Three days ago was like Christmas morning, when I reverently opened the box of my brand new shiny toy. After dreaming of one for so long, I finally bought a Cintiq. For those of you who wonder what kind of creature a Cintiq is, here it is:
This one is the Wacom Cintiq 13HD, the least expensive of the Wacom pen displays, but still over 900€ of sleek and smooth technology. Basically it’s another screen for your computer. But not just. It’s a screen that you can draw on.
No, not like this!
And suddenly sketching, drawing and painting are taken to a new dimension. Until now, I drew traditionally, with a boring pencil on a boring sheet of paper. Then I scanned my drawing and edit it in Photoshop (like I showed here). Then I would decide that my drawing (or parts of it) was not quite right so I would re-draw it, re-scan it and re-edit it. MULTIPLE times. Until it was ready for coloring, hand on my small Intuos 4 and eyes on the screen: a hand-eye coordination that takes a while to get used to and even longer to master.
Intuos is still a great tool to start off when you are on a tiny budget and I learned lots with it. But a few reasons finally convinced me to take the financial jump:
- Apart from the slow process, I was frustrated with the difficulty to draw clean lines, paint smooth edges or perfect details. Or on the contrary to make large, random, irregular strokes. I have felt for a long time that this held me back to experiment and grow stylistically.
- Because of the concentration effort required to perform these tasks, my eyes worked too hard and my hand/arm/shoulder muscles were tense for too long. I knew this would not be sustainable for a long time.
- I also experienced a lot of technical problems lately with the driver, which brought me on the verge of smashing that stupid device against the wall. Still thinking about doing it actually…
- The one last reason I needed to justify such an expense also happened recently. But I will tell you more about that in a subsequent post 😉
Anyway, it is done. I have it! And here is a quick review of the good and the bad points I have experienced so far:
- Well for a start, I didn’t know I needed a power plug, a USB port and an HDMI port. I have 2 out of 3. Not a bad ratio. Still, I can’t use the screen and the Cintiq at the same time right now, as my PC only has one HDMI port. I have ordered a USB to HDMI adapter that should hopefully solve this problem. I’m not sure I saw any mention of this on the Wacom website when I bought it though. Annoying.
- I find the set-up a bit awkward, as the big plug/cable is on the right of the Cintiq while my PC tower is on the left under the desk. Annoying.
- I was slightly disappointed to discover that the Cintiq didn’t have the Intuos touch ring, which I used a lot for zooming in and out. But I set up the Rocker ring accordingly and I am already getting used to it. Edit: just today, these buttons only work every 4 or 5 times. I contacted Wacom for this. Annoying.
- I read a lot of people didn’t like the Cintiq 13HD because of its size. The screen’s dimension is just over 16x29cm, so yes, it means that my Photoshop panels are pretty small, which might become… annoying.
- I can see some posture problems arising eventually, with my neck being bent over the desktop for long hours. Regular stretching breaks will be had.
- While the soft grip on the stylus is comfortable, I have found with my previous one that it is hard to clean and becomes sticky with time.
- Payment plans are available in the US and would have been welcomed in Europe.
- It might look as if I’m contradicting myself but I’m putting posture here as well. Like I said earlier, working on the Intuos has caused me some injuries and if the Cintiq might create other posture problems, I’m happy I’m done with the previous ones!
- The whole experience feels natural. It really is like I am just grabbing a pencil and drawing on paper. The only difference is that it is a digital kind of paper. Drawing is easy, no fuss. I can work much faster. If I make a mistake, I just fix it. No more back and forth with the scanner. No more awkward or shaky lines.
- The graphics and colors are wonderful. The clarity of HD technology is a real treat. What more can I say?
- You can see Wacom’s quality in the design, the materials and the strongly built display and accessories (which are numerous). Thumbs up for the stand, handy and sturdy and included in the package (one of the reasons I didn’t go for the Cintiq pro, for which the remote control and stand were sold separately). The software runs smoothly for now but hopefully I will not experience driver issues like I did with the Intuos.
- The ExpressKeys and Rocker ring are handy and well thought. You can set them to your liking. Here is how I set mine:
So despite the fact that my “bad list” is longer than my “good list”, the change was worth it without hesitation. I have been trying the Cintiq for only three days so I am sure my review is far from comprehensive and I have a lot more to discover, but I can already see the possibilities and ease of work that it will bring me. My goals are to gain in speed and quality, develop my style further and perfect my digital painting and rendering skills. Even though traditional drawing is not out the window by any means, I am convinced that this additional tool will help me achieve just that. As I am convinced that I will eventually upgrade to a bigger Cintiq!