There is very little that makes me happier than the idea of parents encouraging and supporting their children’s creativity.
I do believe that if a kid is an artist, their artistry will come out – no matter what the circumstances, what happens in their life or what we do or don’t do to help. But if we can, and do, try to encourage their interest, help develop their talent and skills and give them ample opportunities to practice and to explore, that artistry will come out sooner and easier, in more advanced, functional and beautiful ways.
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That is why I love the idea of getting a nice drawing tablet for kids. They can use them to paint, draw, do animations, write out ideas, make a journal – anything, really, that occurs to them. And the results, with a good tablet, can end up looking so good – sharp, colorful and high quality – that your beloved will be encouraged and delighted, and more likely to stick with it.
What Kind of Drawing Tablets for Kids are the Best?
We’re not going to get into a whole technical discussion of the different tablets, like resolution, processing speed, RGB gamut, all of that – I figure that if you’re interested in that you probably already know what’s good and what’s important, and if you don’t already know you might not even care.
Either way, you’ve probably come here for help in finding one of the following:
- The Best Drawing Tablet for Young Kids
- The Best Drawing Tablet for Older Kids / Tweens
- The Best Drawing Tablet for Teens
- Best Drawing Tablet for Art Students
- Best Drawing Tablet for College Students
- Best Drawing Tablet for Young Adults
- The Best Drawing Tablet for Kids Overall
I will take into consideration all of the important technical stuff, like specifications around screen quality, memory and power, as well as the ruggedness of the tablet, the ease of use, the art programs it might come with (or have available to it), how well the touchscreen monitor and stylus work together, and the price – I do not necessarily think that a lower price is always better, but I understand that you may be on a budget and still want to get the very best art tablet you can possibly afford for your daughter or son, so I will make sure to include the best art tablets overall as well as the best budget art tablets.
And even the best budget art tablets are actually high quality high tech art tools that your kids will be super-stoked to have. Just don’t use the phrase “super-stoked” around them – they may not say that anymore.
Apple, Android, Windows – Which OS Should You Choose?
The least expensive tablets, specifically the ones aimed at small children, don’t even have an operating system as such. You just turn them on and draw or paint. But for older kids and teenagers you do have three basic choices:
Basic Tablets for Young Children – Cheap, Rugged and Super-Simple
This is a no-brainer if there is still a chance your kid may spend more time chewing on their new art tablet than drawing on it – simple, tough tablets that do nothing more than encourage your child to draw, paint, use beautiful colors, observe the world around them and explore their own creativity.
Android – Often the Least Expensive “Serious” tablets
An Android tablet uses the same operating system as most phones, and so if your kids are already using Android smart phones they will be immediately comfortable with an Android tablet. Android tablets can be a great choice for drawing, painting and other creative endeavors because they have an enormous amount of (often completely free) software available, including many art apps. They are, ultimately, not as powerful as an iPad or Windows tablet, for art or other uses, but can still be great choices.
Windows Tablets – Normal Computers that are also Tablets
Windows is another good choice for older kids, teens and college students, and especially if you want your child to have a normal, full function computer as well as a great artist tablet. Yes, the Apple iPad is a full-function tablet, and may do everything even a college student may want or need, but a Windows tablet is in fact a Windows computer, and will run the entire range of Windows 10 software – and this includes probably the biggest range of art programs available, from super-simple, basic just-draw types of apps to Adobe Creative Suite.
If you are already on the Windows platform, or if you want your kid to have access to the entire Windows world, a Windows 10 tablet is a smart choice, and the right ones will have a superb display screen and that controlled yet expressive pen-to-screen experience that any artist would love.
Apple iPad – From Inexpensive to Expensive, the Artist’s Choice
Apple is arguably the brand most identified with artists and creativity (Windows users, don’t be hatin’ – I did say “arguably”), and does have a wonderful variety of really great art programs, from so simple a child could use them to so advanced they could be (and are) used by top-level commercial and fine artists around the world. You can be absolutely sure that your child, at any age, will never be limited by an Apple iPad, which will stay right with them as they grow.
