Best Standalone Drawing Tablet in 2022: Artist’s Guide

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 01, 2022 •  Guides

Whether you are a digital artist, a graphic designer, or you work with traditional media, a true standalone drawing tablet might be one of the best investments you will ever make. 

So let’s look at which standalone tablet for drawing you should get.

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Top 4 Standalone Drawing Tablets Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite standalone drawing tablets. There are more picks in the overview below, such as Windows and budget picks.

My Pick
Professional Pick
Android Pick
Affordable Pick
Description:

The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

Apple M1 Processor for next-level performance :: 12.9-inch liquid retina display for superior color, contrast, and brightness :: Light and extremely strong :: Up to 10 hours battery life :: Early 2021 model

Description:

Best Professional Standalone Drawing Tablet

13.3 Inch WQHD Touchscreen Display :: Intel Core i7 :: 16GB RAM upgradeable :: 512GB SSD upgradeable :: Professional artists' choice :: Windows 10 :: Early 2020 model

The bigger model is Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

Description:

Best Android Standalone Drawing Tablet

12.4 Inch AMOLED WQXGA+ Touchscreen :: 8GB RAM :: 256GB SSD Drive :: Super fast Qualcomm SM8450 processor :: Early 2022 model :: Includes incredible Samsung S Pen

Description:

Best Budget Windows Tablet for Artists

10.5 Inch PixelSense Touchscreen :: Intel Pentium Gold Processor :: 8GB RAM :: 128GB SSD storage :: Premium fit and finish :: Great surface for drawing :: Windows 11 :: Late 2021 model

My Pick
Description:

The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

Apple M1 Processor for next-level performance :: 12.9-inch liquid retina display for superior color, contrast, and brightness :: Light and extremely strong :: Up to 10 hours battery life :: Early 2021 model

Professional Pick
Description:

Best Professional Standalone Drawing Tablet

13.3 Inch WQHD Touchscreen Display :: Intel Core i7 :: 16GB RAM upgradeable :: 512GB SSD upgradeable :: Professional artists' choice :: Windows 10 :: Early 2020 model

The bigger model is Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

Android Pick
Description:

Best Android Standalone Drawing Tablet

12.4 Inch AMOLED WQXGA+ Touchscreen :: 8GB RAM :: 256GB SSD Drive :: Super fast Qualcomm SM8450 processor :: Early 2022 model :: Includes incredible Samsung S Pen

Affordable Pick
Description:

Best Budget Windows Tablet for Artists

10.5 Inch PixelSense Touchscreen :: Intel Pentium Gold Processor :: 8GB RAM :: 128GB SSD storage :: Premium fit and finish :: Great surface for drawing :: Windows 11 :: Late 2021 model

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Standalone Drawing Tablets for Artists in 2022

My Pick – iPad Pro 12.9

My Pick
NEW Apple iPad Pro (12.9″, WiFi, 512GB)

The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

Apple M1 Processor for next-level performance :: 12.9-inch liquid retina display for superior color, contrast, and brightness :: Light and extremely strong :: Up to 10 hours battery life :: Early 2021 model

Get it on Amazon
My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Get it on Amazon

We will begin this survey of the best standalone drawing tablets for artists with my obvious choice – the Apple iPad Pro – perhaps the most popular, widely used, and most recommended standalone drawing tablet among artists.

It is also the drawing tablet I use, and I am constantly amazed at how well it works for me and my process.

Photo: Iva with her iPad Pro 12.9" and Apple Pencil 2nd Generation - © Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva with her iPad Pro 12.9″ and Apple Pencil 2nd Generation – © Art Side of Life

The Liquid Retina display has superb color representation, detail, resolution and depth, and subtle gradation between shades and values.

But it’s more than just this – the images are so beautiful, alive, and attractive. They pop from the screen with such vivid color and depth that I constantly feel inspired by what I’m seeing.

