When I first heard that Adobe had released a version of Photoshop CC for iOS (the operating system for iPhones and iPads) I was very excited, and got the idea to write an article recommending the best graphics tablet for Photoshop and the best tablet for photo editing for the artists – and not just for Apples, but those other systems as well… uhm… what were they again? ah yes! Windows and Android.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this article, while hopefully valuable in helping you choose your next graphics tablet, may also just be an excuse to talk about Photoshop itself, which for many years has been perhaps the most powerful graphics program available.
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And, far from being just for photographers, Photoshop can be extremely useful for digital artists, graphic designers, photo editors and fine artists as well.
In fact, I would say it’s almost indispensable.
So, first I will discuss in some length why I think Photoshop is such an important and special program.
And then I’ll mention a few great standalone drawing tablets which are really well suited for Photoshop and photo editing, in the three basic operating systems.
These graphics tablets will be reviewed in a little more detail below, but here are the choices:
Overview: The Best Tablets for Photoshop and Photo Editing in 2021
Can You Put Photoshop on a Tablet?
As you may have already noticed, these are all pretty serious machines, and all have fairly large screens.
But this is perfectly in keeping with this very serious software program – Photoshop is, again, quite possibly the most advanced graphics software there is, and allows such extreme levels of control, precision and professional standards that I would always want a machine which allows me to take advantage of all it can do.
And what can Photoshop do?
Can a digital artist use Photoshop?
Can a fine artist use Photoshop?
Is it good for a graphic artist too?
Is Photoshop CC useful for more than just editing photographs?
Yes! This absolutely amazing Adobe program can give an artist unprecedented control over every single aspect of an image – correction, repair, manipulation, value and range, size and scale and so much more.
Photoshop CC will let you work with existing artwork, merge multiple pieces of art together, merge art and photos, draw and trace from art or photos, and create mind-blowing collages.
So many artists today are learning how to use Photoshop for the most fine and detailed work on already created art pieces, and even using the program to create from a blank canvas.
I would still opt for Procreate, Affinity Designer or other software for new images, but I am not sure that will last – the more I use Photoshop CC (and, now on iPad, I use it more and more) the more I love it, and the more I realize what it can do, and just how powerful it can be.
Still, I am surprised at how many artists are not using Adobe Photoshop at all, and who assume it is really just for photographers.
It is, without a doubt, also the most advanced program for professional photographers, but let me talk a little bit about what I, as a digital artist, us Photoshop for.
But before we proceed, let’s be sure to mention that – as seems to be the way more and more – Photoshop CC is available now only on a subscription basis.
You can sign up, or just get more information, here.
What Can Photoshop do for Digital Artists?
As I said, I use Photoshop CC mostly for working on art I’ve already created, on other software or on traditional media. I use Photoshop for:
- Scanning and easily tracing existing images, or photos, using layers
- Making copies of traditional media art (ie paper, canvas) perfect, for portfolios or for sale
- Transforming photographs into graphic art pieces
- Merging photographs and digital art
- Combining multiple pieces of digital art
- Creating superb, professional-quality collages
- Photo editing
Using the Photoshop correction tools – like healing and cloning – on graphic images, for effect, to save time or to fix mistakes
- Analyzing colors and light – values, range and relationship
- Making extremely fine and precise adjustments to colors and light values
- Large scale color adjustment and shifts – either manual or automatic
- Extremely accurate and precise control of color and light on many levels
- Extremely fine and precise high resolution editing of images
- Various Cut, Paste and Combine functions
- Special effects – textures, fades, light and shadow, 3-D, perspective
- Photo editing
- Combining text and graphics
- Extremely sophisticated tools for alignment and relationship of objects
- Wide range of drawing, painting and other tools for image or object creation
- Optimizing images for web, for printing, for many other media and for industry standard compatibility
This is just off the top of my head, and must be a really incomplete list – I haven’t even mentioned 3D!
And, while Photoshop CC is much easier to use than people seem to think, it is an incredibly complex and full-function program, and I always feel I am just scratching the surface of its capabilities and how it could potentially help and support me as a professional artist.
How can Photoshop Help Me as a Professional Artist?
And that, to me, is one of the most important considerations, and perhaps the greatest value Photoshop offers. It is fully professional, and makes me and my work fully professional.
