How to choose the best graphic drawing tablet and pen display monitor: A beginner's buying guide & review

How to choose the best graphic drawing tablet and pen display monitor: A beginner's buying guide & review

XPPen 2023-08-23 10:13:58 15 min read

After the launch of Digital art software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop ,GIMP , Krita , Corel Painter , Corel Draw , Inkscape and Autodesk Sketchbook on computers. Most of the artists then switched to digital painting as these software were offering tons of useful tools including some advanced features which revolutionized the way of composing an art.

Digital art has been on the rise and is a leading choice for most famous artists to create amazing works of art.

great tools help tremendously when learning and creating, To maximize your abilities, you'll want to get a drawing tablet for yourself.

Whether you're a professional digital artist or just like to doodle from time to time, a drawing tablet is an essential piece of tech for creating digital paintings and sketches. 

Choosing a drawing tablet for digital art or animation can seem like an overwhelming prospect when you consider all of the various makes and models on the market today.

To complicate matters even further, each individual model comes with a range of features that are designed to maximize your creative experience, but where is a novice artist to start when confronted by this endless sea of jargon?

What is a Graphics Tablet

Also called a drawing tablet or a pen tablet, a graphics tablet is a natural input device that converts information from a handheld stylus. The user uses the stylus like a pen, pencil, or paintbrush, pressing its tip on the tablet surface. The device can also be used in replacement of a computer mouse.

Similar to an artist drawing with a pencil and paper, a user draws on the graphics tablet with a stylus. The computer will convert the drawing strokes into digital form, displaying them on the computer screen.

The graphics tablet can also be used to capture users'signatures. This use is similar to the signature pads found at many retail stores, where you would write your signature after using a credit card to make a purchase.

Some graphics tablets like wacom cintiq series, huion kamvas series and XPPen Artist series incorporate an LCD into the tablet itself, allowing the user to draw directly on the display surface. Drawing Tablet With Screen offer the additional advantage of directly seeing the location of the physical pen device relatively to the image on the screen. This often allows for increased accuracy and a more tactile, "real" feeling to the use of the device.

Who uses graphics tablets?

Below is a list of professions and people who are more likely to use a graphics tablet.

Architects and Engineers
Fashion designers
Graphic designers

Plenty of photographers, designers and Illustrators use drawing tablets for that very task... and for good reason. After all, pen and drawing tablet can feel much more natural than using a mouse or a laptop touchpad.

Compared to the mouse, using a graphics tablet is similar to using a pen for writing or drawing. Your hand is more relaxed when you use it. While mouse is used in one hand position that’s put some strain on it, and can be get your hand cramped if used for a long time.

Since graphics tablet allows you to point at any point of the screen very fast, it cannot just make you draw or retouch comfortably, but faster as well. 

Pressure sensitivity is useful for both drawing, painting & photo retouching.   That means you can be very precise your photo editing and digital painting, which is a useful thing in an era where standard resolutions are getting higher and higher.  And so whether you're using Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or illustrator, you'll find a drawing tablet surprisingly intuitive. 

A pen tablet is an absolute must for online tutoring or attending online courses. Digital pen tablets allow tutors and students to communicate with hand-drawn and written diagrams they can share across a virtual whiteboard and even work out a math problem with the math teacher.

What to Look For In A Good Drawing Tablet


Tablet size / Active Drawing Area

Like choosing a monitor or a laptop, choosing a drawing tablet size depends on your preferences and needs.

Most tablets have two distinct measurements:

one is the size of the overall tablet
the other is the actual drawing area, i.e. the surface on which you'll be drawing.
You'll want to take both into consideration when choosing.

Your active area is where your stylus pen reacts and draws . and it's You also have a bezel or the plastic edge that comes between the screen and the casing in this area.

Active Area is mapped exactly to your display. That means if you click on the bottom left of the tablet, for example, the cursor jumps to the bottom left of your screen. No matter what size your monitor is, when you move the pen on the tablet from the left edge to the right, the cursor moves from the leftmost edge of your screen to the rightmost edge—even if you have multiple displays.

The smaller the active area, the less your hand must move to manipulate the cursor on the screen. This can mean less arm fatigue, but when you're working on large (or multiple) displays you may need to zoom in to work with fine details or map the active area to a portion of the screen. If you're used to making large strokes or you prefer to work full-screen on a monitor larger than 20 inches, a larger tablet might be for you.

