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FAQ and A: 'Which Wacom should I get?'

Journal Entry: Wed May 18, 2011, 12:19 AM
I have about 60 notes in my inbox right now asking this question. I've answered it so many times for other people before, I really don't really know why I haven't done a Q&A entry about it. For those of you who have messaged me recently, don't worry, you're not annoying me -- same goes for the rest of you who haven't received an answer from me yet. Here's that answer for all of you right here right now.

  • WHICH WACOM TABLET SHOULD I BUY?
Not to sound snarky, but I thought that little article I wrote about Wacom Tablets would've alleviated some of the confusion new digital artists were having, and answer their burning questions. Unfortunately it has seemed to only caused more questions!

Many of you have asked me which model Wacom you should get versus another. An intuos medium vs large, an intuos vs a cintiq, a cintiq vs a tablet PC, etc. To answer this as truthfully as I can --- I can't honestly tell you which one is better. This is because none of these tablets are truly better than the other. It really, seriously, comes down to nothing but personal preference. One artist can feel right at home on an Intuos3 4x5" but never get the comfortable hang of an intuos4 large. It's one of those things that just becomes second nature over time. If you get one, whichever one, and use it, practice on it, OFTEN, you WILL love it. If you end up not, and you were dedicated and open minded to it, then I would honestly be surprised.

I can't tell you what will be better for you. I only know what's good for me. That said, there ARE things I know that.... can help you make a better informed decision about what's best for you. Here's a quick comparison about what features *make* each model Wacom:


BAMBOO SERIES
Differentiating features: Low, low cost. Smaller, lightweight size. Touch & Pen input available. Limited customization.
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You're just starting out in digital art and you don't know if it's something you'll really get into. And/or you don't have a lot of money. You have a small laptop and you bring it lots of places. You just want a little take n' toss tablet that gets the job done while you travel.

INTUOS SMALL / MEDIUM
Differentiating features: Better speed and accuracy than comparable Bamboo sizes. Greater customization / ergonomics. Medium size is industry standard graphic tablet suitable for laptops and desktop systems alike, small to large screens.
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You draw with your wrist and not your arm. You have a good idea that you're going to get serious about doing art digitally / you already know you are. You need something to do a lot of work with on small to medium sized laptops, or 19"~23" desktop monitors. You own your own copy of Photoshop and use it a lot. You plan on doing a lot of traditional (ink / scanning etc) / digital mix work. You'll likely be doing most of your work with the tablet in your lap.

INTUOS LARGE
Differentiating features: Everything that's good about the Intuos Medium, just a hell of a lot larger for more gestural accommodation. Pricey.
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You draw more with your arm than your wrist. You sit at a desk while working and use larger sized (20~30 inch) screens. You have a dedicated workstation to do work at, you don't plan on bringing it around with you (often.) You have a multi-monitor setup.

CINTIQ 12WX
Differentiating features: 12-inch LCD screen built-in to the tablet itself. Exact 1:1 feedback of pen strokes. Currently uses older Intuos3-based digitizer technology (not necessarily a bad thing.) Requires power to operate. Hardly portable. Expensive.
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You know that a regular Bamboo / Intuos style graphic tablet just doesn't work for you at all. You have a more traditional background in art and want to keep it that way for a transition to digital. You draw with your wrist more than your arm. You plan on doing a LOT of work digitally and want a more efficient experience. You have a dedicated workstation, but would like to occasionally draw with the tablet on your lap. You have the extra cash and can totally afford it.

CINTIQ 21UX
Differentiating features: 21-inch IPS LCD screen built-in to the tablet itself. Insane number of expresskeys for shortcuts and modifiers. Best ergonomics on any Wacom tablet. Built on Intuos4 based digitizer tech. Requires power to operate. Heavy as hell. Not portable. Super expensive. Extremely low availability for purchase (expect 1 month wait times.)
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You live in Photoshop/Painter and do work professionally at a dedicated workstation. You have a traditional background in art and want an experience that's as close as you can get to a large canvas. You use your arm more than your wrist to draw. You want a usable multi-monitor setup along with an interactive pen display. You have the extra cash and can totally afford it. You just REALLY want one because it's the freakin' 21UX.

