For animators, having the right drawing tablet is crucial. Whether you’re sketching characters, designing backgrounds, or animating frames, finding the best tool is essential.
One standout option is the XPPen Artist 22 Plus tablet, which offers a clean design and straightforward features at a reasonable price – a solid alternative to the pricey Cintiq.
Yet, there’s a plethora of choices beyond this. So, I am here to guide both professional animators and aspiring ones in choosing the best animation tablet.
I’ll explore various tablets, highlighting their advantages, and drawbacks, and how they seamlessly integrate into the animation workflow. Before we dive into specific models, let’s cover some basics about drawing tablets and the benefits they offer to digital artists.
What are drawing tablets and what are their types?
Drawing Tablets are gadgets that link to your computer, letting you use a stylus in a more natural way compared to a mouse.
There are three main types:
- Screenless Tablets: Examples include the Wacom Intuos. These tablets connect to your computer and are budget-friendly but take some getting used to because you draw on the tablet while looking at the computer screen.
- Tablets with a Screen: Such as the Wacom Cintiq, Huion Kamvas, or XPPen artist series. These function as monitors with a touch-sensitive screen, but they are pricier and not as portable since they need to be connected to a computer and power outlet
- Mobile Touchscreen Tablets: Like the iPad, and Surface Pro. Portable with a built-in computer and stylus support for on-the-go drawing. However, they are the most expensive, not as powerful as desktops, have limited battery life, and less sensitivity than dedicated graphic tablets.
Benefits that Drawing tablets offer to animators
Animating with a tablet brings a world of advantages, especially for professional animators. Whether you’re immersed in a 2D or 3D workspace, the flexibility to explore various drawing styles opens the door to exceptional results.
A key feature of drawing tablets is the inclusion of a stylus pen. This nifty tool enables direct drawing on 2D animation software like Toon Boom Harmony, eliminating the need for a mouse. For artists, this translates to enhanced control over line work and the overall artistic outcome.
Consider the difference when working with 3D software such as Maya, 3ds Max, Zbrush, Blender, or SketchUP. Maneuvering a character model becomes remarkably easier with a pen compared to a mouse. It’s similar to touching the model with your hands, providing precision in tweaking and significantly faster movement. The stylus pen elevates the animation experience, making it an indispensable tool for artists seeking efficiency and control.
Best Drawing tablets for animation
XPPen Artist 22 Plus
The XPPen Artist 22 Plus Drawing Tablet presents a practical and user-friendly solution for digital artists. Its 21.5” size, complemented by an adjustable stand, ensures a comfortable drawing experience. However, it’s worth noting that the display demands a dedicated desktop space, as it is not designed for portability.
The included X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus is a standout feature, boasting an impressive 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity. This allows for precise and nuanced drawing, with the ability to vary line thickness seamlessly. The stylus’s tilt function up to 60° adds versatility, enhancing the creative possibilities for digital artists.
A noteworthy option is the available roller stylus, providing an alternative drawing experience. It can offer a unique and potentially more comfortable approach for certain artists.
Geeky details such as 130% sRGB color accuracy and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels per inch contribute to a high-quality visual experience. The anti-glare matte film eliminates parallax, ensuring precise alignment between the stylus and the displayed image.
Design features, including a built-in wristrest and a removable pen holder, enhance comfort during extended drawing sessions. The display’s dual functionality as a main monitor is a pleasant surprise, with bright colors and no lag contributing to a seamless experience.
In comparison with competitors, the Artist 22 Plus holds its own as a middle-tier option within the XPPen lineup. While the resolution is lower at 1920 x 1080 PPI, the 21.5” size mitigates potential drawbacks, making it a cost-effective choice.
- Practical and user-friendly design
- Tilt function up to 60° for enhanced creative possibilities
- Absence of a glass drawing surface, with potential wear over time
- The lack of shortcut keys on the monitor may be a drawback for some users
The iPad Pro (6th generation)
The iPad Pro (6th generation) stands as an extraordinary drawing companion for dedicated animators. Boasting impressive performance and ample storage, it’s tailored to enhance your productivity and creativity with the intuitive iPadOS features.
Highlighted by a remarkable 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, this tablet offers an incredible 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness. The display’s 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution, coupled with advanced technologies like ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color, delivers visually stunning animations.
Under the hood, the cutting-edge M2 chip fuels the iPad Pro, featuring an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. This combination provides animators with exceptional processing power and rapid graphics performance for handling demanding 2D/3D graphic creation tasks. With storage options reaching up to 2 terabytes, you can comfortably store all your animation projects and 4K videos.
However, it’s important to note that the iPad Pro doesn’t come bundled with the Apple Pencil, which is a significant consideration for animators. While the Apple Pencil is an exceptional tool, its separate purchase adds to the overall cost. Despite this, if you’re willing to invest in a top-notch tablet and the Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro unquestionably delivers.
- Easy user interface
- Apple Pencil 2 compatibility
- Premium screen experience
Wacom One HD
Next on our list is the Wacom One HD which is a standout among the best animation tablets. This powerful graphic tablet caters to animators with its comprehensive software package, including Clip Studio Paint, Bamboo Paper, and Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. With a 13.3″ HD screen, your artistic journey becomes vivid and immersive, whether you’re sketching, editing, or jotting down notes.
The stylus is a star feature, boasting low latency and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. This means precise pen control, offering animators the ability to nail fine details and achieve smooth strokes. The tablet’s paper-like drawing surface and minimal reflection create a comfortable, traditional pen-and-paper feel.
Compatibility is key, and the Wacom One HD doesn’t disappoint. It effortlessly works with Windows, Mac OS, and Android, allowing you to switch seamlessly between devices.
- Robust software package
- Versatile compatibility
- Wired connection limits mobility and flexibility.
- Absence of express key buttons for quick shortcuts.
XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro
The XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro is a standout choice for digital artists with its expansive 23.8-inch display boasting a crystal-clear 2560 x 1440 resolution. With a remarkable 90% Adobe RGB color spectrum support, your colors will vividly come to life on the screen.
Users appreciate the tablet’s accuracy and parallax reduction technology, ensuring precise drawing experiences. The anti-glare, textured film overlay adds to the satisfaction of creating art on this device.
Featuring 20 customizable shortcut keys and 2 creative red dial wheels, the tablet offers a versatile setup for your artistic workflow. The stylus, equipped with 8K levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt detection, delivers razor-sharp strokes and lines. Plus, the battery-free stylus eliminates worries about running out of power during your creative sessions.
The inclusion of a foldable tablet stand enhances the ergonomic aspect, allowing you to find the optimal working position. Whether you’re painting or sculpting for extended periods, the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro proves to be an excellent choice.
- Comfortable stylus
- The screen may be a bit reflective
When choosing the right drawing tablet for animation, focus on three key features: a spacious drawing area, the inclusion of a screen, and the convenience of express keys. These aspects truly make a significant impact on your animation experience. Remember, even though opting for a more budget-friendly tablet might seem tempting, investing in a device with these essential features pays off in the long run. So, choose wisely.