12 Best Drawing Tablets for Animation 2D & 3D in 2023
July 23, 2023
Are you looking to get into digital animation? Digital animation is a popular type of digital art that uses computer-generated images to create animations.
For an artist, the right tools can make all the difference. When creating animations, no piece of equipment is more important than the drawing tablet.
Both 2D and 3D animators need a great tablet for drawing storyboards, sketching characters, creating backgrounds, and animating frames right on the screen.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional, a drawing tablet is an important addition to your workflow and will highly improve your speed and output quality.
Today there is such a huge selection of tablets that its difficult to choose one for your specific needs. Plus, not all tablets are created equal and some work better for animation than others.
To help you out, we’ve broken down what you should be looking for in your first animation tablet.
Furthermore, We are going to cover every type of Drawing Tablet, so you can decide which one you like the most.
What’s a drawing tablet and what types are there?
Drawing Tablets are input devices that connect to your computer and allow you to work with a stylus in a way that is much more natural than using a mouse.
They comes with a drawing area that is sensitive to the pressure applied by the stylus, for doing the drawing in digital art software.
Basically there are three sorts of tablets:
Screenless ones, like the Wacom Intuos. They work by plugging the tablet into the computer, require a bit of getting used to because you have to draw looking at the screen and not the tablet, but they are cheaper than other two types.
Tablets with a screen, like the Wacom Cintiq, Huion Kamvas, or the xp-pen artist series. These are basically monitors with a sensitive screen. They are more expensive than screenless tablets.
Because they’re so big, no built-in computer and require so much power, they’re not portable. They have to be plugged into the computer and an outlet.
The third category is the mobile touchscreen tablets like the iPad, samsung galaxy tab and surface pro. they’re portable, has built-in computer and supports stylus input, so you can draw on the go. Those are the most expensive.
They can be very powerful but they’ll never be as powerful as a desktop, they have limited battery life, and they’re not as sensitive as an actual graphic tablet.
Why is it better to animate with a tablet?
Drawing tablets are extremely diverse and valuable tools, common among many professional animators. Whether you work in a 2D or 3D environment, you can experiment with a variety of drawing styles, and generate fantastic results.
One of the most important aspects of drawing tablet is the ability to use a stylus pen. A stylus pen allows you to draw directly onto the 2D animation software such as Toon Boom Harmony.
This is a huge benefit for artists who want to be able to create their art without having to use a mouse. Using a stylus pen also allows you to have more control over your line work and the overall look of your art.
If you’ve ever worked with a 3D software like Maya, 3ds Max, Zbrush, Blender, or SketchUP 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 you hands. You get more precise with your tweaking and you move around incredibly faster.
How to Choose the Best Drawing Tablet for Animation?
Like any other electronics purchase, buying a drawing tablet can involve quite a financial investment, so it’s important to understand exactly what you’re looking at so that you can be sure to make the best possible choice for your needs.
Display Vs Non-display
Drawing tablets that have a screen are definitely the way to go if you work with animation. This is particularly true if your goal is to work on frame-by-frame animations that require the artist to draw over multiple layers with different degrees of opacity.
Non-display tablets are very durable and affordable. They don’t break that easily. This is perfect for beginners who doesn’t have so much budget.
Active Area of non-screen tablet
The size of your screenless drawing tablet refers to the active area where you can draw with your pen, not the overall dimensions of the device.
The size affects how much you can zoom in and out, how much detail you can add, and how comfortable you are with the hand movements.
Generally, larger tablets (10 x 6 inches or more) are more suitable for high-resolution and complex illustrations, while smaller tablets are more portable and affordable.
However, you should also consider your desk space, your monitor size, and your personal preference.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a tablet size that matches your screen ratio and allows you to draw without straining your arm or wrist.
Screen Size and Resolution
The benefit of using a large screen size and high resolution is that you can find tiny errors and amend them easily.
If the tablet is small, you will have to keep on zooming in and out of your drawing, which is quite time-consuming.
If you want a drawing tablet for animation, get at the very least a medium sized one -15.6″. The larger the tablet the better.
The pressure sensitivity of your drawing tablet refers to how well it can sense the different levels of pressure you apply with your pen.
The higher the pressure sensitivity, the more control and variation you have over your line width, opacity, and color.
Most drawing tablets have a pressure sensitivity of at least 2,048 levels, which is adequate for most users.
However, if you want to achieve more realistic and expressive effects, you may want to look for a higher pressure sensitivity, such as 4,096 levels or more.
The tilt recognition of your drawing tablet refers to how well it can sense the angle and direction of your pen. This feature allows you to create more natural and dynamic strokes, such as shading, hatching, and calligraphy.
