Animation is an art, and an animation tablet is your canvas. Our world is quickly digitizing, and animation and drawing have been shifting from paper and pen to tablet and stylus for years. For content creators, video and animation are some of the most engaging forms of content — motion attracts viewers and is important to include in any content strategy. Whether you’re a professional animator, digital artist, or just starting out as a beginner, a designated tablet for animation is a worthy investment to aid your artistic and creative process.
Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash
Whether you’re a professional animator, digital artist, or just starting out as a beginner, a designated tablet for animation is a worthy investment to aid your An animation tablet typically features a screen or surface to draw on, as well as an accompanying stylus. These devices are used by professional artists as well as hobbyists to create polished pieces of art or animation.
There is a wide range and variety of tablets for animation out there in the market: some at affordable prices, some very expensive, some better for graphic design, some with differing levels of pressure sensitivity, and others for animating. Nonetheless, having a tablet to suit your personal needs is important, whether you’re an animator or graphic designer — the right tablet will be your secret weapon in creating quality content.
From affordable price to features, we’ve broken it down for you — now, let’s get into the thick of it: what are the best animation tablets on the market?
Graphics Tablet vs Display Tablet
Before you start searching for an animation tablet for your needs, make sure you understand the difference between a graphics tablet and a display tablet. These are two of the most common types of animation and drawing tablets on the market today.
A graphics tablet is a computer input device that is often a non-display tablet, meaning that it doesn’t have a display screen; rather, graphics tablets feature a drawing surface that artists may draw on with a stylus. The images are usually viewed on a computer monitor instead of a built-in display, and can easily be connected to a PC or laptop.
A display tablet, as the name suggests, features a prominent display. You can see your work directly on the device, rather than have to view it on an external screen. Tablets with screens can therefore be used on their own.
How To Pick An Animation Tablet
When you begin the process of picking an animation tablet for your specific needs, there are a few aspects to consider. By answering the following questions, you can figure out your personal priorities for a suitable animation tablet.
What is my budget?
Determine your price range for a new animation tablet. This budget could determine what brand you eventually go for, the functions you can afford, as well as any extra functionalities. For context, animation tablets can go for anywhere from $50 to $3,000! An affordable price may be different for everyone, so be sure to know what your budget is before going into the purchase.
How much battery life do I expect to have?
While animating or drawing, it is essential to know how many hours of battery life you have at full charge. Whether you’re a student carrying your animation tablet with you throughout the day or a hobbyist animating at home, finding out how much battery life you will need in your animation tablet is important!
What type of tablet pen or stylus do I prefer?
A good animation stylus or tablet pen is just as essential as the tablet itself. This device will be your magic wand in creating beautiful drawings and animations. There are many tablet pens on the market, including battery-free pens that are rechargeable, or pens with customizable buttons and functions.
How much pressure sensitivity do I like?
According to the 2D Animation Software Guide, “pressure levels are the number of distinct points that the tip of a digital pen is able to detect.” The higher levels of pressure sensitivity a stylus or tablet pen has, the greater your ability to vary the width of the lines you draw, making for a smoother drawing experience. The levels of pressure sensitivity a pen has may differ based on personal preference, but it can be a factor that affects your tablet decision. levels of pressure sensitivity
What screen size am I looking for?
Screen size essentially dictates how large your tablet is. Animation tablets come in all different sizes, most falling between 10 to 32 inches. When considering your personal needs, tablet size dictates how portable your device will be, as well as how much space you get to create.
Do I prefer a laminated screen?
Laminated screens are thin, light, and typically easier on the eyes than non-laminated screens. These screens are used in modern iPads as well as high-quality animation tablets; they generally are more expensive than non-laminated tablets.
What display size do I want?
Display size is important to consider for any animator. The display is the space you get to draw or animate with on the tablet. As mentioned above, animation tablets can come in display and non-display forms.
What screen resolution am I looking for?
Screen resolution will affect how detailed your screen can display pixels — smaller, cheaper animation tablets typically have 1280×800 screen resolution, whereas most HD displays feature 1080p screens (1920×1080 and above). The leading brand in tablets, Apple, features liquid retina displays, a big step up from HD displays.
Do I like how the colors are displayed?
Color gamut is an important factor to consider when shopping for an animation Color gamut is an important factor to consider when shopping for an animation tablet. According to ViewSonic, “color gamut describes a range of colors within the spectrum of colors that are identifiable by the human eye.” Colors are presented in different ways on different animation tablets — do you value vibrant red greens or deep blacks? Answering this question will put you on the right path to finding your perfect animation tablet.