The detail, fidelity, and clarity let me know exactly what I have so far and what I need to do, and I don’t miss small mistakes, unfinished details, or problems with color, shading, or balance.

Everything is visible, for better or worse, so the Apple iPad Pro helps me improve my work.

Photo: Iva drawing on her iPad Pro 12.9" - © Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva drawing on her iPad Pro 12.9″ – © Art Side of Life

The Apple Pencil 2 (must be purchased separately) feels natural in my hand – smooth, light, and solid – and is so fast, accurate, fluid, and responsive that I completely stop thinking about it and just draw.

It attaches to the Apple iPad with a cool magnetic click for charging and portability (so I don’t lose it!), and it pairs with the tablet automatically, so I don’t have to think about anything.

Another super-slick accessory is the Magic Keyboard – not necessary for artwork, but it protects the Apple iPad, and acts as a perfect stand and a nice keyboard. If you are using your Apple iPad Pro for other things as well as art, it’s almost a must-have.

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch standalone drawing tablet is thin and light, allowing me to hand-hold it as long as I need to for a superb drawing experience. It is very well made and feels super solid and durable – I can throw it in my bag or backpack and forget it’s even there.

If there is one issue – and for me, it’s not so important – it’s that I don’t always finish my work on the iPad.

The art software works wonderfully, but it is not as complete and full-featured as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which I use on my MacBook Pro, so sometimes I need to bring an image to the computer for some final adjustments or effects.

On the other hand, the abbreviated versions of Adobe Creative Cloud I run on the iPad are simpler and easier and let me think less and work more.

With the possible exception of the Wacom MobileStudio Pro below, I have no doubt the Apple iPad Pro has the best screen I’ve ever used – both as a display and a touch interface for my hand or my Apple Pencil.

I love the intuitive interface of the Apple operating system and the iOS Art programs I use. The Apple Pencil is incredibly expressive and natural. The tablet is solid, light, and unobtrusive and feels like it will never break.

But finally, all of that disappears – the tablet, pen, software, and operating system, worries about configuration, operation, or reliability, these things all vanish, and all that is left is me making art and the art itself, alive in front of me.

My choice for the best Apple standalone drawing tablet for artists is the wonderful Apple iPad Pro with the 12.9-inch Liquid Retina screen.

Pros & Cons of Apple iPad Pro 12.9″

ProsCons
➕ Best display➖ Honestly, I can’t think of any because I feel purchasing the iPad Pro is the best investment I’ve ever made in my art business!
➕ Incredibly sensitive, accurate, and precise pen and touch screen
➕ Procreate runs exclusively on Apple, and it is fantastic on the iPad Pro
➕ Easy to use so that it never comes between me and my art!
➕ Excellent build quality, look and feel, and durability
➕ Exceptional battery life

Specifications of Apple iPad Pro 12.9″

Windows Pick – Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Windows Pick
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 13″ Tablet

Best Windows Standalone Drawing Tablet

13 Inch PixelSense Flow touchscreen with 2880x1920 Resolution :: Intel Core i9 processor :: 16GB RAM :: 512GB SSD Storage :: Premium fit and finish :: Great surface for drawing :: Windows 11 :: Late 2021 model

Get it on Amazon
For Surface Tablets
Surface Slim Pen 2

Pressure sensitivity (4,096 Levels) and Tilt recognition :: Perfect weight and balance for drawing :: Haptic support :: Digital eraser :: Compatible with a wide range of Surface models

Get it on Amazon

For Windows users, there are two basic choices – a super high-quality tablet designed specifically for artwork, like the Wacom MobileStudio Pro below, or a standard Windows tablet that still offers the kind of display and creative control, screen sensitivity, and accuracy an artist needs.

As an Apple user, I might at best have a grudging admiration for many Windows-based systems, but this one, I must admit, is gorgeous.

