pricing is one of many important considerations when making a purchase. Wacom is the most popular choice among professionals who have opted to spend enough money on products from more well-known brands. 

However, for beginner animators or budget-conscious designers, products with a cheaper price and higher quality represent a better value. Looking for an animation tablet that isn't cheap or badly constructed? Look no farther than XPPen products.

Brand story of XPPen

XPPen is one of the main manufacturers of drawing tablets, interactive pen displays and handwritten input digitizer products . Founded in 2005, we spend the first 10 years on improving our core technologies in the Chinese market.

Since 2015, we took our initial step into the global market by launching their graphic tablet on Amazon. Over time, more and more of our products have been marketed internationally, and have received a warm welcome.

8 Best Tablets for Animation

Animators want as much precision as attainable to make correct marks, alter frames, and to maneuver by way of rapidly.

For this reason, tablets actually are the only option. In the event you're extra of a hobbyist then an easy graphics tablet could suffice.

However in the long term artists who work digitally sometimes transfer onto show tablets. They're higher high quality and simply really feel simpler to make use of.

1. XPPen Artist 16 (Gen 2) Le Petit Prince Edition

XPPen Artist 16 (Gen 2) Le Petit Prince Edition

XPPen Artist 16 (Gen 2) Le Petit Prince Edition is a new joint model launched by XPPen and the Little Prince. It is limited to 2,500 sets worldwide. The joint model not only comes with customized packaging, but also comes with customized peripherals, including cleaning cloths with Little Prince patterns, drawing gloves, stickers, etc. Moreover, we also customized the Little Prince startup screen. If you like The Little Prince, buy it now! Now only $220.99.

2. XPPen Artist 22 Plus

XPPen Artist 22 Plus

Artist 22 Plus is a premium digital drawing tablet display offered by XPPen. This cutting-edge device is designed to elevate the creative experience of digital artists, illustrators, and designers. With a generously sized 22-inch display, the Artist 22 Plus provides ample space for creating intricate artwork with precision and detail. It features an impressive 1920x1080 Full HD resolution, ensuring vivid and accurate color representation.

Equipped with X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus, this tablet offers 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing for fine and nuanced brushwork. The foldable stand makes it flexible to go from 15° to 88° in seconds, and any angle in between. Feel free to adjust your working posture any way you like, in complete comfort. Plus, the Artist 22 Plus is more than just a drawing display. Unlock more possibilities by extending or projecting contents to this 22-inch big screen for an expansive, immersive viewing experience, whether for creation, games, videos, or entertainment.

Whether you're a digital artist looking to take your craft to the next level or a designer seeking a high-quality display tablet, the Artist 22 Plus promises an immersive and productive creative experience.

3. XPPen Deco Pro Gen 2

xppen deco pro gen 2XPPen Deco Pro Gen 2 is available in two different sizes and two connection models ( with or without Bluetooth connectivity ).

Large A5 or A4 working area allowing you to get creative without worrying about the space constraints.

With the Deco Pro Bluetooth model, you can enjoy the convenience of wireless creation with built-in Bluetooth.

The tablet has 8 shortcut buttons and an innovative dual wheel that lets you easily pan around and zoom in and out of your drawings quickly.

The Stylus is lightweight and battery-free, the device is capable of recognising 60° of tilt and 16K levels of pressure in the pen. You can use this device with any drawing software such as Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI and many more.

4. XPPen Artist Pro 16

artist pro 16If you are a professional artist, XPPen's Artist Pro 16 can be a great choice. It has powerful 8192 levels of pen pressure and 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity.

It comes with a 15.4-inch compact IPS 1920 x 1080 (16:9) resolution screen, which provides a great viewing experience. And, the tablet is equipped with full laminated screen technology which ensures the minimization of parallax .

The tablet has an amazing gamut color of up to 99% Adobe RGB which provides various natural colors on the screen display.

The Artist Pro 16 is the first XPPen's display tablet with the X3 Smart Chip stylus which increases 10-fold the sensitivity of the initial activation force ( IAF to under three grams ) that recognizes even the lightest pen strokes.

The Stylus has a digital eraser at the end. And we can physically flip the tool over to use its eraser end to scrub out mistakes.

In the center of 8 customizable keys, there's a Dual dials. which you can use as per your choice.

Different amazing features of Artist Pro 16 makes it one of the top graphic tablets . This screen drawing tablet will work very smoothly and it will provide a great user experience.