TABLET PC COMPUTERS
Differentiating features: Wacom tablet built into the screen of your laptop! Highly portable draw-on-screen solution. Tablet functionality is not detachable from computer (broken computer = broken tablet.) Low-class pen accuracy, speed and sensitivity compared to all other wacom tablets. Drawing experience is at the mercy of the quality of the hardware strapped to the tablet. Spotty driver / application support. Usually expensive compared to non-tablet laptop variants.
You'd probably be interested in this one if: You need a new laptop, maybe even a new tablet, and want some cool Cintiq-like functionality on-the-cheap. You want a highly portable, lightweight laptop with a unique and intriguing feature set. You like stylus input for navigating your OS. You're more concerned about having a convenient method to do some nice digital sketching than a means to create full complete artworks / paintings. You're fine with the fact that when your laptop becomes obsolete, so does your tablet.


There. That's the basics covered. This isn't a do-all end-all list. It's just a small guideline to give you an idea of which direction you might want to take. Okay, so got it?

  • NOW MAKE UP YOUR MIND AND CHOOSE SOMETHING!!!


Add a Comment:
 
:iconeliminature:
eliminature Featured By Owner May 5, 2016
AHHHHH This is so hard
I am someone who just wants to draw on the computer. Forgetting about the cost for now, which one should I get??? I am researching and I was pretty sure I wanted to get an Intuos then I found out that you have to keep looking at the screen. So now I'm stuck between the choice:
Intuos pro small or Cintiq 13HD
Reply
:iconluckydragonfly:
LuckyDragonfly Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I had a Bamboo Create Pen and Touch tablet and it had the cord attached and after four years of drawing memories, the cord finally broke.  I was doing research on what tablets to get and the Intuous definitely caught my eye--it seems to be pretty popular with the artists here PLUS it has wireless options.  My question is how one would rate this function because I plan to go wireless as much as possible.
Reply
:iconaquashiram14:
aquashiram14 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013
A friend of mine gave me a Genius Mouse Pen tablet, and I have to say, which tablet you get, in the end, doesn't matter. Mine has fairly low pressure sensitivity (it's nearly impossible to get lines to taper perfectly!) but in the end, it creates art that looks great to me. I can do small things like teeth textures on dragons and large things like flat colors. Of course, the Intuos and Cintiq lines are superior to it, but only in that they're far more efficient and sensitive to things like pen pressure, making it easier to get the job done.

Of course, my cousin surprised me today with a gift of an Intuos5 Medium, so now I don't know what to do with my Genius tablet anymore o_o;; It was mighty nice of him...I was very, very unprepared to see a Wacom tablet box sitting on the dinner table!

Excellent tutorials and articles, thank you!
Reply
:iconchibimie:
ChibiMie Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thx for the tip. I personally love to use Bamboo series due to it's portability & cheap. However in terms of longer usability, the obselete Graphire 4 series is better (it has plastic protector, built in USB & still working!!!). Bambo has separate USB cable & if you have Bamboo Touch & Pen with wireless function, there's an extra wireless kit you could buy.

dunno either to upgrade to intuous or cintiq later but I'm happy with my Bamboo & Graphire =3
Reply
:iconodey-chan:
Odey-chan Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
WOW... thanks for the info~
this really helps ^ ^
since I'm just a begginer, I'll go for Wacom Bamboo :)
Reply
:iconkaitiakianahera:
kaitiakianahera Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2012
wow !!! Hi there I just want to say you remind me of Feng zhu being very helpful to us like where some students of yours so I thank you. I already know about wacoms and the differences but I am a person whose happy that there are people out there who cares about sharing knowledge. I thank you again
Reply
:iconcloneddragon:
cloneddragon Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have a question regarding tablets now that i have a new one. I recently got a Intuos 5 Medium and am wondering about best practices to keep it in good condition. I've read a few places recommend surface protectors and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on them.
Reply
:iconyongl:
YongL Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2012   Photographer
I would go for BAMBOO series :P
Reply
:icongirlinluvanime:
GirlinLuvAnime Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do you think it's best buying it online or at the store?
Reply
:iconrozensora:
RozenSora Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012
ummm, can I ask, which bamboo series is good?? I'm a little bit confused to choose one
Reply
:iconamura-of-jupiter:
Amura-Of-Jupiter Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I've used a bamboo medium and a Intuos medium i would really recommend the medium Intuous 4 to the wrist artists (who like a small work area) unless you like drawing lines with your arm then i would recommend the large one
Reply
:iconlabrakabra:
labrakabra Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
So if I take bamboo, then i can't use it for drawing/painting/sketching? Before i used Intuos4 L a little bit.
Reply
:iconklaszladysedits:
KlasZLadysEdits Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012
well I just bought the wacom large tablet..and I haven't yet done ne thing with it does ne one know where I can find ne links showing me ne step by step Instructions and how to set the tablet??
Reply
:iconprettygirllost:
PrettyGirlLost Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cintiq 24HD all the way ;-)
Reply
:iconstar-gamer:
Star-Gamer Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch or Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch? I know, as a beginner, I definitely want either of these two but I'm still not sure which one of these two. Is there any clear difference with the Fun Pen and Touch being the slightly later model?
Reply
:iconbreindigo:
BreIndigo Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I have had nothing but bamboo my entire digital art hobby. I had the last generation passed down to me, and it was fine, but I just bought the bamboo pen and touch, its small, I think the only difference for me is the progam/benefits that come with them and the size and price. of course.