The Surface Pro 8 is solid and substantial yet quite light for its size and performance. It works flawlessly, feels good in my hands, and has a very high cool factor.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has an absolutely beautiful screen, with such great resolution, color fidelity, brightness, and depth that it – like the iPad Pro – really helps an artist completely and honestly see and assess a work in progress.

The Microsoft Surface Pen (must be purchased separately – available here) feels as good in my hand as any I’ve used.

It only offers half of the extraordinarily high level of screen sensitivity of the Wacom MobileStudio Pro below, but the subtlety of darker and lighter shades and thicker and thinner lines I get with more or less pressure sensitivity is so amazing that I can’t imagine noticing much of a difference, and the tilt sensitivity also feels quite similar.

There are other optional accessories you can get. The one that adds most to the cool factor of the Microsoft Surface Pro is the Type Cover magnetic keyboard. It works great, has backlit keys and a big trackpad, and protects the Microsoft Surface Pro’s surface.

Technically the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is as good as it gets. With incredibly fast processing and a full 16 gigabytes of RAM, the creative process will never lag or be interrupted.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 provides a 512 GB internal SSD (solid state drive) with plenty of space for even the highest quality images and super-fast WiFi for your many cloud storage options.

I’m intentionally staying away from getting into describing or judging any of these tablets as computers, preferring to focus on their artistic talent. Still, I will say that the Microsoft Surface Pro is one of the best PC laptop computers available at any price.

At the same time, it is important to remember that because this is a full computer, it runs full versions of all PC art programs – Adobe, Krita, Corel, and others – not abbreviated versions like on the iPad or Android tablets. As such, it allows you to work anywhere and any time and take your work to a fully realized and professional final version, providing a truly awesome, top-level drawing experience.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a superb creative tablet and an easy choice for the best Windows-based standalone drawing tablet for artists.

Pros & Cons of Microsoft Surface Pro 8

ProsCons
➕ Fast and powerful➖ Well, I’m an Apple user – other than that, there’s no downside!
➕ Screen with great detail, contrast, and color accuracy
➕ Optimal screen-to-pen drawing experience
➕ Full range of art software available, including high-level professional programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
➕ Exceptional battery life

Specifications of Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Android Pick – Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Android Pick
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Best Android Standalone Drawing Tablet

12.4 Inch AMOLED WQXGA+ Touchscreen :: 2800 x 1752px :: 8GB RAM :: 256GB SSD Drive :: Super fast Qualcomm SM8450 processor :: Early 2022 model :: Includes incredible Samsung S Pen :: Android 12

Get it on Amazon

When selecting the best portable tablets for artists, it’s easy to dismiss the Android operating system and tablets.

Certainly, nice programs like Adobe Illustrator Draw notwithstanding, there just aren’t the same professional, full-featured art applications available in the Android environment.

And still, I know a lot of artists who use tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ as their go-to standalone drawing tablet and painting tool.

Maybe it’s because they are affordable, because people are already used to Android because of their smartphones, or maybe because there is just so much free software available.

Android tablets remain popular among artists.

But their popularity and market share are not reason enough to include them on our list of best standalone drawing tablets for artists or to recommend one particular model.

What is reason enough, however, is how our choice of the best Android drawing tablet works, looks, and feels.

The all-new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ supports and even improves the creative process – and ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

I guess I did have some established prejudices against Android. But the pen’s pressure sensitivity, the brilliant and beautiful AMOLED display, and the solid feel, lightweight, and ergonomics of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8* tablet made drawing and painting a joy.

I guess I would have to say that for my own work, I would ultimately want more power and more advanced capabilities from the available software. But for lots of different work, from simple sketches to relatively complex drawings, full color painting with a wide palette, accurate colors, subtle gradation, and even basic 3D renderings, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ does a nice job.

And it feels nice to use. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ has a very simple interface – both the OS and the various art programs – and feels good in my hands. And the pen – the wonderful Samsung S-Pen, which is included with the tablet, is as good as it gets – I like it even as much as the Apple, Microsoft, or Wacom styluses.