Apple also has, IMHO, the most beautiful display screens, and to me this is very important. Not only are the best screens better on the eyes, they also make more advanced and complex drawing and painting possible, and they simply look better, which will make your child’s art look better, which will make them feel happy and encouraged.
If you are already on the Apple platform, and it’s in your budget, I would definitely get them an iPad. And if you, or your kid, aren’t really set on one type or another – that is, Apple, Windows or Android – I would also recommend the wonderfully intuitive and inspiring iPad, which is a brilliant tablet in every other respect as well.
How Can You Make Sure to Buy the Best Tablet for Your Kids?
If you have some idea, on your own or from the information above, which type of tablet you want to get, you will find my age-based recommendations below for the best choices in each of those categories. I will consider not just if it is a good tablet for a budding young artist, but also the build quality and reliability, the price and value, the quality of the display screen and how it feels with a pen, and overall performance – not just for art apps, but for anything your child, teen, young adult or college student might want to use it for.
And if you have decided on the “Other – Cheap, Rugged and Simple Drawing Tablet for Kids and Youngsters” category, I will make absolutely certain that all of my recommendations for the best drawing tablet for Kids are fully drool-proof.
To make it easier, and to direct you to the very best choice for your kids, I am going to break this down into four age categories (which will have some overlap)
- Best Drawing Tablet for Young Kids (5-10 Years Old)
- Best Drawing Tablet for Older Kids / Tweens (10-15 Years Old)
- Best Drawing Tablets for Teens (13-19 Years Old)
- Best Drawing Tablets for Young Adults, College & Art School Students (18-25 Years Old)
In every category (except the first) I will give my recommendation for the best iPad, the best Windows 10 tablet and the best Android tablet overall, as well as the best budget alternative for each.
I hope this buyer’s guide for the best art and drawing tablets for kids of all ages is helpful to you in making a decision, and I really hope that you feel as proud of yourself as you do of your young artist – a new drawing tablet for kids is an incredible present, for sure, but encouraging their talent and interest is the best gift you could possibly give them.
Best Drawing Tablet for Young Kids (5-10 Years Old)
In our first category, we are keeping it as simple as possible – for the younger tikes, we are not looking at computers or real full-feature tablets, but incredibly easy, incredibly tough drawing tablets that do nothing else but let your little tike draw.
There are Android tablets designed for kids, but they tend to be crammed ridiculously with advertisements, cartoons, games, more advertisements, lots of useless diversions and, yes, more advertisements, all apparently designed to distract your young artist from, you know, making art. Our two choices are different – turn on, draw, delight, repeat.
Best Drawing Tablet for Young Kids
A brilliant and completely different approach, the Crayola drawing tablet actually uses high quality Crayola washable gel markers on a smooth plastic surface, and then can be switched on to illuminate your child’s latest creation. Your kid can also easily trace pictures from books or anywhere else through the clear panel, or even draw on paper, and use the Crayola Light Board to light it up beautifully.
Extremely well made and durable, easy enough for even very young children to use, better for their eyes, and encouraging not only drawing but use of color as well, the Crayola Ultimate Light Board is a wonderful choice for any very young artist, who will be delighted when their art comes to life with three different light effects, and this tablet can be re-used over and over again.
The Crayola Ultimate Light Board Drawing Tablet for Kids is my choice for the best drawing tablet for young children – I might even get one for myself!
Best Budget Drawing Tablet for Young Kids
This is more of a normal electronic drawing and LCD writing tablet, where your kid will use a supplied pencil to draw directly on the screen. The Cimetech tablet is incredibly simple, only for drawing and LCD writing, and can be used by anybody at any age. It will not only help kids explore their creativity, it will also help them practice letters and writing and even numbers and math.
Numbers and math… come to think of it, maybe this is the one I should get for myself! The Cimetech Colorful drawing tablet for kids is super-tough and good for even smaller kids, and is my choice for the best budget drawing tablet for kids and young children.
