art desk setup
Photo by Shaly Dee (Facebook & Patreon)

Best Art Desks & Drafting Tables For Artists

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Every artist needs a great desk to get their work done. And the best art desk for any age is the Studio Designs Comet Center. This comes with a free stool and a side attachment for storage.

There are tons of desks to consider and they each have their pros & cons. But ultimately I feel that the Comet Center desk is clean, easy to assemble, and sturdy enough to work with any type of drafting or drawing.

Not to mention this desk has a great stool and can work with any similar seating like an office chair.

But this is just my opinion after looking over different choices for art desks(and there are many!)

In this guide I’ll cover the various art & drafting tables you can get, the various utilities of an art desk, what to look for, and how to make sure you get the right one for your needs.

Art Desk Buyer’s Guide

Before looking into any desk you’ll need to know a few things:

  • Where will the desk be placed?
  • How much space do you have?
  • What sort of finish would match the room?
  • Do you have a chair or need to buy one?

The spatial dimensions are the most important because you don’t want to buy a desk that doesn’t fit. Each desk also has a different rise off the ground, so you’ll want to measure how high you want the surface to be.

I recommend using a ruler or tape measure to take estimates(not exact numbers). This way you can work within a range of values to pick a desk that fits within that range.

So you might want a desk that’s at least 3ft long but no longer than 4ft. Or you might only want a desk that sticks out 2ft from the wall(or less).

These measurements are crucial because it’s easy to misrepresent a desk based on a photo.

Also consider how much room you’ll need for storage & supplies. Do you already have drawers for your art supplies? Or do you want desk drawers?

You may not know exactly what you want, but you should at least have an idea. This rough idea includes general size of the desk, the material, and price range.

With this information you can whittle down your choices to your 2-3 favorites which makes picking an art desk so much easier.


Picking The Right One

Artist & drafting desks serve a variety of careers including architects, engineers, animators, illustrators, and many similar types of artists.

But the purpose of the desk will change based on the kind of work you do. For example, an architect would benefit more from a desk with a clear top that can be backlit. This doubles as a drafting table and a lightbox.

The clear tabletop design might also benefit artists—but not all of them.

First consider why you’re getting an art desk and what it’s for. Will you keep this at home for yourself? For your kids? Is this for daily use? Or will it be used as a dual art+office desk? Do you need extra storage for art supplies?

You might fall into many of these categories so you’ll need to find a desk that fills all your criteria.

But there are some common things that all the desks in this guide have in common. They’re all:

  • Sturdy
  • Affordable
  • Designed for art

The differences in size, materials, and features will be the defining factors in your decision.

So let’s get into these desks! I’ll start with my top pick and move through some other notable choices that work well for individual preferences.


Studio Designs Comet Center

If there’s any company that knows drafting tables it’s Studio Designs. They do such great quality work in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials.

And I think their Comet Center model is the #1 best drawing desk/drafting table. It uses a very modern design with heavy steel construction. It comes with an attached side table with cubby storage and a custom stool.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 50″ wide(4.2 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 30″-40″ height(based on tilt)

It’ll stick out about 2ft from the wall but you have to consider the stool/chair as well. In total I’d say you need about 3-3½ feet of space from the wall.

The desk area can be angled up to a max 15° tilt. This is perfect for drafting, sketching, storyboarding, or pretty much any artistic work. Plus it comes with a detachable 2-foot pencil ledge to keep your pencil & paper fixed on the desk even when tilted.

Note the storage cubbies aren’t detachable so this desk will have a width of about 4 feet total. Make sure you have the space.

For the height you’ll get different measurements based on the tilt of the surface. But at the max tilt it measures 40″ from bottom to top, so a max of 3½ feet tall.

The drawers themselves are squares measuring just under 13″. This means you can fit a ruler and similar supplies, but anything longer than 12″ will be a tight squeeze. The drawers are made of fabric with a cardboard base so they’re not the strongest in the world.

But they’re perfect for art supplies like pencils, rulers, paper, sketchbooks, or whatever.

You’ll find a spacious drawing area measuring about 36″ wide(3ft) by 24″ tall(2ft). The ruler edge measures about 2ft centered on the drawing space. For material it seems to be made of particle board or plywood covered in a vinyl finish.

This is not the best woodworking but it’s also a very affordable desk for the price. And really you’re just drawing on it so this doesn’t need to be reinforced for heavy machinery.

