Drawing Tablet vs Graphic Tablet

For a young aspiring artist, or even for someone who likes to draw or paint as a hobby, working with high-quality tools can mean the difference between drawing tablet vs graphic tablet creating a beautiful work of art and a hair-pulling frustration of seeing yourself destroy your excellent scratch, by using low-quality colors and brushes.

Well, that’s the way it used to be in the past, anyway.

In this article, we’re going to talk about a relatively novel drawing and painting tool that’s getting more and more popular among professional artists and amateurs alike. We’re talking about drawing tablet vs graphic tablet – two special breeds of drawing contraptions that you can use to create fantastic pieces of art.

In the passages below, we’ll pitch these two drawing devices against each other so that we can compare their features side by side. As you will see, there are pros and cons to both of these kinds of apparatuses, so by the end of reading this article, you’ll have a better idea of which one might work the best for your needs.

Without further ado, here’s the deal.

Drawing Tablet vs Graphic Tablet

Before computers were ever invented, artists would pay an arm and a leg to find the perfect color for their paintings.

For example, in the past, the color Byzantine blue was so rare and so difficult to manufacture that a pound of it was worth as much as a pound of gold.

The color purple, too, was so notoriously tough to make that only royal of wealthy countries and empires could afford to use it. (This is why Roman emperors would wear purple pieces of clothing and use purples flags and cloths in their victory parades.)

The rarity of the color purple is also the reason why no country today has a flag that has purple on it – because back in the day when flags were made, the color purple was so rare that even a prosperous country or empire could only afford to paint a handful of their flags with purple, which wasn’t enough to cover the needs of an entire country.

Anyway, nowadays, the situation with colors and painting and drawing tools is much different.

Nowadays, thanks to computer technologies, we can choose from millions of high-quality colors and hues – and not pay a cent for it, either! (Of course, when it comes to printing, the costs can get a bit steep, depending on your print size and quality.)

What is a Drawing Tablet?

Artist makes a drawing on tablet

Drawing tablets, also known as ‘pen displays,’ are standalone drawing devices that you can use without connecting them to a computer. (Of course, you can and should connect them to a computer at some point so that you can transfer the image you created to a program where you can edit them and perhaps touch upon them some more.)

We mentioned that drawing tablets are a ‘standalone’ kind of drawing tool because you can use them without a computer, while a graphic tablet requires you to connect it to a computer.

So, the fact that you can use a drawing tablet pretty much anywhere also means that these devices are considerably more expensive than graphic tablets.

Of course, other than the touchscreen, which you can use to draw, they come with a range of other useful features, as well as with special software that you can use independently from your computer.

What is a Graphics Tablet?

artist trying to make drawing

A graphic tablet is a contraption that helps you draw with a special pen that you use and the tablet.

As we already explained above, one of the main differences between a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet is that graphic tablets don’t have screens.

This means that you cannot use them without a computer or a similar device with a screen. Since a graphic tablet only gives you the option to draw on it without tracking your lines, so to speak, you need a screen where you can see what the thing you’re drawing looks like.

In those terms, it could be said that using a graphic tablet is a tad more difficult because you’re drawing something on a tablet while having to look at a screen to see what you’re drawing.

That said, this could not be described as a major setback, as getting used to this way of drawing is pretty quick, and it doesn’t require any special training.

Drawing Tablet vs Graphic Tablet: Side-by-Side Comparison


When it comes to drawing on any surface, the accuracy with which you’re drawing the lines or filling in the paint between lines is crucial for the quality of the result, so to speak.

Now, with graphic tablets, accuracy is possibly one of its biggest strengths.

Since graphic tablets have a considerably simpler construction than drawing tablets, all the focus is on the sensitivity and the durability of the surface that the special pen comes in contact with.

Typically, these surfaces are designed to be both sensitive to even the smallest variations of pressure and movement, so you can rest assured that once you get comfortable with using the special pen with the surface below it, you will be able to create drawings that are just as good if not better than those you used to make with simple pen and paper.

On the other hand, while graphic tablets tend to be slightly more durable than drawing tablets (mostly because they have a simpler construction), this doesn’t mean that drawing tablets are worse in terms of accuracy and pressure sensitivity.

The only problem you may experience while using a drawing tablet in this regard would be the wear and tear of the touchscreen, which can break or get damaged more easily than the pressure-sensitive surface of a graphic tablet.


One of the common questions young artists have when it decides whether to buy a graphic tablet or a drawing tablet would certainly be the price.

In this category, graphic tablets take the cake.

The reasons for this are pretty self-evident if you take one look at a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet side by side.

Since graphic tablets have a considerably simple build, with few parts that can break or need replacements, you can see why they are much less expensive than their counterparts with screens.

Speaking of the devil, the fact that drawing tablets come with a special touchscreen would be one of the biggest reasons it is so expensive compared to graphic tablets.

Of course, the touchscreen is just a part of it, as other useful features such as specialized software that comes with it and many other different options and settings that you can fiddle with all contribute to the higher overall price.

Last but not least, drawing tablets allow you to draw wherever you are, without having to link them to a computer or some other device, while graphic tablets cannot be used without a computer.

Learning Curve

If we consider the many advanced drawing and editing options that you get from using graphic or drawing tablets, it’s safe to say that the learning curve for both of these contraptions is relatively steep. (Meaning it’s quite easy to learn, even if you’ve never used one of these devices before.)

That said, there are some slight differences between how quickly you can learn to use a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet.

The thing is, since a drawing tablet comes with a screen, you can immediately see what you’re drawing in a similar way you would with a common pen and paper. So, learning how to control that special pen is just a matter of getting used to handling it and how much pressure you need to exert to draw different line thicknesses.

Typically, it won’t take you more than a couple of days to get the hang of it. (Of course, you can start using it right away, but you would need to practice for a couple of days.)

On the other hand, learning how to use a graphic tablet is difficult because the screen you’re looking at is not right below the pen.

Typically, you would place a graphic tablet on the table in front of you, and your computer screen will be where it usually is at the level of your head, so to speak.

This may present a slight challenge initially as you need to look at the screen and, at the same time, draw on a tablet on the table.

That said, getting the hang of this drawing is still a piece of cake, as most people can draw beautiful art from day one. (Again, you would need some more time for mastery of this method, but you can start using it right away, just as is the case with the drawing tablet.)


All in all, whether you prefer to use a drawing tablet or a graphic tablet, creating digital art has never been easier. The vast array of options and features you can work with will give you a creativity boost even on a bad day, so to speak.

We hope you found this article drawing tablet vs graphic tablet helpful and wish you plenty of success with your drawing ventures.

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