Not all drawing tablets have tilt recognition, If you want to use this feature, you should check the specifications of your tablet before buying.
the shortcut keys are typically built into the actual tablet physically, not something you push on the screen.
Animation can take long enough, so save time with these great ExpressKey shortcut suggestions.
Whether you want to use your tablet with a computer, laptop or smart phone, 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, Windows, Linux, Chrome and Android systems, but it’s always best to double-check the product specifications and see if a particular model is compatible with your OS.
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 Harmony, Animate CC, Synfig Studio, Moho Pro, Blender, Zbrush and others, but it’s always a good idea to check.
Which software is best for 2D and 3D animation?
Users of the best animation softwares can create animated graphics from still images. Users can animate different types of 2D, 3D, hand-drawn, or computer-generated graphics depending on the program they are using. They can also include music or other effects.
If you’re keen to get into 2D animation, the best 2D animation programs in the market are Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe Animate, Moho Pro, Synfig Studio, Opentoonz, Pencil2D, Cartoon Animator, TVPaint, DigiCel Flipbook, Krita, and etc.
3D animation stands for three-dimensional animation, the best 3D animation programs in the market are Autodesk Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Modo, Blender, Daz Studio, iClone, Clara.io, Cascadeur and etc.
10 Best Drawing Tablets for Animation
Due to the increase of brands and manufacturers in the tablet niche, the price of good animation tablets has greatly reduced. Even on a budget, you can get a perfect one that suits your needs.
1. XP-Pen Deco 01 v2
The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is an inexpensive graphic drawing tablet and is perfect for anyone who loves to create their own digital artwork.
It not only provides you with spacious working area of 10 x 6.25 inches but also a true paper-feel drawing experience by texture surface.
Its battery-free pen features 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition, allowing for a highly responsive and accurate drawing experience.
The tablet has 8 customizable express keys on the side for short cuts for the most frequently used functions.
The tablet supports Mac OS, Windows OS, Chrome OS, Android and Linux. When it comes to software, it supports all latest software including Animate CC, Harmony, Moho Pro, Zbrush, 3D Max, Blender and etc.
The ultimate drawing tablet for artists on a budget. This XP-Pen model has anything you’d ever need to create.
The Huion H610 Pro V2 is an affordable graphics tablet that offers a wide variety of features.
With an active area of 10 x 6.25 inches, drawing feels natural and unrestrained. You’ll find it easy to use with monitors up to about 22 inches.
The 8 express keys on the side and 16 soft keys on the top let you assign your favorite keyboard shortcuts and custom macros for a really fast workflow.
The PW100 chargeless pen is easy to hold and ready to use. It features 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and supports±60 levels tilt recognition, making it performs like traditional brushes, pencils and markers.
You can adjust the active area to better fit the size and shape of your screen. Adjusting the pen sensitivity curve is also easy.
This Huion tablet support Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. It also compatible with most popular graphics and animation software.
Huion H610 Pro V2 grants a smooth and responsive drawing experience overall, with no notable lag or jitter. the only major things lacking are touch functionality and wireless compatibility.
Coming in at just 13.3 inches, the Wacom One is a surprisingly portable pen display. It can slip into most laptop bags with ease and be readily available whenever the creative urge strikes.
The screen is high definition at 1920 x 1080 pixels, covering a slightly below-average 72% NTSC color gamut. So it’s not the most accurate when it comes to color representation, but for the most part, it gets the job done.
It has a TFT (thin film transistor) LCD panel and, rather than an etched glass screen, this one has an anti-glare textured overlay. plus, since the display is non-laminated, so you may noticed a slight parallax.
It isn’t the highest-spec stylus on the market, considering it only offers 4,096 pressure levels. However, with the 60 degrees of tilt recognition, and the lack of noticeable line jitter, it’s a fair trade at this price point.
The Wacom one works with Mac and Windows and is also compatible with some Android and chromebook devices. It also comes with limited bundled art software like six free months of clip studio paint.
While not without compromises, the Wacom One is an excellent entry-level budget display that may be the best option for most beginner animators.
XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd Generation) Is durably-built, with a sturdy housing and a portable design. Plus, it’s available in four colors of Black, Green, Blue and Pink.
The 15.4-inch IPS Screen features 1080p resolution, has a superb colour accuracy of 94% Adobe RGB, which delivers more vibrant and realistic images and videos.
Moreover, the Artist 16 (2nd Generation) comes with a fully laminated display with matte anti-glare coating, perfect for precise drawing and generally reducing eye strain.
