Choosing the best Wacom Pen Tablet for your creative interests

Pen tablets are very popular with those that are working on art-related projects. It provides you with a tool that makes working on your drawing, design, retouching and painting projects faster and more efficient then with the conventional mouse. While for some new Pen Tablet users it can be challenging to get used to, don’t give up. After you have got the hang of it, you will see that it will speed up, improve your work and your comfort.

The Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Medium is our best choice. With 5080 LPI, 2048 levels of pen pressure, tilt recognition, ExpressKeys, Multi-Touch gesture support, Touch Ring and built-in Wireless, this makes the Intuos Pro Pen Tablet the best future proof investment money can buy at this moment for every Art Enthusiast alike.

Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Medium (PTH651)

Quickly and professionally edit photos and create digital artwork using natural pen control and multi-touch gesture.

This popular-sized pen tablet provides ample workspace, yet it still fits conveniently inside most laptop bags. Perfect for image editing, graphic design, and art interests, the Intuos Pro medium is the most popular model.

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Why use a Pen Tablet?

Working with a mouse for normal tasks on a computer feels comfortable, fast and easy to use for most people that never used a Pen Tablet before. Is this really the case or is it just because they haven’t used anything else?  Some of the benefits of working with a Pen Tablet instead of a mouse are obvious, while others are not immediately apparent. The most obvious benefits is the ease of drawing, retouching and painting in a natural, faster and more efficient way than with a mouse. A Pen Tablet with high levels of pen pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, ExpressKeys, Multi-Touch gesture support and Touch Ring combined with functionality and ergonomics of a pencil or pen, makes a Pen Tablet far more superior to a mouse in virtually every way. Pen Pressure sensitivity is very handy and most popular graphic programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, PaintTool SAI and more, fully support this feature and can benefit from it. Making your strokes heavy or light, depending on how hard or light you are touching the tip of the pen on the tablet surface.

The less obvious benefits of using a Pen Tablet over a mouse is helping to prevent and/or reduce repetitive strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome. Holding a pencil or pen is much more ergonomic than using a mouse and feels more natural, especially when you map your Pen Tablet with your screen, which gives you a 1:1 representation of the screen to the Pen Tablet. In other words if you move the pen to the upper right corner of you Pen Tablet, that’s where your cursor will be. No more lifting and re-positioning your mouse because you where at the end of your mouse pad.

Which Tablet

Lately when you start searching for a Pen Tablet as a first time user or a professional, you will see that currently the market offers people many brands and solutions. I hear a lot of decent opinions and experiences from Pen Tablet users about Huion, but I, myself never had the need to look outside the Wacom Line up. Wacom is still the market leader in every way, especially with the Intuos Pro Models. The fact that the support of Wacom Tablet is found in most software and that Wacom Pens use there patented electromagnetic resonance technology, so they don’t need batteries or any wires to function makes me stick with Wacom. My advise; choose a Wacom Pen Tablet and no other.

Tablet Size

Choosing the right Tablet Size for you needs can be confusing due to the different options and price range that goes with it. With a Pen Tablet you still have to look up at the screen to see what you’re doing. So to work comfortably with your Pen Tablet you need to take the resolution of your tablet and your screen size into account. Wacom has two lines of tablets, Intuos and the Intuos Pro. The Intuos Pro has double the resolution of the Intuos and this difference can be very noticeable, depending on your screen size. The surface area of your Pen Tablet can be 1:1 mapped to you screen no matter the size, but keep in mind that when you draw on a small surface while looking at a large screen, it may feel very uncomfortable and unnatural. So there is a relation between your Pen Tablet size and your screen size (your canvas). Additionally, if you are used to painting on a large canvas and thus making large strokes, then the larger your Pen Tablet surface is, the more comfortable and natural it will feel to you.

Going for the largest Pen Tablet that is available is not the right choice for everyone. The position of your Pen Tablet is also very important for making it a comfortable tool to use. Within a home environment, a large Pen Tablet is difficult to place in most situations. The best choice for the majority of the Pen Tablet users will be to go for a medium sized Pen Tablet. This size is easy to place on your desk with your keyboard behind it while not being in the way and your keyboard out of reach. A medium size Pen Tablet works very well for screen sizes of up to 32″. If you work with multiple screens, mapping your Pen Tablet to one screen will be highly advisable, else you will run into trouble with your eye vs. hand coordination logic.

Small Pen Tablets:
Small Pen Tablets are compact and handy for those that have small screens (up to 16″) and want to use it to carry around.

Medium Pen Tablets:
Medium Pen Tablet Size is general the best choice for most work spaces and works well for screen sizes of up to 32″.

Large Pen Tablets:
Large Pen Tablets are good for those that are used to work with a large canvas and make large strokes painting or otherwise. If you prefer a large Pen Tablet I would recommend a screen that is at least 22″.