Best Drawing Tablet for Older Kids / Tweens (10-15 Years Old)
Best iPad Drawing Tablet for Older Kids
The classic Apple iPad is one of the best choices for any artist, with its beautiful Retina display, great pen-to-screen feel and wide array of the best art programs, from very simple to very advanced. And while a 10 year old may be better at using gadgets, like smart phones or tablets, than we adults are, the Apple iPadOS is simple, easy to use and incredibly intuitive, making using the iPad a breeze for even younger kids.
Apple iPads are sold without a stylus, which is needed for art and convenient for everything else, and for the best experience I very highly recommend the original Apple Pencil.
Best Windows Drawing Tablet for Older Kids
We’ve reached that funny age where kids may not really take anything that seriously, or even apply themselves over the long term, but then again they might – and if they do, they may be onto something which they have a real talent and passion for, and which might be with them for the rest of their lives.
This period calls for a tablet that has full capability and can stay right there with your child no matter where or how far they go. And it needs to be tough and reliable, have parental controls and not be too expensive (we are starting at 10 years old, after all) – yet still offer a beautiful screen for your young artist, a great pen-to-screen feeling and good art software at every level.
The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is just such a machine, and a premium quality tablet, with top level performance, a beautiful touchscreen display, incredibly precise and expressive pen-to-screen interaction and superior material quality and durability, all at a surprisingly low price – an easy recommendation for the best art tablet for older kids.
You’ll need to get your young Rembrandt a stylus pen for their new Surface, and you can either opt for the superb Microsoft Surface Pen or the much less expensive, and still excellent, Uogic Pen with a great pressure sensitivity. And if you want your kid to have a full computer experience with their new drawing tablet, you might want to consider the Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover, which will also protect the Surface’s surface and turn the tablet into an ultra-cool laptop computer.
Best Budget Windows Drawing Tablet for Older Kids
For a lot less money than the Surface Go 2 (which itself offers a substantial value for the money) you can get a Chuwi Hi10 X tablet, which includes both a detachable keyboard and pen. The 10 inch full HD high resolution monitor will make your child’s artwork look its best while protecting their eyes, and the computer is a well built and premium feeling unit, super reliable, tough and rugged, and has excellent overall performance.
A great stylus pen and drawing/painting experience, along with full compatibility with the countless Windows 10 art and graphics programs available today (along with all other Windows software), make this not just the best budget art tablet for older kids, but one of the best values overall in today’s PC market.
The only accessory you might want to include is a good protective case, like the ProCase Universal Protective Case.
Best Android Tablet for Older Kids
One of the most popular tablets on the market today, the Amazon Fire has greatly improved over the last few years, and now you can even install Google Play and have access to countless apps of all kinds, including the best Android painting and drawing software. With its beautiful high definition 10 inch screen, built in parental controls and rugged construction, this is a great choice for kids in this age range, and will last and grow with them for years.
To protect the Fire HD 10, I would use the cool looking and super-tough Mr Spades Shockproof Case, and since the Fire doesn’t include a stylus I would get the BoxWave Electronic Stylus – you can get a cheaper pen, but it’s pretty important to get a good one, and the BoxWave is still quite affordable.
Best Budget Android Tablet for Older Kids
A perfect budget alternative to the Amazon Fire 10 inch tablet is the Amazon Fire 8 inch tablet. In fact, pretty much everything that makes the 10 great is here too, such as a beautiful high resolution screen, parental controls and lots and lots of apps, including great choices for younger artists. The only difference of note are a 20 percent smaller screen and a 40 percent smaller price tag.
A perfect case to keep the Fire 8 safe is this super rugged Boskin Shockproof Kickstand Case, and for a stylus I would recommend the same as for the Fire 10 – the nice BoxWave Electronic Stylus with a good pressure sensitivity.
Best Drawing Tablets for Teens (13-19 Years Old)
Best iPad Drawing Tablet for Teens
Honestly, the standard iPad I’ve recommended just above is plenty good enough for this age range too, and is in fact a very powerful personal tablet for art and for pretty much everything else. The iPad Air is, however, cool.