The Samsung S-Pen flows smoothly and lightly across the S8+ display, with just the right tactile feedback for control and detail, and feels amazing in my hand. And the touch sensitivity and tilt control are accurate, reliable, and natural – a nearly perfect pen for art!

Remember, this is a fairly high-end Android tablet, which means that even the most powerful and advanced graphic, video, and animation programs will run on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ with no problem, as will any other Android app.

And with the optional Bookcover Keyboard it becomes an even more powerful all-around tablet.

So please don’t disregard the Android operating system when choosing your art tablet!

Windows offers more powerful software, and the iPads are maybe a bit more intuitive for artists and also offer superior software. Still, an Android drawing tablet has its own charms – they’re affordable, easy to use, surprisingly sensitive and precise, and have a wide range of often totally free software.

And especially this wonderful Samsung Galaxy S8+, which is easily the Best Standalone Android Tablet, and a premium, powerful, and high-quality product in every way.

Pros & Cons of Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

ProsCons
➕ Bright display➖ The Android platform just doesn’t have the most powerful digital drawing software, which is a big minus for me and one of the reasons why I chose the iPad Pro above
➕ Comes with the excellent Samsung S-Pen
➕ Easy to use and intuitive interface
➕ Strong and durable, and looks and feels beautiful
➕ Comes with lots of free and inexpensive software
➕ Superb pen to screen experience, with great expressivity and precision
➕ Great value – not cheap, but superb for the price
➕ Excellent battery life

Specifications of Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Professional Artist Pick – Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13

Professional Pick
Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 with Wacom Pro Pen 2

Best Professional Standalone Drawing Tablet

13.3 Inch WQHD Touchscreen Display :: Intel Core i7 :: 16GB RAM upgradeable :: 512GB SSD upgradeable :: Professional artists' choice :: Windows 10 :: Early 2020 model

The bigger model is Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

Get it on Amazon

Arguably the finest art tablet in the world and inarguably the most expensive tablet in my guide for the best standalone graphics tablets for artists, the Mobile Studio Pro comes from Wacom, the industry leader and the number one choice of artists professionals.

This pricey tablet is a full Windows 10 computer, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 above. It is even more sensitive, with a better and more precise display, a higher quality, more accurate and natural pen, and many features designed specifically for professional artists and illustrators, fine artists, animators, and designers.

And Wacom does know artists and their needs and has done for more than thirty-five years.

One feature that makes a big difference is how this MobileStudio Pro has the glass as close to the surface as possible, meaning that there is much less gap between where I draw and where the image actually appears.

A fast, ultra-high resolution display that is the most uniform I have ever seen – completely consistent color depth, illumination, and geometry from edge to edge – greatly improved my work.

Not only did it show me my work immediately and perfectly, but it also let me know of things I did not consider, about color balance, composition and detail, flow and feeling, and much more.

The pen is incredible. Not only does the image appear right where I want it, but it also appears immediately, with no delay whatsoever. And the tilt and pressure sensitivity control is truly on a new level. Plus, it feels good and natural in hand.

I could mention all kinds of technical things about graphics processors, processing speed, upgrade options, Adobe RGB coverage, and the like, but evaluating the best art graphics tablets always comes back to how they work and feel.

And in the time I had with the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13, I kept forgetting about it. That’s kind of the best compliment I could give it. I fell completely into the work in a very short time, and the tablet simply disappeared.

The best build quality, the finest display, pen and interface, incredible fidelity on many different levels, and an artist-centered intuitive look and feel allow you to reach the highest levels and drawing experience possible.

I understand why this is the real choice for so many professional artists and studios worldwide. Nothing I have ever seen or used compares.

The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13 is the best tablet for artists. I know I should be careful, or my iPad will hear me! It’s ok, though – I will not give up my Apple for this Wacom – remarkable tool that it is – because the iPad is also extremely high quality and high precision tool that works even more intuitively with me and my own process.

