Best Drawing Tablet for Photoshop 2020

Best Drawing Tablet for Photoshop 2020

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When I first started editing photos in Photoshop, I used a mouse on my desktop and laptop for everything, from drawing complex masks to painting contrast into the sky. It worked, but it was difficult to do accurately and caused a whole load of hassle. It took me some time to make the leap and go from using a mouse to using a graphics tablet for photo editing, but once I switched, I have never looked back.

If you are wanting to know, are drawing tablets good for photo editing, the answer is definitely yes.

It took me a long time to research and decide on the best tablet for Photoshop and photography before I bought one. So you don’t have to waste your time, I have compiled my list of the best drawing tablets 2020 below.

This list includes the best Wacom tablet for editing, which are drawing tablets without screens, and the best graphics tablet with screen, which are much closer to photo editing tablets like iPads. You may also know both of these as pen tablets.

I. What to Consider When Looking for the Best Drawing Tablets for Photoshop

There are a handful of important things you must consider when looking to get a drawing tablet for Photoshop, which are listed below in order of importance. If you want to do any further research, then you can use this checklist to guide you.

  1. Drawing Accuracy. You want the tablet to respond as if you are using paper. Some cheaper tablets will not accurately move the cursor on screen as you move the pen across them. The degree of accuracy for each graphics tablet is hard to tell from manufacturer’s specifications, but can usually be inferred from reading multiple user reviews, or by using the reviews further down this article. Related to this is pen tilt recognition. Some cheaper tablets lose accuracy as you naturally tilt the pen during a stroke. This is covered in the reviews below.
  2. Pressure Sensitivity. This refers to how closely the drawing tablet can capture how hard you are pressing the pen. This is not a deal-breaker when using the drawing tablet for photo editing in Photoshop, Lightroom or After Effects, but for more subtle masking, Photoshop can interpret the pressure you exert on your graphics tablet to dynamically increase or decrease the size of your on-screen brush. Bear in mind that manufacturers use this number as a selling point, but from a real-world perspective this doesn’t matter much once it gets above a few thousand. Nonetheless, it’s useful as a general gauge of build quality.
  3. Customizable Buttons. Some graphics tablets do not contain any customizable buttons, while others have a number of buttons and scrolling wheels on both the tablet and pen. Whether this is of any use to you is down to personal preference, but I find these incredibly helpful in my day-to-day photo editing workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop.
  4. Size. Many graphics tablets are actually much bigger than you would expect, but only have a relatively small area that is active. You can look at manufacturer’s specifications to check this.
  5. Connectivity. Most graphics tablets for photo editing connect via USB cable, but a number are able to connect via bluetooth. Take a look at the bottom of this article for the best wireless drawing tablets.
  6. Screen. Whether you want a drawing tablet with a screen or not is largely down to personal preference. You definitely don’t need a graphics tablet with a screen. If you do want one, you will be looking at a significantly increased cost.
Note: Drawing tablets (or graphics tablets) must be plugged into a PC or Mac to work (some drawing tablets have cables, some are wireless drawing tablets). They are not standalone drawing tablets, although some have screens which work in addition to the screen on your PC or Mac.

II. The Best Drawing Tablet for Photoshop 2020

If you don’t have time to read the rest of the article, then undoubtedly the best drawing tablet for Photoshop, and the best Wacom tablet 2020, has to be the Wacom Intuos Pro, due to its accuracy, functionality and ease of use. Personally, I prefer the small version, although it also comes in both medium and large. A comparison between the three sizes is further down this article.

Wacom Intuos Pro

  • 8192 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity and pen tilt recognition
  • The Best Drawing Accuracy of any tablet
  • User Programmable Express Keys and radial menu
  • Bluetooth, making this the best wireless drawing tablet
  • Best Drawing Tablet under $300
An excellent drawing tablet for photo editing, with the highest level of pen sensitivity currently on the market, and widely considered to be the tablet that most accurately mimics pen and paper. The Wacom Intuos Pro is the model I use in both Lightroom and Photoshop for my photography and is the best Wacom tablet for photo editing. It really is invaluable in creating photos like these. The Wacom Intuos Pro is the best drawing tablet for Mac or PC that you can currently buy.

III. The Best Drawing Tablet for Beginners

The best drawing tablet for beginners is the Wacom Intuos CTL4100. This is also the best drawing tablet under $100, and its cheap price means that even those on a strict budget should find this affordable. It is lacking in features when compared with the Intuos Pro above, but like the pro, also comes in small and medium sizes. I would recommend the small size as sufficient for most users, although a fuller comparison of all sizes follows later in the article.

