Best Drawing Pen Tablets for Adobe Photoshop in 2023
October 7, 2023
If you are learning editing photo or drawing in photoshop, you must have heard others recommend getting a graphics tablet.
The right drawing tablet can help you unleash your Adobe Photoshop skills to your full potential and accelerate your learning speed.
However, there are so many choices for graphics tablets in the market that it is almost impossible to decide which tablet to pick over the other.
So which type of tablets are better suited for photoshop, what are the features you should be looking for, these are some of the questions we will be answering in this article.
We’ve also rounded up the 10 best tablets for photoshop, from expensive surface pro to pen displays and simple options, and explained exactly what makes them so good.
What is Adobe Photoshop?
Adobe Photoshop CC has long been a byword for image editing. This renowned photo editing software is the go-to solution for artists, illustrators, designers, and photographers.
It contains almost everything you need to edit, modify, or enhance your photos and images. Adobe Photoshop has many basic retouching tools and functionalities like cropping, painting, filling, blurring, sharpening, erasing, and dodging, and this will satisfy most casual users.
However, it can also cater to power users with its options to edit multiple layers, masks, channels, sky replacements, pattern previews, the all-encompassing Adobe Sensei, and a whole lot more. the power of its layer-based editing system can handle the most complex of creative projects.
Adobe Photoshop supports RAW file formats, This means you can edit your photos without losing any data, and you can make advanced adjustments to exposure, white balance, and more.
Since it was designed to be picture editing programme, it is really good at changing colours. It also supports CMYK, the standard format for written works.
Additionally, Adobe Photoshop is absolutely a good drawing program. While its primary function is built around photo editing, it has the tools you need to draw.
Its numerous pen, marker, brush and pencil tools allow users to create realistic effects in their illustrations, from watercolor-style paintings to cartoon-style lines.
The default brush engine is not that good with lineart, but still, it’s can be considered the best in everything overall. You can also customise your own brushes to create wonderful textures and effects that can emulate traditional painting mediums.
No matter how unique your illustrations, Adobe’s software can accommodate your style. Plus, additional features such as the Creative Cloud libraries make it easy to jump from one device to another and keep drawing.
The program is updated all the time. You never have to wait long for new features to be introduced. And it keeps them ahead of the competition.
However, Photoshop comes with a steeper learning curve. It’s also somewhat expensive compared to other apps.
What is a Drawing Tablet?
A drawing tablet is a device used to input digital drawings and illustrations. The device consists of a stylus and a flat surface that is capable of detecting pressure and movement. This information is then transmitted to a computer or other computer-based device, where it can be used to create digital art.
Do You Need a Drawing Tablet for Photoshop?
Using a stylus on a drawing tablet makes editing and drawing much more natural than using a mouse, and allows you to work faster and more accurately too.
Tablets help a lot to people who suffer from carpal tunnel, no matter how long you work with a stylus, you’ll never feel tired or get a soar wrist.
While using a mouse you only have your wrist movements whereas while working with a pen you get a full range of motion with your arms and wrists.
Tablets are absolute positioning devices while mice are of the relative positioning variety. Your clicks and selections will be accurate with a tablet as your pen cursor position will be mapped precisely to your screen.
Drawing tablets have pressure sensitivity, something a mouse simply does not have. so you can draw like a pen or pencil, applying thicker or thinner strokes as you go. This makes it better suited for photoshop especially when you are doing detailed retouching.
You can also control the shape of the strokes by simply tilting the pen, a feature that is better for high-end professionals.
The shortcut keys on tablets reduce the need to switch between tools, allowing you to concentrate on the work at hand. This enables you to work faster and eliminates the tedium and strain that come with performing seemingly repetitive tasks.
Things to consider when choosing a drawing tablet for Adobe Photoshop
For digital art in Photoshop, Here are a few of the most important factors that impact the quality and functionality of a drawing tablet.
1. Types of tablet
Drawing Tablets that don’t have a display are some of the most common types of digital tablets in the market.
You’ll be making drawing motions on the tablet in your hands, yet looking at your computer screen. So you may need a little time to build up the hand-eye coordination.
However, They are generally cheaper, more durable and come with some neat features like support for wireless connectivity.
Pen displays are drawing tablet with a built-in screen. These tablets come in multiple sizes starting from 10 or 12 inches all the way up to 32 inches.
Drawing directly on the screen will feel more akin to putting a pencil to paper. But again, this is the more costly option. So they are mainly bought by more professionals and established artists.
Note that Pen display tablets do not have a processor of their own and need to be connected to a computer in order to work.
Increasingly, major brands, such as the Apple iPad Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the Microsoft Surface Pro, are promoting their media tablets as graphics tablets.