I got pen and touch b/c it was 100 bucks and thats all i had for funding.
Reply
:iconkamui85:
Kamui85 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011
Im reading all youre stuff! Hahaha. Thanks again.
Reply
:iconsheckyll:
sheckyll Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
And the XL if you draw from your torso. :sarcasm:

I don't see how people can use XL Tablets. I have a Large because it's pretty much impossible for me to crunch my drawings into a Small or Medium, but with that huge monster, you have to wonder...what are you even drawing?
Reply
:iconwaffumonsta:
WaffuMonsta Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I recently have like "play around" money and I've always wanted an Intuos 4. I like a big space to draw because for some odd reason I always draw huge on my sketch book. I've looked up comparison video's on youtube to guess about the size. I definately know the large is waaayyy too big for me personally. The small is what I'd want, because it's cheaper, but I'm afraid it's too small. Yet, the medium looks huge as well.

So, when I was looking and saw this, via forum response to a topic, I was happy. It kind of sealed that deal of which one I'm going to get. I've been thinking about it for weeks and this is my deal breaker. Thanks for sharing and being informative. Seriously, it was tons of help!
Reply
:iconchibiyuni:
chibiyuni Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011  Hobbyist
Would you recommend to get a Wacom Intuos3 or an Intuos4? I don't know exactly the differences between those two and I've heard/ read of many software issues concerning the Intuos4 with Windows7 and Photoshop 64Bit...
Reply
:iconamura-of-jupiter:
Amura-Of-Jupiter Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
get 4
Reply
:iconominoushaze:
OminousHaze Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2011  Hobbyist
Well, I already have a tablet but theres one question that still bothers me, does the Intuos 4 come with Adobe Photoshop? I'm not talking about Elements just the regular one.
Reply
:iconamura-of-jupiter:
Amura-Of-Jupiter Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
nope
Reply
:iconepicgrace:
epicgrace Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2011  Student General Artist
Thank you so much! I've been wondering about these and I haven't been able to get a clear answer from anyone else; they'd always explained it to me as something like, "Well, I don't think..." which was very aggravating. I didn't want their opinion, I just wanted to know the difference. Very helpful, I'm almost sure of what I'm going to buy. :aww:
Reply
:iconalphadera:
AlphaDera Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011  Student General Artist
Im gonna cry I want the cintiq 12wx so bad and I have ... fu... Genius Mouse pen .

I want to ask are cintiq 12wx small? This is bugginng me because I think for saving for this one .
Reply
:iconbreindigo:
BreIndigo Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Student Digital Artist
From what i understand theyre like the same size as your tablet screen? the whole thing, and the screen for it is a little smaller.. i think, cause ive seen youtube vids and what not.
but holy cow i feel you. i throw little bawl fits because i cant afford it and its ALL i want right now.
Reply
:iconalphadera:
AlphaDera Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Student General Artist
aww *hugs* we are GONNA get it sooner or later !
Reply
:iconbreindigo:
BreIndigo Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I totally just dedicated myself into raising money to buy it. I know I wont get it any other way, of course. So im going into the world of ridiculous cheap commissions

hopefully i get some luck! *U*

thanks for the encouraging response ;u; !
Reply
:iconalphadera:
AlphaDera Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Student General Artist
haha Im saving too and I think that I can get it in like.. 3 years?

