Whether you’re a digital artist or a doodler, the best cheap drawing tablets can help you sketch or edit in a way that feels natural — without costing a pretty penny. The best cost-effective models are generally compact and screenless but offer easy connectivity with your operating system, solid pressure sensitivity, and a responsive stylus. Many top affordable drawing tablets also work with your preferred drawing or editing software and come with customizable shortcut buttons that will make your workflow easier. Best of all, these options are all less than $100, with some less than $50.
A drawing tablet that doesn’t work with your preferred devices won’t be very useful, so be sure to check the product details for operating system compatibility and additional driver downloads required right off the bat. Next, ensure that your chosen tablet offers at least 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, as this means your tablet and stylus will be responsive when it comes to creating darker or thicker lines based on how hard you press down with the stylus. This sensitivity level should be more than enough for most, but some budget models even offer over 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and the option to adjust pressure sensitivity with accompanying software. Tilt sensitivity can also be a nice feature, allowing you to shade with the side of your stylus the way you can with a pencil. Top drawing tablets also come with battery-free styluses that offer handy features like button shortcuts, multiple pen tips and accessories, and the option to be used in eraser mode.
If you regularly use keyboard shortcuts while drawing or illustrating in your favorite programs, look for drawing tablets with customizable buttons or dials on the tablet body. And if you’re left-handed or ambidextrous, some models are more amenable to changing the orientation of the tablet while still offering easy access to buttons.
With all of this in mind, I’ve gathered a list of four affordable drawing tablets that will be friendly on your wallet and effective for artists of all levels.
1. The Overall Best Cheap Drawing Tablet
This budget-friendly Wacom drawing tablet should be a slam dunk for most users, with over 14,000 reviews on Amazon an a 4.5-star rating overall. According to several Amazon reviewers this Mac- and Windows-compatible tablet is good for all kinds of drawing, animation, and photo editing, and is an easy-to-use drawing tablet for beginners. It comes with four customizable shortcut buttons that are placed in the stylus cradle at the top of the device, which also makes this tablet friendly for both left- and right-handed users.
The stylus itself is battery-free, and it comes with three standard replacement nibs, two shortcut buttons, 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and 60-degree tilt sensitivity. If you're just starting out and don't have any drawing software yet, this tablet offers free 90-day trials of Corel Painter Essentials and Corel AfterShot Pro 3. It also comes with a 3-month trial of EdTech software for teachers.
This model is available in both wired and wireless (Bluetooth) versions, both of which come in Small (with a 6.0- by 3.7-inch drawing surface and 7.9- by 6.9-inch overall size) and Medium (with an 8.3- by 5.3-inch drawing surface and 10.4- by 7.8-inch overall size). The larger size can come with or without a headset, and you can choose between two colors for either size: classic black, or a pretty pale pistachio green.
Positive Amazon review: “If you’re new to tablets and don’t know which one to get I definitely recommend this one. It’s small and affordable especially with the drawing programs it comes with it’s a great way to start. And drawing becomes easier the more you use it.”
2. A Large Working Surface With Impressive Pressure Sensitivity
If you want a larger working space, the Huion H610PRO V2, which has over 3,000 Amazon reviews an 4.6-star overall rating, is worth a closer look. This drawing tablet offers a 10-by-6.25-inch working surface, which is enough room to place a smartphone on the tablet surface and still have plenty of space to comfortably draw. The entire tablet measures 13.9 by 9.65 inches and is less than half an inch thick, which means it should fit nicely in most backpacks. Best of all, the battery-free stylus and tablet offers an impressive 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and up to 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity.
There are eight customizable hard shortcut buttons located on the left side of the device and 16 soft keys placed at the top, plus two buttons you can customize on the stylus (including the option to use it in eraser mode). You'll also enjoy wide compatibility with Windows, macOS, and Android 6.0 smartphones. Another bonus? The stylus comes with eight replacement tips and a convenient holder for storing the pen.
Positive Amazon review: “The pen is very ergonomic, and the pen tip glides across the surface smoothly. Not only that, but the sensors are responsive to a variety of pressure levels. It's also easy to configure the hard buttons and softkeys. The complimentary pen stand and extra tips are a great bonus. All in all, a fantastic buy; its value has more than paid for itself.”
3. The Best Budget Option — & The Most Compact
This compact Huion drawing tablet won't weigh you down with its super-light 0.3-pound design. The tablet measures just over 7 inches long and almost 5 inches wide and is only a quarter-inch thick, so it won't take up too much space on a desk or in a bag. Of course, it also has a smaller working surface (just 4.8 by 3 inches), but users report it's plenty functional, especially for beginners who don't want to spend too much on a tablet.
This portable device is ready to travel or keep in your workspace with macOS, Windows, and Android smartphone compatibility, four customizable keys for programming your most-used shortcuts, and a battery-free stylus that boasts a one-touch eraser function and eight extra pen nibs. While the stylus doesn't support tilt sensitivity, you can expect an impressive 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. According to pleased Amazon reviewers this tablet works well for digital art, photo editing, homework, note-taking, and more.
Positive Amazon review: “EXTREMELY good tablet for the price point. If you are new to art and not sure if a pricy tablet is appropriate, this is a good choice. For more advanced artists who are trying to do commission etc. it may be TOO small and basic, but may be a good investment to start with if you don’t have much money to spend."
4. A Great All-Around Tablet With Lots Of Accessories
The GAOMON M10K PRO has an impressive spec list that outpaces the top pick on this list in some respects (the larger 10- by 6.25-inch working area and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity) but doesn't quite compete with the authority of the Wacom brand — or the free software and configuration options. Still, this GAOMON drawing tablet ably offers compatibility with both Macs and PCs as well as some Android smartphones (via the supplied adapter) and supports most drawing and graphics programs such as Photoshop and After Effects. Like other picks on this list, the battery-free stylus supports up to 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity and features two programmable shortcut buttons, but the standout feature of this drawing tablet is the advanced button panel (which left-handed users can place out of the way by rotating the tablet). Along with 10 customizable keys, this panel comes with a touch ring that offers shortcuts for actions like zooming, scrolling, and adjusting brush size.
The M10K PRO also comes with a variety of accessories that you won't find with other models, including carrying cases for the bag and tablet and a free two-finger glove, which the manufacturer suggests might improve comfort and reduce friction while drawing. The entire tablet measures 14.2 by 9.4 inches, which should fit nicely on a desktop or in a larger backpack.
Positive Amazon review: “This is a wonderful tablet, perfect for beginners and professionals alike. As someone who has used many different drawing tablets, this one is great. Simple installation and easy to pull out whenever the urge to draw arises.”