Yes, cool. I hate to admit it, or give it too much credibility, but when we’re dealing with teenagers not only do they want something that is demonstrably cool, they very well may be more likely to use and attach to it because of that perceived coolness – which in this case may mean they use the Air more often, get more and more into art and their own artistic and creative energies, practice more, and become more and more confident and encouraged by the results.
But the iPad air also is a much better tablet (though the standard iPad is no slouch) with a stunning Liquid Retina display for the next level of resolution, color accuracy and saturation, brightness and contrast compared to the standard iPad, a faster processor, a better camera (not just for selfies – this can be pretty important to an artist), a fully laminated anti-reflective screen and compatibility with the superior Apple Pencil 2, which you need to purchase separately.
With all of the amazing art software available, the slick and simple intuitive interface of the iPadOS operating system, superb material quality, strength and reliability and a truly premium look and feel, the iPad Air is the best, and coolest, Apple iPad art tablet for teenagers.
Best Budget iPad Drawing Tablet for Teens
For a budget alternative, you can again consider the standard Apple iPad 10.2 Inch Tablet, which any teen, or any artist for that matter, would be thrilled to have, or you can look at slightly toned-down configurations of the iPad Air, with Wi-Fi only (no cellular phone service), less onboard storage or both. Here are the links to different iPad Air configurations, from most to least expensive:
- Apple iPad Air 10.9 Inch Tablet with Cellular, Wi-Fi, 256GB
- Apple iPad Air 10.9 Inch Tablet with Wi-Fi, 256GB
- Apple iPad Air 10.9 Inch Tablet with Cellular, Wi-Fi, 64GB
- Apple iPad Air 10.9 Inch Tablet with Wi-Fi, 64GB
And again don’t forget to get the superb Apple Pencil 2, which is sold separately.
Best Windows Drawing Tablet for Teens
The recommendation I gave above for the best drawing tablet for older kids, the Microsoft Surface Go 2, is an easy and perfect recommendation for teenagers as well. It is such a slick and beautiful machine, and so ideal for either a beginning or more advanced artist, that it is in fact a popular choice for even professionals – especially considering it is so affordable, so well made and so reliable.
For teenagers, though, we might want to think about upping the memory and storage space a little, and using the more powerful Intel M3 processor, so that even their more advanced art, animation and modeling work will be smooth, fast and glitch free. This more powerful version of the Go 2 still has the amazing 2K high resolution screen, with ultra-sensitive touch control, beautiful colors and amazing detail, works great with the wonderful Microsoft Surface Pen (sold separately – don’t forget to get one!), and has the entire incredible range of Windows 10 art software (much of it free) at its disposal.
The Microsoft Surface Go 2, in its most advanced configuration, is the best Windows 10 art tablet for teenagers you could possibly find, and if you also get the Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover keyboard, it may very well be the best computer overall for your teen, and one they will be thrilled to have.
The Surface Go 2 is such a cool and amazing tablet, and I can’t think of another choice nearly as ideal or apt for any teenager, so as my budget recommendation for best art tablet I am going back to the well one more time – but this time in the more stripped-down (though still fully functional and powerful) configuration with the slightly slower processor, less RAM and smaller onboard storage.
Another concession to budget, without losing much in the way of either performance or cool factor, is the excellent Uogic Pen, with a great pressure sensitivity, rather than the splendid, if slightly spendy, Microsoft Pen, but I would still get the genuine Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover – it’s really a wonderful keyboard. All together you get not just the best budget art tablet for any teenager, but the best reasonably priced computer overall.
Best Android Drawing Tablet for Teens
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is one of the most popular, beloved and highly rated Android devices on the market today, and a really effective, well built and high performance tablet. With its beautiful high resolution screen – with great sharpness and detail, extremely bright and well saturated colors and real responsiveness to touch and stylus alike – this is a great choice for any artist, and is powerful enough even for a teen’s most advanced art, photography or video projects.
The amazing Samsung S Pen is included, and the only accessory you should really make sure to include would be a good protective case, like the Fintie S6 Lite Case and Stand with S Pen Holder.