But I do not doubt that the Wacom is the best choice for any professional who needs to work on the very highest levels, any artist who wants to see and feel more when creating digital art, any independently wealthy beginner who wants to grow as an artist without the chance that their tablet may eventually hold them back.

And so the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13” Drawing Tablet is my choice for Best Standalone Drawing Tablet Designed for Artists on the market today.

Pros & Cons of Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

ProsCons
➕ Incredibly sharp, bright, and contrasty screen➖ It is quite expensive – however, if you are serious about your art career and/or art business, it is a great investment and pays for itself many times over!
➕ Superior color accuracy and range
➕ Comes with the superb Wacom digital pen
➕ Perfect screen-to-pen interaction
➕ Fast, powerful processor and graphics processor
➕ Plenty of upgradeable RAM and storage
➕ Professional-level build and very high reliability

Specifications of Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13

Apple Budget Pick – Apple iPad Air

Affordable Pick
NEW Apple iPad Air (10.9″, WiFi, 256GB)

Best iPad for drawing and Procreate if you are on a budget or you are a student / beginner

Latest M1 processor :: 10.9-inch liquid retina display for superior color, contrast, brightness :: Light & extremely strong :: Premium fit & finish :: Up to 10 hours battery life :: Early 2022 model

Get it on Amazon
My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Get it on Amazon

The choice for the best budget Apple tablet for artists is quite simple: the New Apple iPad Air (4th / fourth generation).

The iPad Air has a smaller screen than the iPad pro, that doesn’t reach to the edges or have quite the same “pop” factor (but then nothing else does either), but it is still brilliant, accurate, and highly attractive, with amazing detail, great brightness and contrast and excellent color accuracy, range and depth.

The iPad Air also has a slightly smaller storage capability, which means you can store less work on the tablet itself, and the processor is not as powerful or fast. Working on very large or complex graphics, there can be a difference.

This is still an Apple iPad, and the Air is a superb art tool and a great digital drawing tablet. And it has the same high-quality look and feels – thin, light, solid, and durable – a portable drawing tablet and art tool that you don’t mind carrying around.

With the same wide range of software available, the same famous premium Apple quality, and an ideal pen-to-screen interface – great flow, real control, completely natural and expressive – the iPad Air is a beautiful art tablet.

And remember that you have to get the superb Apple Pencil separately – I wouldn’t even consider any off-brand alternatives. The whole combo is still a genuine bargain!

Pros & Cons of the newest iPad Air 10.9″

ProsCons
➕ Superb Liquid Retina touchscreen display➖ It has a bit smaller screen. That said, I did start my iPad and Procreate journey with the now-discontinued iPad Pro 10.5″, and it was more than sufficient – especially for drawing on the go and while traveling
➕ Supports the highly sensitive and expressive Apple Pencil 2nd generation (sold separately)➖ It is slower and less powerful than the iPad Pro
➕ Procreate runs exclusively on Apple and works great on the iPad Air
➕ Intuitive and easy to use – like the greatest graphics tablets, the iPad Air just disappears!
➕ Amazing battery life
➕ Premium quality, fit, and finish

Specifications of Apple iPad Air 10.9″

Windows Budget Pick – Microsoft Surface Go 3

Affordable Pick
Microsoft Surface Go 3 Digital Tablet

Best Budget Windows Tablet for Artists

10.5 Inch PixelSense Touchscreen :: Intel Pentium Gold Processor :: 8GB RAM :: 128GB SSD storage :: Premium fit and finish :: Great surface for drawing :: Windows 11 :: Late 2021 model

Get it on Amazon
For Surface Tablets
Surface Slim Pen 2

Pressure sensitivity (4,096 Levels) and Tilt recognition :: Perfect weight and balance for drawing :: Haptic support :: Digital eraser :: Compatible with a wide range of Surface models

Get it on Amazon

In the Windows world, the best budget tablet choice is also a no-brainer – the brilliant little Microsoft Surface Go 3 digital tablet.