In allowing me access to a wide range of professional standards, for resolution, image size and document size, color values and systems, file type and compatibility, and so much more, Photoshop makes sure my work is fully up to, compatible with and acceptable to any professional client, publisher, website, other artist, printing service, studio, competition or submission process.
And in allowing me to work on the very highest level – the most flexible and exact adjustments of color, size, geometry, resolution; the finest and most precise control of elements; the most accurate representation of the work in progress or the finished piece, and so much more – the Photoshop software lets me be sure that every piece is not just as beautiful and fully realized as it could possibly be, but that the craft and quality is as high as it can possibly be.
Which is the Best Tablet for Photoshop and Photo Editing in 2021?
I’m sure that in the near future I will offer a more complete description and review of Photoshop CC – no doubt working both on my iPad Pro and on my MacBook Pro – but for now that’s enough ranting and raving about how wonderful it is.
Now we get back to our initial question – what is the best graphics tablet for Photoshop and the best tablet for photo editing from an artist’s perspective?
I will talk a little about each of my four choices, but let me say a couple of things first:
Size Does Matter! – To really take advantage of all of Photoshop’s top-level features, and to take your own work the the very highest level, you will want the biggest screen possible. The incredible precision you can realize, the resolution you can work with, the subtlety you can see and affect, the ease with which you can accomplish anything, these will all be geometrically increased as the screen gets larger.
Wacom Rules! – Ok, that one caught in my throat a little… I am, after all, an Apple Geek. But Wacom’s Pro Studio graphics tablets are extraordinary – resolution, control, accuracy and fidelity, durability, all of it. They were designed by artists and for artists, and are the most used graphics tablets (both standalone drawing tablet and plug-in pen tablet) amongst the very top tier of professionals.
And ultimately that’s what Photoshop is about, where it lives, what it does. It takes you, and your work, to the very highest levels. If you are a digital artist, you will be more attractive to clients, your work will be more valuable and effective, and your skills and capabilities will grow.
And if you are a fine artist, Photoshop will make you better. The levels you can reach – both in technique and craftsmanship – may require a finer word that “fine.”
Which Apple Tablet is Best for Photoshop in 2021?
I still feel guilty about saying Wacom is, ahem, better than Apple.
And maybe it isn’t – Apple is incredibly intuitive, and offers the finest consumer-level products I know of.
Ok, I feel better. And so, in keeping with our quest to fully realize all of the features and potential of Photoshop and photo editing, which Apple standalone drawing tablet would be the best choice for an artist?
Easy: the Apple iPad Pro, and naturally with the largest screen – 12.9 inches, so that you can really see all that you are capable of.
And, although it is not, strictly speaking, necessary for Photoshop, photo editing, or for artwork in general, I would strongly recommend also getting the Magic Keyboard – I find it incredibly handy, and use it all the time.
As Photoshop is renowned for its color accuracy and control, its high resolution capabilities, its control of elements and fine detail, you will want the low latency of the iPad Pro’s ProMotion technology, top of the line processor and 6 GB ram, and the superb color accuracy and saturation, as well as the stunning resolution, of the Liquid Retina display.
What this means to you as an artist is that the iPad Pro will match Photoshop CC step for step.
It will perfectly display the industry standard color palettes as well as the subtle shifts and shading between colors that Photoshop is capable of. It will react with fluid quickness when you move the Apple Pencil along the screen, almost seeming to anticipate your gestures.
It will let you see perfectly what you are doing – even with the most exacting, detailed, high resolution work.
Plus, the Apple iPad just feels right. The iPad Pro especially has a beautiful overall presentation – the screen pops, the graphics tablet feels good in the hand (as does the Apple Pencil 2), and the Pencil’s nib feels just right on the glass – in fact, the perfect level of friction between pencil and screen offers even more control, and brings you even closer to what Photoshop, and you as an artist, can ultimately do.
There are more affordable iPads to be sure – even the most decked out, top of the line iPad Air or iPad Mini are substantially less expensive, and will work splendidly with the new Photoshop for IOS, or any IOS software, but I personally want my tools – software and hardware – to be at the highest level, so they will never hold me back.
