Cintiq, A Short Review

If you guys follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might have noticed this photo from a few days ago:  

After waffling for months and months, I finally had a treat yo' self moment and bought  a Wacom Cintiq 22HD.  Although I had mostly big love for my old Intuos 4 tablet, I've been dreaming about a Cintiq for a few years.  

When I initially decided to shoot for a Cintiq type display, I tinkered with the idea of trying out the  Monoprice version, until I read the not so outstanding reviews of it.  I looked at other options as well, but when it came down to finally buying, I went with the Cintiq 22HD even though the price tag was hefty.  

So I ordered it from Amazon last week and then spent the next day glued to my front windows, waiting on the UPS guy to deliver my fancy new toy.  I wish I was kidding about that last part, but no really, I was pretty much stalking the UPS guy on that day.  

Once I managed to drag it out of the box, set up was quite easy.  The Cintiq and stand together weigh about 30 pounds.  For a size reference, the Cintiq is just about as wide and tall as my 28 inch computer monitor.  It is not small.  Luckily, I have two large desks in my studio, so I have plenty of space for my Cintiq and my other monitor.  

Once I got the drivers installed and my dual monitor set up going, I was ready to roll.  

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed at first.  For the amount of money I spent, I expected to be blown away.  I expected something spectacular.  And I didn't get it, at first.  

For those of you who are also using Intuos or Bamboo tablets or anything similar, you know that although you get used to it, there is something odd about drawing while staring straight ahead and a computer monitor.  There's a disconnect.  

When I first starting drawing on my Cintiq, suddenly drawing while looking at the Cintiq felt wrong.  And adjusting to the space between the glass and the cursor was also a bit awkward.  I didn't love it.  

And although the Cintiq has lots of programmable express keys and some touch strips, I found it to be a bit awkward that there wasn't a digital display to show me what each express key was programmed for, unless I hit another button at the top of the Cintiq, which felt like an extra step.  For me, the express keys were extra important, because I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts when I'm working in Photoshop.  With the Cintiq, I can't comfortably have my keyboard sitting in front of me, so having all of those express keys to program could take the place of that.  

And my final disappoint was that I couldn't draw a smooth line to save my life, which I didn't discover until the next day.  

My first day as a Cintiq owner was incredibly disappointing and I went to bed that night wondering if I should just send it back and stick with my Intuos instead.  

But I'm quite stubborn, so the next day I woke up ready to figure this dang thing out already!

I spent part of the day laying in some flats on the comic that my husband and I work on together.  I found that I got used to the glass/cursor distance rather quickly, which felt like a big win. 

To solve the problem of not being able to see what my express keys where programmed to, I busted out my trusty old Epson label printer and made tiny labels to fit each button.  Sure it sucks to spend $2K on something and then have to label it, but as this point I know the benefits far outweigh the negatives, so I labeled away.  It's not pretty, but it does the job.  

I was able to program my most commonly used keyboard shortcuts into the express keys, and then with my keyboard sitting off to the side I can still use the occasional keyboard shortcut as well.  Win win.  

Now, when I finally sat down to really start drawing on this thing, I noticed that all of my line were wobbly.  I do mean wobbly, very wobbly, worse than when I start using a tablet 7 years ago.  At first, I was thinking it was just me.  Then I was thinking it was my brush settings in Photoshop.  Alas, 4 hours of messing around with settings and everything else I could think of still left me with jagged, awful lines.  I could never work like that.  

Naturally, I turned to Google, discovered quickly that this wobbly line thing is a problem with the newest Cintiq drivers, downloaded the previous driver from Wacom, and was ready to go again.  After uninstalling the old drivers, installing the new ones, waiting on my computer to reboot, and then reprogramming all of my express keys, I was itching to just draw a line already!

And guess what?  The lines are amazingly smooth now, much smoother than I could ever draw a line on my Intuos.  After two days, I officially declared my love for my fancy new Cintiq.  It's really a pretty amazing piece of equipment and I'm glad I finally sunk the money into it.  

It's certainly not perfect.  I wish the express keys had a digital display like my Intuos 4 does.  And of course, I wish it wasn't so darned expensive.  But the benefits do outweigh the negatives.  

The simple stand allows me to move from working almost flat to working almost upright.  It also allows me to rotate the Cintiq almost completely around.  Both of these things are awesome for me, because I move around a lot while I'm working.  

The express keys make it easy for me to have my most used shortcuts available with ease, especially since I can't have my keyboard sitting right in front of me.  

The drawing surface has just the tiniest bit of texture which really does make it feel like drawing on paper.  I'm more comfortable than ever working entirely digitally.  

And most importantly, I find that I'm more precise when drawing on a Cintiq.  That means less erasing, less Ctrl + Z, and less redrawing, which in the long run, means time saved for even more drawing.  

So yeah, I was not thrilled with my Cintiq at first, but after working out the driver issue and getting everything set up for my workflow, I'm thrilled with it.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty darned spectacular anyway!