Wacom Intuos CTL4100

  • 4096 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  • Compact, so is ideal for use with a laptop
  • Bluetooth connection in the medium model
  • Best Drawing Tablet Under $100
  • Best Drawing Tablet for Beginners
The entry level Wacom Intuos (which has superseded the Wacom Bamboo and Wacom Intuos Draw) has only half the pressure sensitivity of the Pro model, but this will still be sufficient for most home users. The accuracy is not quite on a par with the Intuos Pro, but as with any Wacom drawing tablet, it is still fantastic. The main selling point of the Intuos is the cheap price, at around a third of that of the Pro model.

IV. The Best Drawing Tablet with Screen

The best drawing tablet with screen is the Wacom Cintiq 16. This is essentially the same as the Intuos Pro in terms of specs, but with the addition of a live screen that can mirror your computer display, or act as a secondary screen, that you can draw on. There is also a larger version of this model, the Wacom Cintiq 22 at a slightly higher price, which is also a contender for the best graphics tablet with screen. If you don’t mind the increased size and weight, this would be an excellent option.

Wacom Cintiq 16

  • 8192 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  • 15.6″ Full HD Display
  • 72% of all NTSC Colors
  • Fantastic Accuracy and tilt recognition in the pen
  • Also available up to 24″ model
The Wacom Cintiq models are by far the best Wacom drawing tablets with screens, for photo editing. The pressure sensitivity and accuracy are both very high, and with the addition of the screen, make the user experience feel like you are using pen and paper, not a graphics tablet. The downside to this is that they are very expensive, so are primarily aimed at professional users. Nonetheless, if you have the money to spare, the Wacom Cintiq would make a fantastic addition to your photography workflow.

V. The Best Drawing Tablet with Screen for Beginners

The best drawing tablet with screen for beginners is the Wacom One. This is a premium product available for a relatively low price, with a pen that feels much more like a real pen than other models of drawing tablets. The Wacom One is specifically designed for those new to drawing tablets and connects easily to PCs or Macs, as well as some Android models with an adapter, making it the best drawing tablet for Android.

Wacom One

  • Real-feel Pen, feels like using a real pen
  • 13.3″ HD Display
  • Integrated Stand to raise the display to 19 degrees
  • 2 Months Free of Lightroom & Photoshop
  • PC / MAC / Android compatible
The Wacom One has a slightly smaller screen than the Wacom Cintiq 16, but this gives you a much reduced price, putting it within the realm of beginners to graphics tablets. As with all Wacom products, the included software is first-rate, allowing you to use the tablet as a secondary display for your computer, or mirror your screen as approriate. The real advantage of the Wacom One is that you can connect to some Android devices with an adapter – something not usually available with drawing tablets.

VI. Best Drawing Tablet with Screen Under $200

From my research, I was only able to find one drawing tablet with screen under $200, the Parblo 10.1 Inches Coast10 Graphics Drawing Tablet. This has generally good reviews, and if you are desperate for a graphics tablet with screen and are very price-limited, this may be a good option. If you are willing to spend slightly over $200 though, a range of options becomes available, including the Huion Kamvas Pro 12, the best drawing tablet with screen for beginners. There are currently no cheap drawing tablets with screens for under $100.

Huion Kamvas Pro 12

  • 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure
  • 11.6″ Full HD Display
  • 120% of the sRGB Color Gamut
  • One of the Cheapest Drawing Tablets with Screens
  • Best Drawing Tablet with Screen for Beginners
The Huion Kamvas Pro 12 is an excellent budget drawing tablet with screen. Technically, the pen pressure and accuracy are on a par with Wacom, although in real-world practice the Wacom tablets come out on top. There are many more models in the Huion Kamvas series if you have more to spend and are looking for a larger screen. The greatest selling point of these is that the 16″ model is about half the price of the comparable Wacom Cintiq model shown earlier.

VII. Drawing Tablet Reviews – Quick Comparison Chart

The top seven best graphics tablets for Photoshop and for photo editing are shown below in this comparison chart along with basic pros and cons, so you can quickly compare the best drawing tablets. Keep reading for a more detailed review on what led to the position of each one.

