Should I Get A Drawing Tablet With Screen Or Without?

When choosing a drawing tablet, deciding if you want to get a drawing tablet with a screen or without is very important. And this does depend on a few factors!

Should you get a drawing tablet with a screen or without? You should get a drawing tablet with a screen if your budget allows you to spend more on a drawing tablet and you have some desk space.

If you have a lower budget or want a more portable solution, I recommend you choose a drawing tablet without a screen!

So what’s best for your particular case? Keep reading to find out if you should get a drawing tablet with a screen or without.

A Drawing Tablet Without A Screen Is For You If

There are many reasons why you might want a drawing tablet without a screen, in this article we’re gonna name some and hopefully, it will make things clearer for you:

You Want a Portable Drawing Solution

Since they have no screen you have a bigger variety of sizes. Of course, there are big non-screened tablets, but if you want them to be portable, there are many tablets that can fit in a bag or backpack to choose from.

I personally really like the HUION H420X or the GAOMON S620, on Amazon! Both of them are quite small, making them easy to carry around. They also have only one cable so you can connect them to the pc.

Personally, one of the biggest problems with screened tablets is that most of them require a whole lot of cables. If you’re planning on bringing them with you, it’s a bit of a hassle.

Not only that but non-screened tablets, besides existing in smaller sizes, are almost weightless! Seriously, you’ll barely notice they’re in your bag.

Since they’re small and don’t require a lot of accessories, they won’t take much space either.

I’m actually really glad drawing tablet manufacturers started focusing on making smaller and slimmer designs. You can really tell they put some thought into giving us good and professional tablets while being very portable.

drawing of a girl with a drawing tablet without a screen
Drawing Tablets without screen are extremely portable!

If you need to bring your drawing tablet to work or school, it’s more than understandable the necessity for them to be easy to carry.

I’m not from the bulky drawing tablets time, but I can’t imagine what must have been if you needed to bring them anywhere!

You’re A Beginner Digital Artist

Going from traditional to digital art is quite a big step. Not only because it’s a whole different medium, but you’re also gonna have to spend money on it.

Now I’m not saying that materials for traditional mediums are cheap. Quite the contrary!

However, it’s easier to find some pencils around the house than a drawing tablet.

For that reason, I understand that making the decision of going from one medium to the next is hard. You’re also not sure if digital art is for you, so I can see the dilemma.

But that’s exactly why I think non-screened tablets are perfect for beginner digital artists.

They’re less expensive, can be as small or as big as it’s comfortable for you and, they’re quite simple to both set up and use.

You don’t have a lot of cables to think about and there are also not many buttons most of the time. Some tables only have 3 buttons that you can assign to any shortcut you want.

This might not seem like a big thing, but when you’re trying something new, you’ll probably want a product that is as simple as possible. You just want to draw, that’s it.

Since you’re new to drawing digitally, shortcuts won’t probably be too important right now either. Years later I still don’t use that many shortcuts!

It’s all a matter of adaptation and the fewer things you have to focus on at the beginning, the better in my opinion.

And, if in the end, you realize that digital art isn’t actually for you, it’s wasn’t that big of an investment. You can give it to a friend even!

On the other hand, if you see that digital illustration is the perfect fit, then later on you can think about buying a bigger tablet with more functions.

Your Budget Is Limited

As I mentioned before, non-screened tablets tend to be much cheaper! Of course, there’s still a wide range of prices and it all depends on the functions and size you want.

But the specs of these tablets are almost identical to one another nowadays. For example, any tablet you find will have 8192 pressure levels.

That’s just the standard now, but back in the day, you’d have tablets with different pressure levels between them.

And that of course was an important factor when buying a new tablet.

So if you pick a budget tablet like the HUION H420X that I mentioned before, you’ll get something quite good for only 25$!

Of course, this will be a small tablet and in this case with no shortcut buttons on the tablet itself, only on the pen.

But again, this is probably one of the cheaper drawing tablets you will find!

For just a few more bucks, the HUION Inspiroy H640P, on Amazon, is not only bigger, but it also has 6 customizable keys!

So as you can see, if you have a very limited budget, worry not, you’ll find something that fits your needs.

And, of course, I’m only mentioning here the options with the lowest prices. We got an article all about drawing tablets for any kind of budget, so check it out for a few more options!

Durability Is Important To You

Drawing tablets without a screen tend to last a long time. I’ve had mine for quite some years and still work!

Even though I got replacements over time, the old ones still work and I even ended up giving one away to a friend who wanted to try out digital art.

But one of the reasons they are so durable is exactly the absence of a screen.

These, even with a screen protector, tend to scratch more easily. Not only that, screens are more sensitive in general. Sooner or later you’ll end up with some dead pixels on your screened tablet.

However, it all depends on the use you give them and how careful you are with them.

But in general, non-screened tablets will last longer.

Now I’m not saying you don’t need to care for them. The surface might gain some scratches as well, so I highly recommend checking on the tip of your stylus from time to time, so you’re sure it’s smooth and clean.

This way, you’re sure it won’t scratch the surface of the tablet.

Wearing a drawing glove is also a very good idea. The sweat and oils from our hands will dirty up the tablet and that might change how responsive the tablet is to the touch.

As with everything, it needs care.

Also, if this is a tool that you’re planning to carry around with you, it will more easily endure the travels than a screened tablet.

Remember the tablets I mentioned that still survived to this day? One of them would routinely travel in my backpack to and from college!

You Don’t Mind The Time Needed To Get Used To It

The biggest con about a drawing tablet without a screen is that you need some time to adapt yourself to it.

Usually, before jumping into digital art, all we know is paper. So that’s what we’re used to. The feel of drawing directly on paper with a pencil or a pen.

However, with a non-screened tablet, it’s not quite the same. You’re drawing on the tablet, but seeing your actions happening on a screen in front of you.

Now, this is not really problematic, but it’s good to know that it might take a few days to get used to this feeling.

So if this is something that doesn’t bother you and you actually welcome the challenge, then it really is no issue!

Not only that, but I feel like it’s not a very important factor to take into consideration when making a choice. However, I think it’s still something it’s good to know.

When I got my first tablet I didn’t know about this and took me a long time until I picked it up properly.

If I knew about this small adaption at the time, maybe I wouldn’t be as scared to try it out and just give it some days to adapt myself to it.

That’s mostly why I always like to talk about it, so people are a bit more prepared.

Just give it a few days and you’ll be a natural at it!

A Drawing Tablet With A Screen Is For You If

Alright, we went through different reasons why you might want a non-screened tablet. So now it’s screened drawing tablets turn, let’s start!

You Want A Seamless Transition From Traditional Art

As I mentioned before, a non-screened drawing tablet has the disadvantage where you need some time to adapt yourself to it. The feeling is different since the surface you’re drawing on and where the drawing takes place are in two different locations. 

With a screened tablet though, it’s almost like you’re drawing directly on the paper.

There are even screen protectors that help with this feeling. The surface feels a bit more textured instead of completely smooth.

But, in short, the transition from paper to tablet is much easier.

You draw directly on the screen and see the lines happening right beneath your pencil!

I’ll be honest here, only very recently did I start using a drawing tablet with a screen and, since I was only used to the non-screened ones, I thought I would have to go through some adaption time.

How wrong I was! I picked up the stylus and started drawing and it felt so natural. Really, I didn’t feel weird or had to figure out different positions to draw. It was effortless!

You Have A Higher Budget

Drawing tablets with screens are… expensive! Nowadays thankfully, the prices are much more affordable and there are many possibilities.

However, you most likely won’t find something good for less than 200$.

I recently had the pleasure to try out and review the GAOMON PD1561, which can be considered a budget tablet and I’m really happy with it!

Of course, the price depends a lot on the size of the tablet itself, so that is always something to take into consideration.

The same goes for the stand of the tablet.

Since you draw directly on the tablet, it needs a stand.

Some are very simple where you can only choose between two positions and others offer much more than that.

The price will also differ a lot between a wired and a wireless drawing tablet!

So as you can see, there are more specs to have into consideration with screened drawing tablets than with ones without a screen.

But again, if you want a screened tablet to test out the waters, you can find very affordable drawing tablets that will last you for a long time and are very professional!

You Have Decent Desk Space And Want A Bigger Tablet

Even though there are screenless drawing tablets that are pretty big, the bigger drawing tablets usually have a screen.

In truth, it’s not really comfortable to draw on a tablet with a very small screen. So you’ll most likely find either medium or big-sized tablets with a screen.

drawing of a girl drawing on a screened drawing tablet and enjoying it
You need some desk space, but your drawing tablet can act as a second screen!

This can be a big factor when choosing your next tablet.

For example, you might prefer to draw on a smaller canvas. Or you want to be able to bring your tablet with you as you saw in previous topics.

Or you even, and maybe this is the most important point, you don’t have a lot of space in your workplace.

Personally, I prefer to draw on a smaller canvas, so I’m perfectly happy with a medium-sized tablet.

The GAOMON PD1561 that I mentioned before is perfect for the kind of work I do.

I can fit perfectly both the tablet and a monitor on my desk and I still have some extra space if I want to use my sketchbook or do other traditional work!

So if you do have lots of space on your desk and want a big tablet, then screened drawing tablet is the right choice for you.

You’re A Professional Artist Or Want To Improve Faster

Even though it’s not scientifically proven, many artists say they’ve improved at drawing much faster after using a drawing tablet with a screen.

And maybe it’s not as much the case of improving faster, but the fact that it’s easier to get into it and be more productive.

I’ve been drawing for quite some years, and only switched to a screened tablet very recently. However, I felt like my art became more… fluid and interesting!

I felt much more comfortable drawing.

It felt more natural and intuitive, like when you draw on paper, but still keeping the forgiveness of digital art. (thank you for existing CTRL+Z!)

With a screened tablet, for some reason, I wanted to experiment much more and play with my art and try new things.

And I think it’s really just that, it feels much more intuitive and for that reason, we gain more confidence!

A screened tablet is also the most common choice for professional artists because they have more quality in general.

If you work with very big files, you’ll probably want a big screen to work directly on. So you can zoom in and out and see all the details perfectly.

But of course, we all have our own tastes and some might prefer to draw directly on a screen while others might prefer a simpler option.

It all depends on your wants and needs!

Drawing Tablet With Screen VS Without A Screen

So, which one is best for you, a drawing tablet with a screen or without a screen?

Only you can say. 

But as a general professional opinion, I recommend going with a drawing tablet with a screen if your budget allows it.

Read each topic I mentioned above and think about what’s best for you and what you need right now.

And, I mentioned this one before, if you’re thinking about which drawing tablet should you buy based on size, click the link to find my recommendations.

Finally, if you want to combine the best of both worlds of portability and using a screen, I really recommend getting an iPad with an Apple Pencil

I’ve mentioned it several times in the article I’ve linked above, but there’s also the possibility of getting an iPad for drawing if you can spend the money and want a lot more features.

Even though it’s a bit more on the expensive side, I think it’s really worth it.

You have both a drawing tool and a device that will allow you to do almost everything you do on a computer!

I hope this has helped you decide between a drawing tablet with a screen or without, now go draw some stuff!

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Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!

Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!