Illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen spends time with the hottest little creative tool of 2013 (so far anyway).
I was very excited to review the new Wacom Cintiq 13HD drawing tablet (with a screen built-in). My previous review had covered its heavier, bulkier brother, the Cintiq 24HD Touch, and that was a beast with a whopper of a price tag. Now we have a new version with a 13-inch screen – and a much more affordable cost (assuming you count £625 as affordable) – that replaces the five-years-old 12-inch Cintiq 12WX.
Following my failure to steal the latter, this time I had come prepared. Little did the editor know that in my bag was a bandit hat and a crowbar. I was going to swipe this one.
With the 24HD, you – and by you I mean me – just couldn't move it. It was too heavy, unless you Hulked-out on a regular basis and acquired super-strength to lug it about. The Cintiq 13HD sits neatly on your lap or on the desk at one of three heights using the detachable stand – I’d tell you which is the best position, but everyone who’s tried it here has a different opinion. It’s also excellent for transporting – it’s very easy to slip in a rucksack with a laptop and go about your business.
To make travelling with the Cintiq 13HD as painless as possible, Wacom has shipped it with a new pocket-sized pen-and-nibs case (above). While there is a bit of a mess of cables (below) – the single cable coming out of the Cintiq itself splits Hydra-like into an HDMI cable for the display, USB for the control and a power connection. The main powers adaptor’s pretty small too – about the same size as a pack of cigs.
The only sticking point here is the HDMI cable. Modern Mac users will need to pick up an Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter like the one attached above for £20. If you’ve got a fancy PC workstation or laptop with an DisplayPort output, you’ll need a £10 adapter. Neither’s much of an additional cost considering the price of the Cintiq 13HD – but remember to buy one otherwise you’ll find yourself very frustrated if you get the Cintiq home and have to wait a few days for an adapter to make it work.
The Cintiq 13HD has a gorgeous screen, displaying 16.7m colours to ensure life-like colour quality. Plus, the wide-format HD LED display gives you a wide viewing angle of 178° and a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels that is particularly good for handling intricate graphics and illustration.
Like always, the controls on the left of the Cintiq are very intuitive. You can set the tools to perform various shortcuts, dependant on your working methods. There is a handy tool to jump from Cintiq screen to monitor screen with a press of a button, and my drawing sped up as a result. The pro-pen is beautiful. With 2,048 levels of pressure and tilt sensitivity, it is perfect for me, especially when creating my intricate linework. It's so precise, and creates a very authentic line.
However, despite the pros of this piece of kit, I may hesitate to splash out on it just yet. Down on the old Wacom rumour mill, I hear whispers of a Wacom tablet in the summer. That would mean no power cables, no connecting to a monitor and no fuss. However, there’s no news on whether this fabled tablet will run Windows – and so Photoshop (or Painter, if you prefer) – or just Android, which means it’ll be little more than a glorified sketchbook. I may hold out in childlike hopeful optimism, just in case it’s everything I hope it can be.
To sum up, great piece of kit, much better price than the 24HD and takes up way less space. If anything, the screen is just a tad too small. I found my eyes straining after an hour, but maybe that's just my rubbish corneas.