Product Average User Rating Pros / Cons
Wacom Intuos Pro 4.3 / 5
  • The best accuracy in class; the highest level of pressure sensitivity; many customizable buttons
  • Pen nibs can wear down quickly
Wacom Cintiq 16 4.6 / 5
  • Top of the range display; very high accuracy; the highest level of pressure sensitivity
  • No bluetooth connection; screen is fairly dim
Huion Kamvas Pro 16 4.5 / 5
  • Large color gamut and excellent screen; high build quality; relatively low price
  • Express keys and touch bar are not as good as Wacom’s; drivers for the device do not work as well as they should
Wacom One 4.0 / 5
  • Real-feel pen; very high build quality; excellent connectivity
  • Small screen for the price
Wacom Intuos CTL4100 4.4 / 5
  • Best drawing tablet under $100; light and portable; very good accuracy and sensitivity; the most portable drawing tablet
  • Occasional software issues; can have high pen nib wear
Huion H610 Pro V2 4.4 / 5
  • Cheap drawing tablet for beginners; very high pressure sensitivity; can be used with Android phones (excluding Samsung)
  • Pen tilt recognition is poor; on screen cursor can lag; included software not the best
VEIKK A30 Graphics Drawing Tablet 4.5 / 5
  • Very high pressure sensitivity; very thin & light; includes touch keys and trackpad
  • no pen stand; pen tilt recognition is poor

VIII. Best Drawing Tablet Reviews 2020

Read the complete reviews of the seven best drawing tablets for Photoshop below. This includes reviews of graphics tablets for photo editing, such as the Wacom Intuos series, and reviews of drawing tablets with screens such as Huions.

1. Wacom Intuos Pro

 Best Wacom Tablet for Photoshop 

  • Pros:
  • 8192 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity and pen tilt recognition
  • The Best Drawing Accuracy of any tablet
  • User Programmable Express Keys and radial menu
  • Bluetooth for wireless connection, or use USB
  • Best Drawing Tablet under $300
  • Cons:
  • The pen nibs can wear down quickly, depending on how you use them – mine have lasted for years without replacement
  • Not the cheapest tablet
  • Tablet is very large, even at Small size

The Wacom Intuos Pro S is the best Wacom tablet for Photoshop and the best tablet for photo editing in Lightroom. It is also the model I have used for all of my photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop for the last six years. I have found it highly accurate and responsive, with no cursor lag and excellent software that lets you easily configure the buttons on the tablet and on the pen to different uses depending on the program you are using. This drawing tablet has traveled around the world with me, as the small model is slightly smaller than a 15″ laptop, making this the best tablet for travel photography, in my opinion.

The small model is the ideal size for Photoshop, and it comes with Bluetooth connection as standard, making this the best wireless drawing tablet – or you can use the included USB cable. The Small size is not much smaller than a 15″ laptop, although is very thin and light. The Medium and Large sizes are unlikely to be good value for you unless you have a lot of desk space and very large monitors. I use a Small model with a 27″ monitor, and find it the perfect size.

Bear in mind that several users have reported the pen nibs wearing out quickly. My experience is that the nibs initially show signs of wear very quickly, but the wearing then slows, and you never lose enough of the nib for it to need to be replaced – I have nibs still working fine after six years.

2. Wacom Cintiq 16

 Best Drawing Tablet with Screen 

  • Pros:
  • 8192 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  • 15.6″ Full HD Display
  • 72% of all NTSC Colors
  • Fantastic Accuracy and tilt recognition in the pen
  • Also available up to 24″
  • Cons:
  • Very Expensive
  • Screen can be dim
  • Screen resolution and colors are not comparable to a dedicated monitor

If you want a drawing tablet with screen and price is not an issue, the Wacom Cintiq series are your best option. They come in sizes from 16″, as seen here, up to 24″. The smaller options are the preferred sizes for Photoshop, as the larger tablets take up too much space on your desktop, and are too heavy and large to easily carry around with a laptop. Also, they require much larger movements of your hand to re-position the cursor. This may not seem like a problem, but actually you can deliver a much more accurate result by keeping your hand anchored in one place and making small movements with the pen.

The biggest minus point of the Wacom Cintiq 16 is the cost. These are more than twice as expensive as comparable drawing tablets with screens that you can see below, but do offer unparalleled performance and build quality.

The drawing experience of these tablets is very similar to that of the Wacom Intuous Pro, so is universally excellent. If you are looking for a graphics tablet with screen and are not price-limited, there is very little to not recommend the Wacom Cintiq series of tablets.

