best drawing tablets for animation

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

XPPen 2024-01-22 17:17:55 5 min read

The original meaning of animation was 'the state of being alive'. Animation is all about getting a group of individual images that change subtly but progressively and chaining them together.

Most 2D animation is done in Adobe Animate CC (almost every cartoon on disney, cartoon network, and nickelodeon is animated this way) or Toon Boom Harmony. Usually it is hand animated, but sometimes (very, very rarely now) they use rotoscoping.

Most 3D animation is done in Maya or 3DS Max (usually maya). Sometimes it is hand animated, but usually they use motion capture of some sort.

Tools used are usually drawing tablets, for 2D animation in Adobe Animate it's similar to hand drawn animation with parts overlapping other parts, animation cells, and frames. For 3D animation you use bones (the character/actor's limbs and body movement) and a few other things.

In terms of animation, a drawing tablet is an extremely varied instrument and you do not have to look too far inside an animator's instrument field to seek out one.

Whether or not you're employed inside a 2D or 3D surroundings, when creating animations, a drawing pad can be utilized for all manner of duties from preliminary sketching and storyboarding, although to complicated scene creation and animating full frames.

Interestingly, you get to do these right from a digital screen. Doesn't that sound pretty fun-filled and convenient?

Many artists and illustrators have started to show their passion using a drawing tablet with a screen. Be it for unleashing their creativity or art jobs, the best drawing tablet for digital art can serve them in manifold ways.

Any digital animators who understand and value their trade will admit that graphics tablets are incredibly useful and powerful. They are a must-have for anyone looking to simplify the tedious animation and drawing processes.

While the power and usefulness of tablets are undebatable, not all the models are similar in design and capability. Therefore, your pick will depend on your skills and your objectives.

Mostly because it's faster. Way faster. If you've ever worked with a 3D software like Maya or 3D Max you know that you spend a lot of your time looking at the character model and moving its body parts around.

Doing that with a pen feels so much more natural than a mouse, it's like touching the model with your hands. You get more precise with your tweaking and you move around incredibly faster.

Absolute placement is the principle of drawing tablets, which is where the location of the stylus on the tablet appears at the same spot on the panel.

There are 4 corners of the screen on the tablet so you can travel around faster. Using the stylus, similar to moving the mouse around to get your cursor where you want it, takes less time. In an instant, you will be exactly where you want to be.

Working with a mouse can be tiring while using cartoonist's software since your wrist is flat and you can only work with harsh dragging gestures that include your whole side. Typically, the mouse is imprecise and clunky in your palm, and after extended use, your palm begins to cramp. A mouse is perfect for browsing the internet, scrolling, or doing basic jobs, but a drawing tablet for animation helps you to complete detail-intensive things more easily.

When you have a drawing pad, you don't have to get rid of your mouse. They work well together, so it makes sense to have both of them. Certain tasks are more mouse-oriented and others are simpler to complete with the stylus, it all depends on what you do.

Using drawing tablets for cartooning will also help to provide more clarity in the designs and figures. Since it's just like using a pen or a pencil, you can draw outlines or curves lined up very specifically. No more wondering when things start going to happen when you use a mouse for digital cartooning.

Shortcut keys are also a great feature that comes with most of the drawing tablets. You can customize the shortcut keys as per your requirements!

The drawing tablet may also be used in all applications; it is not exclusive to Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint or any other software that might be used by animators.

Once you get up to speed, learning digital cartooning drawing techniques is another enjoyable way to improve your artistic production. Think about cartooning art, interactive painting and animation using a dedicated drawing tablet, pen displays and apps. There is no limit to how you will show yourself. All that's needed is some creativity and a desire to place a pencil on paper or rather a stylus on a tablet.

A drawing tablet normally comes with a stylus that is closely similar to the shape of a marker. They are usually much simpler and more convenient to keep in your hand than a mouse and allow an amazing degree of precision in your work.

Drawing tablets for animation and digital cartooning have up to 8192 different degrees of exposure to pressure. Whereas Mouse only has two degrees of sensitivity to the pressure; clicked or not clicked. This gives tablets a huge advantage over mouse , particularly for thorough digital painting. When using Photoshop, the sensitivity of the pressure spreads to the brushes as well. This makes it much easier to mix colors, incorporate effects, and apply cartoonist's tools.

With a stylus, you can rotate the pen and shift your hand and wrist to a normal drawing position. This helps you to have a lot of control on the strokes you're making. You can digitally paint with your stylus within Photoshop, and your work would look more realistic, simply because you have a natural range of hand and finger dexterity. If you want your digital cartooning to come alive and look organic, realistic, competent, then the drawing tablet is the perfect tool for your design work.

Drawing Tablets are now available in several sizes, ranging from lightweight, more compact ones to bigger options for creative digital cartoonists.

The smaller tablets are lightweight and simple to bear. They can be conveniently thrown into a suitcase or briefcase.

A stable animator's tablet needs to be responsive and simple to deal with. Some animators desire a transportable pill that may transfer with them on the go. Others need a big tablet for house use.

One of many greatest elements to think about is pricing. This will likely have the most important impact in your choice as a result of good digital tablets that aren't low cost.

Wacom needs very little introduction, but for the sake of formality they are a Japanese company that specializes in making interactive pen displays, pen tablets, and styluses.

They've been around since the ‘80s, and over the years have grown to dominate the drawing tablet industry. They have produced legendary product lines, including the Intuos and Cintiq . Be aware, though, that their products are more expensive than other brands.

XPPen is one of the main manufacturers of drawing tablets, interactive pen displays and handwritten input digitizer products . They have been around since 2005, though for the first 10 years they only served the Chinese market.

However, in 2015, they took on the global market by launching their graphic tablet on Amazon. Over time, more and more of their products have been marketed internationally, and have received a warm welcome.

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).

Overall, 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're working in 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!

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.

Do let us know if you've been using any other tools for your creativity in the comments section and we can write about the same in our upcoming articles.

About Us

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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  • Magic Drawing Pad

        It features:

        • X3 Pro Pencil with 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity

        • Super portable: 6.9mm slim, 599 g light

        • With advanced EMR technology, it delivers a paper-like drawing experience.

        Powered by Android 12, no need to connect to a computer to use.

  • Artist 22 Plus

        It features:

        • 22-inch expansive canvas for boundless creativity

        • 130% sRGB native color space for lifelike colors

        • Ergonomic X-Inspo Wrist Rest for comfort

        It is armed with the groundbreaking X3 Pro Roller Stylus!

  • Artist 12/16 Pen Display (2nd Gen) Le Petit Prince Edition

        It features:

        • Expansive paper-like display with vivid colors

        • X3 Elite Plus Stylus for precise and efficient creativity

        • Extensive compatibility with popular digital art software

        Only 5000 sets available worldwide!
  • Deco Pro (Gen 2) Series

      It feartures:

      • Industry-first 16K pressure levels

      • Ultimate paper-like surface

      Virtually no lag or broken lines to receive comfotable drawing experience

  • Artist Pro 16

      lt feartures:

      • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity

      • Sharp, stable and preciseX-Smart-Chip Stylus

      Red Dot's Contemporary GoodDesign Award

  • Artist 24 Pro

      It features:

      • Great 23.8-inch 2K QHD graphics display

      • Color Gamut 90% Adobe®RGB

      • 20 customizable and touch-sensitive shortcut keys

      Supports USB-C to USB-C connection

  • Artist 22R Pro

      It features:

      • Strikingly large 21.5-inch display

      • 20 customizable and sensitive shortcut keys

      Equipped with a protective film to help protect your screen and reduce glare


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