Small graphics tablets, such as the XPPen Star G640 A6 sized tablet , are about the size of a mousepad (with an active area of 6 by 4 inches) and is highly portable.

Medium A5 sized (8-by-5-inch) drawing pads like XPPen Deco MW and large A4 sized (10-by-6-inch) drawing tablets like XPPen Star 03 are about as wide as a keyboard without a number pad, so they're better suited for dedicated graphics work.

Most tablets have the active area clearly labeled, but it's always important to double check the screen size. Be sure to look for the term ‘active area’ and then the specifications.

Depending on your specific interface, you don't necessarily need an overly large area to work on. However, it should be large enough to allow you to fit your specific style without you running out of room.

Pressure Sensitivity

This is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a tablet. When someone buys a drawing tablet, they're usually buying them for a specific skill set. However, it all comes down to how sensitive the tablet is. Depending on your particular illustrating or drawing style, you want an ultra-sensitive and responsive drawing surface.

Graphic tablets capture the motion of your pen as well as your pressure information. Pressure levels are the number of distinct points that the tip of a digital pen is able to detect. The higher the pressure sensitivity, the better you can control line weight (how thick and opaque lines are based on how hard you press down on the tablet with the pen), making for a smoother drawing experience.

Note that the tablets with 2048 pressure levels capture more information than those with 1024 pressure levels. Obviously, the higher your pressure levels are, the better your tablet can respond to you.

Nowday, the highest pressure levels for tablets is 8192. Below this the options halve as they go down, i.e. 4096, 2048, 1024.


If you're someone who wants to make very high-resolution images with very sharp graphics, you want to pick a tablet with a higher LPI.

It is measured in lines per inch or LPI and this designation refers to the number of distinct pen positions the working area of a tablet is able to sense within one inch in either direction.

you can think of it as comparing HD to 4K. You know a clearer picture when you look at it, and a higher LPI will give this to you.

A higher LPI paired with higher RPS will allow more precise following of the pen movement, resulting in smoother curves and finer line control.

The tablets we looked at were consistent—2,540 lpi for small tablets and 5,080 lpi for medium and large ones .

If you're thinking about buying a drawing tablet as a gift, you want to think about how in-depth drawings the person you're buying the tablet for makes. If you want to get them an ultimate sketching and drawing tablet, look for one with a higher LPI.

Report Rate (RPS)

When a tablet and a computer or laptop communicate, the tablet sends what is called a “report” of the pen's position. The rate of reports sent per second is known as RPS and this is an important measurement as it can affect the quality of your drawing experience.

A high RPS allows for more precise following of the pen movement, create smoother lines. but the higher the RPS the longer it make take for your computer or laptop to register the pen's movement, and that may result in an aggravating lag time. The RPS of the tablet you choose should be compatible with your computer's hardware and the software you'll be using.

lower response tablets create jaggy or rough lines. If you are not aware of this then you won't get your desired tab.

As a result, your money might get wasted. So, you obviously should choose tablet of the higher rate of response.

Stylus Type and Quality


While you may think a stylus is a stylus, when it comes to a design or illustration tablet, this can’t be further from the truth. You can choose from a battery-operated stylus or an electromagnetic resonance (EMR) stylus. These two styluses have several differences, but both of them are specially designed to mimic the feel of drawing with a normal pencil or pen.

EMR style styluses rely on low energy levels that come from the pen's circuits, and this low energy reacts to the tablet's active area. digital pens are battery-free, which means you never need to charge the pen or swap batteries, but other tablets pens require you to do those tasks. for example, XPPen offers a battery-free stylus for each XPPen's Drawing tablet.

Battery-operated stylus like apple pencil rely on an internal lithium battery rather than the tablet for their power. Eliminating the need to power the pen means that such tablets may listen for pen signals constantly, as they do not have to alternate between transmit and receive modes, which can result in less jitter.Pens that require batteries don't have additional features but do have an added cost over the long run, and if you forget to recharge your pen, you have to wait an hour or more while it does so.

The quality of stylus is very important. A stylus is a pen that you will draw with. The quality of the stylus has to be up to the mark as it will affect your drawing. If you buy a tab which doesn't have a good stylus will affect your drawing.

It is also very important for your drawing. So it is a very crucial factor. If you don't want to waste your money then you have to keep it in mind.

The nib is the tip of the pen, and much like the point of a pencil, nibs can wear down over time, especially with excessive use. For this reason, you'll want to be sure that the tablet you get comes with extra nibs so you don't have to worry about your drawing experience being interrupted by a worn down nib.