Best Budget Android Drawing Tablet for Teens
An incredibly inexpensive and highly capable tablet, the Simbans PicassoTab is in fact a normal Android device, capable of running any Android / Google Play app but, as the name might suggest, one designed with artists and their needs in mind. It has a high resolution touchscreen which is particularly good in terms of colors – accuracy, depth, energy and saturation – and has a beautiful surface finish for the best control and a natural feel when using the included Simbans artist stylus.
Also included are a protective case, a drawing glove and a pre-installed version of the excellent art software Autodesk Sketchbook – everything a beginning or intermediate artist might need, and powerful and well-equipped enough to grow as they do. An easy recommendation, then, for the best budget Android art tablet for a teenager.
Best Drawing Tablets for Young Adults, College & Art School Students (18-25 Years Old)
Best iPad Drawing Tablet for Young Adults
I am going to start out this section with my favorite artist tablet, the finest iPad you can get for artwork or for absolutely anything else, and maybe the best gift anybody could possibly give an art student, college student or somebody just starting out in the professional world.
The Apple iPad Pro is a great product in every way, but for artists especially it is really perfect. The stunning Liquid Retina display not only has the best resolution and colors, but the best and most natural feeling with the superb 2nd Generation Apple Pencil (sold separately), allowing for both ultimate precision and accuracy and an unmatched level of ease and flowing expressivity.
Absolutely state of the art hardware ensures that the iPad Pro, Apple’s most powerful tablet, will handle even the most advanced art software (and there are tons of great art apps for the iPad), as well as any art, photography or video work on any level. The iPad Pro is also a beautiful product overall, with exceptional material quality and reliability and a splendidly premium look and feel.
The perfect Apple tablet for artists, the iPad Pro is my choice for best iPad drawing tablet for young adults, college and art students, and the best personal tablet I know overall for any and every kind of use.
Best Budget iPad Drawing Tablet for Young Adults
At this age, whether your beloved is an advanced artist or still starting out, I really think it is important to have the best tools possible, ones that won’t hold them back as they advance in talent, ability and interest. As such, I’m not going to recommend lower level iPads here, for best budget Apple tablets for young adult artists, but instead the least expensive iPad Pro configuration, with a smaller screen (still plenty big enough for artists, though), no cellular capability and with smaller onboard storage – at a much lower price.
With a bigger screen than most other recommendations on this list, a still large 128 GB of onboard storage, and the same Liquid Retina display, wonderful pen-to-screen feeling and optimal overall creative experience, the 11 inch Apple iPad Pro is my choice for the best budget iPad for any art student, college student, young professional or aspiring amateur artist, and an absolutely priceless high-level artist tool.
Best Windows Drawing Tablets for Young Adults
For young adults, who are just starting out on their own life path – whether they are going to university or art school, starting on a new career, or still sleeping in your basement and painting portraits of your family dog – we will offer two choices for the best art and drawing tablet:
- The Microsoft Surface Book 3 – the best all-around Windows computer / tablet for artists
- The Wacom MobileStudio Pro – the best Windows tablet specifically designed for artists
Either of these superb tablets would be a truly special and memorable gift, and a computer that would support your young adult artist no matter how far they go. It really comes down to whether you would like them to have the very best computer for all their computing needs, which is also a top-level tablet for artwork (the Microsoft) or the very best artist-centered tablet for all their art needs, which is also a top-level general computer (the Wacom). However you go, know that you are getting your kid the best of the best, a tablet that will be a faithful companion and superb artist tool wherever life leads them.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 15 Inch Tablet with i7, 32GB Memory, 1TB SSD
The newest and best Microsoft Surface, the Book 3 is not only probably the best Windows 10 tablet on the market today, it is also the best all-around computer for any artist. The stunning ultra high resolution touchscreen has amazingly bright, accurate and saturated colors, the highest levels of detail and amazing overall contrast and brightness, and works with absolute control and precision with the Microsoft Surface Pen (which must be purchased separately).
Not just one of the best art tablets ever made, the new Surface Book 3 is a top-grade computer in every respect, with a blazing fast and powerful latest generation Intel i7 processor, and with the beautiful Microsoft keyboard, which is included with the Book 3, this is a truly premium laptop PC as well.