All-in-all this is one of the best drafting desks you can get. The height shouldn’t be a problem whether it’s used by a 6′ adult or a 3′ child. And it works well with an adjustable computer chair so you don’t even need to use the stool.

Bottom Line: If you like this design and like the fabric drawers then you’ll love this desk.


Martin Ashley Art-Hobby Table

If you need a simple solution with a variable height & variable tilt then this desk is for you. The Martin Ashley Art-Hobby Table is reasonably priced with a good design and solid base.

With this table you can raise and lower the total height from the legs. But it also supports a large angle from totally flat up to a 45° tilt.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 39″ wide(3⅓ ft)
  • Length: 25″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 26″-36″ height(based on tilt)

The adjustable height is amazing for such a simple model. You can buy this desk for kids, teenagers, or even super tall adults. It’s also pretty small being just over 3 feet wide.

You’ll get a few cubbies and a small rack holder to store books, sketch pads, art supplies… whatever you want. And this comes with a pencil trough attached to the ledge of the drawing board so you can keep pencils nearby.

However this does not have a raised lip to keep paper from sliding off. This means you’ll need large board clips or alligator clips to keep the paper stationary if you’re drawing at a tilt.

On the negative side, I will say the drawers are pretty cheap. They’re just small plastic cubbies so don’t expect much storage space from this little extra.

And the melamine-coated drawing surface can feel a bit “cheap” if you’ve never used this material before. But it does feel sturdy and there’s no concern of this unit toppling over.

For the price you get an adjustable desk with an optional 45° tilt and a bonus stool. Yet a big reason why this isn’t the #1 pick is because there’s no way to keep paper from sliding off at a tilt. Construction is great and the size is smaller than most desks in this list.

Bottom Line: If you’re OK working around the low edges then you’ll like this table. Especially if you want something with adjustable legs.


Futura Advanced Drafting Table

Here’s another one from the folks at Studio Designs and I have to say this drafting table is fantastic. If you need a see-through lightbox drafting table then the Futura Advanced Drafting Table is sure to please.

This specific unit comes with a collapsable side desk area to store trinkets, supplies, food/drinks, whatever. I think the extra shelf is handy and it can be collapsed to save space when you don’t need it.

But if you don’t like the side shelf then you can get this same Futura drafting table sans-shelving.

For this review I’m focusing on the Futura table with the shelf because it’s about the same price with such a useful add-on.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 43″ wide(3½ ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 32″ height

The table’s legs are extremely sturdy and very well designed. The base uses extruded aluminum with plastic caps to keep the table sturdy on carpet or wood paneling.

The entire drawing surface measures about 38″ and it has reinforced blue safety glass(called tempered glass) that can hold upwards of 50-70lbs. That means you can use the Futura table as a real desk too! And it’s easy to customize.

You can move the collapsible shelf and the cubby to either side, or just leave them out entirely.

And you can tilt up the drawing surface with a max 35° tilt.

On either side of the drawing space you’ll find plastic holders for pencils, rulers, t-squares, or any similar supplies. Plus the bottom of the drawing surface has a raised lip to keep papers secured while working at a tilt.

This really is a professional’s workstation and it’s beautifully crafted. However because of the glass surface I don’t think everyone will like this. It’s best used by artists, architects, or anyone who needs that clear surface with plenty of space.

Also this unit does not come with a stool or chair. Granted this is pretty standard for any desk you buy. However since other options do come with a stool I find them a bit better as “generalist” art desks.

Bottom Line: This desk is amazing. Seriously, if you like the design and have the money then you will be very happy with the Futura drafting table.


Studio Designs 10057 Futura Tower

You may notice this desk borrows design ideas from the original Futura desk. However this model works like an office desk + an art desk rolled into one.

The Studio Designs 10057 Futura Tower has the same extruded aluminum base and reinforced glass drawing surface. But this design is a lot taller with a top shelf, corkboard, and a few extra supply holders for bigger office supplies(staplers, scissors, etc).

Total measurements:

  • Width: 54″ wide(~4.3 ft)
  • Length: 30″ deep(2.5 ft)
  • Height: 58″ height(about 5 feet)
  • 28″ height from floor to sliding drawer(to get your knees underneath)

Yes this is a very tall desk, and yes you can leave the corkboard aside and not attach it. But if you want that you can save money with the simpler Futura model instead.

The working surface measures 33″ wide x 21″ deep and it does feel spacious. You might need to use an office chair that can sink low because the working area doesn’t come too high off the ground.