And that’s what the iPad Pro, and Photoshop CC, are all about, and why my choice for best iOS graphics tablet for Photoshop CC in 2021 is the Apple iPad Pro, with the 12.9 inch screen and 256 GB of internal storage.
Features of Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 512GB)
- 12.9 inch Liquid Retina Display – ProMotion; True Tone; P3 Wide Color Gamut; 600 Nits Brightness
- 256 GB Internal SSD Memory
- A12Z Bionic chip with Neural Engine
- 12MP Wide camera, 10MP Ultra Wide camera, and LiDAR Scanner
- 7MP TrueDepth front camera
What Bargain Graphics Tablet is Best for Photoshop in 2021?
Really? We’re going to call a thousand dollar graphics tablet a bargain?
Well, when it’s a Microsoft Surface Pro 7, yes, and without a single reservation.
You see, the Surface Pro 7 is simply one of the very finest Windows 10 computers on the market, really a magnificent machine that looks beautiful and offers best in class performance and incredible material quality and reliability.
Especially with the optional Microsoft Type Cover, you have a perfect portable computer which is as powerful as any on the market, and actually less expensive than many of its rivals.
But, for our purposes, the Surface Pro 7 is also a great drawing tablet, and a great way to get everything possible out of even as advanced program as Photoshop and for photo editing.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 offers an incredibly sharp, bright display, with superb resolution and exceptionally accurate and subtle representation of color, light and shading. That screen interacts with the Surface Pen (must be purchased separately – available here) with quick, responsive and totally reliable action and perfect precision.
While the screen is not as large as the Wacom 16, or the Wacom 13 for that matter, the 12.3 inch dimensions, in concert with the incredible color fidelity, resolution and depth, and the near-perfect interface with you as an artist, means the Surface Pro 7 comes very close indeed to the Wacoms in really realizing what Photoshop – or any program – is capable of.
And if it is going to be your working computer as well, the Surface Pro 7 may actually be a better choice than the Mobile Studio Pro graphics tablets. And an even greater bargain overall!
My pick for best Bargain graphics tablet for Photoshop in 2021 is the Microsoft Surfce Pro 7, with the 12.3 inch screen, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD drive for storage.
Features of Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Screen Size: 12.3 inches
- Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
- Processor: Intel i5 10th generation
- 256 GB Internal Storage
Which Android Tablet is Best for Photoshop in 2021?
Photoshop CC is not available on Android, and it’s possible that the lower power Android processors could not really handle such an advanced program.
Android users do, however, have Photoshop Express. This is, to be sure, a totally different level of graphics software. Not professional, not powerful, but super easy to use, and quite fun as well.
So here we don’t have to select the very best, most powerful Android graphics tablet for Photoshop – or so it would seem.
The thing is that I know a lot of great artists who are making really beautiful, powerful and effective professional art on an Android graphics tablet. Adobe Photoshop Express is one of their tools, and they also use Adobe Draw, Photo Suite, Ibis Paint, Paper Draw and other photo editing software.
Could the work I’ve seen be better? Yes, probably – on an iPad Pro or a Wacom, these artists would no doubt realize and reach even higher levels, and have an easier time with standards and compatibility in the professional art world. Still, their art, and the level of craftsmanship they realized on their little Androids, can be impressive indeed.
So, let’s not be so narrow or dismissive in the Android domain. In addition to asking what the best tablet for Photoshop is, we can also ask what Android drawing tablet is best for artwork, what Android drawing tablet is best for digital art, what Android drawing tablet is best for graphic design, even what Android drawing tablet is best for fine artists.
And, IMHO, the answer is the same in all cases: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with 10.5 inch screen seems to be the best Android drawing tablet for Photoshop.
An absolutely stunning AMOLED display offers an accurate and beautiful representation of color and light that’s nearly on par with the Apple or Wacom, and the 8-core processor executes any tasks – drawing, adjusting, moving, shifting or resizing – immediately and accurately.
That processor, working with plenty of memory and with the included, nice feeling Samsung pen, allows lines to appear with no hesitation or gaps and with a nice, easy flow. Fine detail in drawing, moving or adjusting is possible with remarkable accuracy, and the bright, high resolution screen makes sure you can see everything you are doing.
And the Android systems – the Samsung in particular – may actually offer at least one advantage over Wacom on Windows 10 or the Apple iPad on IOS, and that is simplicity.
