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Drawing tablets are essential for professional artists and animators. And a good tablet can make things much easier and faster, but they do come with an expected higher price range.
If that is what you are thinking, then you are in luck! The market for drawing tablets has grown a lot over the years, and it is not impossible to find the best drawing tablet under $100 that works for you.
However, it can be fairly difficult if you are not sure where to start. But worry not! We not only have boiled down the list to find the best of the best but also made a guide to make sure you know what you should expect of the product.
Things to Consider Before Buying
While the budget is something you should always have in mind, there are some other important things you need to consider as well for the best purchase you have hoped for. Let us get into them!
First, consider what type of drawing tablet would suit you the best. There are mainly three types you can find on the market: the traditional, display, and computer tablets.
Traditional tablets or graphics tablets are those that come with a working surface and no display. Connecting the tablet with your computer is the only way for it to work as whatever you will draw on the tablet board will appear on the monitor.
They come in different sizes of the active or drawing area, features such as shortcut keys, etc. Besides that, they are also generally the cheapest one out of the three types.
More importantly, since they don’t have many technical parts compared to the other two, they last longer and are more durable. This is one of the reasons artists, animators, and other professionals prefer using them.
However, people who like to draw while watching directly what they are drawing might have difficulty with it, which is also a reason some people switch to the others.
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Display tablets, as you can guess, have a display or screen on the working area. This allows you to draw in real-time without having the need to look at your computer while you draw on the board.
These are great for professionals who make detailed and complex work of art. One of the reasons is that the screen is pressure-sensitive so that it can register feathery light strokes.
Depending on the product and brand, they can last you for a long time. But, as it is obvious, compared to the graphics tablet, they are much more expensive.
Lastly, computer tablets or tablet computers is exactly what it means. These are an entirely independent piece of technology and don’t require any connection to the computer or any other sources.
They are mainly for drawing, so it comes with a stylus or pen, and you can draw and save your work directly on the tablet. You can even use your finger to draw as well. However, an obvious downside is that they can be very expensive.
Size and Working Area
Having a good working area and size is very important as it gives you more space to draw. And in the case of a traditional drawing tablet, the larger the drawing area, the pricier it is. But in most cases, you don’t need a bigger active space since everything gets projected on the screen.
This gives people the advantage of spending less on their first or long term drawing tablet. On the other hand, it is one of the most important factors to consider for display and computer tablets.
It is the apparent reason as a larger display screen will allow you the space to draw larger portraits, paintings, and sketches. So if that is important to you, then that is something for you to remember.
On another note, the size of the tablet in general also implies how portable it will be. A bigger tablet will take up more space, making it harder to carry with you when you travel or go places.
And this is one of the reasons professional artists use a traditional tablet as they are both lightweight and portable in size. But there are some portable and light display tablets and computer tablets as well, but you may have to sacrifice the larger display to some degree.
Tablet Pressure Sensitivity
Every type of tablet comes with a certain number or amount of pressure sensitivity. These can range from around 300 to an average of 3000 and affect the quality of your drawing.
The highest the pressure sensitivity numbers are, the more levels of thick or thin lines you can produce through the tablet. That means more resolution and details on the artwork. It also gives you more control and makes it much easier to draw as well.
The pen or stylus is the one you will use to draw with. And like pencil and paper, a good stylus can improve your drawing and experience to a whole other level. That said, there are three different types of pens you can find with the tablet: rechargeable, battery-powered, and EMR pens.
As the name suggests, rechargeable is the type of pen or stylus you can charge and use up to a particular time till they run out of charge. And that does mean you need to carry its charger with you at all times and make sure you have a power source nearby.
They typically use a lithium battery, which makes it quite slim and comfortable for drawing. But on occasions, it runs out of battery in the middle of a project; you may need to use it while it is plugged in for charging, making it quite inconvenient.
These pens have batteries inside to power them. As a result, because of the batteries, they are quite heavier than the others. But it is not much of a big difference.
Along with that, as most styluses of these types use AA batteries, they are also bigger than the others. They can be both wider and or longer. So depending on the person, it can be less comfortable or may make no difference.