As tablets continue to evolve, it isn't unusual to have hotkeys or shortcut keys built right into the tablet. You can use these keys to save time and streamline your work process because you won't spend time looking for your most used apps. You can customize and program them to your favorite shortcuts, or some tablets automatically pull your most used shortcuts into the hotkeys.

Some models include keys around the drawing area while some models include keys on the pen. Functional keys on pen can save your time, allowing you to reach shortcuts and your favorite settings directly without navigating on the tablet.

A scroller on your tablet will let you quickly maneuver from one point to another point quickly and easily. Also known as a scroll wheel, many tablets like XPPen Artist 12 Pro have this built-in today. You may not necessarily need this feature, but it is nice if you're looking considering going to school for graphic design or you're buying the tablet for someone who is going to school or works in graphic design.

More customizability means you can fine-tune your workflow, but most beginners don't need more than a handful of buttons to cover the most-used shortcuts.

Sensitivity of Tilt

Tilt recognition lets you create different types of strokes based on the angle you hold the pen, offering a bit more creative control over your lines.

This is one beneficiary aspect of a tablet. Not all the tablet have tilt sensitivity. Only some high performance tablet like XPPen Deco 01 V2 have this function. Tilt sensitivity has got another name called tilt recognition. Tilt the stylus and get thick or thin lines according to your need.

You can see a similarity between this and an airbrush. Paints get thicker or thinner due to the angle of paint spray.

This is how a stylus works. So, you need to be conscious of choosing a tablet for yourself.


Multi-touch technology like XPPEN Artist Pro 16TP have makes it possible for a touchscreen or trackpad to sense input from two or more points of contact at the same time. This allows you to use multiple finger gestures to do things like pinch the screen or trackpad to zoom in, spread your fingers to zoom out, and rotate your fingers to rotate an image you are editing.

Multitouch lets you use your fingers on the tablet as you would a touchpad—for example, pinching to zoom or rotating artwork or 3D models.

Wireless Support – Bluetooth or Wired

Many tablets (only screenless type) like XPPen Deco LW Bluetooth tablet come with wireless capabilities, and again, this is a personal choice. A wired tablet gives you less room to maneuver around as you work, and you'll have to be careful that you don't pull or tug at it. However, a wired tablet gives you a direct and steady connection to your monitor or workspace.

Having a tablet that includes wireless support and Bluetooth compatibility can make a big difference, as this will allow you to do away with cables and provide greater flexibility, creating an experience that is much closer to drawing with pen on paper.

You do have to be careful about the distance from your tablet to your workspace because you won't necessarily have a steady connection.

What to Consider When Buying a Drawing Tablet Monitor


Monitor Size

The size of a screen is usually described by the length of its diagonal, which is the distance between opposite corners, usually in inches.  1 inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters. 

One advantage that pen displays offer over 10" portable standalone drawing tablets like ipad pro and surface pro is the screen size. For the same price, you can get a pen display with a larger screen like 22", 24" or 32". 

A larger screen is more comfortable to draw on and easier on your eyes. It's like drawing on a large canvas. With a smaller screen, user interface may be small and you have to squint your eyes to see.

Panel Types

Monitors these days are based on flat panel TFT technology, and can either be LCD or LED based. There are further technology options within these subcategories, such as IPS, which produces LCD panels which display consistent, accurate colour from all viewing angles, and AMVA, which produces panels that offer an extra-high contrast ratio, and less colour washout than earlier technologies.

in-plane switching (IPS) panels house and emit the best viewing angles and most accurate colors. IPS panels were specifically designed to make up for the limitations of traditional TN panels. Perfect for graphic-design artists or cinematographers, IPS computer monitors have their inner crystal liquids adjust their alignment on a single plane (hence the name) to show accurate, true-to-life colors from any viewing angle.

Screen Resolution

The higher the resolution, the better the picture. A monitor's resolution tells you how many pixels a monitor has in length x width format. 

1920 x 1080 -- also known as 1080p / Full HD (FHD)  -- is the minimum you need. But you'll get sharper images on a 2K QHD or, even better, a 4K UHD one.

The pixel density of your monitor indicates how many pixels per inch are displayed on your monitor. The higher the number, the sharper the display on your screen. The resolution and the screen size determine the right pixel density for your monitor.

 The higher the PPI (pixels per inch), the sharper the screen. To categorize it, we have 4 levels:

A basic pixel density ranges between 0 and 95 PPI.

