Best styli for artists

No artist is exactly the same, and depending on your medium of choice, you may want a specific kind of stylus. Some artistic styli come with interchangeable tips, so you can vary the quality of stylus input, while others are a one-size fits all option or specifically designed to mimic a certain medium.

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Apple Pencil ($99)

Apple PencilMalarie Gokey/Digital Trends

The Apple Pencil may have debuted towards the end of 2015, but it has already set the standard for styli. Before jumping to specifics, note that the Pencil only works with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the latest 9.7-inch version. The Pencil itself is one of the fastest, and most responsive styli we have used, with essentially no latency (if there is some, we didn’t notice).

Thanks to the pressure-sensitive screen in the iPad Pro, the Pencil can produce incredibly fine lines with variations in gradient as you increase pressure. The side of the tip creates wider strokes, which is great for shading, and the tip can also offer a a fine point when you need it. It can be slippery at times, but it generally sits pretty well in the hand.

Unfortunately, the Pencil’s other end only features a charging cap that’s easy to lose, rather than an eraser.


Adobe-Ink-and-Slide-teaser-002If you’re really invested in Adobe apps and the Creative Cloud, Adobe’s Ink & Slide stylus and ruler combo may just be the perfect tools for you. The Ink & Slide connect to any iPad 4 or later, iPad Air, or iPad Mini via Bluetooth LE. It’s also synced up with the Creative Cloud, so every drawing you make or preference you set will be stored in the cloud for you to access on your computer or other devices later. The Ink & Slide also work with Adobe’s Illustrator Line and Photoshop Sketch apps.

The Ink stylus has a fine-tip, pressure-sensitive point and feels like a normal pen in your hand. The Ink uses Pixelpoint technology from Adonit for greater accuracy. A status LED on the stylus even shows you what color you chose, so you don’t make any mistakes. The Slide ruler can be used to make perfect straight lines, circles, and other shapes. Even though it’s a pricer stylus, the Ink & Slide does comes with a USB charger and carrying case, and it’s the ideal stylus for best calligraphy pens  serious creatives who are deeply invested in Adobe’s products already.


FiftyThree-Pencil-151954-1280Pencil is one of the best all around artistic styli when used in conjunction with the company’s app Paper. Using the preset tools available in the app — available for iOS — you can produce remarkable watercolor paintings, fine line drawings, pen and ink sketches, as well as dynamic comic-book like images with the marker function.

FiftyThree specifically designed Pencil to feel solid and comfortable in your hand. It’s shaped like a carpenter’s pencil and even comes in real walnut wood. Pencil even touts a built-in eraser on the end, so you can just flip it around when you want to erase. You can also use Pencil to smudge lines and create a nice blurred effect.

Although Pencil works best with Paper, it is also fully compatible with popular drawing and painting app Procreate, as well as Noteshelf and calligraphy pens reviews Squiggle. It connects to your iPad via Bluetooth, and once you’ve paired it, you’ll never have to do so again. When it runs out of battery, you can just remove the tip and pop the USB into any standard USB port.


Sensu-Artist-Brush-&-Stylus-sensu-5Sensu’s Artist Brush and Stylus combo offers the best of both worlds with its real paintbrush tip and built-in stylus tip. The brush tip acts just like areal paintbrush, which makes it perfect for painting, but it certainly won’t work if you want to execute a fine line drawing. Luckily, once you switch over to the rubber stylus tip, you’ll be able to draw more precise lines. However, the Sensu isn’t pressure sensitive and it may suffer from delayed reaction times now and then.

It comes in an aluminum finish and looks just like a normal paintbrush. The brush bristles are actually made of synthetic brush hair that was developed in Japan. The stylus tip is made of rubber. Luckily, it works on most Android, Windows, and iOS tablets, so you won’t be limited in your choice of tablet.


Studio-Neat-Cosmonaut_SL1500_The Cosmonaut stylus may look huge a bulky, but it’s actually the ultimate stylus for white board and marker artists. This stylus won’t give you the thinnest line you’ve ever seen, but it will give you a nice, solid line. The Cosmonaut is easy to grip and it certainly isn’t delicate, so it can take a knocking in your bag without suffering any ill effects.

