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I am no professional artist, but I am able to draw pretty decently with just pencil and paper. I purchased a Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch (Small) several months ago with the intention of doing some animations in my spare time. However, I am unable to produce anything decently on my tablet due to the disconnect between eye and hand when drawing. The reason I purchased a tablet with no screen is due to the cost of products like the Cintiq, and also most reviews of said product suggest something along the lines of "buy a cheap tablet first to see if it fits your style".

That advice in mind, for someone who struggles with a tablet with no screen, would it be just as pointless to upgrade to something like a Cintiq? Did anybody else have a similar situation to this, and were you able to produce better artwork after upgrading?

  • I'd say you should try the Cintiq before deciding, because the answers will be largely based in other user's opinions. – Luciano Mar 8 '16 at 16:19
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As a person who owns both types of tablets (Cintiq 21UX, Cintiq Companion 2 & Intuos Pro Medium) I believe all of us who use tablets had that problem when it comes to the eye -> hand coordination at the start. I have to say that the learning curve for screen vs no-screen tablets is very similar. TBH it took me much longer to get used to Cintiq Companion than a no-screen Tablet (Intuos Pro). Although, I have never tried to use Pen & Touch due to lack of buttons on it.

Buying tablets with screens might make your eye -> hand coordination better, no doubt about that. However, don't expect to create masterpieces within a week. You will need to practice a lot to be efficient enough to create something decent.

What I would recommend for beginners would be to use Wacom Intuos Pro(as it's much cheaper option vs Cintiq). It's very light, easy to use and you can customize a lot of stuff to meet your needs. Spend few weeks/months practicing the workflow of using a Tablet by itself (with the least amount of keyboard use possible). Change your shortcuts on the tablet to most suit yourself. Then practice drawing.

Then, if you really think you want to spend much more money on your equipment, go buy something like Cintiq Tablet or Companion. By that time, you should be efficient to use Companion by itself with no need of using a keyboard (as most of the time you won't have one next to you).

Basically, if you buy an expensive Cintiq right now, and then decide that you are still bad at digital drawing, you have just wasted a lot of money.

  • Thanks for your input. I currently have the Wacom Intuos (Small). You mentioned starting out with the Intuos. Are you recommending upgrading to the Wacom Intuos Pro line, with extra shortcuts and 2048 pen pressure levels vs 1024? Or just practice, practice, practice with what I have? (here is my model amazon.com/Wacom-Intuos-Touch-Tablet-Version/dp/B00EN27U9U/…) – wizloc Mar 8 '16 at 16:12
  • Sorry I always meant Wacom Intuos Pro.. The reason for that is that it has the same / very similar button layouts as the Tablets with the screens (therefore upgrading would be much smoother & natural). So yeah, I would upgrade first to Pro. and see if you are getting any better after few weeks. Once you feel comfortable and sure that this is what you want to do, only then I would spend money on more expensive ones.. – Tomasz Golinski Mar 8 '16 at 16:20
  • I feel your answer was most helpful, and the advice is best for a majority of readers. I did, however, bite the bullet and go for a Cintiq. I posted a supplementary answer below if you are interested in the outcome (too long for a comment). Thanks! – wizloc Mar 21 '16 at 12:48
  • cheers, and I'm happy you have found the best choice for you :) – Tomasz Golinski Mar 30 '16 at 1:34
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Wacom tablets are not like pencil and paper. They are more like an airbrush or paintbrush when used with bitmap tools and more like a light pen with used with vectors. If you are a pencil artist then the hand movements are going to be new. It is going to take a lot of practice.

If you want something that is more like pencil and paper, then that is an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. That is completely different from Wacom and is meant to enable a pencil artist to put down pencil and paper and pick up digital pencil and digital paper and just keep on working. It might be worth your time to go to an Apple Store and work with one extensively and see how it feels to you. Maybe it clicks for you and gives you what you were originally expecting from the Wacom.

If you are going to continue with Wacom, then I think you should continue to practice with your current tablet. It is less about the particular Wacom tablet that you have and more about just learning to use the combination of tablet+app. The Cintiq is not that different. You still need to learn all these new hand movements to connect your intentions to your results. You should expect to work for 100 hours before you make something you like, and if you keep going then by 1000 hours you will be exponentially better, and by 10,000 hours you will have really mastered it. Definitely consider getting some learning materials.

One small tip is if you use your Wacom pen as a mouse for all of your computer use, that is good practice. If you have an hour of file management to do and you do it with your Wacom pen instead of a mouse, that counts as an hour of pen practice. Also, once you get going it is much, much faster than the mouse.

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I feel Tomasz Golinski's answer was most helpful, but I would like to add for anyone looking at this question at a later point.

Following Tomasz's advice, I began looking at Intuos Pro tablets, but the medium size tablet ranged from US $300-400 depending on new or used. Worried that I would encounter the same issue on another screen-less tablet after spending that much money, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a used Cintiq on eBay for just a little extra money.

I was immediately able to draw at a skill level similar to if I were drawing with pencil and paper. I am happy with my purchase because I do not think I would have been able to overcome the issue, but your results may vary. As one comment mentioned, if you have the ability, go to a store and test out the different tablets for yourself before purchasing, but there were no stores in my location that offered that service.

  • It takes some time for people to get used to it in general. But hey you spent hours upon end learning the mouse. So learning a new input for a week or so is NOT a huge investment. – joojaa Mar 21 '16 at 13:01
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I’ve use the IPS Screen Drawing Tablet XP-Pen Artist 12 with Photoshop and Clip Studio and it worked okay for screen size. You learn to zoom in and out as you wok and I used a 2nd larger monitor to check the whole image. But more space is really nice to have.

  • How does this answer the question? – Ryan Feb 11 at 17:00

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