5. XPPen Artist 22R Pro

artist 22r proXPPen Artist 22R Pro is a 21.5-inch large drawing tablet with 1920 x 1080 display resolution.

120% SRGB will provide good color accuracy and improve your visual experience with the tablet.

Totally outfitted with 20 specific keys and 2 red dial wheels , animators can absolutely customize their workspace, aided by the adjustable monitor stand that effortlessly alters the tablet's angle.

PA2 battery-free stylus comes with 60 degrees natural tilt recognition and 8192 levels of pen pressure that helps to achieve realistic drawing experience.

With this large size display drawing tablet, you will get a comfortable experience while working.

6. XPPen Artist 24 Pro

artist 24 pro

For animators and creators looking for a graphics tablet, but still want a professional graded product, then theXPPen Artist 24 Pro is a worthy option.

with a huge drawing surface of 24-inch , you can Create directly on a large canvas with premium color performance.

The combination of 90 percent Adobe RGB color accuracy, 2k ( 2560 x 1440 pixels) Resolution, and 16.7 Million colors produce a true-to-life visual experience.

The Battery-free Stylus has low pen latency, tilt support, and pressure sensitivity to provide artists with a more precise control and a natural pen-on-screen experience.

There are 20 shortcut keys and 2 red dial wheels available on the tablet that will allow you to customize keys as per your need.

It has fantastic build quality, accuracy and precision. This XPPen tablet is a great option if you are looking for a large screen tablet that is feature-rich.

7. XPPen Magic Drawing Pad

People who often use drawing tablets must be familiar with the XPPen brand. In 2024, it launched an Android tablet named Magic Drawing Pad. Different from previous drawing tablets required a computer connection, the Magic Drawing Pad is powered by the Android 12 operating system, allowing it to be used independently.

XPPen Magic Drawing Pad

Key Features:

Super portable: The Magic Drawing Tablet is 6.9mm thick and weighs only 599 grams. You can easily take it anywhere.

Powered by Android 12: Featuring the latest operating system, Android 12, users can enjoy an enhanced user experience and improved application compatibility.

X3 Pro Pencil and EMR Technology: Unlike most tablets, the Magic Drawing Tablet is equipped with the X3 Pro Pencil, which has 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity. In addition, with advanced EMR (Electro-magnetic Resonance) technology, X3 Pro Pencil delivers a digital drawing experience that feels as intuitive and natural as pen on paper.

X Paper: X-Paper is crafted with AG etched technology to emulate the friction and resistance of premium paper as you move the stylus across the surface of the pad, while reducing unwanted glare and fingerprints.

8. iPad Pro

drawing in procreate on ipad pro with apple pencil 2

Ideal for animators as well as regular users, the Apple iPad Pro comes replete with powerful features and a stylish body.

The 2021 refresh of the iPad Pro comes with the M1 processing chip, which was previously only found in Macs. This enables apps to run faster than ever.

with its luminous 12.9-inch liquid retina XDR display, creating incredible works of art is easier.

The Apple Pencil 2 makes for smooth , intuitive and impressive drawing, especially when combined with the Procreate app and some amazing Procreate brushes.

With the addition of a Magic keyboard, it can be converted into a laptop. but you'll have to fork out more money for the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic keyboard.

If you wanted portability you should've taken the iPad Pro. Also 12.9-inch is a really good size for carrying around (I always carry it with me).

Now, have you decided on the best animation drawing tablet for you? As you can see, the advantages of using a drawing tablet for animation drawing, cartoons outweigh the benefits of using other devices. They will make your life as a digital cartoonist so much easier, particularly when you use Toon Boom Harmony , Moho or OpenToonz!

Stylus pens will make you feel more natural and you will be able to get more information about your projects. Shortcut keys and pressure sensitivity functionality will carry the job to a different level, and you'll be able to do more in less time! So, no more hesitating and get your drawing tablet with pen to practice using the animation software now! Fantastic exploration awaits ahead!

Developing drawing skills while being a digital cartoonist takes time and practice, but it can inspire your creativity much as it did in childhood. To achieve that point, it's worth taking the time to learn the fundamentals of how to catch the human face and how to draw flora and fauna. From there, you can build up character illustration, comics, manga and animation, or whatever style you find suits your aesthetics.

If you've been using any other tools for animation creation, feel free to drop a comment to share it with us below! We will update it in our upcoming articles.

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Originated from 2005, XPPen is now one of the top brands under HANVON UGEE, integrated with digital drawing products, content and service as a globally notable digital brand of digital art innovation.

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