Best Stylus for Drawing in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Aug 31, 2022 •  Guides

Some questions I hear from fellow artists and art students are about drawing styluses and drawing pens for tablets.

Specifically, what is the best stylus pen for drawing on a tablet, and what can I use as a drawing stylus? So let’s have a look!

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Top 4 Drawing Styluses Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite drawing stylus pencils. Find more picks in the overview below, including styluses for Microsoft, Android standalone tablets, and pen displays from Wacom, Huion, and Chromebooks.

My Pick
Alternative Pick
Value Pick
Also Great
Description:

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)

Description:

With Palm Rejection, Pressure Sensitivity, Support Tilt Stylus for iPad Air 4th/3rd gen, iPad Mini 6th/5th gen, iPad 9th/8th/7th/6th gen, iPad Pro 11/12.9" (2018-2021) with iOS 12.2 and above

Description:

Rechargeable battery; Dual Tip Stylus; Tilt Recognition and Palm Rejection; Automatic Pairing

Compatible with: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Gen 3,4 & 5), 11-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air (10.9-inch), 10.2-inch iPad, 9.7-inch iPad, iPad mini (Gen 5)

Description:

For iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (3rd & 4th Gen), iPad Pro 11-Inch (1st & 2nd), iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th gen), iPad Air (3rd, 4th, 5th gen), iPad Mini 5, iOS 12.2 and above

My Pick
Description:

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)

Alternative Pick
Description:

With Palm Rejection, Pressure Sensitivity, Support Tilt Stylus for iPad Air 4th/3rd gen, iPad Mini 6th/5th gen, iPad 9th/8th/7th/6th gen, iPad Pro 11/12.9" (2018-2021) with iOS 12.2 and above

Value Pick
Description:

Rechargeable battery; Dual Tip Stylus; Tilt Recognition and Palm Rejection; Automatic Pairing

Compatible with: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Gen 3,4 & 5), 11-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air (10.9-inch), 10.2-inch iPad, 9.7-inch iPad, iPad mini (Gen 5)

Also Great
Description:

For iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (3rd & 4th Gen), iPad Pro 11-Inch (1st & 2nd), iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th gen), iPad Air (3rd, 4th, 5th gen), iPad Mini 5, iOS 12.2 and above

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Stylus Pens for Drawing in 2022

Best Artist Stylus Pen for iPad

Apple Pencil

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
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

Far and away the best artist stylus for iPads, and in my mind the best artist stylus period, the Apple Pencil feels wonderful in hand — natural and comfortable, with just enough heft and a premium quality feel — and flows perfectly on the iPad screen.

Plus, performance is flawless and expressive control — including pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection —  is completely dependable and consistent.

While the newest 2nd generation offers some benefits — especially wireless charging — please be aware that it is compatible with only a few latest iPad Pro and Air models with the newest screen technologies.

Anyway, whether 1st or 2nd generation, this is the best art pencil for an iPad you can get, and in my mind, the best art stylus on the market today.

Alternative to Apple Pencil

Alternative Pick
Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil

With Palm Rejection, Pressure Sensitivity, Support Tilt Stylus for iPad Air 4th/3rd gen, iPad Mini 6th/5th gen, iPad 9th/8th/7th/6th gen, iPad Pro 11/12.9" (2018-2021) with iOS 12.2 and above

Get it on Amazon

The Adonit Note Plus is one of the best art styluses for any more recent iPad and the best alternative to the Apple Pencil.

The Note Plus offers pressure sensitivity (2,048 levels), tilt recognition, palm rejection, and two programmable function keys. It uses a direct interface and Bluetooth pairing (for the pressure sensitivity), works flawlessly, feels great in hand and on the screen, and has an overall premium quality feel.

Please note, though, that this is only for NEWER iPad Pro and Air models — the same compatibility as the Apple Pencil 2 above. If you have any other iPad model, I would just stick with the Apple Pencil generation 1.

Before we move on, I think the Wacom Bamboo Tip stylus is worth mentioning since many blogs and guides recommend it as the best Apple Pencil alternative.

Well, it isn’t — I love Wacom products, but this particular stylus is not up to snuff — reported quality control issues, low battery life, less pressure sensitivity, and much more expensive than the Apple Pencil. If you have a Wacom tablet, their styluses are the best and only choice, but in this case Apple for Apple.

