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.



Three Reasons To Still Draw On Paper

I’m seriously considering getting a Cintiq 22HD Touch. Thus far, I’ve resisted going completely digital. Though I’ll digitally paint my final illustration using a Wacom tablet, I insist on beginning every piece of art on my drawing board using graphite & paper. I’ve had three basic reasons for continuing to draw on paper.

1. Original Art – When I’m finished with my project, I have some kind of tangible, original art to keep. I don’t know about anyone else, but I like having original art. Since I’ve gone to working digitally, I no longer have a completed painting to show for any of my work. I figure that drawing on paper allows me to have tangible concept sketches and finished drawings, if nothing else.


2. Traditional Skills –Too many people have no grammar skills because they’ve become dependent on computer word processors to correct their mess. My fear is that if I become overly dependent on computers when going through the drawing process, it will make me less disciplined and/or lazy about maintaining good drawing skills.


3. The Feel – Tablets currently cannot replicate the feel of traditional media. Sure, there are pen nibs for styli which attempt to add some grit to the feel, but the feel of traditional media comes from both the pencil and the different textures of paper. Add to that that there always seems to be a slight gap between the stylus tip and the drawn image under the glass screen, so that there’s still some kind of disconnect.

I realize each of these reasons given are entirely predicated on my own subjective preferences. Some people may not care about keeping an original piece of art. Others find the benefits of digital tools to outweigh any need for proficiency with traditional media tools. And still others are perfectly comfortable with the feel of drawing on a glass screen.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that drawing, scanning, printing, redrawing, scanning, and so on certainly slows down my work flow. There are also projects which mean so little to me that I don’t really care about keeping the original art. In all honesty, I suppose I can make the move to a Cintiq without compromising on reasons #1 & #2 by simply continuing to use traditional media on select projects, or when I’m drawing just for fun and have no need for the most efficient workflow. As for the feel of drawing on glass, I guess it’s something I’d have to get used to. In other words, though my reasons for still drawing on paper are important to me, there might be ways to mitigate the move to a Cintiq.

So how many of you are still drawing on paper and scanning? And if so, what are your reasons? Is the cost of a Cintiq the only thing preventing you from using one?