Best Animation Tablet Review in 2023
Wacom Cintiq Pro 32
Wacom Cintiq Pro 32 (source: Wacom)
First on the list: is the Wacom Cintiq Pro 32. Wacom is known for its top-of-the-line animation and drawing products and is well-regarded by many in the industry and artist community. Specifically, the Cintiq Pro 32 is one of the best graphics tablets on the market right now. It features a larger-than-life 32-inch screen, making it the perfect choice for artists looking for a high-quality large canvas. Other details include a 4K screen resolution, as well as a pen pressure sensitivity of 8,192 levels. The Cintiq Pro 32 also allows connections via HDMI, USB 3.0, USB-C, and DisplayPort, and is fully compatible with animation software like After Effects. Its color gamut is also incredibly accurate, allowing artists to create high-quality, beautiful work. The Cintiq Pro 32’s ExpressKey Remote also has 17 *programmable buttons*, customizable to your own productivity setup and flow. It is a professional-grade device, and its price reflects that — a brand-new Cintiq Pro 32 comes in at around $3,300.
Huion KAMVAS GT-156HD V2
Huion KAMVAS GT-156HD V2 (source: Huion, Amazon)
Huion is a fantastic alternative to Wacom, with exemplary products that allow artists to digitally create with ease. The Huion KAMVAS tablet is one of the most highly-recommended tablets on the market for digital animation. This device is around 3 inches thick, 1 foot wide, almost 2 feet long, and weighs in at 9.4 lbs; it’s no small portable tablet! It features a full HD screen with 1920×1080 resolution, and a small handful of customizable express keys, direction pads, and a touchpad.
A major pro of the Huion KAMVAS is its battery-free pen. Although the stylus is a bit heavier than most tablet pens, it is advertised to last more than a month with daily use on a single charge. Its pen pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition are top-of-the-line, ensuring a smooth experience. The KAMVAS also comes with a built-in stand — the device tilts up to a 50° angle. This tablet is somewhat expensive; however, many users have commended this tablet as a quality product that is well worth the money.
Apple iPad Pro
iPad Pro (Source: Daniel Romero)
Next up, is the Apple iPad Pro — a well-known device and well-established brand in the tablet market. The iPad Pro was released in 2020 and includes a dazzling liquid retina display and Apple A12X Bionic chip, delivering unbeatable processing performance and a flawless user experience. It comes in three options for storage size: from 64GB all the way up to 1TB. It is an incredibly versatile device and is used by many pro animators as their main tablet for animation work.
Though the Apple Pencil 2 is not included with the purchase of the iPad Pro (it costs about $120 more), it is an ultra-compatible and reliable stylus that creates polished work. It features balanced pressure sensitivity levels and tilt recognition, and is known as one of the best styluses on the market.
Apple also features shortcut buttons for a polished user experience. One possible downside for a potential new user is the software limitations on the iPad Pro: many popular applications used by professional animators and artists are not available for the iPad platform yet but are available for an Android drawing tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (Source: Samsung)
Samsung is known globally as a tech giant — its products are top-of-the-line, and tablets are no exception. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is widely known as The Android Tablet for digital animation and the best choice for animations. The Samsung Galaxy is a regular tablet, with a 12.4-inch screen. However, its superior display, with a resolution of 2800×1752 pixels, makes it great for drawing and animating.
There is a large amount of space for animation and artwork on the Samsung Galaxy, as well as a great color gamut. Additionally, the new S Pen features a latency of 9ms, matching the Apple Pencil, and is included with the purchase of the tablet. The cylindrical, smooth matte S Pen also has top-notch pressure sensitivity and snaps magnetically to the back of the tablet to charge.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is also a great choice for a compact and portable tablet. According to Parka Blogs, this Samsung Galaxy model is a cheaper competitor with the Apple iPad Pro — overall, “the Tab S7 looks good and has solid build quality.”
XP-Pen Artist pro
Artist 15.6 Pro (Source: XP-PEN)
XP-Pen is a long-standing tablet brand that is used widely by professionals and hobbyists alike. The XP-Pen Artist Pro 15.6’’ is “a high-end drawing tablet made for those who want to draw on-screen, such as dedicated and passionate artists and designers” (PixelSmith Studios).
It is a thin, compact design device with vivid colors and a glass top, and comes with a stand that can swivel to any angle you like, though it is a non-touch display. This art tablet gives the user a nice ergonomic design, making it a top choice among tablets. Additionally, the Artist 24 Pro comes with a battery-free stylus that has professional-grade, 8,192-level pen pressure sensitivity and tilts sensitivity response.