You can tilt up the drawing surface for a max of 35°. This raises the height of the drawing area by about 1 foot, but the corkboard doesn’t get in the way. If you keep heavy items in the plastic holders they might spill out though, so be careful what your store in there!

And the drawing surface comes with a pencil ledge for your paper/pencil when drawing at an angle. This ledge can be removed if you want to use it flat like a desk.

If you want to keep anything on the very top shelf just make sure the desk is level. It’s not wobbly or unstable but if placed on uneven carpeting or bubbles in wood it can feel off-kilter.

Downsides: strange height, can take a while to get used to.

It does feel sturdy but it also takes up a good amount of space. The desk itself sticks out ~2.5 feet from the wall, and with a chair + the sliding drawer underneath it can feel much larger.

Bottom Line: If you have enough space and like the design then I say pick this up. But if you want something a bit simpler(or smaller) then the Studio Designs 10050 is a better alternative.


Sauder Maple Computer Desk

I have to throw in one standard desk for good measure. I know there are plenty of artists who want a desk that also functions like a home office.

And this is exactly what you get with the Sauder Maple Computer Desk. The woodwork is impeccable and it has plenty of storage drawers for paper, art supplies, ink, or any art/office related materials.

You’ll notice a sliding keyboard tray underneath that can hold paper or art supplies. And the back/side of the desk includes grommet holes to feed wires if you want a computer there too.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 60″ wide(5 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 29″ high(2.5 feet)

This is one of the widest desks in this whole list. A whopping five feet wide means you need to make sure you’ve got room before buying.

All the other measurements are surprisingly small with only 2ft from the wall and under 3ft from the ground to the top. The finish looks great and offers a variety of storage options for paper, hanging folders, art supplies, or a desktop computer tower(the tall drawer on the left).

It is a very heavy unit totaling well over 120lbs. Assembling this desk isn’t too hard but you will not want to move it around very much.

So why is this in the list if it’s not a drafting table?

I want to present all the possible options and let you decide what’s best. I think some artists will want a single desk for art, paper work, and computer time. This Sauder desk is the best choice for that because it’s wide enough and deep enough to hold a monitor & offer room for drawing.

Bottom Line: Excellent all-in-one desk if you’re OK with a flat surface and no tilt. Certainly not a drafting table, but a good choice for an artist who wants a long-term desk that’ll last for a decade(or more) with versatility.


Coaster Artist Drafting Table

If you want a real simple drafting table with a clear display then the Coaster Artist can be a perfect fit. I certainly like the stylish design. It reminds me of a retro-modern 50s era home.

You’ll notice this design is very similar to the Studio Designs drafting table mentioned earlier. But this one is a bit taller and smaller(width-wise).

Total measurements:

  • Width: 41″ wide(3.5 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 32″ high(2.6 feet)

The actual working area measures 36″, or just about 3 feet. This should be plenty of space to setup anything from a sketchpad to a drafting sheet. It uses tempered glass for the surface which feels incredibly secure.

Looking at the table you wouldn’t imagine it could hold much. But the manual suggests a max of 100lbs when laying flat. And the working area can tilt upwards of 50°-60° in total! That’s a lot of space if you prefer to work at an angle.

And the extra cup holders are detachable so you can remove them if you need an even smaller table.

Drafters may find it tough to use a t-square when the plastic cup holders are attached. I suggest removing them if you use a t-square frequently.

The legs are made of tubed steel with screw-on plastic bottoms. These bottoms can be adjusted to handle uneven floors and it’s made to be wobble-free.

I have to say Coaster did an excellent job with this desk. It feels like an artist’s workstation and the design is not flimsy in the least.

Bottom Line: This desk is small but sturdy. If you need a large angled tilt then this Coaster Artist drafting table can do wonders for your workflow.


Dorel Living Drafting and Craft

Simple, sweet, and straight to business. That’s how I’d describe the espresso Dorel Living Drafting and Craft Table.

This design is beautiful and it’s one of the taller desks in this list. It also has some of the sturdiest storage space you can get for a drafting table.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 48″ wide(4 ft)
  • Length: 21″ deep(1.75 ft)
  • Height: 36″ high(3 feet)

I’m surprised how little this table feels. It barely sticks out from the wall at all, measuring about 20 inches from the wall which is under 2 feet. But with a desk chair/stool it can land just over 2 feet.

The actual drawing surface measures 32″ wide by the same 21″ depth. This is only about 3 feet by 1.5 feet, definitely a smaller working area than most. It does come with a raised edge to keep your papers fixed while tilting. However that edge is not removable so make sure you want it!