However, since batteries tend to run out of power, you always need to carry extra batteries with you wherever you take it.
These ones are, understandably, the most popular among the three types. It is because they require neither batteries nor charging to use them.
They use EM frequency to power them continuously. So this means there is no hassle of charging, carrying a charger or batteries, etc. Not only that, but it also ensures much more consistent and cleaner lines as well.
Plus, most of them are very comfortable and fit in between your fingers like a pencil. All of the drawings tablets on our list also have EMR pens.
Compatibility and Connectivity
Lastly, you need to remember to make sure that the tablet is compatible with your PC or Mac. This is only applicable for graphics and display tablets, which require a connection to the monitor.
Most of such tablets support both Windows and Mac on their latest versions. But do make sure it supports the operating system you have to avoid any failures in connecting. Along with that, check if it supports the drawing program you prefer using or not.
Besides that, if you are looking for more maneuverability, then you can consider the wireless versions. These will free you from the restrictions of having to sit on the spot where you connected your tablet to the computer.
However, like all other wireless devices, they have a certain range for connections, and any little instability can ruin the flow of your work. In such cases, the standard wired versions are the best, and some offer a decent sized USB cable which allows more room and movement.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Wacom is one of the most reputable brands in the business for a long time and produces some of the best drawing tablets you can find. There are other brands as well, and in the end, it comes down to one’s preference.
From watercolor paintings to real life-like portraits and sketches, it is possible to do it all using the right drawing tablet. And if drawing is your hobby or profession, then it can make your work much easier, so it is totally worth it.
Animation requires a lot of steps, from the characters, backgrounds to the different frames that make the animation. And yes, you can do all that, both 2D and 3D animation, with a drawing tablet.
But it is better to use a display tablet to makes things easier. Plus, a bigger display screen allows more room and better animation.
Depending on the brand and quality, they can last for years. A better quality drawing tablet can last between 2 to 7 years or more.
While people may call graphic tablets a drawing tablet because they share the same purpose, graphic tablets are specifically the ones that don’t have a screen on the tablet. On the other hand, a drawing tablet is one that comes with a display screen to see what you are doing directly.
In this case, you can say graphic tablets are drawing tablets, but not all drawing tablets are graphic tablets.
5 Best Drawing Tablet Under $100
It can be hard to tell the best from the rest, especially at such a price point. So we have compiled a list of the most well-loved by professionals to help you out.
XP-PEN Star G640
If you are looking for an affordable multifunctional drawing or graphics tablet, then this is a great option for you among drawing tablet for under 100 dollars! You can draw, paint, do e-signatures, sketch and even use it for playing games like Osu!
It comes with a battery-free stylus, which means not only an uninterrupted constant drawing or playing but also a much smoother performance. You won’t be facing slow or inconsistent line flow while drawing.
Besides, it successfully replaces the traditional mouse for a wireless and battery-less convenient advanced stylus. It also comes with up to 20 replacement nibs, which is plenty to go through for years!
The tablet is only about 2 mm in thickness, and it is the same as every primary level graphic tablet. This allows you to be able to carry it around with you wherever you go without any inconvenience. Its active surface area is 6 inches in length and 4 inches in height.
That means it utilizes the tablet’s pressure sensitivity on all of its 8192 levels, giving you plenty of room to get creative with your artwork. It also helps to provide more fluidity and control while using.
Moreover, it is suitable for both the lefties and righties! This is because of the easy one-click toggle that you can use to switch between the pen and eraser. Other than that, it is suitable for Mac 10.10 and above and Windows 10, 8, and 7.
Wacom CTL4100 Intuos
This is for those who want better quality than the previous one. If you liked the first one but found it fragile or flimsy, then give this one a try. It is exactly twice its price but can still fall in your checklist of drawing tablet under 100!
It uses a USB cable to connect and use it on your PC and or Mac. You can use it for drawings and paintings to writing, editing, and as a board for classes and office meetings as well.
And thanks to its 4096 levels of area pressure sensitivity, it makes it the perfect graphics tablet for photo editing, digital art, and animation! Speaking of the pen, it has built-in EMR technology, exclusive to Wacom.
