Do You Need a Drawing Tablet for Graphic Design?

Like many artists, graphic designers need specific tools of their trade to create exceptional pieces of artistry and other visually impacting works; but there is some contention over whether a drawing tablet is one of those vital tools or if you can be a successful graphic designer without these popular gadgets.

A drawing tablet is not required for graphic design. In essence, graphic design means an individual can use computer software to create a visual representation of an artistic concept or message. This can be done with several devices, including drawing tablets; but they do have unique advantages.

In this article, we’ll discuss the alternative tools you can use for graphic design apart from a drawing tablet and the benefits of each. As you keep reading, you’ll also learn a few reasons why you might want to use a drawing tablet and why this device is so favored amongst graphic designers.

Devices You Can for Graphic Design Use Instead of a Drawing Tablet

Drawing tablets are just one of the many devices and tools you can utilize for graphic design. Although they are undoubtedly popular, particularly amongst professionals, you’ll find that even the most skilled graphic designers have an array of devices in their arsenal to create the most effective and exceptional works.

Some of the best devices you can use for graphic design, apart from a drawing tablet, include:

  • Laptop
  • Desktop
  • Smartphone

If you’re torn between which option to invest in first, don’t worry. Below, we’ve briefly discussed the benefits of each option for any graphic designer. We’ll also list some specs and other aspects to look out for to ensure you choose the one best suited to graphic design tasks.


A laptop is a great option for graphic designers as it offers mobility and flexibility. While most laptops are a bit bulkier than the average drawing tablet, they still provide the same benefit of portability, allowing you to work wherever you go. A laptop’s increased size can also be a benefit, as this means they tend to have larger screens than other devices making them ideal for detailed design work.

When it comes to specs, you’ll want a laptop with:

  • As much memory (RAM) as possible (to handle large graphic design files)
  • Solid state drive (SSD) over hard disk drive (HDD) (for increased speed and accuracy)
  • At least 15-17inch. monitor with HiDPI (for a large enough work screen that has higher density of pixels for detail)
  • 100% of Adobe RGB (for ultimate color accuracy)

Another feature you can look out for is a laptop with a touchscreen or even a convertible touchscreen laptop, giving you nearly all the benefits of a tablet with the versatility of a laptop.


A desktop setup can be extremely beneficial for graphic designers because you can purchase a much larger monitor for your work, they have a reduced risk of overheating, and are easier to upgrade and customize to your specific needs.

While their initial sticker price might be daunting, especially if you need to buy all of the pieces for the setup separately, a quality desktop setup is often cheaper than a laptop with comparable specs, making this a potential budget-friendly option for graphic designers purchasing equipment with limited funds.

Additionally, if you’re the type of graphic designer who is more productive when they have a set workspace, like an office, rather than designing on the go, then a desktop setup is perfect for you.

Specs you’ll want to prioritize in a desktop setup include:

  • 4+ cores for CPU
  • SSD over HDD
  • At least 16GB RAM
  • Intel or AMD processor (64-bit Support)

Ideally, you’d pair a decent tower with 4K monitors for color accuracy, although much of this will also rely on having an exceptional GPU. If you enjoy being able to multitask while designing, we recommend purchasing an ultrawide monitor or dual monitors so you can split your tasks between screens (ex. research and references on one, designing on the other).


It’s definitely not any graphic designer’s first choice, but many people are surprised to read that you can actually use your everyday SMART phone for these tasks in a pinch.

There are a multitude of graphic design apps you can easily download and use on your phone, such as:

  • Adobe Capture CC and Adobe Comp
  • Infinite Design
  • Sketchbook
  • Photoshop Express

Having access to these apps on your phone can be useful for sketching ideas, making quick fixes on a design you’ve already made, or creating crude visual examples for clients. Ultimately, you won’t be able to build your entire graphic design career off mobile phone apps, but they can come in handy more than you might realize.

Reasons Why You Might Want to Use a Drawing Tablet for Graphic Design

If you told a graphic designer that they could only use one electronic device for their work and ask which they would choose, most would likely answer with a drawing tablet for a number of reasons.

Drawing tablets are often viewed as the ideal device for graphic designing due to their:

  • Portability
  • Comfort
  • Price

Thanks to their sleek and slender design, drawing tablets are the easiest device to have by your side when you need to squeeze quality work time in-between travel or enjoy having the freedom to work in nearly any environment. While mobile phones might win the category for most portable device, their features can’t even begin to rival a drawing tablet.

Many graphic designers also prefer drawing tablets because it allows them to utilize a stylus for increased comfort and ease while designing versus the typical touchpad or mouse.

Lastly, drawing tablets give you more bang for your buck compared to a bulky laptop or an extensive desktop setup. If you want a high-quality laptop that can handle graphic design software and tasks without wearing out after a year or two of use, you’ll usually have to pay a hefty sum.

Finding a desktop setup with comparable specs is often cheaper, but you lose the perk of portability that many graphic designers prioritize. Drawing tablets are a nice in-between. Because they’re specifically designed for graphic design tasks they’re just as efficient, if not more efficient, than a laptop or desktop setup for a significantly reduced priced.

Final Thoughts

If you want to be a graphic designer but you don’t have a drawing tablet or you can’t quite justify having one of these devices, you can still pursue this career by investing in a laptop or desktop setup that can handle graphic design tasks. You can even use your Smartphone if you’re in a pinch.

However, investing in a drawing tablet is highly recommended considering its economic, ergonomic, and convenience advantages, but the choice should ultimately rely on which device is best suited for you.