Beginner Drawing Tablet,  Review

Best Cheap Drawing Tablets Under $100 – An Honest Review By An Actual Artist

I understand what you’re going through…

Art is a competitive field with very little OBVIOUS lucrative opportunities & supplies is EXPENSIVE! You’re  thinking about buying a cheap tablet, I’ve been there before. & I know how appealing purchasing something extremely cheap can be.

The problem is most cheap tablets are junk

So I comprised a list of the best cheap tablets under &80, in order from best to worst. Keep in mind this list is for artists who want a CHEAP tablet, NOT a good tablet.

There is only one tablet on this list I wouldn’t consider junk/cheap, & that’s The Wacom Intuos

If you don’t have money buying a cheap product makes sense. But it doesn’t mean we should pretend the cheap product is as good as the preimium one (Wacom).

Cheap Tablets will break faster, they are are knock offs, & they will make drawing more difficult. So buyers beware, that being said good art can be made with any tool, some tools just make creating good art easier. If at any point you have the funds to invest in a premium tablet check out my review of The Top 3 Best Drawing Tablets.

If you’re someone who can’t afford a tablet over $77 this list is for you!

Click the text on The table of Contents to JUMP to the section for that specific tablet!

1. Wacom Intuos

 

Overall Ranking:
4.6/5
Price:
3.3/5
Quality:
5/5
Longterm Investment:
5/5
Drawing Experience:
5/5
Software:
5/5
Features:
4/5
FeaturesSpecifications
Active Area S: 6" x 3.7 " M: 8.5" x 5.3"
Wireless Support Yes (Bluetooth Models ONLY)
Pressure Levels 4096
Resolution 2540 LPI
Express Keys 4 customizable application-specific
Pen Wacom Pen 4K
Free Programs 3 creative software selections included: Corel® Painter® Essentials™ 6, Corel® AfterShot™ 3, & CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO
Multi-Touch No

Pros 

  • Wireless (Bluetooth models only)
  • Comes with Free programs
  • Decent pen pressure 
  • Travel Sized
  • Industry Standard
  • More Durable/ Last longer than competitors 
  • Great Drawing Experience 

Cons

  • Pen Pressure could be better 
  • No Multitouch

My Thoughts On The Intuos

The Intuos is one of the most popular tablets around. Most likely because its the only tablet on this list that will last you a solid 5-10 years.

It is also the only tablet on this list that I wouldn’t consider “A Cheap Tablet”. Sure the price is affordable, but that shouldn’t alarm you. I’ve created a lot of great art with my first Intuos & it still works after almost a decade of owning it.  

I found the drawing flow to be the best on this list. Not to mention the Express Keys are customizable for different programs. The Express Keys also come with Anti-ghosting. (Anti-Ghosting is when you’re keyboard allows you to press multiple buttons simultaneously while still performing every function for each button ) which comes in handy when you want to shave time by performing multiple actions quickly. 

Cheapest Place To Buy

What I Made With It

Digitally colored a graphite drawing in photoshop.

2.Huion Inspiroy H950P

Overall Ranking:
3.7/5
Price:
4.3/5
Quality:
3/5
Longterm Investment:
3/5
Drawing Expirence:
4/5
Software:
3/5
Features:
4.5/5
FeaturesSpecifications
Active Area 8.7"x 5.4"
Wireless Support No
Pressure Levels 8192 Levels
Resolution 5080 LPI
Express Keys 8 customizable keys
Tilt Support Yes
Free Programs No
Multi-Touch No

Pros 

  • Great pen pressure
  • The Pen was very well made, feels more durable than other Huion Pens
  • Tilt support

Cons

  • The Pen doesn’t have an eraser
  • Not as durable as Wacom Products
  • Shortcut Keys can’t be customized specifically for different programs

My Thoughts

So far my favorite Huion product. It operates well, & is a close second to the Intuos. 

I do have my issues with the responsiveness of the tablet. It’s more difficult than it should be to get quality lines when drawing slow.  My theory is the pen pressure sensitivity works against itself because the software customization doesn’t allow adequate calibration.

The drivers are notorious for being difficult to set up & update. I have friends who can no longer use their Huion tablet because they updated Windows. 

Cheapest Place To Buy

What I Made With It

Digitally colored a graphite drawing in photoshop.