I say “little,” but the 10.5-inch screen feels quite big, largely because of its great resolution, contrast, and brightness, which make everything so easy to see and work on.

With the Microsoft Surface Pen (which must be purchased separately), you have a truly top-notch drawing and painting experience – essentially the same as even the most expensive Microsoft Surface tablets, with amazing feeling, flow, and control, and a kind of trouble-free creativity that lets you fully fall into the zone.

In fact, given the beautiful material and build quality, and superb overall design, the Microsoft Go 3 is so much like the more expensive Microsoft products that it doesn’t feel at all like a “budget” choice and is only belied by less memory and storage and slightly slower overall performance.

An amazing full-function personal computer at a very low price that also happens to be a highly talented art tablet, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is an easy choice for the best budget Windows tablet for artists!

Pros & Cons of Microsoft Surface Go 3

ProsCons
➕ Bright, sharp, and accurate PixelSense touchscreen display➖ Smaller screen
➕ The Microsoft Surface Pen, which you can buy separately, is excellent for painting and drawing➖ Slower and less powerful than the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 above
➕ Great art software available
➕ Superb material and build quality
➕ Amazing battery life
➕ Great personal computer as well, so you can use it in your art business

Specifications of Microsoft Surface Go 3

Android Budget Pick – Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Affordable Pick
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Best Budget Android Tablet for Artists

Beautiful 10.4 Inch TFT WUXQA Touchscreen :: 2000 x 1200px :: 4GB RAM :: 128GB Storage :: Exynos 9611 processor & Mali-G72 Graphics :: Great Work Surface for Drawing :: Includes S-Pen :: Android 10

Get it on Amazon

Are you starting to see a pattern here? The best budget alternative to the Apple iPad Pro is the lovely iPad Air, the best alternative to the superlative Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the Surface Go 3…

And the best budget alternative to the powerful Samsung S8+ is, yes, another Samsung!

I can easily recommend one of several art-focused standalone Android tablets, all very affordable, like the super-cheap and super-portable Simbans Picasso Tab 10, which would make a fine choice and a nice art tool.

But while it’s not the cheapest standalone drawing tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is just as affordable as any of these, even more portable, and for my money, higher quality on all fronts.

And it has the enormous advantage of coming with the amazing Samsung S-Pen digital stylus.

Surprisingly, the work surface of the Galaxy S6 Lite is just as optimal as any of those Android tablets meant specifically for drawing and painting – even though the Samsung is a general-purpose Android tablet – and the S-Pen, with its full pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition and its great weight and balance in hand is the best of the lot.

Android software isn’t as advanced as Apple or Windows art programs, but it is getting better every day, and there are some pretty powerful apps now – not to mention more and more web-based drawing and painting programs.

If you want the best budget Android tablet for painting and drawing, regardless of other factors, or if you are simply looking for a great Android tablet for general use that will also offer the best imaginable creative experience, either way, the choice is the same.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 6 Lite is a very high-quality product in the Samsung tradition, with superior material quality, fit, finish, and overall reliability, and is a wonderful digital tablet for all uses – especially for making art!

Pros & Cons of Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

ProsCons
➕ Sharp display screen➖ Much slower and less powerful than the Samsung S8 series above
➕ Comes with the superb Samsung S Pen➖ The screen has less resolution – though excellent at this price
➕ Light, strong and attractive➖ Android doesn’t have as good of art software as Apple or Windows
➕ Android platform has lots of free apps available
➕ Excellent all-around tablet and art tablet
➕ Very good battery life
➕ Very easy to use

Specifications of Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

How This Guide to Standalone Art Tablets Works

I’m not trying to resolve the endless Apple-Windows debate – I am an Apple iPad and MacBook gal, but I can see both sides. 

I also know artists using Android drawing tablets, and their somewhat less powerful art software, with pretty amazing results.