3. Huion Kamvas Pro 16

 Best Huion Tablet with Screen 

  • Pros:
  • 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure
  • 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) Display
  • 120% of the sRGB Color Gamut
  • One of the Cheapest Drawing Tablets with Screens
  • Best Drawing Tablet with Screen for Beginners
  • Cons:
  • Some reports of driver issues
  • Express keys and touchbar not as good as comparable Wacom buttons

Huion are a relatively new brand of drawing tablets that are seeking to unseat Wacom as top of the field. The specs of the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 are comparable to similarly sized Wacom devices, such as the Wacom Cintiq 16, in terms of pressure sensitivity, accuracy and screen resolution, but the Kamvas Pro is significantly cheaper, making the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 the ideal Huion for photo editing.

The main technical difference between the Huion Kamvas and the Wacom Cintiqs is in color accuracy and display. The Kamvas has a color gamut of 120% sRGB which is sufficient for most hobbyist and web usage, which typically works on the sRGB color space. The Cintiqs, by contrast, have 72% of the NTSC color gamut, which may sound worse, but as the NTSC color space is much larger and contains more gradations of color, this is actually preferable for professional usage. If you are not involved in photography professionally, the Huion Kamvas Pro will be more than good enough for you.

The only negatives of the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 is that the tablet buttons, drivers and included software are not quite up to Wacom’s high standard. But for most people, the much lower price of this model will be an acceptable trade-off.

4. Wacom One

 Best Drawing Tablet with Screen for Beginners 

  • Pros:
  • Real-feel Pen, feels like using a real pen
  • 13.3″ HD Display
  • Integrated Stand to raise the display to 19 degrees
  • 2 Months Free of Lightroom & Photoshop
  • PC / MAC / Android compatible
  • Cons:
  • Requires proprietary cables
  • More expensive than larger Huion Kamvas models

The Wacom One comes in as the best drawing tablet with screen for beginners due to the premium construction, pen that feels like using a real pen, and intuitive software. It does work out a little more expensive than comparable models by Huion or other brands, but is half the price of the Wacom Cintiq line, and with Wacom you know that you are getting top-of-the-line accuracy and no lag in the pen. I particularly like the built in stand of the Wacom One, as the small amount of tilt really makes a difference when drawing on the tablet.

The screen is relatively small for a drawing tablet, but is in the ideal size range for photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop – if it’s too big it becomes unwieldy.

The main negative with this tablet is the essentially proprietary cables. Although it technically connects via USB-C, you must actually use the included cable block to connect to your computer.

5. Wacom Intuos CTL4100

 Best Drawing Tablet for Beginners 

  • Pros:
  • 4096 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  • Active area extends over nearly the entire tablet
  • Bluetooth connection in the medium model
  • Best Drawing Tablet Under $100
  • Best Drawing Tablet for Beginners
  • Cons:
  • Lower pressure sensitivity
  • Can have high pen nib wear
  • Bluetooth not standard in the S model

The Wacom Intuos CTL4100 (also known as the Wacom Intuos S or M) superseded the old Wacom Bamboo tablet and Wacom Intuos Draw as the top beginner Wacom drawing tablet.

The Wacom Intuos CTL4100 is by far the best cheap drawing tablet for beginners as it has the build quality, high-end software and high accuracy of the more expensive Wacom models, at only about a third of the price. It’s possible to buy drawing tablets that have higher specs on paper, for a few tens of dollars less than the Intuos, but these are lacking in real-world performance, particularly when it comes to accuracy and lag of the pen.

One of the main selling points of the Wacom Intuos, other than price, is that the active area extends over nearly the entire tablet. For most tablets, the active area is actually only a small part of the total tablet, with large borders that do not recognize pen input. The Wacom Intuos has only a small active area, like most drawing tablets, but as the total tablet size is also small, it means the tablet is compact and small enough to carry around with a laptop, or leave on your work desk full-time, without losing too much desk space.

6. Huion H610 Pro V2

 Cheap Drawing Tablet for Beginners 

  • Pros:
  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Cheap drawing tablet for beginners
  • Can be used with Android (excluding Samsung)
  • Cons:
  • Potential software issues
  • Lower accuracy and pen lag
  • Poor pen tilt recognition

The Huion H610 Pro V2 is marketed as a cheap drawing tablet for beginners, and from that perspective fits the bill. It is one of the cheapest drawing tablets on the market, but the poor pen tilt recognition and occasional lag detract from its qualities.