By default the working area only has two settings: flat or 45°. This is a let down since many of the Studio Designs desks have five or six different settings for tilts.

Working on the desk you’ll realize it’s just pressed wood and certainly not a high-end design. But it is affordable and it’s clearly made for artists.

The storage areas feel spacious enough to keep everything you need. I personally don’t like the “open” shelving and I’d prefer actual drawers. But the shelving does measure out fine.

The top shelf measures about 4.75 inches high. The bottom shelves are taller measuring about 6.5 inches of space. And all the shelves + drawers have the same spacial dimensions of 11″ wide by 16.5″ deep.

Sturdy, cheap, but small and great for artists who like this style.

Bottom Line: I sadly can’t recommend this for serious draftsmen who need big working areas. But for practicing artists who don’t have much room this is a great budget desk.


Studio Designs Ponderosa

Anyone looking for a wooden art desk that can double as an office desk should check out the Ponderosa Wood Desk by Studio Designs. It’s one of the simplest tilting desks I’ve found with a stylish design and plenty of space.

Underneath the drawing area is a sliding drawer with 5 slotted areas for storing pencils and office supplies. This tucks away nicely and doesn’t roll out when you tilt the top.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 42″ wide(4.5 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 42″ high(4.5 feet)

You can get this table in either a glass top or wood top. Both styles have the same pivot for tilting which offers 16 different settings ranging from completely flat to a max of 30°. And you can attach a bottom lip to the desktop to keep your pencil & paper from sliding while angled.

The downside: out of all the tables from Studio Designs I think this one is the most wobbly(or has the most risk of wobble). The legs are designed as straight bars so it’s easy to notice issues on uneven flooring.

If you’re nervous about the floor try laying a stack of similarly-sized items along the area(pencil boxes, books, whatever). If they all look evenly aligned then you should be good.

The drawing surface is exactly the size of the desk so what you see is what you get. Inside the sliding drawer you’ll get one large rectangular pocket wide enough to fit a keyboard, plus four other smaller pockets.

This drawer is perfect for art supplies, paper, sketch pads, or even a digital tablet if you want this desk as a painting surface.

Bottom Line: This is certainly a nice table with simple construction and a wide drawing space. Not great for uneven floors, and I’d avoid the glass model since the glass tends to shift(a bit) in the frame. But this can double as a computer desk with a tilted top which is a huge bonus for artists.


Alvin CM40-4-XB CraftMaster

The Alvin CM40-4-XB CraftMaster is a chameleon for any purpose. Arts, crafts, drafting, computer work. This thing can tilt, store your stuff, and roll around with optional casters for the legs.

I do think this one is a bit on the pricier side. I only recommend this if you really like the design and don’t mind the price tag. And you can pick from four different materials for the top: maple, cherry, or white/black plastic-type material(wood veneer).

Total measurements:

  • Width: 40″ wide(3.3 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2 ft)
  • Height: 26″-32″ high(2-2.5 feet depending on casters or floor glides)

The full tabletop measures over 3 feet wide by 2 feet deep. If you add in a chair it’ll maybe take up 3 feet of space from the wall.

This does come with a notch to adjust the height so you can have it lowered to almost 2 feet or heightened to a max of 2.5 feet using casters. Note this means you’ll only have about 2.5 feet underneath the table to fit your knees.

Alvin does not ship a chair with the CraftMaster so measure your chair before buying. Office chairs can adjust but this isn’t true with all stools or fixed wooden chairs. Be sure to take measurements!

The storage bins are small but you have six of them. They’re pretty sturdy and hold enough room for typical printer paper.

You can use this desk for art and computer work alike. But personally I think the features(storage, tilt, size) are sub-par. What saves this desk is the adjustable height and the optional casters making it easier to move.

Bottom Line: If you need adjustable height settings or need to move your desk easily then this can work well. Otherwise try to find a more suitable focused desk based on the work you do.


Safco Split Level Drafting Table

Safco’s 3965MO Split Level Drafting Table is a professional artist’s best gift wrapped in a small package. This is a very expensive table but it’s crafted specifically for draftsmen and artists from watercolors to oil painting to charcoal.

The desk has a fully adjustable height with a single tilting area and another smaller drawing area. These different surfaces do not connect directly so this desk can feel fragmented.

I think this could fit as a smaller desk designed for artists working in various mediums.