So it doesn’t use any batteries and requires no charging, you can use it just like an ordinary pen! This means a better and consistent performance until the end. The tablet has a drawing area of 6 inches in length and 3.7 inches in height, which is quite ideal and compact.
But that is not all. It has ExpressKeys, which you can place and customize to your liking and needs on the tablet and stylus. The tablet offers four, and the pen or stylus offers two! So you can put your favorite and most used function as shortcuts.
Also, other than being compatible with your Mac and Windows operating system devices, it supports OTG connector. That means you have the option to connect it to your Android devices as well!
Wacom CTL4100WLK0 Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet
Wacom has been around for a long time as one of the best brands providing graphic tablets and other similar products and devices. And just under $100, you can get their well-known premium quality wireless model.
It is an upgrade from the previous one we reviewed and shares a lot of similar features with it. You can create incredible and professional looking digital art and animation to the best of your abilities.
This is thanks to its 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, which processes every little stroke of the pen against the tablet. Along with that, you will also be getting a limited and trial creative software bundled with the purchase.
The bundle includes CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO, Corel Painter Essentials, and Corel AfterShot Pro, and this professionally used software is perfect for digital art, painting, and photography. If you are serious about any of them, this is your bet for the drawing tablet for under 100.
And with the support of Bluetooth connectivity, you get the convenience and option not to stay restricted to one area and space because of the USB cable. One charging can last you up to 4 hours. It supports Linux, Windows OS 7 and above, Mac OS X 10.11 and above, and OTG connector.
Besides, it comes with the shortcut keys like the previous one, and you can add up to six. Be it undo, zoom, scroll, etc., you can customize and add it to whichever button on the tablet or stylus you like. This makes it very user-friendly and compatible with both left and right-hand users.
For modern artists and animators, having a good graphics tablet is everything, especially if that is your job and you want to make a living out of it. And if you relate to any of those, then this one is for you!
With about 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, its pen is the perfect tool for making complex and detailed drawings, sketches, and more. It is also very popular among mangaka or manga artists.
Not only that, its simple design and programming make it a great drawing tablet for beginners, aspiring artists, and professionals alike. So if you are thinking of starting, it can very easily be your option for the digital drawing tablet under 100.
Its pen is battery-free, so it saves you from the hassle of low power and leaking battery. This, as a result, also saves you from spending more money replacing batteries or the stylus, etc.
Moreover, it has a larger active or working area of 10 inches in length and 6.25 inches in height. This gives you more control and convenience, which you need when creating a detailed professional work of art. Its ten customizable shortcut keys along with a round key and touch ring add to the convenience.
Other than that, it is compatible with both Mac and Windows, and also most digital drawing programs like SAI2, Photoshop, Illustrator, Krita, OpenCanvas, SketchBookPro, Manga Studio, and much more.
One by Wacom CTL472K1A
Getting your first graphics tablet can be intimidating and a tough decision. So it is always safe to go with a reputable and experienced brand in the business, like Wacom.
And lucky for you, because they also have an excellent affordable version of their most well-loved graphics tablets, just for beginners! It is very easy to use and a great start for kids starting to learn drawing, painting digitally, etc.
The pressure-sensitive tablet and the battery-free pen will allow you to draw or sketch in thinner and thicker lines, depending on the pressure you apply with the pen on the tablet. It can replace your mouse, making the process more convenient by turning your computer into a digital drawing canvas.
It has an average and decent size 6 inches length x 3.7 inches height working area. Plus, it is suitable for both the left-hand users and the right! So its ergonomic design also makes it a desirable option.
Along with that, you can connect it to drawing programs like Adobe Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI, Corel Painter, Corel draw, Manga Studio, illustrator, OSD, the list goes on. Its construction is very durable as well, and the tablet has around 2048 pressure levels.
No matter the age, this graphics tablet is a great choice to start learning or a new hobby! All in all, it is, without a doubt, the best drawing tablet for beginners under 100 you can find.
If you are on a budget this holiday season and want to gift someone, or yourself, then the best drawing tablet under $100 is an excellent idea. And we hope our guide will help you figure out what will be best to get.
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