Best Artist Stylus for Windows 10/11 Tablets

This is all just a big hot mess! Wacom, Huion, and Microsoft Surface — are all great art tablets for Windows 10 users, and all have their own nicely controllable and expressive art styluses but no incompatibility. So, if you are going to use Wacom, you need a Wacom stylus and the same with the Surface or the others. 

The Huion tablets — like the wonderful and affordable Huion Kamvas Pro 22, Huion Kamvas Pro 16 or Huion Kamvas Pro 13 — come with a fine digital pencil, so we won’t include them here.

And, if you need to replace your Huion Kamvas stylus, just stick with the original — Huion PW507 Battery-Free Stylus or Huion PW500 Battery-Free Stylus (see compatibility below).

Huion PW507 Battery-Free Stylus

Replacement Battery-Free Stylus Pen compatible with Huion Kamvas Pro 12/13/16/20, Kamvas 16 2019 and Kamvas 20



Buy Now on Amazon
Huion PW500 Battery-Free Stylus

Replacement Battery-Free Stylus Pen compatible with Huion Kamvas Pro 20/22, Kamvas GT-191V2 and Inspiroy Q11KV2 / WH1409V2


Buy Now on Amazon

But the Wacom and Surface don’t, so let’s consider the best stylus you can get for either of these premium art tablets.

Best Artist Stylus for Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface Pen

For Surface Tablets
Microsoft Surface Pen

For Surface Pro 8, 7, 6 Surface Laptop 3 Surface Book 2 Laptop 2 Surface Go Studio 2 Pro 5 Pro 4 | 4096 Pressure Points | Different colors


Buy Now on Amazon
New Microsoft Surface Slim Pen

Sketch, shade, and paint with artistic precision and exceptional control with 4, 096 pressure points

Compatible with the New Microsoft Surface Pro X



Buy Now on Amazon

The best all-around pen you can get for a Microsoft Surface, the Surface Pen is smooth and expressive, incredibly controllable and precise, and very high quality, with a great feel in your hand and a great flow on the surface of the Surface.

There’s a lot of confusion about this pencil since, online, it is listed several times and with different model numbers and descriptions. To make things simpler, I include two links, both for the latest 4th generation Surface Pen — they will both lead to the exact same product, but with different colors (no, really, honestly, I have no idea why…).

They have the same retail price, so please check both links to find the color you want and see if one is more discounted than the other.

Either way, you are getting the best basic pen for the Surface, or for lots of other Windows 10 tablets, in its latest incarnation.

And now there is the Surface Slim Pen, and though the original Surface Pen was already excellent, and this pen costs quite a bit more, I have to say it is worth it, and even if you already have the first, you might well consider the upgrade.

The Slim Pen feels fantastic in hand, smaller and more natural, with the same great premium feeling. But most importantly, the Slim Pen has a built-in rechargeable battery, as opposed to the AAAA (was that enough A’s?) battery life in the original Microsoft Pen, and the Slim is rechargeable wirelessly.

Other than that, as far as I know, they perform exactly the same, with incredible control and responsiveness, and have the same nice programmable function key.

However, if you are getting a new Microsoft Surface Pro X, you will need the newer Slim Pen since the first gen is incompatible.

Alternative to Microsoft Surface Pens

RENAISSER Stylus for Surface Tablets

4096 Pressure Sensitivity, 100% Match Surface Pro X/7/6/5 Magnetic Attachment, First D Shape Body, Quick Charge, Rechargeable, Raphael 520


Get it on Amazon

While the Renaisser Stylus doesn’t feel quite as good in the hand as the Microsoft Surface Pen, it is a great basic stylus with full pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and a rechargeable battery that prolongs the battery life for a third of the price.

It is also a high-quality product overall, which seems like it would work reliably for a long time. Rechargeable via USB, the Renaisser Stylus also magnetically attaches to your Surface.

Best Artist Stylus for Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom Pro Pen Slim

Wacom Pro Pen Slim

Compatible with Wacom MobileStudio Pro, Wacom Cintiq Pro and Wacom Intuits Pro

8192 levels of pressure sensitivity

Tilt-response and virtually lag-free tracking



Get it on Amazon

An extraordinary artist stylus, with the very highest levels of sensitivity and control (an astounding 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, for example) in a perfect size, like a paintbrush or good artist’s pencil — the Slim has the best feeling in the hand of any pen I have ever used.