Total measurements:

  • Width: 47.5″ wide(~4 ft)
  • Length: 30″ deep(2.5 ft)
  • Height: 26″-37″ high(2-3 feet adjustable)

Now I’m sure you’ll want to know the dimensions of the individual surface areas too.

The left side has the tilting feature and can be positioned up to a 50° tilt. It measures 31.5″ wide(2.5 feet) by 20″ deep(about 1.6 feet).

The right side does not tilt and it’s much smaller. It measures 16″ wide(1.3 feet) by 20″ deep. Both surfaces are flush with the edge so their distance from the wall is equal.

When laying flat you can draw from one surface to the other with ease. When tilted you can use the smaller shelf for supplies, drawing equipment, or anything similar.

Since this is about 4 feet wide it’s about the same construction as any other desk. However the surface is split making it useful only to specific situations.

Safco took a weird choice on this design and it forces you to ask yourself one question. Can you work on ~32″ of drawing space? This measures about 2.7 feet, and it does have a lip to keep your paper in position.

But the funky desk design and higher price leaves me recommending this desk for artists who prefer this design. I know that most people won’t.

But I have to throw this in for good measure because it does technically work well as a drafting table.

Bottom Line: if you like the split tabletop design and want to spend the money then you should enjoy this. Otherwise there are far better desks with uniform surfaces higher up in this list.


Best Art Desk For Animation

I know this is a popular request so I want to cover a good desk for animators.

What is the best drafting desk for animation? Well the answer differs based on traditional animation or digital animation.

If you’re working traditional then you definitely want a tilted top. You also probably want a glass tabletop so you can backlight other drawings for cels or tracings. You can’t go wrong with any glass design.

However for traditional animation I recommend the Futura Advanced Drafting Table with a side table for keeping paint, extra cels, or whatever else you use. A cheaper option is the Coaster Artist since it’s simpler and comes with a higher range of motion hitting 50+ degrees.

Digital animation is a bit different. This works through a tablet which you might want to tilt, but if your monitor is on the table then you really can’t tilt it.

The best solution for a digital animator is a standard computer desk like the Sauder mapletop design. This way you can store the computer away underneath with plenty of workspace for your monitor plus the tablet.

To get that inclined angle you can grab an adjustable drawing board which gives the same feel as a tilted tabletop, and you’ll still have that flat workspace for the monitor screen or laptop. Best of both worlds!


Best Art+Office Desk

If your house or apartment is small then you probably won’t have room for a drafting table and a computer desk. Unfortunately this means you’ll have to find one that supports both.

And if you need a tilting workspace then standard computer desks are out.

The best art+office desk combo is the Ponderosa Wood Desk. It’s made by Studio Designs so you know it’s great quality. And you can select from a wood top or a clear glass top making it perfect for both drafting and computer work(yes the glass can support a monitor).

It comes with a sliding drawer with plenty of room for a keyboard and maybe a mouse. If you only use a laptop then this is absolutely the desk to check out.

But it can work just as well holding a desktop underneath with a mouse/monitor on the top.

You can tilt the working area up to a max of 30° which is perfect for drafting work or doodling/drawing.

The simple design and under-top storage drawer make this desk a wonderful fit for any home office + art studio.


Best Budget Art Desk

Buying a new art desk is a big decision and it can be costly. If you’re on a budget then the Martin Ashley Art-Hobby Table offers the best bang for your buck.

It’s incredibly stable and comes with the lipped edge for tilted drawing.Plus it comes with a free stool so you don’t even need to get yourself a new chair!

I do not particularly like the storage on this desk. It’s not bad, although certainly not great. You’ll probably need to keep your art supplies elsewhere because there isn’t much room in the plastic cubbies.

But this art table comes with adjustable legs for varying heights between 26″-36″(around 2-3 feet). Not to mention it weighs about the same as a typical desk chair(35 lbs) so you can move it around with ease.

No doubt the Martin Ashley artist table is the best budget option. You get everything you need without breaking the bank.


Top Pick: The Best Art Desk

If you’re looking for the best all-around art desk for beginners & experts, young & old, the Studio Designs Comet Center will not disappoint.

It’s very fairly priced and comes with a sturdy foundation and a very solid drawing area. It can tilt up to 30° and does have the raised lip to keep your papers/pencils resting soundly.

Plus it has a kick-ass design and comes in a few different color schemes. Overall this desk offers all the best features without the hefty cost.

But if you’re still not sure then take another look over this post and see what you think. Most of the time your gut feeling is correct so if you see a desk that catches your eye then it’s probably a good fit.