So instead, I am looking, as impartially as possible, at six different categories:

I call upon my experience and feedback from other artists, friends, colleagues, and students to find the best choice in each category. 

I chose based on what happened and how I felt when I made art on this or that particular standalone drawing tablet.

If you know you want an Apple iPad, if you’ve already settled on a Windows graphics tablet, or if you’re sure an Android machine is best for you, you can be confident that the featured product on this buyer’s guide will be a perfect choice. 

And even if you are on a pretty serious budget, you will still find an amazing art tool in the picks below that you will be thrilled to have and use. 

Each of my recommendations will work wonderfully for you as an artist and offer the best value, quality, and reliability. You can be sure that any one of them will be a wonderful and valuable art tool and a constant and trusted companion.

Is a Standalone Drawing Tablet Good For Any Type of Artist?

Yes, even traditional artists, used to working with pen and ink, pastels, pencils, or paint, find that good quality true standalone drawing tablets.

Screens you can work directly on can offer such a natural and intuitive work process that it becomes their go-to tool – or at least a perfectly satisfying alternative to paper or canvas, one they use without feeling they are missing anything.

This may be surprising to hear, and it certainly surprises many artists who have been highly resistant to the idea of making art on a screen, but that is just how good these amazing little gadgets can be.

Especially with the newest models of art tablets, the beauty of the display screen, the speed and flawless flow of the processors, and the feeling of the digital stylus on the drawing surface are phenomenal, and the right tablet can take your work to the next level!

Believe me – I have seen that look in an artist’s eye more than once: a friend or colleague, venturing into a computer shop with me, idly picks up a sensitive high-tech stylus, starts dabbing at a remarkably bright and accurate hi-res screen, and is instantly converted.

Within minutes they are making beautiful images that are amazingly close to the artist’s own style – even if the person has never before ventured into computers much more deeply than checking email or putting a red seven on a black eight.

And, speaking of “any type of artist,” it should be said that great drawing tablets don’t need to be expensive, and there are great choices for even the most budget-conscious artist. My picks for the best digital art tablets will include all levels, from super-affordable to super-premium.

Do Drawing Tablets Need a Computer?

You’ll notice that I keep saying “true standalone drawing tablet,” and there is a good reason for this. 

In this article, listing the best true standalone drawing tablets available on the market today, I am concentrating on drawing tablets that don’t need a computer to work.

Many really fine drawing tablets out there – some with display screens and others without – are not standalone devices. 

They do not come with, and cannot run, art software but act like a keyboard or a mouse, with a nice work surface and a special stylus. The computer runs the drawing, painting, or other art software, and you use the tablet – which may or may not have its own display screen – to draw on.

These are amazing and useful tools, but they are not standalone tablets and need a computer, and lots and lots of people have purchased such a drawing tablet and been surprised and disappointed that they can’t sit on the bus or train, in a park or a cafe, and just paint.

Standalone drawing tablets are different. 

They are computers, so they run all your art software – drawing and painting programs, drafting and CAD software, animation, 3D modeling – anything you need to create an image. 

They have bright, beautiful screens, and the way the stylus, or pen, works on the screen tends to be very sensitive and subtle so that your own style can easily come through.

And they work by themselves, with no computer needed – so if you’re on a park bench or a bus bench – or anywhere else – you can create to your art’s content.

Do I Need to Get a Separate Stylus, Pencil, or Pen?

I have noticed that many people shopping for a standalone art tablet want it all in one package – including the tablet and the pen – so they know they have everything they need.

And this is a great approach, which several tablet manufacturers have taken – the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+, and others – but it isn’t the only way.

Some of the best art tablets you can get don’t come pre-packaged with a digital stylus, pencil, or pen, which you must purchase separately. This includes Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface tablets.

Almost always, I recommend just getting the pen from the same company – that is, the Microsoft or Apple pen made for their tablets – and in each case, I include links for the correct pen or pencil.