For hobbyists, amateurs, and creative professionals who need a lightweight tool to work with on the move, this type of standalone tablet and digital stylus combo is cost-effective. It’s great to use at leisure and offers a decent drawing experience.
2. Reasonable Working Space
The active area is the portion that you draw on.
A bigger active area will enable you to work on larger drawings more comfortable without the need for zooming and panning, but it is also more expensive.
A smaller tablet may be more portable and affordable, but it can also be more cramped to draw on for extended periods.
3. Pressure Sensitivity
Pressure sensitivity refers to how sensitive the tablet is to the amount of pressure you apply with the pen.
The harder you press the thicker your strokes are and the lighter you press the lighter the strokes are.
Most modern drawing tablets come with varying levels of pressure sensitivity, usually ranging from 2,048 to 8,192 levels.
The higher the level of pressure sensitivity, the more control an artist has over the thickness, opacity, and texture of their lines and strokes.
4. Tilt Recognition
Tilt Recognition is a digital tablet feature that allows the device to perceive the angle of the digital pen over the tablet surface.
That data is used by the device software to react in consequence. So, the resultant traces tent to look like it would do on physical work, according to each drawing tool used.
Tilt Recognition is a feature that comes with most of the latest generation of tablets.
5. Stylus Type
Drawing tablets come with one of two types of styluses: rechargeable, or electromagnetic resonance (EMR).
Rechargeable styluses need charging, And if they die you will have to charge before you can draw again. They are usually slimmer and fit comfortably in your hand.
EMR styluses employ an innovative electromagnetic frequency that transfers power to the pen wirelessly right from the tablet, so there’s no need to charge it.
Regardless of which type you get you’ll be able to draw all the same. Just make sure the tablet you choose has a comfortable stylus that fits well in your hand.
The display is a factor to consider if you’re getting a tablet with a screen.
Normally, a display with full HD resolution works just fine. however, owning a better resolution like 2K or 4K display will represent a huge advantage for any kind of creative work.
If you work with colors a lot, it’s a good idea to get a display that covers a large range of colors above 100% sRGB.
If what you need is portability, going for tablets from 10” to 16” would be the best choice. If you do a lot of illustrations, We would recommend going for a 22-inch or larger size.
7. Programable Buttons
Having programmable function buttons are by far not essential but are great to have. They allow you to map keyboard shortcuts to them to avoid having to use a keyboard for some actions.
With Photoshop you can utilze these keys while drawing or editing photos for instance by mapping them to functions such as undo, smoothing or inverting the brush.
8. Additional Features
For standalone drawing tablet, you also need to pay attention to processing power includes processor, ram, storage, and graphics card.
Artists may spend several hours at a time working on a digital piece, so it’s important to have a portable tablet with a battery that can last for a long time.
Look for tablets with a battery life of at least 8-10 hours, and consider devices with longer battery life if you plan on using the tablet for extended periods of time.
Photoshop is available for Windows and macOS. Photoshop also has a version for iPad, but many artists still prefer using the desktop version for the full suite of features.
If you choose to buy an Android tablet you’ll need to download the Photoshop Express App on your device.
There are certain tablets that only support a specific operating system, for example, Apple iPad only works for iPad OS, samsung galaxy tab only runs on android and Microsoft Surface only supports Windows OS. So it’s a good idea to check the specifications before placing your order.
Luckily, most traditional drawing tablets work for both Mac and Windows, so you can use the tablet for different devices that you have.
Some of the top brands in the drawing tablet industry include Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen.
Wacom is the most expensive, tend to have more of a premium and durable build, and a lot more brand recognition. It is ideal for seasoned digital artists, graphic designers, and photographers.
Huion and XP-Pen are generally cheaper than Wacom tablets and have more features, which are an excellent choice for novice and hobbyist artists.
For standalone drawing tablets, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are the main players.
10 Best Drawing Tablets for Adobe Photoshop
Each tablet on this list has something unique to offer, from their high pressure levels to their stunning displays that will help you take your creativity to the next level.
Whether you’re a professional or just starting out, these tablets are sure to impress.
1. Wacom Intuos Pro
Wacom Intuos Pro is built for professionals looking to make detailed sketches, edits, or drawings in Photoshop.
The tablet feels solidly built, The back and edges of the tablet are metal, while the top plastic surface has rough texture that would give it more paper-like feel to the tablet.
It comes in three sizes, small ( 6.3 x 3.9″ of active area), medium (8.7 x 5.8″) and large (12.1 x 8.4″) to suit all sizes of artwork and editing.
With built-in Bluetooth connectivity for wireless operation, the Wacom Intuos Pro gives you complete freedom to shift around, less cable clutter on your desk.