Even artists I know with much bigger palms agree. Flow is perfect, without any lag, and the feeling on the screen is the ideal balance between flowing and controlled.

The perfect pen is battery-free — and no, I am not feeling pen envy; I’m perfectly happy with my Apple!

Wacom Pro Pen 2 (Alternative)

Wacom Pro Pen 2 with Case

Compatible with Wacom Intuos Pro, Wacom Cintiq, Pro, Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Features 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity


Get it on Amazon

Wacom Pro Pen styluses are so great that the only really meaningful alternative to a Wacom Pro Pen is another Wacom Pro Pen. In this case, the standard Pro Pen 2 still has the incredible 8,192 levels of sensitivity, the programmable keys, battery-free operation (with long battery life), and overall superb feeling and flow — yes, I prefer the Slim.

Still, if you like a little more heft, this is the best Wacom stylus.

Wacom Pro Pen 3D (Alternative)

Wacom Pro Pen 3D

Compatible with Wacom Mobile Studio Pro, Wacom Cintiq Pro or Wacom Intuos Pro (2017 model) and with any Windows or Mac application

Three fully customizable pen buttons let you tumble objects, pan, zoom, model, sculpt or modify creative tools in 3D and 2D applications



Get it on Amazon

Very similar to the above Wacom Pro Pens, but specially engineered for 3D rendering.

Best Artist Stylus for Android Tablets

Here we are in another tricky area, and it may be better to just recommend the best Android tablets for artists on the market today — the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ (or you can check out my article Best Android Tablet for Drawing), with which you don’t ever have to worry about styluses, since it comes with the wonderful Samsung S Pen. 

Because, you see, other than the S Pen (which only works with Samsungs), there aren’t a lot of really worthwhile artist stylus for Android tablets. If you are using a Huawei, a Lenovo, an Amazon Fire, etc, you will have to turn to an aftermarket stylus.

Currently, there are no Bluetooth styluses for Android, meaning no sensitivity, tilt recognition, or palm rejection (for the best drawing glove, which will help with palm rejection, see the Bonus section at the end).

Now that I have you all worried and discouraged, if you still want to use an Android tablet for art, I would recommend the following styluses, which will offer the best performance and reliability you can get, as well as the best feeling overall. These are all basic capacitive types, but remember that you can still control line thickness, darkness, and intensity in almost any art app — even freeware — so all is not lost!

Adonit Dash 3 Universal Stylus

Rechargeable Active Fine Point Digital Pens Compatible with Most Capacitive iPhone and Android Touch Screens Cell Phones, iPad, Tablets, Laptops.


Get it on Amazon
MEKO Active Digital Stylus Pen

Universal Fiber Tip (1.6mm Fine Tip) 2-in-1 for Drawing and Handwriting Compatible with Apple Pen iPad iPhone and Andriod Touchscreen Cellphones, Tablets


Get it on Amazon

Two more options, if you want to make great art on the Android platform, are to get a good dedicated art tablet that will also run all other Android software — like the remarkably inexpensive and fully capable Simbans PicassoTab  — or a great display tablet (a drawing tablet with its own screen that will plug into your Android phone or tablet, allowing you to draw and paint with incredible precision) — like the amazing Wacom One Digital Drawing Tablet.

Best Artist USI Chromebook Stylus

As our final stop in my guide to the best artist styluses, we will look at the best digital pen for Chromebook.

The situation with Chromebook is not that different from what we find with Android, except for the promise of USI — remember USI, the Universal Stylus Initiative? Chromebook seems to be taking to this initiative more than any other personal computer or operating system.

If you are sure that your Chromebook is USI compatible, well, everything is all hunky-dory — you can select the best USI styluses on the market today, and have full creative control, a great feel and flow:

HP Premium Rechargeable USI Stylus Pen for Chromebook

Compatible with HP USI Chromebook and USI-supported devices

USI Compatible Stylus; Includes Pen and 2 Replacement Tips; USB Cable; Rechargeable; 1.6mm fiber tip


Buy Now on Amazon

The finest and best feeling digital pen for Chromebooks, the HP feels just right in hand, with nice heft and solidity, has not just full creative control but real precision and reliability, and allows any artist to fall completely into the zone.

A truly premium product and my strongest recommendation.

