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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Drafting Table and Art Desk

Many years ago, when I was a teenager with an intense comic book obsession, I stumbled upon a book that would change my life. "How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way" by Stan Lee and...

Many years ago, when I was a teenager with an intense comic book obsession, I stumbled upon a book that would change my life. "How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way" by Stan Lee and John Buscema became my bible, guiding me on the path to becoming an artist. One particular image from the book has always stuck with me—a hero sitting at a drafting table, creating a masterpiece. That idealized image sparked a desire in me to have my own art studio setup, complete with a drafting table at its core.

If you too have fantasized about having your own art studio setup, then a drafting table is an essential piece of furniture. Whether you're an animator, illustrator, designer, or artist, a drafting table provides the perfect space to bring your creative visions to life. In this review, we'll explore the best options available to help you find the perfect drafting table for your practice.

Safco Split-Level Drafting Table

Safco Split-Level Drafting Table

Pros: Higher level shelf for a monitor or tablet, additional side shelf, adjustable shelves for a unified working area.

Cons: Small tilting worktop, limited storage options.

Price: $405.99

The Safco Split-Level Drafting Table offers a unique design with a convenient higher-level shelf, perfect for placing a monitor or tablet at eye level. It also comes with an additional side table and adjustable shelves for a unified working area. However, the table's tilting worktop is relatively small, limiting the available workspace. Despite this, it can comfortably accommodate an A2 sheet of paper, making it a great option for those with limited room space who want easy access to reference materials.

Artograph Futura Light Table by Studio Designs

Artograph Futura Light Table by Studio Designs

Pros: Large light box, easy-to-clean glass surface, ample storage.

Cons: Higher price, non-height adjustable.

Price: $499.99

If you're willing to invest a bit more and desire a larger drafting table with additional functionality, the Artograph Futura Light Table by Studio Designs is the perfect choice. It features a 38" x 24" tempered glass work surface that's easy to clean and offers plenty of storage options, including slide-out drawers and side trays. The standout feature is the large Artograph LightPad light box that covers the entire glass surface, making it a valuable tool for your creative workflow. However, it's worth noting that this table is not height adjustable, and the tilt angle is relatively limited compared to other options.

Bieffe AF15 Drafting Table

Bieffe AF15 Drafting Table

Pros: Large workspace, height adjustable, extensive tilt range.

Cons: Limited storage options.

Price: $189.99

The Bieffe AF15 Drafting Table offers a minimalistic Italian design with a spacious 30" x 42" work surface. It boasts a height-adjustable feature, allowing you to find your perfect working height between 29" and 39.75". The table also offers an impressive tilt range from 0 to 90 degrees, making it the most versatile option in this review. While it may lack extensive storage options, it compensates with its large working area and affordable price.

Mayline Ranger Steel Four-Post Drawing Table

Mayline Ranger Steel Four-Post Drawing Table

Pros: Massive size and strength.

Cons: Higher price, longer lead time.

Price: $3154.96 (for the largest one)

For those who prioritize size and strength, the Mayline Ranger Steel Four-Post Drawing Table is an absolute beast. With a massive work surface measuring 43" x 84", it offers unparalleled space for your creative endeavors. The table's steel frame ensures durability, making it one of the strongest options available. However, this robustness comes with a price tag and a lead time of approximately 4-6 weeks, so make sure you have the budget and patience for this super-premium option.

Studio Designs Triflex Sit-to-Stand Drawing Table

Studio Designs Triflex Sit-to-Stand Drawing Table

Pros: Glass top with the option to attach a light box, height adjustable, extra storage trays.

Cons: Light box doesn't cover the entire working area.

Price: from $140.70

The Triflex Sit-to-Stand Drawing Table by Studio Designs offers a contemporary design with a powder-coated steel frame and a glass worktop measuring 35.25" x 23.5". It features a unique height-adjusting mechanism, allowing you to work comfortably while sitting or standing. With a tilt range of 68° in sitting position and 22° in standing position, it offers versatility for various drawing techniques. The table also provides storage options, including four plastic side trays. Additionally, you have the option to attach a small Artograph LightPad light box under the glass surface, further enhancing your artistic workspace.

Safco Precision 72" Wide Drafting Table

Pros: Massive size, industrial strength, sturdy construction.

