Selection of drawing tablet for architects needs to be based after careful consideration of a few parameters

A Knowledge article on Suitable Drawing Tablets for Architects

The Architects’ dilemma

Designing a major construction project, for residential or luxury living is NOT easy. Executing projects from concept to completion comes with its own share of problems. Architects often have to cope up with ‘designer’s block‘, extremely tight deadlines, and making decisions ‘on the go’. The architect’s decision-making process can often become complex. This is true, especially when they execute novel building concepts. Leading architects and professionals now recommend the use of architect pads, which are customized drawing tablets for architects.

Most architects even today stick to the traditional computer and occasional drawing board for their drawings. But architecture is more about ‘planning’ than designing.

First of all, the modern architect has to give more thought to the anticipated use of the space created. Surely, this is far more complex than just designing the required space. Further, they are expected to deliver an entire ‘virtual’ building with all its complex elements and features. Most enterprises specify this as a pre-requisite to ‘green-light’ the project.

Next, trends in building design favor the use of pre-made models. Because standardized and repeatable designs are the ‘need of the hour’. Consequently, most enterprises expect architects to reduce their average ‘design’ turnaround time. Thus, in conclusion, architects should depend more on technology to ‘get the job done‘.

the need for drawing tablets for architects
How drawing tablets are slowly replaced traditional architect tools (Image Source: Architizer)

How do drawing tablets get the job done for architects?

Digital sketch pads are special drawing tablets for architects. Architects can benefit from the inherent benefits of utilizing these pads:-

  1. Great time savers: These devices save time while transferring and entering data into estimating and design software. This data can be easily accessed on multiple platforms.
  2. Precise replication of ‘hand-drawn’ / printed drawings: These devices enable 100% replication and creation of a digital file for storage and future modification.
  3. Completely mobile: Architects can easily carry these devices ‘on-site’. They can also work ‘on the go.’
  4. Streamline of approvals: Most architectural drawings go through several rounds of internal and customer approvals. Drawing tablets easily interface with multiple platforms and communication software. Hence, they help streamline the approval process at various points.
  5. Advanced drawing functionality: Most drawing tablets come with a perspective finder software and support augmented reality. Architects can easily use these advanced tools to build a ‘virtual building’ with a great deal of detail.
How a Drawing tablet is most suited to meet the needs of a modern architect (Image source: ArchDaily)

Drawing tablet for Architects : the selection parameters

Primary selection parameters:

Following are the primary selection parameters for purchasing drawing tables for architects:-

  1. Resolution: A typical architect’s pen tablet needs to be of medium-to-high resolution. This enables the user to get into finer image detailing and develop more realistic drawings. Device resolution is often measured in pixels or lines per inch (lpi)
  2. Pressure sensitivity: Pressure sensitivity has a direct impact on the quality of drawings. Architects would typically require devices with high levels of pressure sensitivity.
  3. Tracking speed: This is a ‘lag’ indicator between the time you made the stroke and the time the drawing tablet responded to it. Architects often require devices with high tracking speed. This enhances their productivity and improves quality and detail in the drawing.
  4. Ruggedness: Architects often work ‘on-site’. Thus the devices need to be dust-proof, shock-proof, and water-proof. You can find this information in the device’s Ingress Protection or I.P. ratings. These ratings are indicators of the tablet’s environment-related endurance.
  5. Cost of the device: Cost of the device can clearly influence buying decisions. Certainly, you can classify tablets as ‘high-end’, ‘mid-range’, ‘budget-buy’, and basic. Furthermore, buying decisions are a trade-off between the features on offer, and those you can ‘actually’ use.

Additional factors:

Few additional factors also influence the selection of these devices:-

  1. Physical size: The nature of the architects’ work influences selection based upon physical size. Thus for work involving large drawings with great detailing, we recommend large-sized tablets. Similarly, for work involving frequent travel ‘on-site’ or elsewhere, we recommend the use of smaller-sized tablets.
  2. Controls set-up: Control set-up requires the availability of useful short-cuts. From time to time, you can monitor shortcuts by programming the functional keys around the screen. As a result, you can save time and improve device performance.
  3. Comfortable stylus: You should use a stylus or pen that is both comfortable and responsive. Additionally, it should have functional keys to improve performance.
Selection parameters influencing purchase of drawing tablets for architects
Pressure sensitivity and cost – primary selection parameters for Architect pen tablets (Image source: ArchDaily)

Best drawing tablets for architects

Best rugged architect tablets for ‘on-site’ use

You can depend upon rugged architect tablets to withstand hard knocks and long drops. Additionally, it can withstand temperature variation, dust, moisture, and more. Nevertheless, these graphic tablets provide a great user experience. Device manufacturers often put them through rigorous testing.

The list of the best-rugged tablets includes Getac UX10, Dell Latitude 7220EX, Lenovo 10e Chromebook Tablet, Zebra XSlate. Other notable products include Getac F110, Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 and Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2

Getac F110 is the best rugged architect tablet for on-site use. It is one of the best drawing tablet for architects.
Getac F110: the best ‘rugged’ architect tablet for ‘on-site’ use (Image source: RuggedPC Review

Best graphic tablets for extensive usage

You generally find these devices enabled with high-pressure sensitivity, High-Definition clarity, vibrant colors, and ergonomic design. Moreover, it comes with a responsive stylus that improves productivity. Equally important is its compatibility with most graphic design software. Coupled with a multi-angle adjustable stand, architects can use them extensively for multiple purposes.

The list of the best graphic tablets for extensive usage by architects include Wacom Cintiq, Huion Pro, Gaomon PD, Wacom Intuous Pro, Ugee M-series, XP Pen Star-series and Turcom TS

Huion Kamvas – the best graphic for extensive use by architects (Image source: Archinspirations)

Recent innovations in digital sketch pads for architect

Digital sketch pads often undergo several product-revisions in a calendar year. These revisions enhance its usefulness and performance. The development of battery-free pens is one of the major innovations in recent times. Coupled with outstanding improvements in tracking speeds, these devices offer great benefits to architects. We expect further innovations to focus on the area of simplifying the usage of augmented reality (AR) for architects.

Development of battery-free pens is a major innovation in recent times (Image source: Banggood)


The dynamics of the construction industry have been changing over the years With a greater focus on re-usable drawings and quick design turnaround times, it is natural for architects to evolve.

Technology is a great enabler and the way forward is to use the best drawing tablets suited for them. There are several reasons why architects need to actively use this technology. Ease of usage and scalability are just two of the most important ones.

The choice is not ‘when’ but ‘how quickly’ you adapt to this technology. The potential is amazing and the benefits are immense. So let’s just say ‘it’s now or never‘.

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