A standard pixel density ranges between 95 and 110 PPI.

A high pixel density ranges between 110 to 140 PPI.

A very high pixel density starts at 140 PPI.

Color Space

The more colors your panel can output, the more vibrant it will appear. A good drawing monitor for this kind of work needs both a wide colour gamut and an excellent calibration.

It refers to the color range that can be displayed by a photograph. Typically, your most common choices in color space are sRGB vs Adobe RGB.

sRGB stands for standard red, green, blue. It's the color space used on the internet, most computer monitors and mobile devices.

The Adobe RGB color space has a gamut that's over 30% larger than sRGB. This means there are more colors and they tend to be more vibrant.

Wider gamut means your prints will be much more vivid and accurate in color. However, if you don't print often and/or you're not using a wide gamut monitor, sRGB is just as amazing. 

Another common standard of color space is the NTSC gamut, There is a simple way for you to calculate. 72% NTSC is approximately equal to 100% sRGB.  The display that can reproduce more than the standard 72% NTSC will deliver even more vivid and true-to-life colours.

Color count

The other element to look for in a drawing monitor, suggests the document, is color. in a professional environment, on-screen colours must be as close a match as possible to the output on other devices (like printers). For the majority of folks, 8-bit, or 16.7 Million colors will be plenty.



Beyond suiting your individual needs, there are a few other things you'll want to consider before choosing your tablet. One of the more important qualities of any tablet is whether it is compatible with your operating system.

Whether you want to use your tablet with a computer, laptop or Android smartphones, you need to be sure that the tablet you buy is compatible with your system.

These days,most of the major graphics tablets are compatible with Mac and Windows 7/8/10/11 systems, but it's always best to double-check the product specifications and see if a particular model is compatible with your OS.

You want to make sure that any tablet you choose includes your system version, Windows, Mac, chrome OS, Android or Linux / ubuntu, so that you will be able to use the tablet with your computer, laptop or smart phone.

You'll also want to make sure that it's compatible with your drawing or animation software. Again, most tablets are designed to work with major names like Corel Draw / Painter , Clip Studio Paint, Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI and others, but it's always a good idea to check.


It's widely known that Wacom has been the market leader for decades, but their glory days of no-competition are long gone as XPPen grows by the minute and releases extremely competitive graphics tablets for literally a fraction of the price that Wacom charges.

In some cases Wacom still makes the best devices, particularly the high-end super-professional ones, in others, like budget devices, companies like XPPen are unquestionably bridging the gap.


You want to choose a tablet that comes with a strong support system. Whether you look for country-specific support, an easy-to-reach customer service line, or an interactive forum, all of these can improve your user experience.

 If you purchase a little-known tablet, you run the risk of not being able to get support when you need it if you have a problem with your tablet. This can be frustrating and disrupt your workflow until you solve whatever issue your tablet is having.

Your Budget

Which brings me nicely onto the subject of budget and affordability.In most cases this will be the first and most important choice you make when deciding on the right graphics tablet.

Drawing tablets prices can start as low as $30 (XPPen Star G430S) and creep up to nearly $3,000 ( Wacom Cintiq Pro series). The difference in price is largely related to the display. The better the resolution and pressure sensitivity, the more expensive the tablet. But of course, if it doesn't have a display, you'll likely get it for a lower price.

But don't be put off…in my opinion you can get an excellent quality graphics tablet for less than $100, and some for less than $50, if you're happy to compromise on the size.


While purchasing a drawing tablet can seem intimidating, if you bear these specifications in mind you'll be better prepared to make the best choice for your individual needs. Remember that this can be a considerable investment…models range from as little as $30 all the way up to $3,000 for the top of the line professional ones so it's not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Of course, as with any type of electronic device, the more money you spend the better the overall quality but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank to get a decent tablet. There are many affordable models that can give you very good quality, particularly if you're just drawing for fun or as a hobby. If you're concerned about the quality of a specific model, the best way to judge is by trying it out so you may want to go to your local electronics store and test the feel of each tablet just to be sure.

If you know someone who owns a tablet, you can certainly ask for their input from a first-hand perspective but you should bear in mind that every experience is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. You have to keep your own needs in mind and make sure that the tablet you choose will suit you.

When it comes to buying a drawing tablet, the bottom line is that you want to get the best possible return for your money, so the more informed you are before making your choice, the better off you'll be. That way you can breathe easy knowing you got a good quality tablet and enjoy the freedom and creativity of the digital drawing experience.

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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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