On paper, the pressure sensitivity is higher than the cheapest Wacom Intuos model, although this is mitigated by the lower accuracy between the pen and on-screen cursor. Wacom models always lead in this area. The only real advantage that the Huion H610 Pro V2 has over the Wacom Intuos is the lack of pen nib wear, meaning that you can go longer without having to replace the nibs. This will only matter to you if you are on a very strict budget, otherwise the Wacom models are recommended.

7. VEIKK A30 Graphics Drawing Tablet

 Best Cheap Graphics Tablet 

  • Pros:
  • Very thin and light
  • Includes touch keys and trackpad rather than physical buttons
  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Cheap
  • Cons:
  • Pen tile recognition is poor
  • No pen stand
  • Lower build quality

The VEIKK A30 graphics drawing tablet is essentially a generic drawing tablet with generally good levels of accuracy and lag, but with poor pen tilt recognition.

You get what you pay for in drawing tablets, and this one has a generally lower quality feel to it, and does not come with a pen stand. If you are on a strict budget, this still makes a good choice, but you will not get the premium experience that you would get with a Wacom.

Best Size Wacom Tablet for Photo Editing

Most Wacom tablets come in a variety of sizes. The Wacom Intuos Pro comes in S(mall), M(edium) and L(arge), while the Wacom Intuos CTL4100 comes in S(mall) and M(edium). It can be difficult to know which is the best size Wacom tablet for photo editing, but you can use the below table to see which Wacom drawing tablet is best for Lightroom, Photoshop and After Effects, by comparing the size of the tablet with the size of the active area. Note that most tablets are very large, with a relatively small active area for the pen.

Product Total Tablet Size Active Area Size Active Area Percentage of Total Area
Wacom Intuos Pro S 12.5″ x 8.1″ (31.75cm x 20.57cm) 6.2″ x 3.9″ (15.75cm x 9.91cm) 23.9%
Wacom Intuos Pro M 13.2” x 8.5” (33.51cm x 21.59cm) 8.7” x 5.8” (22.10cm x 14.73cm) 45.0%
Wacom Intuos Pro L 16.8” x 11.2” (42.67cm x 28.45cm) 12.1” x 8.4” (30.73cm x 21.34cm) 54.0%
Wacom Intuos CTL4100 S 7.9″ x 6.9″ (20.01cm x 17.53cm) 6.0″ x 3.7″ (15.24cm x 9.40cm) 40.7%
Wacom Intuos CTL4100 M 10.4″ x 7.8″ (26.42cm x 19.81cm) 8.3″ x 5.3″ (21.08cm x 13.46cm) 54.2%

Should I get the Wacom Intuos Pro Small or Medium for photo editing?

My personal preference of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small or Medium for photo editing is that the Small model is ideal. Although the active area might seem small (23.9% of total tablet area), I use it with a 15″ laptop and a 27″ monitor with no problems. The advantage of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small is the smaller footprint that it takes up on your desk, approximately the same as a 15″ laptop.

Best Tablet for Travel Photography

If you are traveling with a laptop and want to find the best tablet for travel photography to take with you, the best option for a portable drawing tablet from the table above would be the Wacom Intuos CTL4100 Small (Wacom Intuos S), due to its very small footprint combined with a relatively large active area that almost matches the Wacom Intuos Pro S for size. If you are a professional, rather than hobbyist user, you may instead want to look at the Wacom Intuos Pro range, but remember that these are all very large and so are less portable drawing tablets.

Wacom vs iPad Pro for Photo Editing

All the drawing tablets that we have seen so far are not standalone models – they must all be plugged into a computer to work. But, there are plenty of standalone touchscreen tablets that you can use for photo editing, that can also be plugged into your computer to function as a drawing tablet, such as iPads.

From a quick comparison of Wacom vs iPad Pro for photo editing 2020, I feel that the Wacom Intuos Pro series of tablets has the edge over the iPad Pro. The pressure sensitivity, accuracy of the pen and the drawing surface feel of the Wacom range surpasses that of the iPad. The only area where the iPad outshines the Wacom is in standalone functionality and screen. It’s possible to install Photoshop on iPads now, meaning they can be used as standalone photo editors, whereas the Wacom Intuos Pros must be plugged into a computer and do not have a screen. They are essentially very different products and so are not really comparable.

Comparing the Wacom One vs iPad is slightly different, as the Wacom One has a screen. Still the Wacom One is not a standalone tablet, and has a much better pen response than an iPad, meaning that ultimately, the specialization of the Wacom drawing tablets means that these are the recommended way to edit your photos in Photoshop.

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