As for the pen which comes with the X3 smart chip. The initial activation force of 3g is lower than other XP-Pen stylus which is a huge plus.
The X3 Elite battery-free stylus offers a 60-degree tilt plus 8192 degrees of pressure sensitivity plus virtually no delay.
There are ten shortcut buttons on the display that can be programmed to carry out simple tasks as one would expect on such devices.
The included cable is a 3-in-1, but it can works with a single full-featured USB-C cable. the bad thing is that you need to buy it separately.
This tablet is compatible with different OS like Windows, Mac, Android and even Chrome OS. As an added bonus, you get a free drawing software (openCanvas or Artrage 6) when you register your tablet.
In addition to 15.4- inch, XP-Pen Artist (2nd Generation) Product Line also has other 3 sizes to choose from with almost same tech specs: 10.1-inch (Artist 10 2nd gen), 11.9-inch (Artist 12 2nd gen), and 13.3-inch (Artist 13 2nd gen), depending on your size needs.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is one of the largest tablets you can buy, and it comes with a premium laptop-sized price tag.
This 14.6-inch Super AMOLED screen goes up to 120Hz refresh rate with a high resolution of 1848×2960 pixels and cover 99.4% of DCI-P3 color gamut. It’s bright with vibrant colors, images are sharp, capable of smooth animations and fast frame rates.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Octa-Core processor, up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage space certainly give the slate enough power to run and navigate through animation apps seamlessly.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra tablet comes with a free super-fast S pen, and you won’t be required to purchase separately like the Apple Pencil, which might be expensive.
The S Pen uses Wacom tech and supports up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with palm rejection and tilt recognition – it works great for writing, sketching and painting.
With a 11,200mAh power pack, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Ultra’s battery is meaty enough to provide that gigantic screen with loads of juice, and we were generally happy with the tablet’s battery life.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra runs on Android, so you can use with animation apps includes FlipaClip, Animation Desk, Draw Cartoons, Stop Motion Studio, Stick Nodes, LottieFiles, Alight Motion, Picsart Animator and more.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is an absolutely bonkers device, which does not disappoint. You can also choose either 11 inches (Galaxy Tab S8) or 12.4 inches (Galaxy Tab S8 Plus) type, closer to the Apple iPad screen.
The Apple iPad Pro is by far one of the best animation tablets you can buy.
The Ipad Pro is available in two sizes 11 inches and 12.9 inches. coupled with the lack of dependency on a computer connection, it could fit easily on our laps, making for easy travel.
The liquid Retina XDR display comes with incredible resolution, up to 120Hz refresh rate and the wide 100% DCI-P3 gamut ensures vivid colors and needle-sharp details.
Huge amounts of powerThe M2 chip is very fast, and there’s up to 16GB RAM too, which is ideal for heavy tasks and multitasking. The storage options range from a modest 128GB up to a truly outrageous 2TB.
Apple Pencil 2 delivers pixel-perfect precision, tap controls and industry-leading low latency, making it great for drawing, sketching, coloring, and more.
You can even connect it to a Magic Keyboard to change your workflow. The stylus pen and keyboard are market standard but unfortunately comes separately adding to the expensive price tag of the tablet.
It’s great to have an iPad Pro for 3D asset creation – painting scenes, creating characters and objects – and then use a MacBook Pro for animating, viewport and rendering.
On the other hand, if you want to do only 2D animation, and especially if you are already well into the Apple platform, an iPad Pro by itself would serve you very well.
If you want a portable and powerful Windows animation tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a great choice.
The Surface Pro 9 comes in four colors: Platinum, Forest, Graphite, and Sapphire. It’s elegant and slick from any angle.
The 13-inch screen is large enough to draw comfortably and at the same time portable enough to carry the tablet outdoors.
With a resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels, 106% sRGB color gamut, 120Hz refresh rate and Dolby Vision HDR, The display is so clear and bright, with astounding detail, dynamic range, color accuracy and saturation.
This tablet is available in more than one configuration, which means you can get more RAM and Storage, as well as a better CPU.
The Surface Pro 9’s Intel 12th Gen i7 fast processor makes it a great choice for multitasking, so you can work on several projects together with no problem.
The Surface Slim Pen 2 has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and precision tilt detection, which allows for a natural writing and drawing experience. But the stylus as well as the Signature Keyboard are sold separately.
Surface Pro 7 has a decent battery life via 47.7 Wh capacity which can easily handle a couple of hours of intense usage.
The best part of having a Windows 11 tablet is you are getting the full desktop version of all your favorite animation applications with no missing features.