Also Great
Penoval USI Chromebook Stylus Pen

Wide compatibility :: 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity :: Palm rejection :: Including AAAA battery & spare tip

Get it on Amazon

A basic art digital stylus pen for Chromebook, the Penoval does not have a programmable button or an eraser.

Still, it does offer full creative control, including 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, feels great in hand and on the screen, and is a well-made and reliable product.

Now, if your Chromebook is not USI compatible, you can still use it for digital art and work at the highest level — it’s just like the situation with Android, in that you will need to adjust things like brightness, intensity, and size on the app instead of doing it more intuitively with the movement of the stylus.

This also means that you can use a good, inexpensive capacitive stylus with great success, and I will make the same recommendations as I did for Android tablets:

Best Drawing Glove for a Tablet

  1. Parblo Two-Finger Glove
  2. Parblo Two-Finger Glove

    For Graphics Drawing Tablet, Light Box, Tracing Light Pad


    Get it on Amazon
  3. Articka Artist Glove for Drawing Tablets
  4. Articka Artist Glove for Drawing Tablets

    iPad (Smudge Guard, Two-Finger, Reduces Friction, Elastic Lycra, Good for Right and Left Hand)


    Get it on Amazon
  5. Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablets
  6. Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablets

    One Size, Good for Right Hand or Left Hand

    Get it on Amazon
  7. Mudder Thickened Artist Glove for Tablets
  8. Mudder Thickened Artist Glove for Tablets

    Drawing Glove for Graphic Tablet, Art Creation and iPad Pro Pencil

    Get it on Amazon

If you are using a high-quality digital art tablet, like an iPad, a Surface, a Wacom ProStudio, or something similar, you do not need a drawing glove for the all-important function of palm rejection (the feature which allows you to rest your palm on the screen while drawing, painting, retouching or writing without leaving a palm-print or smudging your work) because your stylus and software will take care of it.

So why do you see so many digital artists still wearing drawing gloves when they work?

It’s all about feeling, I think, and I know that when I am in the zone, the creative energy is flowing.

The images are appearing almost as if by magic on the screen in front of me, I love the feeling that there are no problems, no blips, no lags, no snags, no anything to snap me out.

And a big part of this is the physical smoothness, the near-frictionless flow of the stylus and my hand across the screen. In both cases — the pen nib and my palm — I want enough physical feedback and the slightest friction to have control and precision, but I never want even that tiniest degree of too much friction to the point where my motion slows or gets stuck.

That is one of the most important things the best art styluses do for an artist, and it’s also what the best drawing gloves can offer.

When they are made of good material, designed well, and made well, the best drawing gloves can greatly ensure and even improve an artist’s working flow.

And, of course, if you use a basic capacitive pen, they still prevent palm prints and smudging while drawing or painting.

I’ve tried a bunch of them, and there are many good ones. The ones above are a few of my favorite drawing gloves, which will work on either hand, are flexible and comfortable, won’t harm your precious tablet’s screen, and glide perfectly across the surface.

Question of Compatibility

Some of the questions artists frequently ask me are:

The compatibility question is a bit sticky, and there doesn’t seem to be one single buyer’s guide out there that cuts through it all and helps find the best artist pencils for all the various tablets —  Apple, Windows, Android, and Chromebook.

One thing is sure, as things stand now, digital styluses, stylus pens, and pencils are not very cross-compatible. To understand why you will need to understand two main criteria for choosing a drawing stylus and the four types of stylus pens. 

Main Criteria for Choosing an Artist Stylus

For full creative control and expressivity, and to fall fully into that zone and flow in which the best work can happen, the best pens for artist tablets need to do three things.

And they need to do them automatically and intuitively, without any thought or fiddling on the part of the artist:

Tilt Recognition

Just like with a good graphite artist pencil, the angle of your stylus will determine the thickness of your line — crucial for shading, cross-hatching, detail, and, well, drawing…

Pressure Sensitivity

Simply, when you press harder with the stylus, the line, shape, or whatever you’re making gets darker or more intense, and when you pull up and apply less pressure, it gets lighter or softer. 

Palm Rejection

It keeps your palm from leaving big blobs all over the artwork — not that your, or my palm is particularly big :).

This is, for some, less important, as they don’t ever let their palm touch the screen anyway — just like they wouldn’t rest their palm on paper or canvas — but it’s nice to have just in case.