haha welcome ^^
Reply
:iconmackieuchiha:
MackieUchiha Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I got around $130 in birthday money this year and I'm looking into an either Bamboo or a medium Intuos. I'm going to get it this Friday and I want to know an estimated price, please.
Reply
:iconnamaira:
namaira Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A medium Intuos4 costs around $370 (or $310 if you're a student and buy it from here [link])

For $130, the Bamboo line is a much more affordable choice. I've used a medium Intuos4 and against my Bamboo p&t Fun ($200, same size) I don't really have a clear preference.

The Bamboo p&t is $100, and it comes with Photoshop Elements 7, which is a great plus.

Sorry for butting into a question meant for the OP xD but congrats and happy late birthday.
Reply
:iconmackieuchiha:
MackieUchiha Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. Do you know how large the regular p&t is?
Reply
:iconnamaira:
namaira Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem :)
The active area is 5.8x3.6 inches, but the actual dimensions are 9.8x6.9 inches.
Reply
:iconmackieuchiha:
MackieUchiha Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
So small....

well, thanks! :hug:
Reply
:iconsensorycore:
SensoryCore Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2011  Professional Photographer
Thanks for the info. Helps a lot. I do a little here and there with illustrator and photoshop, for web stuff, so I'm glad the bamboo fills the necessity. Your write up hits the spot. :D
Reply
:iconautumpool:
Autumpool Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I have a tiny tablet (the drawing area is only 6"x3.5") and I actually never knew about intuous tablets, or even cintiq... wow!
I tend to draw more from my wrist, and I'd love to one day get a cintiq, but I was just wondering how much of a difference in quality the small vs the large has?
Reply
:iconcfmarckx:
cfmarckx Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2011   General Artist
just got my intuos 4 medium...its kinda difficult..its too sensitive and i kept pressing on the wrong thing...and i do not know whats the use of that round thing in the corner and how to zoom?
Reply
:iconsheckyll:
sheckyll Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
The round thing? The touch-sensitive circle with another circle in it?

Upon looking at it, there should be four LEDs beside it. The first one should be lit. Swipe your finger around the outer circle. The image should zoom in and out accordingly. This will only work if your Tablet driver is installed.

Excuse me for the sloppiness of the below drawing. I'm using my trackpad.
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
Reply
:iconinit050:
Init050 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Hurr durr... Im going for the Cintiq 21UX. Thanks for review/tips!
Reply
:iconflominowa:
flominowa Featured By Owner May 30, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
This was soooo useful! Thank you! You posted this in the most perfect timing since my prehistoric CTE Wacom is dying and I'm in desperate need of a replacement! I appreciate you taking the time to clarify the various features! Thank you! I guess, Intuos Medium it is, then! :D
Reply
:iconmiyazu:
Miyazu Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
thank youuuu :D
Reply
:iconamuhn:
amuhn Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
:D bookmarked this page.
Reply
:iconnorithi:
norithi Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
if you don't like spend money you should buy bambu (bambu fun is very good), but if you have money you should buy Cintiq
Reply
:iconnovafox:
novafox Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There is a cintique 12 inch model for half the price if budget is a concern it works just as wonderfully as the 21 incher.
Reply
:iconnovafox:
novafox Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
nvm you have it mentioned just didnt appear bold to me for some reason.
Reply
:iconcallmecrow:
CallMeCrow Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
Your =/= You're.

Great addition to your tablet guide.
Reply
:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah that was an honest typo XD man how did I do that? I wrote this at like 3AM and I was dead tired.
Reply
:iconcallmecrow:
CallMeCrow Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
I guess you just wrote it late at night. You must have been really tired.
Reply
:iconpandaesl:
PandaESL Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
She used the correct form of 'your' every time...unless you're talking about someone else?
Reply
:iconcallmecrow:
CallMeCrow Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
He, and, bottom of journal, big green font, "NOW MAKE UP YOU'RE MIND AND CHOOSE SOMETHING".

Unless I'm mistaken, it should be "YOUR MIND". But yeah, great entry nonetheless.
Reply
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