For a long time, Wacom Cintiq was considered the best possible thing an artist would hope to get. Even today most artists drool over them... and then there's me. No, I don't think a screen on your tablet is necessarily improvement, and I will explain this a little further.
Now, we all use them, be it Wacom, huion, monoprice, etc. -- our graphics tablets are a vital tool for our survival as artists. But it's not just the tablets and you that do the job, it's also your PC, which brings me to my first point:
When it comes to efficiency, your computer is more important than your tablet. You can have the fanciest, prettiest tablet or Cintiq ever, but your workflow won't be improved if your potato of a PC crashes every time it tries to render a brush stroke. So, remember, when drooling on that shiny super tablet, that, when it comes to hardware, computer trumps the tablet. Don't get me wrong, a tablet is important, but a tiny, cheap Intuos on a decent PC will perform better, than a shiny new Cintiq on a ten-year-old relic.
The second point I want to make is: remember the shiny screen on that Cintiq? You don't need it!
It looks cool, but it has its own downsides. The biggest selling point is that it is more efficient, it is more natural for you to look at your pen when you write or draw, and this is exactly what a Cintiq is! It is a premium product, designed for the professionals who have made it so far in their careers, that they need to churn out one artwork after another. They don't have the time to adjust, edit or redo their lines, like someone who's starting out does. It is a tool meant to increase your speed, but it has serious downsides as well: 1. Posture:
I can't stress this enough, but when working, proper posture is important
. Of course, you can have a proper posture when working on a Cintiq, but you are more likely to have it when working with a regular tablet. When we work with a regular tablet, we sit up straight and relaxed, we look straight ahead at our computer monitor. When you have something like a Cintiq, you are most likely going to look down at it, which causes more strain on your neck, and you are more likely to slouch, which results in strain on your shoulders and back. This can cause multiple health issues, and the kicker is, the younger you are when starting this habit, the more and sooner these issues can develop. Remember to sit up straight, adjust your chair so that your knees and elbows are at a 90-degree angle, put something under your feet, if needed, and have your monitor adjusted to your eye level. 2. Eye strain:
is this really a surprise? A computer screen should be about an arm's length away from your eyes, and what if I told you, that the Cintiq is
a computer screen? If you are going to stare at it for a prolonged time, make sure to get further away from it, and have your eyes checked. You must use prescription glasses when doing digital art, if you need them. 3. Arm fatigue:
now, this is probably not going to be a major problem for many people. Drawing on a Cintiq in a lot of ways is like drawing on an easel, so you'll need to lift your arm a bit more. When I started to draw still life on an easel, I noticed, that my arm would tire. This is because I spent most of my time drawing on a regular old Intuos, and didn't have to raise my hand so much. You can get used to it, so, it's just my pet peeve, I guess. 4. The price:
the Cintiqs are expensive, and, let's face it, for most artists it is unreasonable to buy something like this. You have to eat, you need that computer upgrade, extra ddr4 ram, better CPU, nicer graphics card. Buy those instead.
What's this, you say? There are more affordable alternatives to the Cintiq? No. No, there isn't. Is an iPad an alternative? Can it run photoshop or Corel Painter? What about Zbrush? No? Then it isn't an alternative.
But surface studio can run them, so it must be a good alternative! Wrong! Do you really want to spend a thousand on something that's going to be obsolete in a few years? Wanna bigger ram? Better processor? A badass gtx 1080? Too, bad, you can't get it, because a surface studio is basically a laptop with a giant screen, and, likely, has its parts soldered to the motherboard. For something that you are not about to carry around, you can save money by buying, or even building, a decent tower PC and getting a good quality monitor, which you can upgrade later to an even better one. A Cintiq or an Intuos is not going to become obsolete. Even in ten years, you will be able to hook it up to any PC that has the required ports.
The other alternative people like bringing up, are the budget Cintiq alternatives. You've seen them on amazon, you know, the ones, that look like they are made by the same company, despite having different brand logos slapped onto them. The problem with these brands is that often the pen requires charging, and if you know how the lithium ion batteries work, you know that the pen will need to be replaced eventually. To give you an idea: with every charging time, you will need to recharge your pen more frequently, until eventually, it won't hold even a few hours. This is fine for a 50usd tabled, but for something that costs over 400? Not for me, hon! The other big thing is, that the screen quality on these budget tablets is often worse than that of a cheap IPS monitor. You need your viewing angles so that you can see the colors well, regardless of your posture and you need your color accuracy, so use the money you were about to splurge on the cheap alternative to get an Intuos pro and an affordable IPS monitor! Yes, you won't have the screen to draw onto, but at least you will have an easier time producing art for print, higher build quality, no need to recharge the pen, pen tilt, a much more customizable driver, and a touch feature! Plus - think of your back!
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There is another elephant in the room, I should address: which is better -- Wacom or non-Wacom? I will give you the same answer I give to anyone who asks that question: if you can afford a Wacom, get a Wacom. If you can't, something else can do the job. It's not the tools that make you a better artist, but your skill and attitude.
Now, a few pieces of advice I would like to give about the graphics tablets:
1. Beware of the cheap third party Wacom nibs! On eBay and amazon, you can find dirt cheap plastic nibs for your stylus: don't use them, they are going to scratch your tablet. I learned this when I decided to try them out. They last nowhere near as long as the original ones do, and I would often wear them down into a sharp point, while with the original one, it was always a much rounder one.
2. Tiny, shallow marks are normal. You are rubbing to materials together, so minor scratches are normal. If you are squeamish about it, for the Wacom tablet, get the flex, or felt nib instead.
3. Don't press your stylus too hard. You don't need to do that, because, not only it causes more stress to your wrist and fingers, but also it wears down your precious nibs faster.
4. Paper for a paper like feel: slap a sheet of your favorite sketch paper on your tablet, and see how you like it! It's not something everyone is into, but a lot of people like it.
5. If you have a cheaper tablet that has an AAA battery in it, leave it on. The AAA batteries hold their charge for a much longer period than the rechargeable ones, and theses batteries are cheap! If you have an on-off switch, leave it on, because these pens are made of cheap plastic, and are prone to breakage. Don't unscrew them too often either, because the plastic will crack. I had this happen with two of these types of styluses.
6. Draw a few sketches to warm up, before drawing.
7. Keep your work area clean by using a slightly
damp cloth. DO NOT
use any chemicals on your tablet!
8. If your tablet has a nib holder, you can open it to find a few replacement nibs. If you have an entry level Intuos, you can open a compartment at the back of it, ant the replacement nibs should be attached on its lid. your nib remover should be included either as a strange metal ring or a small hole surrounded by metal. If you have a non-Wacom tablet, buy a Wacom rib removal tool on eBay. They are made from a firmer, higher quality steel, and are much easier to work with.
9. Don't store anything on top of your tablet! The only things, that should go near its surface, are your stylus and your hands.