Overall Ranking:
3.1/5
Price:
4/5
Quality:
3/5
Longterm Investment:
1/5
Drawing Experience:
3/5
Software:
3/5
Features:
4.5/5
FeaturesSpecifications
Active Area 10" x 6.25 "
Wireless Support No
Pressure Levels 8192 Levels
Resolution 5080 LPI
Express Keys 8 Express Keys
Free Programs No
Multi-Touch No

Pros 

  • Great pen pressure for such a cheap price
  • Travel Sized,

Cons

  • Cheap build
  • Shortcut Keys can’t be customized specifically for different programs
  • Heats up really quickly, which can be uncomfortable when drawing for long hours.

My Thoughts

Nibs are a JOKE! The friction caused when drawing will eat these nibs up 3x faster than a Wacom pen. The pressure is often toted as a highlight but I found the software calibration didn’t allow me to make the best of it. I have other tablets that have the same pressure levels that draw far smoother. So, in this case, high-pressure levels aren’t really much of a plus. 

Also, I tend to work with a lot of detail & color, which means working long hours. This tablet heats up pretty quickly which is kind of uncomfortable. 

Cheapest Place To Buy

What I Made With It

I edited an old graphite drawing in photoshop. It tried to keep the work short because the tablet heats up pretty quickly. 

Overall Ranking:
3.2/5
Price:
4.2/5
Quality:
2.7/5
Longterm Investment:
2/5
Drawing Experience:
2.5/5
Software:
3/5
Features:
4.5/5
FeaturesSpecifications
Active Area 10"x6"
Wireless Support No
Pressure Levels 8192 Levels
Resolution 5080 LPI
Express Keys 8 customizable Express Keys
Free Programs None
Multi-Touch No

Pros 

  • Great Pen Pressure

Cons

  • Cheap build
  • Shortcut Keys customization severely limited.

My Thoughts

I loved the active area, but overall the tablet felt like cheap plastic. The drawing flow was slightly off, making ambitious projects difficult. 

People often report driver issues when installing this product on a windows laptop. So I tried this on my windows  I did have some driver installation problems.

Like most Wacom-Alternatives, the shortcut key customization doesn’t let you customize for specific programs. There is customization but if you’re like me & you use your shortcut keys for different programs this can become very frustrating.  

Cheapest Place To Buy

What I Made With It

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 1.16.32 PM

Disclaimer: This is a photo of someone I know who knew I was taking the shot. 

I chose to edit an image with this tablet because the pen flow felt really laggy at times. Because of that, it was difficult to for the pen to become an extension of me, so my detail-oriented line work drawings were not an option.

I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind the Parblo A610 Pen but after using my Cintiq Pro or Intuos Pro it just felt laggy & inferior. 

At the very least if I made a mistake it would be a happy accident to an experimental photo.

Overall Ranking:
2.1/5
Price:
5/5
Quality:
0.5/5
Longterm Investment:
0.5/5
Drawing Experience:
1/5
Software:
3/5
Features:
2.1/5
FeaturesSpecifications
Active Area 10" x 6"
Wireless Support No
Pressure Levels 2048
Resolution 4000 LPI
Express Keys None
Free Programs None
Multi-Touch No

Pros 

  • Cheap AF!
  • Travel Sized

Cons

  • The pen feels incredibly cheap, & is really thick
  • Pen Needs batteries
  • Small Active Area
  • No Shortcut Keys 

My Thoughts

By far the cheapest tablet on this list,  both in price & construction. The pen feels incredibly cheap, & it requires  AAA batteries to work.

The diminutive active area is 4×2.23″ & most likely unrealistically small for 90% of the projects I’m working on.

One thing I immediately notice while working on this tablet was the active area is easily scratched & damaged by the nib. 

The Pen Pressure is really good for the price, but it’s also the lowest on this list. I can’t understand why anyone would suggest this.

If money is tight I can see why this would make sense but I feel its a waste of money even if it’s only 20$. If you haven’t used a professional drawing tablet it might confuse you why I’m being so hard on this one.

A tablet should make drawing convenient, this makes digital art super difficult & I don’t really see beginners improving at a natural rate using a tablet that’s going to severely handicap there drawing experience. 

Cheapest Place To Buy

What I Made With It

I edited a photo I took of a guy sleeping at the MET. I know super creepy lol! But he looked so peaceful & I had to capture that image.

I chose to edit an image with this tablet because the small active area made drawing large detailed images way too difficult.