It’s a short, squat, round rubber stylus with no other defining features. It really looks like a fat, black crayon. The Cosmonaut seems like the perfect stylus for those of you who like to diagram lectures and take notes in a visual style. It works with both Android, iOS, and presumably Windows tablets. The Cosmonauts’ creators say it should also work on any touchscreen.


adonit markAdonit has been offering affordable, but well-built styli for quite a while, and the Mark is no different. At $13, it lets anyone with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop have access to a solid, all-purpose stylus. The best thing about the Mark is how the stylus feels in the hand — it’s made of anodized aluminum and is smooth, but has a good grip. It’s also has a triangular shape, so it doesn’t roll, which also feels natural.

It’s a decent, cheap alternative for drawing, but we wouldn’t recommend it for note-taking as it’s not precise, being that it is tipped with a mesh. Even with drawing, don’t expect to get accurate strokes when you’re working on finer details.


Best styli for notetakers

There are almost as many styli for note taking as there are for drawing. Although there are scads of fine-tipped styli for taking notes, these are two of the best we’ve found for precise writing on tablets.

adonit switchWhile the Adonit Switch may have a low price tag, it certainly doesn’t mean it lacks in style or usefulness. That’s right, the Switch doubles as a stylus and an actual pen. Roll the striped grip-end, and you’ll find a ball-point pen sliding out. Rotate to take off the cap on the other side, and voilà, you have a precision stylus.

The precision stylus has a disk at the end, allowing for more precise marks on your tablet. It feels and weighs about the same as a normal pen, and can easily be mistaken for one. It can be used to draw, but you’re better off sticking with writing notes with the Adonit Switch. The ball-point pen writes fairly well, and adds an immensely useful function if you happen to always carry a stylus around.


Adonit-Jot-Script-2-Evernote-Edition-SL1440_Fans of Evernote will love Adonit’s Jot Script 2 Evernote Edition, not only because it allow for fast note-taking, but it also comes with six months of Evernote Premium. With Premium, you can see your notes offline, upload as many as you want, attach PDFs, scan business cards, search for offline documents, and more. It’s a great tool for students or anyone who likes to take notes, and with the Jot Script 2, you’ll never need to carry around all those heavy paper notebooks from class to class.

Like most Adonit styli, the Jot Script 2 has palm rejection and features Pixelpoint technology — which ensures smooth, fast accurate strokes. Its tip is less than 2-millimeters thick, so you know you’ll be able to write just as you would with a ballpoint pen. Adonit says it works for 20 hours, so you won’t have to charge it too often either. The stylus works with any app, though, Adonit boasts partnerships with many app makers that take full advantage of its abilities.


=Wacom-Bamboo-Stylus-duo-2Wacom is well known for its high-quality styli. The company’s Bamboo Stylus Solo is one of the best, low-priced styli for note taking, but we think the Bamboo Stylus Duo is an even better fit for students. The Duo has two ends, one with a rubber tip for use on your tablet and another regular ball point pen for writing on actual paper. The main benefit of the Duo lies in its resounding versatility. You’ll be able to switch from taking notes on your tablet, to signing your name on the attendance sheet floating around the lecture hall.

The Bamboo Duo looks and feels like a normal pen when you hold it and it comes in a variety of fun, bright colors.


adonit-jot-pro-----Adonit probably offers the most precise and fine stylus tips of any manufacturer. Although the Jot Script is well-liked for its extra fine tip, it only works with iOS devices, which limits its reach. The benefit if the Adonit Jot Pro, is that it works on most touchscreen devices, including both iPads and Android tablets. It will probably also work on Windows tablets, too, but we haven’t tested that theory.

The Jot Pro has a very fine point, which makes it perfect for taking notes. When precision is the order of the day, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Jot Pro looks and feels like a regular ballpoint pen, with the addition of a small plastic disc on the tip to protect the screen. It even comes in several different colors, including a nice turquoise and bright red.