I want to buy a graphics tablet so I can animate videos for school and maybe a youtube channel if I am good at it. I don't want to spend over $150 and I just want one that would work. (Also, if someone could direct me to a good tutorial on using them or recommend a program, that would be great)

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    Does your school have any? I would see if you can borrow one from your school either during design class or use it after school. If they do not have one then I would ask a teacher/administrator to see if the school can purchase some.
    – AndrewH
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 18:58

5 Answers 5


Looking at all the animators in the building, only one of 20 currently present animation students are using a Wacom at the moment (even tough a room full of Cintixes is available). A tablet is good for certain workflows and totally superfluous for others. Looking at the graphics designers also the same most did not use a tablet yesterday. So a very quick, statistically insignificant survey says that its not the most important of things.

With 15 years of experience with graphics as a hobby (and on and off as profession, but i'm a mechanical designer mostly so...) I can tell you that a wacom entirely nonessential. Your work does not get any better for owning one. Some workflows get more manageable with a tablet though. Especially masking, and painting/coloring work benefit immensely from a tablet. However even in these cases its possible to alter our workflow for same effect even with a mouse at no big significant change in productivity.

For animation work a tablet is essential only if you do one of the following:

  1. Traditional frame by frame animation, using no computerized tweens or rigging. (as freehand sketching is not really possible with a mouse for most people.)
  2. 3D Sculpting, which is a exceptional case that really benefits form the accuracy and pressure sensitivity.

Other than that it depends on what you do, I have a Cintix tablet connected right now (one of the perks of my job is that i have a lot of cool toys laying around). I don't use it right now except as a third monitor. Don't get me wrong its a great tool when I happen to need it, but mostly it sits idle. It greatly depends on what you do, and how traditional your approach to things are.


For animation I think you'll be stronger at it if you get a tablet and learn some of the fundamentals even if you then move on to rigging and motion tweens.

Also if you want to illustrate and color characters and backgrounds for these animations it can be incredibly useful.

Here are some very good tutorials particularly Photoshop Animation Series (part 1 of 4).

Wacom, the top manufacturer of tablets, has some very good content as well in their Wacom Community. They cover a lot of different uses and software applications.

Should also get the book Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life.

For a complete "tool" roadmap I'd suggest:

  • Wacom Intuous Draw ($90)
  • Adobe Photoshop CC ($10/mo for students)
  • AnimDessin2 [discussed in the Photoshop animation series] ($0 free)
  • Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (~$30)

And then the one other thing that hasn't been mentioned is a smoothing application. See this Answer for your options. None are expensive but it depends if you're on Mac or Windows.

  • Thanks for the answer, but I don't know anything at all about graphic tablets and I don't plan on making this a career, more of just a hobby. Is there a video or website that starts of with the basics. I also don't plan on doing very advanced drawings with this, more of just cartoons and stuff like that. Does this change your answer, or are you still sticking with it?
    – JSASCS
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:04
  • I'm sorry for the second comment but I forgot, I just went on YouTube and checked out some videos and found theodd1sout and after watching his video, I do wonder if I should use what he uses or stick with what you said, because I kind of want to do animation in the style he does it. Also, what is the difference between a tablet and a drawing monitor?
    – JSASCS
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:12
  • @JSASCS uh the only thing I might say based on the style of theodd1sout is that you might be more interested in Toonboom's Harmony but its gotten pretty advanced at this point. It used to be a very simple program basically the Animation aspect of Flash without the coding. Like all software as it became more popular it got more and more features. Photoshop is probably still going to be your better option but have a look at both and do trials if you can to see which you prefer. Make sure to start trials when you have time to do tutorials.
    – Ryan
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 23:24
  • @JSASCS to the second comment in graphics world a Tablet means Drawing Tablet. Its a pressure sensitive tablet but you don't see the screen on it. You look at your monitor/laptop while using it. A display tablet is significantly more expensive because you can see your monitor display on the tablet. theeodd1sout has everything he uses listed on his website. I've never heard of that brand of display tablet but Amazon has it for $800... much more than you need to spend lol.
    – Ryan
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 23:27
  • What about Paint Tools Sai? Is that any good?
    – JSASCS
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 23:31

If you intend to work seriously with animation/illustration/image editing/design/etc. Acquiring one is strongly recommended.

My first one i got for 90BRL (~30USD) and it was kinda okay for a beginner, had its flaws, but served me well for a handful 3 years, then i got one of those basic Intuos for 280 BRL (~90 USD), that i use professionally nowdays.

About programs and tutorials, using them is mostly getting used-to. It is considerably different from drawing in a paper. The key factor is to get used to not look at where you're drawing, but at the screen instead. And to the fact that you're dealing with absolute coordinates with your pointer, instead of relative ones, as with your mouse. At the beginning, it is normal to feel a little frustrated for not mastering it properly at the first weeks of use, the learning curve's kick-in is slow, but soon you will see yourself using it as naturally as pen and paper.

And for the programs, there is a handful of programs around there for doing stuff depending on what you will work on, since i am no animator i can't tell you with sure programs for animation specifically, but what i would tell you is that for drawing, Photoshop at first will seem a little jaggy with lines, mainly if you have a cheap tablet, but there are software out there that provide some sort of stroke stabilizing features, just like SAI or Clip Paint.

In the end, you will find by yourself which one software you feel more comfortable with, and stick with it.

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    Agree. You can get an Intuos Draw, the current most basic model from Wacom for around $80 USD. It should be more than enough for starting out.
    – spiral
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 7:23
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    I disagree at some part. I work in the visual/interface design industry and hardly ever see anyone use a graphics tablet, nor do I use one myself. I own one, love it for illustrating and drawing but for creating mockups, icon sets, etc I strongly dislike it.
    – Summer
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 9:12
  • indeed. i think i went way too generalistic here. For interface, labels, magazines, web, and some areas of design you really do not need one at all, when i'm making layouts either for web or for books, or designing packages, or ilustrating pixel art, or working with vectorial art, i prefer not using it since it will be more of a trouble than actually helpful. Precision works does not benefit from one, organic works do. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:04

From my perspective, no, you don’t need a drawing tablet for animation unless you have been brainwashed by someone who uses a drawing tablet. Drawing tablets are nowadays used primarily by concept artists, 3D modelers, and 3D sculptors – because they need precision, they cannot use a mouse to draw, sketch or sculpt. Now coming to 3D animation, animators with a mouse can make well-detailed poses for animations, so why do we need a drawing tablet for it?

First of all, we need to know that 2D Traditional Animations and 3D Animations are both different things and different software are being used to create animations. If we talk about 2D traditional animation, then yes, drawing tablets are being used here because animations are being drawn here rather than being digitally modified like a 3d digital model.

This is a part of my article, I have discussed the whole thing on my site – if you want you can check it out.


I would definitely get a drawing tablet. Most people can't draw with a mouse, so... yeah. get one. I recommend the XP-Pen Deco 03, which is a really affordable tablet, considering that it's wireless, also. (99 USD, 75.92 Pounds)

(I have no affiliation with XP-Pen, this is just my advice)

Also, if you are not willing to pay for a drawing software, I 100% recommend Krita or GIMP. If you are on a Chromebook, don't get a drawing tablet, but simply just get a stylus. you can hold down the top corner to click or to draw, and move the stylus to move your cursor. Use Pixlr X if you are on a Chromebook. (Some Plug and Play drawing tablets work with Chromebooks, just saying!)

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