I wouldn’t use this tablet unless it was to edit images or make small drawings. Anything else would be TOO frustrating!

Conclusion

An expensive tablet doesn’t equal great art.

The supplies you use doesn’t make the artist, but it should make the artist’s life easier. I was able to create images I was proud of with every tablet on this list. It was just FAR MORE DIFFICULT to create something of quality with “the cheaper tablets.” 

When you purchase an expensive/well-made tablet, you’re paying for convenience. & If you don’t value convenience/saving time as much as saving money than that’s completely fine.

But in the meantime, let me know what you think about cheap tablets or any other art/drawing tablet related topic in the comments below.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram to see what I’m working on currently.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be nosey & check out my other articles. For example, I have a dope post about Photography I made with my Wacom + Free PSD Filter Download, you should definitely check out!

13 Comments

  • Scot Harris

    As an art lover myself, this is brilliant.

    I like to think of myself as a walking canvas as I’m covered in tattoos from artists across the world.

    I am an avid drawer myself, mostly illustrations, nothing too fancy. This article about the various products available is exactly what I needed to read. Especially with their great price points too.

    Thanks again.

    • Gaius

      Hey Scot,

      Glad to hear you love art as well pal!

      Would love to see your tats, I currently have only 1 on my head (inside my hair, so when I grow it out it’s not visible)

      Glad you enjoyed the read, & I appreciate your support!

      Best,
      Gaius

  • Antonio

    Hi Gaius

    Choosing a tablet is a mind field at the best of times and finding one for art endevours is very hard in deed. This blog which lists all the pro and cons which is very handy before seing or even touching the product.. As you say it is cost versus ease of use and that is good to know. iT would also be useful to know how long it takes bee=fore it needs to be recharfed and the recharging time. Amy wau good article.

    Antonio

    • Gaius

      Hey Antonio,

      Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate the input.

      In regard to your statement on charging, the tablets on this list charge why you use them. They utilize energy from your computer to charge themselves.
      appreciate the constructive criticism, but I don’t think charging is something that you have to be conscious of because it’s happening while your working.

      Best,
      Gaius

  • Ajiri

    You are definitely talented as I actually love your drawings. Unfortunately, I am not that good when drawing with a tablet as I think I have not yet mastered making use of it.
    My tablet is actually still going strong and If I can remember I think I bought it just over $100. It has been over a year and it does not look like going bad anytime soon.

  • Boby

    From one artist to another, this is the most awesome and exceptional post that I’ve read in a very long time and I read constantly, so that speaks for itself!
    It’s one thing that all the tablets you’ve collected and presented here are more than worth the look.
    My niece’s birthday is approaching fast and a drawing tablet looks like a perfect choice for a gift. And just like any other 11 years old girl she just loves the stuff.
    But what you were capable to do with those tablets is the thing that left me speechless.
    And even though my field is totally different from yours (screenwriting), I still can recognize a powerful art when I see it.
    Keep sharing your art, the world will appreciate it just as much as I do!

    • Gaius

      Hi Boby,

      Thank so much for the kind words & detailed feedback.
      & that’s awesome, I hope she likes it! Feel free to use my affiliate links if it’s not too much of a bother!

      & I def will keep sharing 🙂

      Best,
      Gaius

  • SkyPath

    That’s really good, indeed, I think it is really good as a guy who loves to draw, and it is really cheap! I have seen some of the drawing tablets are very expensive, great article and introduction! Thank you so much!

  • John

    Gaius,
    The list here give me a great idea for my son who likes to doodle with photos. The first one just under $100 should fit most budgets and I have used this pen before. You have not stated storage for any of these tablets, what do they use to transfer files if they do not connect via wifi. Any of these tablets have a USB port or can they use a micro SD card for storage or transfer of files.
    John

    • admin

      Hey John,

      Awesome! I’m glad you found my content helpful. A nice tablet is always a fun gift for artist!

      & I never considered talking about the cord but that might be something I do in the future. Thanks for the feedback!

      As for storage & transferring files, these devices(graphics tablets) plug into your computer so you would just use the storage on your computer/laptop. They’re essentially a complex version of your mouse designed specifically for drawing.

      Computer tablets are a completely different topic & would be relevant to your question, but this discussion only covers graphics tablets.

      Hope that helped!

      Best,
      Gaius

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *