Graph­ics tablet — sim­pli­fies the process of edit­ing a pho­to or cre­at­ing a draw­ing. Pho­to: archisoup.com

A graph­ics tablet is a gad­get used by web design­ers, pho­tog­ra­phers, artists, retouch­ers, and oth­ers to cre­ate draw­ings or edit pho­tos. If you fre­quent­ly use Pho­to­shop or anoth­er graph­ics appli­ca­tion, a graph­ics tablet will speed up and sim­pli­fy your work. It’s more accu­rate than a mouse or track­pad. Read on to find out what types of graph­ics tablets are avail­able and what para­me­ters to look for when choos­ing them.

Types of graphics tablets

Graph­ics tablets and reg­u­lar tablets (like Apple iPad, Xiao­mi Pad 5 or Sam­sung Galaxy Tab A8) are com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent devices. The lat­ter are essen­tial­ly com­put­ers too (although an iPad can be used in con­junc­tion with a Mac­Book for draw­ing). And graph­ics tablets are PC periph­er­als. They come in 3 types and dif­fer in design:

– devices con­sist­ing of a work­ing sur­face and a sty­lus (for exam­ple, XP-Pen Deco 03). They are used in con­junc­tion with a lap­top or com­put­er, to which they are con­nect­ed via USB or wire­less­ly. In this case, they draw on the sur­face of the tablet, and observe the process on the PC mon­i­tor. This is the most bud­get option for begin­ners.

– mod­els with a screen (for exam­ple, Wacom One 13). Edit­ing a pic­ture with a sty­lus takes place on the dis­play, and infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing takes place on a con­nect­ed PC or smart­phone.

– Inter­ac­tive tablet mon­i­tors (for exam­ple, XP-Pen Artist 22R PRO 22″) — you can work on them with­out con­nect­ing a com­put­er. These are the most advanced and expen­sive mod­els for pro­fes­sion­als.

Which graphics tablet to choose

Active area size

The size of the active sur­face depends on your needs and where you work. Pho­to: itigic.com

The active area is the work sur­face on which you draw with a pen or edit an image. Its size is often com­pared with the paper size (A3, A4, A5, A6).

If you con­nect a graph­ics tablet to a PC for work, then their sizes should be pro­por­tion­al. Oth­er­wise, it is dif­fi­cult to find the required accu­ra­cy. Rec­om­mend­ed Ratio:

Screen diag­o­nal, inch­es Graph­ics tablet for­mat
13–17 A6 or S (Small)
17–22 A5 / M (Medi­um, Medi­um)
above 22 A4 L (Large)

A6 mod­els (like the Wacom One small) don’t take up much desk­top space and are easy to trans­port. This is a great option for those who are sketch­ing, retouch­ing pho­tos, or using the device as a spare for field work.

A5 graph­ic tablet (Wacom Intu­os Pro M) is a uni­ver­sal mod­el for retouch­ers, web design­ers and artists.

A4 graph­ics tablet (Wacom Intu­os Pro Paper L) is the most pop­u­lar for­mat, suit­able for pro­fes­sion­al pur­pos­es. It is in demand among graph­ic design­ers, ani­ma­tors, 3D sculp­tors, dig­i­tal artists, etc.

An A3 graph­ic tablet takes up a lot of space. Such mod­els are used by archi­tects and engi­neers for draw­ings.


This indi­ca­tor is mea­sured in LPI (num­ber of lines per inch) and reflects the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the pan­el to the move­ment of the sty­lus. The high­er it is, the more accu­rate the trans­fer of your move­ments and the more detailed pic­ture.

Most graph­ics tablets have a res­o­lu­tion in the 2540–5080 LPI range. For exam­ple, for the XP-Pen Artist 12 PRO 11.6″ this fig­ure is 5080 LPI. That is, when you draw a 1‑inch line (2.54 cm), the device reads 5080 sty­lus pres­sures on the active sur­face.

If you con­nect the tablet to a lap­top or PC for work, then a res­o­lu­tion of 2540 LPI is enough. If you are using inter­ac­tive mod­els, then it is bet­ter to choose a graph­ics tablet with a res­o­lu­tion of 5080 LPI.

Connection type

If the graph­ics tablet is con­nect­ed to the PC by wire, check that you have the nec­es­sary con­nec­tors. Pho­to: design.tutsplus.com

Some mod­els con­nect to a PC using a wire, oth­ers via Blue­tooth. For exam­ple, WACOM Cin­tiq 16 uses a wired con­nec­tion. In this case, pay atten­tion to the pres­ence of the ports you need.

From the point of view of mobil­i­ty, devices with a wire­less con­nec­tion are more con­ve­nient. In this case, con­sid­er how much the gad­get is able to work on a sin­gle charge. Most mod­els charge via USB cable.