So yeah, it is nice and convenient to get everything in one package, but please don’t disregard some of the best choices just because you have to click a second time!

Two Basic Types of Standalone Drawing Tablets

There are two general types of drawing tablets, App-based and Full-software:

App-based Standalone Drawing Tablets

These include Apple iPad and Android tablets.

What makes these slightly less desirable to some people is that they do not run such a wide range of software, and the software they can run tends to be less powerful.

Apple iPads, for example, cannot run the same range of software as Apple desktop or laptop computers. 

While many of the same programs are available, they are simplified and less powerful versions.

And Androids have less powerful processors than normal computers, and while they have tons and tons of software available – so much of it free – these programs also tend to be less features rich.

So why are they still popular among serious professional artists, amateurs, and beginners?

On all levels, an app-based tablet can still be a powerful tool for artists and a great portable computer!

Apple iPads are especially incredibly powerful for art and creativity, with top-level software like Procreate and the Adobe Creative Cloud apps.

And Androids are getting increasingly powerful, too – like the phenomenal, brand-new Samsung S8 series.

Full-software Standalone Drawing Tablets

These are essentially full-fledged, full-power computers. 

These are Windows 10 or Windows 11-based standalone drawing tablets, which can run the entire range of Windows software – including the best art programs from Adobe, Krita, Corel and more.

Although many artists work with and love Apple products, there are many reasons why more and more artists are turning to Windows-based machines.

If you get the best full-software drawing tablet, like a Wacom MobileStudio Pro or a Microsoft Surface, you have a fully professional art tool that is optimal for drawing and painting – and a joy to use – and a normal, full-function portable personal computer as well.

FAQs – Best Standalone Drawing Tablets

What drawing tablet can I use without a computer?

You need a standalone drawing tablet to draw on your tablet without a computer. There are app-based standalone drawing tablets, such as Apple iPad Pro, and software-based standalone drawing tablets, such as Wacom MobileStudio Pro.

Can the Wacom One be used without a computer?

No, Wacom One can’t be used without a computer. The only Wacom tablets that don’t need a computer are Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13 and MobileStudio Pro 16.

Do all art tablets need a computer?

No, not all art tablets need a computer. Standalone art tablets, such as Apple iPad Pro and Wacom MobileStudio Pro, have their own operating systems and can run the art programs independently.

Does Huion have a standalone tablet?

Yes, Huion makes one standalone art tablet at this point, the Huion Kamvas Studio 22.

Does XP-Pen have a standalone tablet?

No, XP-Pen doesn’t make a standalone tablet at the time of writing.

Conclusion: What Makes the Best Standalone Drawing Tablet

I was a little worried about putting together an artists’ guide for the best drawing tablets since I am just not that fussed about specifications, technical innovations, and performance numbers. 

Looking over so many other websites, it seems like all I saw was technical jargon and numbers.

Then I realized that’s exactly why I should put together this guide for the best standalone drawing tablets for artists on the market today – and I should make more guides in the future.

You can get tech specs anywhere – the most reliable on manufacturers’ websites. 

But in my mind, those numbers are only important in how they serve me as an artist.

Knowing a screen’s resolution is interesting, but knowing how my work in progress looks on that screen is important. 

Knowing processing speed may be valuable, but knowing if the drawing tablet will interrupt me when I’m in the zone is crucial.

I have ultimately based my seven choices on how these tablets felt in my hands, how they registered my actions and showed me the results, and how I felt using them. 

Did they support and enhance my creative process or interrupt and bring me back into my head? 

Did they at any point disappear, leaving just me and my work?

As an artist, I know that any of these choices would be great for other artists. 

If money is no object, if you are an Apple or Windows person, if you prefer Android, if you are just starting out or have a limited budget, any one of my choices will become a trusted and beloved tool that will support you, and maybe even bring you to new levels of inspiration, creativity, and craft.

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Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 La meilleure tablette graphique nomade en 2022

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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