This device will give you the means to make those detailed sketches while facilitating a productive workflow with customizable shortcut keys and buttons. Artists also commend the Artist Pro for its ability to make high-quality manga artwork. It’s optimized for daily use and overall a great, budget-friendly choice for professional digital artists.
Wacom Intuos Pro
Wacom Intuos Pro (Source: Wacom)
The Wacom Intuos Pro is another example of Wacom’s high-quality, professional-grade products. The tablet is a mid-sized tablet that would fit well on any animator or artist’s desk. It is one of the best tablets for animation on the market and is highly recommended by professional reviewers.
The Intuos Pro is a strict drawing device that does not feature a screen, allowing users to focus on the tactile nature of a pure drawing tablet. Size-wise, it is lighter than display tablets of its caliber, making it a more portable device with a compact design. It has 8,192 pressure sensitivity levels, placing it among the best styluses on the market. The tablet pen also has natural tilt sensitivity recognition and is battery-free.
As with the Wacom Cintiq Pro 32, it also features programmable Express Keys and other customizable features. Whether you’re a professional animator, artist, or creative, the Wacom Intuos Pro is a compelling option for all your creating needs.
ARTISUL D13S 13.3 INCH PEN DISPLAY (Source: ARTISUL)
The Artisul D13 is a 15.3’’ portable, yet powerful device. It weighs in at around 10 lbs and is around 0.5’’ thick. It is a USB-powered device, that requires a cabled connection to a PC, laptop, or desktop.
However, the USB is useful for both power and data transmission, helping to avoid complicated wiring setups. The D13 features 7 express hotkeys, and a battery-free stylus, which is the best type of stylus for most modern tablets. The additional pen-holder carrying case is a nice touch as well with a compact design. It also has a 1080p HD display that is bright enough for creating without straining your eyes.
Unlike some other tablets on the market, the Artisul D13 has an optional left-hand mode that makes it easy for left-handed animators and artists to use the device. Overall, the D13 allows you to create amazing hand-drawn animations at a cheaper cost than Cintiq devices.
Parblo Coast10 (Source: Parblo)
The Parblo Coast10 is a wonderful animating device from a reputable, entry-level brand. The Coast10 is 14’’ with a thickness of 3’’, and weighs in at 2.8 lbs. This makes it a smaller device that is optimized for portability and travel. This device is powered by USB and can be hooked up to any computer or laptop. The screen resolution is 1280×800, and the display size is large enough for a productive animating workspace.
Additionally, the Parblo pen is a battery-free, easy-to-use stylus that includes a small right-click button, reducing the need for a mouse. There is also a designated built-in storage space for the pen. The pressure levels are impeccable and great for animating — drawings come out clean and without delay. The Coast10 is a great tablet for beginner to intermediate artists. It is an affordable tablet but offers all the features of a professional animating device at a lower price.
Monoprice 22″ 1080p Display
Monoprice 22″ 1080p Display (Source: Monoprice, Amazon)
With the 22’’ device, Monoprice has provided an amazing option for big-screen animating. A larger screen can provide animators and artists with a more versatile, detail-oriented workflow. This device is a display tablet with a thickness of 2’’ and a weight of 6 lbs. Due to its size, the Monoprice 22’’ works best with a desktop monitor; it can also double as a secondary monitor if needed. It features a high color gamut and contrast for comfortable and accurate viewing.
For animators, the display packs a punch with 1080p HD resolution and the built-in tablet stand allows you to draw completely flat to 80°, which is convenient for tabletop work. The accompanying stylus is battery-free, light, and pressure sensitivity is easily customizable, and comes with a pen holder. Though the software and configuration can be slightly gimmicky to figure out, the Monoprice 22’’ is a premium larger tablet at a cheaper price.
Overall, there are plenty of amazing devices on the market for users of all types — whether you’re new to the animating and art community, or are a seasoned professional, there is a tablet perfect for you! As the industry evolves, the diversity of equipment and devices will also grow. Though we’ve provided descriptions and overviews of each tablet in this list, there are still more functions and features to consider with each device. For further research into animation tablets, the aforementioned brands, like Wacom and Huion, are great places to look. To learn more about animation and digital art supplies, check out the 2D Animation Software Guide and Concept Art Empire.
Though we’ve emphasized the importance of hardware in the digital art process, the software is also an important consideration. For new animators, it can be difficult to find an easy-to-use software application. We recommend checking out apps like Animation Desk to streamline your animation process and create beautiful works of art. Download today via the App Store or Google Play Store.
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