What’s the Difference Between a Graphics Tablet and a Drawing Tablet?

To someone who isn’t very well-versed in the field of creating art on a tablet, you might not readily understand the difference between a graphics tablet and a drawing tablet. And it might be true that a hobbyist might not even recognize the differences or feel the need to switch between either.

However, if you want to be very specific, you might want to realize what advantage each has over the other, and that’s exactly what I’ll tell you about in this article, so keep on reading.

Short Answer: Where You See the Drawing

If the difference between a graphics tablet and a drawing tablet can be summed up in a few words, it would be where you see your art as you create it.

Drawing Tablet

If you don’t want to connect your device to an external screen, you should opt for a drawing tablet as it can be used independently of anything else, and this is why they come at a premium price. 

Simply, you can see whatever you’re drawing while you’re in the process, which makes it feel like you’re drawing on regular paper. These ones are simply known as display tablets.

And though this type of tablet is superior when it comes to mastering drawings and getting high-quality end results, the high-end choices can cost more than $1000.

Graphics Tablet

On the other hand, if you want to save some money and don’t mind connecting your device to an external screen, you should opt for a graphics tablet. However, this isn’t a practical situation in the long run for dedicated artists, as you’d have to keep on going back and forth between the external screen and the tablet itself.

The connection itself is pretty simple, all you have to do is use a USB cable to connect the tablet to the screen, and you’re good to go. However, you’ll need to be a little patient and work on your hand-eye coordination as even professionals can find the experience a little complicated at first.

Still, with the durability of graphics (or non-display) tablets and their affordability, you’ll be getting an excellent investment that’ll last you for a good number of years.

The Differences

Ergonomics

This is an aspect in which both devices would greatly differ, as a drawing tablet would probably have you angle the screen on a desk and draw on a medium that’s lower than your gaze. Of course, this means that it’s not the best when it comes to maintaining good posture and might strain your neck if you spend elongated periods of time working.

On the other hand, a graphics tablet would have you looking ahead to the screen on which your work would appear, consequently, keeping your neck and back at ease without compromising good posture.

Portability

No matter how huge a drawing tablet gets, it would still probably be easier to move around from a place to another, which means that you can get your creative juices flowing just about anywhere.

And with all the advances in technology, drawing tablets are getting lighter by the release, so you won’t feel like you’re carrying a rock all day long.

On the other hand, even if you’re willing to grab your graphics tablet on the go, you would still have to bring the whole pack, including your laptop, a power outlet, and a cable to connect them like a USB or HDMI.

Size

This is an aspect that contributes to portability, and in both cases, the size of the device will be dictating how much space you have for drawing, and that’s why graphics tablets are superior in this area as they come at huge sizes and aren’t limited to a tablet-like size. Around 8 x 10 inches would be good enough for most drawing purposes, which is probably not something that you can find on a drawing tablet.

Durability

In terms of actual hardware, I’d say that graphics tablets could be a little more durable. And if you think about it, you won’t be doing a variety of activities with them, which means that the chance of anything happening to them is a lot less.

X-Pen and Huion are on the more affordable spectrum, and they last a good while, with some users being able to squeeze their functionality for years on end.

Price

It’s no secret that graphics tablets come at much more affordable price ranges than drawing ones, and that’s why they’re a good bang for the buck. Even the highest-end, professional options can still cost less than what an average drawing tablet would.

Sensitivity to Pressure

Any touch-operated device comes with a degree of sensitivity, and those of tablets usually range from 300 and up to 3,000 levels. Naturally, the more levels there are, the more versatility you get with the thickness of the lines you can draw.

So, if you’re looking to create high-resolution drawings with plenty of details when it comes to lines, go for the highest number you can get. A minimum of 1,024 levels would be suitable for a beginner, and 2,048 would be ideal for more advanced artists.

Pros and Cons

Graphics Tablets

Pros:

  • A wider range of options to choose from as they’re more affordable, and thus produced more than drawing ones
  • High accuracy while drawing as they respond better to different levels of pressure, allowing you to make very intricate designs with various drawing tools
  • Durable components with resistance against water and dust on high-end devices
  • Can last up to 10 years

Cons:

  • Have a learning curve as you need to hone your hand-eye coordination
  • Can’t be used on its own and requires an entire set up
  • Only offers one functionality (drawing)

Drawing Tablets

Pros:

  • Used as standalone devices that allow you to see what you’re drawing as you’re making the brushes
  • Don’t have a learning curve and feel more intuitive, like drawing on paper with a pen
  • Enhances workflow speed as everything is going on in one environment
  • Highly portable and allow you to work from practically anywhere
  • Can be used for more purposes than just drawing

Cons:

  • Due to the constant pressure being applied to their screens, they can deteriorate and form color sparkles
  • More likely to overheat
  • A lot pricier than graphics tablets
  • Not as durable as graphics tablets as they last around 5 years
Final Thoughts

After going over the details that make them similar or set them apart, hopefully, you have a better understanding of which of them suits your needs better. In the end, it’s about what feels more convenient to you while you’re creating and manifesting your art.