The Android operating system is fun and easy to use – really as simple and intuitive as it gets. And the Samsung front end, and their years of refinement of the user experience, make it even easier. The software, too, while maybe not the last word in sophistication, often also has such a simple and natural interface that you as an artist can just concentrate on art.
So, while this recommendation must be somewhat qualified in the context of this article and its other choices, my pick for best Android drawing tablet for Photoshop in 2021 is the Samsung Galaxy S6, with the 10.5 inch screen and 256 GB storage.
And I can’t recommend highly enough that you also get the Samsung Bookcover Keyboard. It will protect the screen, and you will be amazed at how handy it is and just how much you end up using it.
Besides, it’s just cool!
Features of Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 10.5″
- Screen Size: 10.5 inches
- Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
- QUALCOMM 8-Core Processor and SM8150 Graphics Co-processor
- 256 GB Internal Storage
- Includes Stylus – Attaches Magnetically and Charges Automatically
Which Windows 10 Tablet is Best for Photoshop in 2021?
Big, expensive, slightly less than portable, and with slightly more snob-appeal than I care for, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16” Drawing Tablet, it must be admitted, is every good as people claim. It is, again, my Apple preference set aside, the best professional standalone drawing tablet available.
The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 offers Wacom’s largest screen size for a standalone graphics tablet, and the largest screen on our Buyer’s Guide of the best tablets for Photoshop in 2021.
And what a screen it is! I can’t emphasize how much more you can do with a program like Photoshop CC and a really large screen, but this is especially true when that screen has absolutely unmatched color fidelity, resolution and geometry.
You can make really the very finest imaginable adjustments to color or light, move an item the tiniest amount, change an element’s size or shape in such a minute increment that, on inferior screens, the changes might literally be imperceptible.
But on the superb Wacom screen you will see everything. And, if there is even the smallest error, something out of alignment, a color just barely off, perspective or relationship that is almost there, you will see all of these things as well.
In fact, once you get used to seeing so much more, even the most insignificant problems will be glaringly obvious (not that any error, on this level of professional or fine art, is insignificant!).
But obvious too will be the superb colors you have selected, the subtle yet powerful play and movement of light, the perfect balance and flow of elements and composition, the incredibly fine detail and the big picture, and how right everything is – how good-as-it-can-get.
Could you have achieved all of this without the killer combination of Wacom and Photoshop CC?
Maybe not, but all of this – the talent, the craftsmanship, the eye and judgment – they were in you all along.
That’s what the best software and tools help you realize. Because it is not ultimately about you working at the very top levels of your trade.
That may happen, and the MobileStudio Pro 16 will definitely not hold you back, but at the end of the day it’s about realizing just what you as an artist are capable of.
This is something that Wacom, Adobe and – yes – Apple really understand, and on that note we could probably stop our product round-up right here.
But no, not yet. This is too much fun, and we have perhaps left a few people out.
Features of Wacom MobileStudioPro 16” Drawing Tablet
- Screen size: 15.6″
- Resolution: 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8559U quad-core processor
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA Quadro P1000
- 16 GB DDR RAM
- 512 GB SSD Internal Storage
Final Thoughts: The Best Tablet for Photoshop and Photo Editing in 2021
I am very happy to have found my Apple iPad Pro, and also to have found Photoshop.
They both are great tools for me as a digital artist, and help me bring my art, and each piece I am working on, to higher levels.
And while I am firmly established in the Apple camp, I do understand that others prefer Windows computers, and even Android graphics tablets.
Ok, maybe I don’t always understand, but I know it’s true.
No matter what a person’s preference is regarding their computer, though, I truly believe that Adobe Photoshop is for everybody, and that any artist, with a little time and practice, can not only easily master this most masterful program, but can ultimately use Photoshop to better realize their own potential as an artist.
And if you can find the best graphics tablet for Photoshop and photo editing, one that will help you realize everything it can do, the possibilities are truly endless and the levels you can reach unimaginable.
Any of the selections on my list of best tablets for Photoshop and photo editing available in 2021 will do that.
I hope that this list helps you find your perfect tool, that you learn and come to love this brilliant software program, and that you let me know just how far the three of you go!