It has 6 to 8 customizable ExpressKeys and a Touch Ring to assist you with your workflow, depending on your favorite shortcuts.
With the highly accurate Wacom Pro Pen 2 in your hand, you can digitally draw and edit with virtually lag free tracking, tilt response and the requisite 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
You can use it with a full desktop operating system — Windows or Mac OS — so it would integrate well into your workflow with Photoshop, illustrator, indesign, lightroom and more.
XP-Pen Deco Pro is the finest competitor to the Wacom Intuos Pro, the differences are really quite minor and the Deco Pro is half the price.
Deco Pro is available in small and medium sizes, with different work areas, 9 x 5″ and 11 x 6″, respectively. Both are more than enough for anyone to create and get work done.
Aside from just 8 hotkeys, there’s also two roller wheels that adds a lot of functionality to the tablet. you can set the mechanical wheel to change brush size and the virtual wheel to zoom in and out of the canvas.
Build quality of the Deco Pro tablet is solid and feels premium. Its slim, sleek and sturdy with its black plastic front and cool aluminum base. The surface is slightly matte but as it’s pretty smooth, so shouldn’t wear down the pen nib quickly.
Deco Pro tablets come with the option to use them wired or wireless. The battery has a long life and satisfies your needs for all-day work in Bluetooth mode.
The PA1 stylus is battery free, and you can access the two buttons easily. The rubber grip helps to make it more comfortable as you work.
It gives you 8,192 pen pressure levels and tilt response. This is enough to detect your hand’s subtle, intricate movements and translate them into the digital sphere.
XP-Pen Deco Pro is compatible with Android phones/tablets, Chromebooks/ChromeOS, Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It also works well with multiple art software.
iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the best standalone drawing tablet on the market. As an artist, you will really appreciate everything that it brings to the table.
Boasting a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display with a whopping 2732 x 2048 pixel resolution and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, the Apple iPad Pro is designed to make your artwork shine like never before.
Its powerful M2 chip, is insanely powerful and fast, together with 8GB Ram, making your creative process quickly and efficiently.
Apple Pencil (2nd generation), sold separately, elevates your drawing experience to new heights. With imperceptible lag, pixel-perfect precision, tilt and pressure sensitivity, it becomes an extension of your artistic soul.
Additionally, The iPad Pro has your back with up to 10 hours of juice to keep you creating without interruption.
If you are someone who makes digital art, illustrations, comics, animation, and portability is your priority – you should definitely get the Apple iPad Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is the best art tablet currently available on the Android platform, a truly premium product and a top performer on all levels.
It comes with a 11-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1600p resolution, 420 nits Max Brightness, and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. The screen is bright, sharp and vibrant, and its color display is one of the best around.
You’ll still enjoy the same great power under the hood, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 paired with 8GB or 12GB RAM and even a microSD card slot for great processing power and storage for all your artwork.
The included S Pen is designed to inspire your imagination. It comes with at least 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt control.
Its lower latency of 2.8ms combined with the faster display refresh rate of 120hz results in a very natural pencil-like drawing experience.
Battery life is excellent, With a 8,400 mAh battery lasting over 8 hours and a fast-charging USB-C port, you can keep your creative juices flowing all day.
How to set up and use a drawing tablet in Photoshop?
We will show you how to correctly set up the drawing tablet and use it with Photoshop.
You’ll need to go to the official website and and download the latest drivers there. Drivers are software that allow the tablet to talk to your computer.
To install the driver, Double click on the file you downloaded to run it. Once the process is complete, you can click on Restart Computer to reboot.
Once your driver is installed, you can begin with the tablet setup and creat a Photoshop profile.
For example, You can program the tablet buttons for your most-often used commands when editing.
You can map the tablet’s active area to matche your screen’s aspect ratio.
You can click on the “pen” tab, select “tip feel” to adjust the pen’s pressure sensitivity when it comes into contact with the tablet.
You can also adjust the pressure & tilt sensitivity in Photoshop software.
Open Photoshop, go to Window, and to Brush Settings. Here you will see a wide variety of brushes and settings that can be adjusted to respond to varying levels of pressure.
All of the drawing tablets mentioned above are perfect for use with Photoshop and can help you create amazing pieces of art.
Each tablet has its features, so it is important to consider your specific needs when choosing one.
iPad Pro, samsung Galaxy tab or Surface Pro is the best choice if you don’t mind spending a bit extra for superior features, as it offers Portability and an impressive screen for an enhanced drawing experience.
However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly solution, then the other Wacom, Huion or XP-Pen tablet could be great options.
Whichever tablet you choose, you’re sure to have a great experience creating art with Photoshop!
About the author : Clinton Kane
A technical content writer, passionate about sharing high-quality knowledge of pc technology, software, and creative workflows.