Best Tablet for 3D Modeling


I saw a tablet ina video where you can use a pen to model, but use your hands to adjust stuff like view etc. The tablet was never named and I wanted to know if anyone knows of something similar


“Best” is highly subjective. It can often depend on your needs, comfort level, and budget. Over the past 35 years, I’ve owned a fairly large number of tablets. Here are my observations.

For poly modeling, a traditional 3-button mouse is really all that you need. Some people are quite adept at modeling with a tablet. However, I find that a mouse works better given the number of menus you’ll encounter. Additionally, in certain situations, a mouse can offer you a greater degree of fine control. You don’t have to go fancy or expensive with your mouse choice, but you should find one that is comfortable to work with for long stretches. If you’ve got RSI issues, a good ergonomic mouse is a must. I use a Logitech MX Master 2S myself. Big. Chunky. Wireless. Works on all surfaces.

To the meat of your question…

Tablets come in most handy when you’re performing tasks such as texturing, drawing/painting, or sculpting. Choosing a tablet is a bit personal and I’ll tell you why.

SIZE: Everybody’s stroke is different. Some people have a lot of elbow action. Others work mostly from the wrist. Still, others prefer large sweeping motions that emanate from the shoulder. Take notice of your own drawing style. If you’re a wrist-y, a small form tablet is probably most comfortable for you. If you find that working on a piece regular 8.5"x11" paper is in where you shine, a medium sized tablet would be a good fit for you. If, however, you’re used to working with big canvases, anything smaller than a large tablet will cramp your style.

PRICE: Bigger size? More features? Bigger brand name? Bigger sticker price. That’s pretty much how it goes. A tablet can cost you anywhere from $50-$3k depending on your needs.

BRAND: The industry standard is Wacom. They’ve been around for decades. They’re sturdy, fully featured, and well supported. The drivers are also rock solid. To be clear, they’re not the only game in town. You can also get a tablet from a lesser known brand such as UGEE, Huion, & XP-Pen. Some of them might be bit less robust than a Wacom, but they’re also generally much cheaper. Just read the product reviews. Results may vary. Some are great. Others… less so.

FEATURES: As a bare minimum, you should look for the following qualities: Batter-free pen. At least 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. 3-buttons on the pen. (Tip, Eraser, & Barrel) Side oriented, customizable buttons on the tablet itself. Matte, paper-like feel to the drawing surface. More money will buy you more features, of course. Tablets with built-in monitors are a thing, but they can set you back anywhere from $1k-$2k, generally speaking.

MODEL: I’m a big fan of Wacom tablets. That’s what I’ll speak to. Beware of the Wacom One, Wacom Bamboo, or any of the other more basic tablets. They’re cheaper to be sure, but the top orientation of the buttons on the tablet are a pain in the butt. They place your hand in a pretty unnatural position at times. Gripping a tablet from the side and hitting the buttons with your thumb is less pain inducing from my experience. Feature-wise, I would consider the Wacom Intuos Pro (small) to be your baseline. It meets all of the basic criteria and can be had for as little as $150. A comparable Huion might only cost you $50. I can’t vouch for it though. Never used one. Personally, I use two tablets. The first is a run of the mill Wacom Intuos Pro. The other is a Wacom Cintiq 22HD pen display. Whatever you choose, don’t spend too much until you know that a tablet is right for your needs.

APP SUPPORT: Wacom tablets are universally supported. I haven’t run into a major app that supports tablets, but not the Wacom brand. On the other hand, some of the lesser known brands might be a little more hit or miss. Strokes might be jittery. You might get some lag. Not all buttons might function. The tablet might not work at all - in that specific app. Do your research. At the very least, make sure that the following apps are thoroughly supported: ZBrush, Photoshop, Substance Painter, Krita, Corel Painter, Blender, Gimp, Sketchbook, Illustrator, & Inkscape. Again, Wacom tablets “just work” right out of the box in all tablet supporting apps. If you prefer a non-Wacom brand or that’s all that you can afford, be sure that it’ll work with the apps you use or need most. IOW, know your needs.

TOUCH: Meh. It’s kind of a gimmick, tbh. Some people love it. Even with good palm rejection, I tend to turn it off. I just find touch to be annoying. The pen feels more natural to me. If you feel differently, just be aware that multi-touch capabilities on the Wacom Intuos brand only exist in the Pro line. Entry level Intuos tablets don’t include touch capabilities.


Here are a few tablets to choose from:

BTW: Don’t be afraid of getting a refurbished tablet, especially Wacom brand. They’re certified and work as well as the new ones. In many case, they’re inspected much more thoroughly. They tend to come in unassuming generic boxes, but they’re full featured, pristine, and come with everything a pricier new tablet would - down to the free software. (The above Wacom Intuos Pro Small would normally retail for 2x the price if you bought it new. FYI.) I bought a refurbished/renewed Wacom tablet that once lasted me for 7 years. I only retired it when the hardware standards shifted from serial port to USB. Otherwise, it still worked like new.

One last caveat. Beware non-Wacom tablets for one reason. The prices are good. The features are (more or less) comparable. You might even find them to be as durable. HOWEVER, good luck finding a replacement pen if yours breaks. Some brands don’t sell replacements or make it very hard for you to get one. Research replacement pens if you’re considering a non-Wacom tablet. Huion sells replacements, but not all non-Wacom brands do. Best to find out early on.


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