What to Look For in a Drawing Tablet

Want to learn the different features and technicalities to look for before buying a drawing tablet?

This here is not a review of any specific product, but instead, we are going to go over each aspect of a drawing tablet, why it’s important, what and how to look for the best specs in your purchase, and finally how to make the decision on each aspect so you can make the best decision.

However, if you were looking for a review I got you covered. You can check out my reviews on 1) drawing tablets for beginners and 2) drawing tablets for illustrator.

While this is not set in stone, the most important factors for the function and technical capability of drawing tablets are:

  • Resolution and screen size / the active area,
  • tablet buttons and features,
  • supported software and pressure sensitivity, and
  • the stylus itself.

You will find each bullet covered below.

Resolution and Screen Size/ Active Area

One of the first and most important aspects of drawing a tablet is resolution and screen size, or the active area for tablets without a display.

It probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this part might be the first thing that people look at when they see a drawing tablet: does it say 7”, 8”, 10”, 12”, etc?

For most people, the bigger the better, as it’s generally easier to work on a bigger surface, and your eyes can also make out smaller details better because they’re blown up on a larger screen.

Resolution is also important, though. Almost every drawing tablet on the market from major brands and manufacturers is in at least 1920x1080p, but there are a few that might be in 720p and then very few that are in an ultra HD state or true 4k.

For most artists or hobbyists, higher resolution is also better for many of the previously mentioned reasons. Having a clear picture with incredible detail is obviously very helpful when it comes to creating art.

This should be a major part of your buying decision and one of the strongest draws in any model you consider.

Tablet Buttons & Features

Another important side of buying a drawing tablet is examining unique features and tablet buttons that the drawing tablet possesses.

Many drawing tablets come with either pre-programmed or resettable tablet buttons that can be used for shortcuts for a wide variety of different actions and activities.

This can be useful while working, playing, watching a video on the tablet, or anything, really. It’s just simply something nice to have, though since most tablets have at least a few it’s hard to state how truly necessary it is.

Some don’t, however, especially some more expensive display-tablets that are almost solely focused on providing the best, clearest possible picture for the artist with great battery life, etc. So it is something worth looking at overall.

Some tablets do have unique or rarer features over others, as well. Many things are commonplace, like a multi-touch feature so you can zoom in and out with ease using two fingers.

Some other things are less common, however: like support of a rarer program, a very specific interaction that only that model has, or a part of its base software or features that aren’t replicated in other brands or even part of the same model line its in.

There are too many models and brands to get specific about unique features. Just know what you’d like your tablet to do and check to see if the models you’re looking at support those desires.

Supported Software & Pressure Sensitivity

What is a drawing tablet without supported software? It’s definitely not as useful, that’s for sure.

Would you want to use an Apple product that didn’t support all of their major software? Probably not. The same goes for a drawing tablet.

The good thing is that most drawing tablets and major brands support most kinds of art software… but if you like to use something specific, especially if it’s niche or obscure, it may pay to check.

You could either look at the specifications of the product on its page or even call the company and just ask a company rep. Either way, you’ll know what you’re buying before you spend the money.

Another important aspect of a drawing tablet is pressure sensitivity. This is actually one of the most important overall.

You want the screen to be responsive to the stylus: if it isn’t, it will be easy for mistakes that you didn’t intend to make to happen while drawing, and that’s just going to likely make you frustrated more than anything else.

To create detailed, accurate art, you’re going to want at least 2,048 levels of pressure. More may be better for you, but at least that much is necessary. Most tablets have at least that much pressure.

The Stylus Itself

The stylus itself is the final aspect we’ll discuss today. You’d want a good tool to do good work with, wouldn’t you? A drawing tablet is only half of that battle.

The other half is the stylus itself. Having a poor stylus is like trying to draw with a pencil that keeps breaking.

You might make deep lines in the paper you didn’t want to, or even accidentally pierce through the paper itself with the shard of graphite from the pencil.

Likewise, a poor stylus can run out of battery fast, have poor interaction with the drawing tablet screen, and just not really be effective.

It’s best to get a battery-free or a rechargeable battery stylus, along with making sure that it’s very effective and sensitive on the screen.

It may take some time getting used to, but it’s better to have a learning curve you can conquer than a technical limit on your product that you cannot.


When looking at which drawing tablet to buy, look at features we went over in this article: like resolution, screen size, tablet buttons and features, the stylus, support software, pressure sensitivity, and more.

Decide what is most important to you and focus and prioritize on the models that have those features as their strongest suits.

You should get a product that satisfies you the most, that way.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

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