A Week With The Cintiq 24HD

Dinner Is Served

A disturbing doodle I did with the Cintiq.

So it’s been a week since the Cintiq 24HD arrived. Before I actually even placed the order for it, I had my computer work area retrofitted to accommodate the the large size of the Cintiq, while still being able to keep the 27″ iMac on the same desk. I had to give away my large Epson printer to make everything fit, but the cost of ink on that thing was too much anyway and I really wasn’t using it much, so it was time to get rid of it.

My reason for not getting the touch version of this is because (1) I don’t think it’s worth the extra 500 bucks, and I can do the same things just as easily without it. For example, rotating the screen is easy with a keyboard shortcut, so there’s no need to have touch control. And (2) I didn’t want to get my skin oils all over the screen.

The thing is, the screen has a coating that you want to protect, and for those of you who have ever applied a screen protector to a small device like an iPod, just imagine the struggle and frustration of trying to align an awkwardly large piece of clear film to this large display, all while dealing with dust-attracting static and air bubbles. I wanted no part of that. Instead, I opted to go the Michael Jackson route and wear a single white glove (with the thumb, first, and middle fingers cut out to better grip the pen). I also wear a cut-off sock below the glove so my forearm doesn’t sweat on the screen. Finally, my wife was awesome and created a cover for the display for when it’s not in use. She made it out of a light, breathable, lint-free fabric, and it works like a charm to keep it dust-free — I’m not worthy!

So the Cintiq is quite large with its frame containing all the touch button/switches. While those touch buttons are very handy, I never used them at all on my Wacom tablet, and I think I won’t be using them too much on this either. I’ve gotten used to keyboard shortcuts and it’s hard changing habits. Really, it’s just as easy for me to use my keyboard as it is using those buttons on the side of the monitor. It’s not that I will never use them, but It’s not my primary reason for using this display.

The quality of the display is good, but it’s not as bright as my 27″ iMac screen. That might be good, as being up against something too bright for too long might fatigue one’s eyes. Also, the cursor/brush is not exactly under the tip of the stylus pen because of the obvious glass layer between the two. However, you quickly get used to this, so it’s not problematic.

I originally wasn’t interested in a Cintiq because it just didn’t have the feel of pencil on paper. While I still prefer the feel of drawing on paper, the feel of working on this display is actually easy to get get used to. The base on this is also incredibly sturdy, so it doesn’t budge when you set it up at an angle like a drawing board and lean your drawing arm on it. This is a very solid piece of equipment.

The stylus pen comes with different tips stored in the pen’s base stand and the tips range from smooth to gritty. However, from what I gathered, the grittier tips may eventually harm the coating on the screen, so I’m sticking to the smooth tip. It’s an easy pen to grip and is comfortable, and the rocker switch on the side of it has programable functions. I personally kept the default settings on it. If you already use a tablet, this is pretty much the same thing.

So have I abandoned my drawing board and paper? Not quite yet. While most of my work-related commercial projects may be done entirely on the Cintiq, I still may be working traditionally on other things. The Cintiq definitely speeds up my workflow and I’ll probably use it to begin sketches that will eventually be done on paper, but I won’t abandon paper and pencil forever.

Should you get a Cintiq? Well, if you work professionally, it’s definitely worth the investment. I turned down work in the past because I was asked to work on a Cintiq and hadn’t had the experience of doing so. Now I realize that there’s really no difference between using this and using a regular tablet, other than the obvious fact that this allows you to work right over the drawing, but it really requires no extra skills or computer knowledge. If you already know how to use your graphics program of choice and if you have artistic skills, this is really a no-brainer. There’s no learning curve, unless you’re absolutely required to learn how to program the touch buttons and use them regularly (which also isn’t hard to learn if you had to do so). But if you want to ignore all of those features and go with the regular keyboard and menu shortcuts, then just turn the Cintiq on and start drawing. It’s that simple.




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