Cons: None!

Price: $2,499

The Safco Precision 72" Wide Drafting Table is an industrial-style table similar to the Mayline Ranger. With a size of 72" x 37.5", it provides an enormous work area for your creative projects. The table's four-post steel base ensures stability, making it an excellent option for professional work settings. It features an adjustable tilt angle of up to 50° and comes with a locking tool drawer and a reference drawer. If you don't mind the industrial look, this table offers practicality and value for its size.

Studio Designs Fusion Center

Studio Designs Fusion Center

Pros: Affordable, functionality.

Cons: Less aesthetically pleasing.

Price: $155.28

The Studio Designs Fusion Center drafting table is a budget-friendly option with plenty of functionality. It features a 35.5" x 23.5" worktop that tilts up to 60°, providing a comfortable drawing surface. The table also offers additional storage options, including slide-out shelves, a lower storage shelf, and two wire basket drawers. It comes with a plastic side tray and a rotating wire basket cup, ensuring that your drawing tools stay in place even when you tilt the table. While it may not be the most visually appealing option, it offers exceptional functionality, especially considering its affordable price.

Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Table

Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Table

Pros: Large light box, ample working area.

Cons: Expensive.

Price: $3073.09

If you require a massive light box for your artistic endeavors, the Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Table is the perfect solution. The light box covers a 36" x 48" area, while the entire tilting top measures 39" x 54". It features a robust steel frame and a scratch-resistant, thermally fused laminate surface. This table excels in providing an extensive working area and a brightly illuminated surface. However, keep in mind that its super-premium price tag may not be suitable for everyone's budget.

Studio Designs Vintage Drafting Table

Studio Designs Vintage Drafting Table

Price: $239.33 (large 30" x 42" worktop)

For those who appreciate a vintage aesthetic, the Studio Designs Vintage Drafting Table is a perfect choice. With distressed black, slate grey, and rustic oak finishes, it adds a touch of nostalgia to your art studio. The table tilts to five fixed angles up to 90° and offers a fixed height of 34". While it may lack some of the additional features found in other tables, its tactile and nostalgic qualities make it a treasured piece for any artist.

Top Picks in Each Price Range

Top Budget Option: Studio Designs Fusion Center

With its affordable price and remarkable functionality, the Studio Designs Fusion Center is the clear winner in the budget category. It offers everything you need at an unbeatable price.

Top Mid-Range Option: Studio Designs Triflex Sit-to-Stand Drawing Table

Although it was a tough choice, the Studio Designs Triflex Sit-to-Stand Drawing Table takes the crown in the mid-range category. Its contemporary design, height adjustability, and additional storage options make it the ideal choice for any artist.

Top Premium Option: Artograph Futura Light Table by Studio Designs

In the premium category, the Artograph Futura Light Table stands out as the winner. Its combination of functionality, sleek design, and the inclusion of a large light box make it a top performer in its price range.

Top Super-Premium Option: Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Table

If budget is not a concern, the Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Table is the ultimate super-premium choice. Its massive light box and ample working area provide the perfect environment for your creative pursuits.

What to Look for in a Drafting Table

When choosing a drafting table, consider the following factors:

  • Size: Determine the paper sizes you'll be working with and the available space in your studio.
  • Height Adjustability: Decide if you prefer working while sitting or standing and choose a table with adjustable height options.
  • Tilt Range: Consider the tilt angles you'll need for different drawing techniques.
  • Aesthetic: Choose between traditional wooden aesthetics or sleek metal frames with glass desktops.
  • Budget: Determine your budget and consider the features that align with your needs and priorities.
  • Light Box: Decide if a built-in light box is necessary for your workflow or if a separate light box will suffice.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right drafting table is a decision that deserves careful consideration. These tables can take up a significant amount of space in your studio, so it's important to find one that suits your specific requirements. The options we've reviewed offer exceptional value for money and are sure to enhance your artistic practice.

Hopefully, this guide has provided valuable insights and guidance to help you make an informed decision. Remember, selecting a drafting table is like choosing a mattress—it should be comfortable and accommodating, allowing you to unleash your creativity. And if you're interested in exploring more art-related topics, be sure to check out our reviews of the best easels and drawing pencils, as well as our guides for beginners, drawing techniques, and drawing ideas. Happy creating!