The sty­lus mim­ics draw­ing with a reg­u­lar pen­cil. Pho­to: design.tutsplus.com

A sty­lus (also called a “pen” or “pen”) for a graph­ics tablet can be wired or wire­less. The wired ver­sion is pow­ered by the tablet via a con­nect­ed cable. Wire­less mod­els come in two types — with bat­ter­ies and mag­net­ic res­o­nance. The lat­ter work from the active sur­face of the tablet.

The mag­net­ic res­o­nance pen is the most con­ve­nient option (and the most expen­sive). It is lighter, more com­pact and will not be dis­charged at the most inop­por­tune moment.

When choos­ing a graph­ics tablet, pay atten­tion to the pres­ence of an “eras­er” (anal­o­gous to an eras­er on a pen­cil), pro­gram­ma­ble but­tons (allow you to quick­ly select work­ing tools) and inter­change­able noz­zles in the kit. For exam­ple, the XP-Pen Artist 24 PRO 2K comes with 2 sty­lus­es with­out bat­ter­ies and 8 replace­ment nibs.

Check the max­i­mum read­ing height of the sty­lus. In oth­er words, from what dis­tance from the active sur­face the device reads the pen and moves the cur­sor accord­ing­ly. A com­fort­able val­ue for work is at least 6 mm. If low­er, you can acci­den­tal­ly erase the desired ele­ment or draw an extra stroke.

Ide­al­ly, before buy­ing a tablet, you can hold a dig­i­tal pen in your hands to eval­u­ate its ergonom­ics (con­ve­nience, ease of press­ing but­tons).

Stylus accuracy

This para­me­ter reflects the error with­in which the tablet reads pen taps on the hotspot. It is mea­sured in mil­lime­ters. The small­er it is, the thin­ner indi­vid­ual strokes can be drawn with­out mag­ni­fi­ca­tion (impor­tant for small for­mat devices).

For exam­ple, if the pen pre­ci­sion is 1 mm and you draw 2 lines 0.5 mm apart, they will merge into one. How­ev­er, such val­ues ​​are char­ac­ter­is­tic of inex­pen­sive devices, even in mod­els of the mid­dle seg­ment, the accu­ra­cy of the sty­lus is below 0.5 mm.

Response speed

Reflects the speed of infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing from touch­ing the sty­lus to the sur­face of the tablet until it appears on the mon­i­tor. This indi­ca­tor is mea­sured in reports per sec­ond (RPS) or points per sec­ond (PPS).

For pro­fes­sion­al pur­pos­es, it is bet­ter to pre­fer a graph­ics tablet with a response rate of 210–233 RSS or 133–200 PPS.

For exam­ple, Wacom Intu­os M Blue­tooth has a response rate of 133 PPS.

Pen sensitivity

A draw­ing made on a graph­ics tablet looks like a pen­cil sketch. Pho­to: design.tutsplus.com

This is the abil­i­ty of the sty­lus to per­ceive the force of pres­sure. This indi­ca­tor is mea­sured in lev­els and is a mul­ti­ple of 1024, the max­i­mum val­ue is 8192.

Depend­ing on the sen­si­tiv­i­ty to pres­sure, you can adjust the thick­ness of the lines, col­or sat­u­ra­tion, trans­paren­cy and nat­u­ral­ness of the shad­ows. The sim­plest anal­o­gy is a pen­cil. The more you press it on the paper, the brighter and thick­er the line.

2048 lev­els are enough for com­fort­able work. But the high­er the val­ue, the more con­trol in the work. For exam­ple, the XP-Pen Deco Pro Medi­um has a pres­sure sen­si­tiv­i­ty of 8192 lev­els.

Input method

Mul­ti-touch sup­port allows you to per­form some actions (for exam­ple, zoom­ing) many times faster. Pho­to: design.tutsplus.com

Graph­ic tablets come with pen and touch-pen input. The first deter­mines the posi­tion of the sty­lus, the sec­ond — the sty­lus and fin­gers. The sec­ond option is more con­ve­nient, for exam­ple, to change the scale. For exam­ple, Wacom Intu­os Pro M has touch sup­port.

OS and software compatibility

When choos­ing graph­ics tablets, con­sid­er the oper­at­ing sys­tem you are using. Wacom pen tablets offer the best com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with Win­dows, Mac and most Lin­ux devices.

Apple gad­gets (Mac, iPad and iPhone) come with Wacom dri­vers already installed. Users will have to install Win­dows dri­vers man­u­al­ly. For exam­ple, Wacom Intu­os M Blue­tooth sup­ports Win­dows 10, Win­dows 8, Win­dows 7, Mac OS X 10.10 or high­er, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or high­er.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pay atten­tion to the com­pat­i­bil­i­ty of the tablet with pop­u­lar graph­ics pro­grams (for exam­ple, Pho­to­shop).