Four Types of Styluses

Capacitive (Passive Stylus)

This is the cheapest, basic stylus, just a plastic or metal stick with a rubber nib.

The capacitive stylus does the same thing your finger does and does not offer any real expressive control other than making lines, dots, and, more often than not, odd blobs — no tilt recognition, no pressure sensitivity, and no palm rejection.

If you use a capacitive stylus, it’s good to get one with a fine tip, and remember that you will need to stop drawing and use the software controls to change line thickness and darkness, and use a good drawing glove to prevent palm prints (see the section at the end for the best drawing gloves for artists).

Dedicated (Active Stylus)

A stylus with all of the great features, like pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection, and meant for a specific tablet, like an iPad or a Microsoft Surface, but not cross-compatible — like the Apple Pencil, which works fully with an iPad but not a Microsoft Surface or Wacom tablet.

You can use one with the other. Still, you won’t have the basic control and features so important to artists — tilt recognition, pressure sensitivity, and palm rejection — just like using a basic (and much cheaper) capacitive stylus.

Bluetooth (Active Stylus)

This makes sense since all tablets will have Bluetooth, yet the execution and usability leave something to be desired.

Specifically, while Bluetooth pencils aim for fairly universal compatibility and have all the niceties — tilt recognition, pressure sensitivity, and palm rejection — they don’t always perform so nicely.

Lags and lack of accuracy can snap an artist out of the flow again and again, and they count on the digital art software to be able to recognize them and their features. There are a few very good ones, though, which can be less expensive than Apple or Microsoft styluses.

USI (Active Stylus)

A new initiative called USI — or Universal Stylus Initiative — aims to have only one type of stylus for all tablets and other touch screens, be they Apple, Windows, Android, Chromebook, or anything else.

But it is still a ways off, and as of right now, only Chrome OS devices seem to be on board. This is probably the way forward, but now it is still pretty much every platform for itself, and, as we know, Apple is not always so open to universal compatibility of any sort, so wait and see.

In the distant future, there may be a great active stylus that works perfectly, with full functionality, with all different tablets and operating systems.

Though not yet — for now, if you have an iPad, you should look at styluses designed for and compatible with iPads, and likewise for Windows tablets, Android tablets, and Chromebooks, or the few Bluetooth styluses that work well.

How Can You Find the Best Artist Stylus for Your Tablet?

I will make a fairly bold suggestion here — no matter how cheap they are and how snazzy some of them look, you should not consider a basic capacitive stylus, and I am not going to recommend them (except in the Android and Chromebook sections).

They just don’t offer the three basic important features for full expressive control while you’re working, so they aren’t right for artists. 

If you do want the best capacitive stylus, though, it is probably the Meko Fine Tip Universal Stylus, which has a great feel, a very fine precision tip, and will work with any touchscreen — just remember that you don’t have pressure sensitivity,  tilt recognition or palm rejection.

If you want the best stylus for your own tablet, with all the features, expressive controls, and a great creative flow, go to the correct section above and find a few perfect choices.

FAQs – Best Stylus for Drawing

Which stylus is best for drawing?

The best stylus for drawing is one that supports pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection. You can choose a dedicated or “branded” active stylus specifically created for a brand of tablet, e.g., Apple Pencil for iPad. Or a Bluetooth active stylus, an alternative to a branded stylus, for example, Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil for iPad.

What is the best digital pencil?

Based on my experience drawing on different tablets, I think the best digital pencil is Apple Pencil 2nd generation for iPad because its pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection are second to none, and it is reliable and consistent. It just feels completely natural!

What is the difference between stylus pens?

There are four types of stylus pens. 1. Capacitative passive stylus – the most basic stylus without any useful functionality for the artists; 2. Dedicated active stylus – these are styluses specifically for iPads, and Surface and Samsung drawing tablets with pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection; 3. Bluetooth active stylus – same as dedicated styluses above, they have all the necessary features and aim to be cross-compatible, which doesn’t always work out; and 4. USI active stylus – a new tech initiative aiming to create ultimate cross-compatible styles which currently work only for Chromebooks.

I hope my guide helped you to get your new drawing stylus, and you will have a lot of fun drawing and painting on your tablet.

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and other resources.

Other articles in the drawing tablets series:

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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