Facts and Features

When getting a new Pen Tablet you want to take the following feature in mind to look out for:

Pen Pressure Sensitivity:
Pressure sensitivity is very handy and most graphic software support this feature. Pressure enables you to vary a tool’s function based on how hard you press the pen on the surface of the tablet. With it you can vary stroke width, opacity, effect intensity, and many other attributes. Pressure sensitivity simply gives you more control when using brushes, pencils and other drawing and retouching tools. Having a Pen Tablet that supports high levels of Pressure Sensitivity is a must. Nowadays Pen Tablets support up to 2048 levels of pressure, lower than 1024 levels is not recommended anymore.

Tilt Recognition:
Tilt recognition detects the angle you are holding your pen and with it you have on top of the Pressure Sensitivity an extra option to control your strokes. Not all graphical applications support this feature yet so be sure to check out if your favorite application does. I work a lot in Photoshop myself where Tilt Recognition is supported. For me this feature is not that important but for others that work a lot with air brushes for example this feature can be appealing to them.

Batteries:
Or rather the lack of batteries. Wacom Pens use there patented electromagnetic resonance technology, so they don’t need batteries or any wires to function. This provide a notable saving in maintenance, weight of the pen and gives you a more comfortable and natural pen feel.

Multi-Touch gesture support:
Multi-Touch is highly integrated in the latest OS versions of Windows and Mac and this will only improve more in the future. With it you can pan, zoom and navigate with gestures on the surface of your Pen Tablet.

Customizable Keys:
Customizable Key on the Wacom Tablet comes in the shape of their ExpressKey and Tough-Ring Feature. With it you can map application-specific shortcuts to these keys. I t takes a bit to get used to but having at least a few keys available to customize can speed up your work process quite a bit.

Eraser:
Not all models comes standard with a eraser function on the end of Pen. With an eraser function on the pen you can simple undo what you did with Pressure Level support, by rotating the pen around. For me it’s not a deal breaker as the eraser is simply another brush you can select. But for some this is an important feature.

Getting used to your Pen Tablet

Working with a Pen Tablet is not a difficult thing to do, but getting used to it after many years of being a hardcore mouse user can be challenging. For some even on the first day it can look and feel like it’s impossible to get used to. Don’t give up, take your time for it and don’t try to master all the features in one go. After you have got the hang of it, you will see that it will speed up, improve your work and your comfort.

Where you place your Pen Tablet on you work area can be a huge factor. People that are new to the Pen Tablet tent to place it next to the keyboard like they do with there mouse pad. This makes it sit on a very uncomfortable location. Instead place the Pen Tablet in front of your keyboard and directly in line of your screen.

Don’t try to make the switch under pressure. If you have a deadline to make in the next few days don’t swap out your old tool with new ones, now it’s not the time for learning new tools. Practice using the Pen and Tablet with the default settings and take your time with it, for example you can do a few minor tasks every day before you start work until you are comfortable enough with your pen and tablet.

Wacom Intuos vs. Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablets

Wacom’s line of Pen Tablets offers you a great range of choices. They have two different line-up’s available, the Intuos and the Intuos Pro. The Intuos Pen Tables are more tailored for a starter, while the Intuos Pro Pen Tables are Wacom’s professional line and deliver better pen performance and productivity features.

Wacom Intuos Models

Only the Wacom Intuos Art comes with a bigger medium size (which we prefer), for the rest the difference between these models is multi-touch support, color availability, included Intuos Pen has no Eraser and the software bundle that is included with it. Featured below is an overview of the key differences between the Wacom Intuos Models.

Intuos Draw
Colors: White / Mint Blue
Size: Small
Multi-Touch: No
Software Bundle: ArtRage Lite

Intuos Art
Colors: Black / Mint Blue
Size: Small / Medium
Multi-Touch: Yes
Software Bundle: Corel Painter Essentials 5

Intuos Photo
Colors: Black
Size: Small
Multi-Touch: Yes
Software Bundle Windows: Corel PaintShop Pro X8 and Corel Aftershot Pro 2
Software Bundle Mac: Macphun Creative Kit (Tonality Pro, Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, Noiseless Pro) and Corel Aftershot Pro 2:

Intuos Comic
Colors: Black / Mint Blue
Size: Small
Multi-Touch: Yes
Software Bundle: Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio Debut 10

If you are on a budget or a first time pen tablet user, the Wacom Intuos Art Medium would be our choice to go for. Despite lacking tilt recognition, Touch Ring and having half the levels of LPI and pen pressure support. With 2540 LPI, 1024 levels of pen pressure, 4 programmable ExpressKeys, Multi-Touch gesture support and optional Wireless Kit. Which makes this Pen Tablet a reasonably priced tablet, but still very capable.

Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium (CTH690AK)

Let your creative genius play with the Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium. It includes Wacom’s leading pen & touch tablet technology, free downloadable creative software and online training. So whether your dream is honing your skills, racking up some ‘likes’, or designing a must-have T-shirt, Intuos Art has everything you need to create amazing digital paintings.

