A drawing tablet is pretty much a necessity for doing digital animation, and a lot of them are expensive. But in recent years there has been a large increase in more affordable alternatives. Lets take a look at some options that are priced at $300 or below:
Drawing Tablets Without Screens
If you can make do without a screen, you’ll have an easier time finding something cheaper. Though if you haven’t done a lot of digital drawing before this can be pretty intimidating, as it requires you to draw while looking up at your monitor instead of where you are drawing. This disconnect can be hard to get used to, but worthwhile as it gives you more options and versatility. Here are some I would recommend:
For $45 this is a great deal. You get a pretty big drawing area (10 x 6), a battery free pen and 8192 levels of pressure.
Huion Inspiroy H640P
At just $50, this tablet gives you pretty much everything you need. The pen is battery free and offers 8192 levels of pressure.
Wacom Intuos Pro Small
While the overall drawing area is small, you get the benefit of Wacom’s “Pro Pen” which offers high levels of pressure sensitivity and accuracy. An added bonus is that it doesn’t need to be charged. If you think $250 is still a bit steep, you should be able to find barely used ones on eBay for less.
Drawing Tablets With Screens
If a screen is an absolute must have for you, you’ll have to spend a little more. Wacom has traditionally been the leader in this department, but most of their models with screens come with a pretty hefty price tag. However over the past 5 years more affordable options have become available.
At just about $200 this is as cheap as a new drawing monitor gets. For this price you don’t get any express keys and the size is pretty small. But if money is tight this is your most economical choice.
For $50 more this one gives you six express keys and a slightly larger drawing area.
Huion Kamvas Pro 12
Currently available around $300, this model compares closely to XP-PEN but with a more vibrant screen.
Another option you could consider is a mobile device like an iPad or Android Tablet. These have the added benefit of being used as stand alone devices not attached to a computer. They can be expensive but there are a few models that aren’t too extravagantly priced.
iPad (9.7 inch model)
These start at $280 new but you’ll have to get a stylus in addition to that to draw on the screen.
These are a good option because not only can you use them as a stand alone device, they can be used with Mac Computers if you get the app called AstroPad. This allows you to use the iPad with any software you can run on your Mac, making the iPad a very versatile option.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Also available new for $280, with an included pen.
While you can’t attach this to a computer and use desktop programs, there are animation programs for Android that are cheap. Most notably there is a free version of TV Paint, which is a professional 2d Animation program.
As a general rule you can find cheaper prices on eBay if you are alright with something slightly used. In many cases you wont even be able to tell the difference and you’ll save yourself some money in process.