The best Windows 10 computer for any artist, and an especially good choice for a young adult just starting down their own life path, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is truly special, and gets my highest recommendation.
Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 Inch Windows 10 Art Tablet
A different approach, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is, quite simply, the finest art tablet in existence. Well, I do go back and forth between this and the Apple iPad Pro, but for a Windows 10 based machine there can be no question. This is it, and the Mobile Studio Pro is the default choice for artists, photographers, animators, video artists or almost any creative working at the very highest levels.
The best screen, with not just unbelievable colors and resolution but a new level of expressive touch, control and precision when using the included Wacom Pro Pen 2, works with the latest Intel i7 processor, NVIDIA Quadro P1000 graphics processor and lots of super-fast system memory, to handle even the largest, most complex and demanding art projects, including even 3D modeling and animation. And, if the artwork is as simple as a minimalist landscape, a single flower or even one flowing brushstroke, the MobileStudio Pro, with its perfect pen, perfect screen surface and wholly intuitive and undistracting design, make even that easier and more beautiful.
Arguably not as good as an all-around computer as the Microsoft above, or at least not designed to be, this is actually a better art tablet, and is in fact the best art tablet for young adults in 2021.
Best Budget Windows Drawing Tablets for Young Adults
There can be no denying that the two tablets above are the best of the best, and I honestly can’t work up much inspiration in recommending anything else. I will say, though, that the same tablet I recommended for teen artists, the Microsoft Surface Go 2, is a very, very good choice for any artist at any age, an absolutely premium, high-performance tablet that would make a very special gift – and, at a surprisingly affordable price.
That said, if you stay instead with the big boys, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, you can in each case save substantially by opting for a smaller screen, and give up almost nothing overall.
- Microsoft Surface Book 3 13.5 Inch Tablet with i5, 8GB Memory, 256GB SSD
- Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 Inch Windows 10 Art Tablet
Best Android Drawing Tablet for Young Adults
For college, art school, a first job in the arts or even serious amateur creativity, the very best choice for a young adult is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which is one of the most powerful and premium quality Android devices on the market today, and really ideal for drawing, painting or any type of art on any level.
The precise Samsung S Pen with great pressure sensitivity, which is included, works so well with the brilliant Tab S7 touchscreen, offering real precision and control, and the screen itself is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of resolution and detail, color saturation and accuracy, brightness and contrast and overall life and realism. Even the most complex, highest resolution and advanced art, photography or any other graphics come through beautifully, and the Samsung Tab S7 makes the highest level work not just possible, but quicker, easier and trouble-free.
For college, or to make this a great all-around portable computer, you might want to consider getting your kid a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Keyboard, or the (much) less expensive and still excellent Fintie Protective Case and Stand with Bluetooth Keyboard.
Best Budget Android Drawing Tablets for Young Adults
As with some of my other recommendations, the Galaxy Tab S7 is such an obvious and ideal choice for this age group that I would, for a budget alternative, simply get a more modest configuration, in this case with 128GB onboard storage, which should still be plenty for art projects, photos, videos and everything else. All other specifications will be the same, as will the excellent overall creative experience possible with the Galaxy Tab S7.
And you should definitely think about the Fintie Protective Case and Stand with Bluetooth Keyboard, which really is a great bargain and an important accessory.
Final Thoughts: Giving Your Child the Support and the Tools They Need – Yay You!
I don’t really have anything else of importance to say about finding and buying the best art tablet for your child, and I think, and hope, that this has been a very complete, thorough and helpful buyer’s guide, and that you are able to get just the right tablet for your family’s newest artist.
I would like to say again, though, how commendable I think it is that parents support their children in this way. Not every young artist is so lucky, but to have parents who support them and their talents and ambitions, and even go as far as to give them the tools they need to really explore themselves as an artist, their talent and their creativity, and to see where, and how far, it will take them – well, it may seem to a good parent like just what you do for your beloved children, but from where I sit it seems extraordinary!
Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Best Drawing Tablets for Kids: A Buyer’s Guide to the Best Art Tablets for Kids of All Ages – and I encourage you to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles and lots of other resources.