How do you choose between a small and a medium Wacom Intuos graphics tablet?

I'm a high school student who is extremely intrigued, curious, and enamoured with the idea of using a graphics tablet for art. My parents are more than willing to buy me the medium size if it assists me in my art journey. In fact, they're forcing me, well, guiding me towards choosing the medium over the small. I'm perfectly happy with the small size though. Actually, I'd be absolutely ecstatic if I received the small graphics tablet.

I'm leaning towards the small because of practicality, portability, and price, and, it seems like buying a smaller size with a smaller price is a smaller commitment. My parents want me to disregard the sizeable price difference between them though when deciding which one I really want or which one would be best suited for my needs.

The small Wacom Intuos Art graphics tablet (152x95 mm, 14 440 mm squared) - Officeworks: $126 - JB Hi-Fi: $148

The medium Wacom Intuos Art graphics tablet (215.9x134 mm, 28 930.6 mm squared) - Officeworks: $209 - JB Hi-Fi: $288

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    What kind of work will you be doing with it? If you're already accustomed to drawing on paper the size of the larger tablet or bigger and will be working with e.g. Photoshop or the like, by all means get the bigger tablet. It'll fit your muscle memory better, if nothing else. If you'll be using it as a replacement for your mouse and especially if you mostly do vector graphics work, the smaller one might be the better choice; most people I know in the latter category who got a large tablet ended up using the tablet's utility to "remap" a smaller section to the full computer screen. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 0:53

5 Answers 5


I will try to make an objective answer, not one based on my opinion.

1. Know your drawing habits

If you want a tablet you probably have been drawing for some time. So let's discover some of your drawing habits.

A) Some people draw with only the fingers, probably you only need to make some quick diagrams where precision is not very important. Using only the fingers make less precise strokes because there are many muscles and bones involved, but saves you space and is faster to produce.

B) Some other people could use the wrists as the center of the strokes.

C) And you also could use the full arm, not only the elbow as the center of the strokes.

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2. Know the dimension of the tablet

A tablet has two important dimensions, one exterior, the full device, and one interior, the drawing area. See the specs of the tablets you are interested in.

3. Make some tests

Cut a piece of thick paper the size of the exterior, and draw a rectangle of the size of that interior. Sometimes the drawing area is not perfectly centered, but that is not that important.

Take this prop tablet and draw or imagine drawing some of the work you have previously done.

Make the same with the other dimensions of the other tablets.

Remember that when using the computer you can zoom in or out, pan, and probably rotate, so what you want to measure are your single strokes of a series of them to make one shape, not to make an entire work.

4. Measure your drawings

Take now a rectangle of paper of the dimensions of the drawing area of the tablet and put them over some of your drawings and imagine if you are comfortable using that space for the same drawing.

You could also take a photo of this drawing area, a close-up, and enlarge it on the computer. Imagine this area covers the full screen.

5. Use the prop next to the computer

See if it fits in your working area, you probably need to keep space for the mouse, draw on that same working space, make some strokes. Vertical lines, horizontal ones, curves.

Do the same with the other props and compare.

Now you have clear information on what dimensions you need to comfortably use it.

Some tips.

You can always reduce the "sensitive" area on the tablet inside the software, but you can never go beyond the physical drawing area.

The more practice you have drawing the more fluidity you will have, sometimes doing small drawings are auto imposed expressive restrictions. It is more likely that you will use more arms in the future.

Some work is not drawing, some of the work is "painting", including photo retouching. That needs less precision than drawing, so sometimes a smaller tablet or area is a good thing.

If the dimensions of the main monitor are too big, you will probably feel weird making some small movements on the hand and see them amplified on a big screen.


The small is almost always too small, unless you plan on using it for a single screen 13" laptop or smaller.

Just imagine how well you would draw on 5x3" index cards all the time... How much detail you could draw... that's pretty much what you get with the small (6x3.5" actually, but it's close).

Everyone I've ever known has been better off starting with a "medium" unless you just aren't certain you even want a tablet.. or financial circumstances make the medium prohibitive. And those that really enjoy the tablet and get a small.. immediately regret not saving a bit more for at least a medium.


Tablets should be picked according to your needs. If you have a small desk or need portability you might want to go with a small tablet.

Otherwise, bigger is better. Bigger tablets will give you more room to work with, although this can be mitigated by zooming in more. The counterpoint to that is you may become so focused in you lose sight of your overall art's intended direction by focusing on small details instead of the overall picture.

Generally, the more serious you are about your art skills, the larger tablet you should have. If your art is about going as fast as you can with less inhibitions, larger tablets will let you do that.


Get the small tablet if you have a particular use case for the small one, otherwise, get the biggest one you can.

Every detail you lay down on a larger tablet will be more accurate in the final artwork. Wiggles, misalignment and errant strokes all are more apparent when you enlarge artwork and that's what you'll be doing in every case with the small one.


I bought a small one once. I was extremely disappointed. The surface was just too small to be of much use. Like they said, if you have a specific need for a small one, Ok. Otherwise, what can you fit into the budget.

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