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Price: $199.95 $165.00

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Wacom Intuos Pro Models

The Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Models differ themselves from the Intuos Models, with better performance and more customization options. The Intuos Pro Models are equipped with better resolution, pressure sensitivity and have tilt recognition. They are more customizable with the Touch Ring and 8 ExpressKeys that can be mapped to specifics functions and profiles. The build of the Intuos Pro line is also much better and will last longer under intense usage. Also the look and feel of the Intuos Pro line is much better, but this is more of a personal opinion then a fact. Below a table with main differences between the Intuos Pro and the Intuos:

 Intuos ProIntuos
Resolution5080 LPI2540 LPI
Pressure Level20481024
Tilt RecognitionYesNo
Precision modeYesNo
EpressKeys84
Touch RingYesNo
Available In Large SizeYesNo
WirelessYesOptional, $40
Wireless Mouse SupportYesNo
PenGrip PenIntuos Pen
Pen EraserYesNo
Pen StandYesNo
Software BundleNoYes

Wireless Pen Tablets

I hate unnecessary clutter and wire on my work area, so the wireless feature of these tablets is for me a must. All Intuos Pro models come with built-in wireless connectivity, while the Intuos models require an additional kit to provide wireless functionality. This Wireless Accessory Kit (ACK40401) includes a rechargeable battery, wireless module that is to be inserted into the tablet and a USB receiver that goes into the computer.

Working Wireless is more comfortable as you can position the Pen Tablet as you like, for example on your lap, without getting tangled up with cables. The maximum range is about 10 feet, however at that point you will start notice some lag and some freezing. Optimally you would keep the Pen Tablet at a maximum range of 8 feet of your receiver that is connected into your computer.

Older wireless Pen Tablets had problems with lag and freezing despite being close to the receiver of the computer. Due to the fact that the current models are now using proprietary RF signals instead of Bluetooth, these problems are in the past. Performance-wise the Pen Tablet will react and function as is would wired, as long as you keep within the distance stated above.

Wacom states that the battery life will be around 16 hours but this all depends on the size of the tablet and the intensity of usage. In reality, we experienced that a Intuos Pro Medium can be used for 10 – 12 hours continually until it needs to be recharged. The Tablet can still be used while being charged through a regular USB Cable so this is long enough for normal usage. A full recharge takes about 3 – 4 Hours.

Buying the Wireless Kit if you don’t have a Intuos Pro is a recommended option. Having no cables and movement freedom is well worth it, specially considering the low $ 40 price tag.

Wacom Wireless Accessory Kit (ACK40401)

Easily connect your tablet to your computer without the wires. The Wireless Accessory Kit components and battery conveniently plug into your pen tablet and an available USB port on your computer, leaving less clutter, and more room for your life.

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Price: $44.99

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Conclusion

Best Choice: Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Medium

For those looking for the best, future proof, investment money can buy for every Art Enthusiast alike: With 5080 LPI, 2048 levels of pen pressure, tilt recognition, ExpressKeys, Multi-Touch gesture support, Touch Ring and built-in Wireless. Which makes this Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Medium our best choice.

Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablet Medium (PTH651)

Quickly and professionally edit photos and create digital artwork using natural pen control and multi-touch gesture.

This popular-sized pen tablet provides ample workspace, yet it still fits conveniently inside most laptop bags. Perfect for image editing, graphic design, and art interests, the Intuos Pro medium is the most popular model.

Additional images:

Product Thumbnail Product Thumbnail

Price:

Buy Now

Budget Choice: Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium

For those with limited budget or first time pen tablet user: With 2540 LPI, 1024 levels of pen pressure, 4 programmable ExpressKeys, Multi-Touch gesture support and optional Wireless Kit. Then the Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium is the one for you as a reasonably priced tablet, but still very capable.

Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium (CTH690AK)

Let your creative genius play with the Wacom Intuos Art Pen Tablet Medium. It includes Wacom’s leading pen & touch tablet technology, free downloadable creative software and online training. So whether your dream is honing your skills, racking up some ‘likes’, or designing a must-have T-shirt, Intuos Art has everything you need to create amazing digital paintings.

Additional images:

Product Thumbnail Product Thumbnail

Price: $199.95 $165.00

Buy Now

Things to look out for or avoid

We would avoid the small Pen Tablets as those has a very small active area for decent hand motion. They may be useful as a compact travel companion or solely for handwriting recognition, but a medium size Intuos Pro or Art in our opinion a much better investment.

Also be sure to get a Pen Tablet with Multi-touch support, so avoid the Wacom Intuos Draw. Multi-touch is highly integrated in the latest OS versions of Windows and Mac and this will only improve more in the future. Touch-enabled models cost only around $20 more and are a much more future-proof option and investment.

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