Hands on: The Cintiq 16 artist's tablet provides a premium experience at a discount

Posted:
in macOS edited February 13
You don't have to spend thousands on a great artist's tablet for your Mac because the Wacom Cintiq 16 is here. AppleInsider hands it to a webcomic artist, to see what he thinks of it.

Cintiq 16 in use with a iMac 5K
Cintiq 16 in use with a iMac 5K


Editor's note: Author and artist Brian Patterson, currently producing webcomic D20monkey.com worked with AppleInsider on this review.

Speaking as someone who has worked exclusively digital since 2010, Wacom and their products have always been the gold standard for comfort, quality, and ease-of-use. But, the price of entry was always a bit steep. The initial investment in the gear and the will to adapt to the requirements of it is absolutely worth it, and it will change everything you know about workflow and digital art production, but it can be intimidating to lay down money on new equipment.

The price tag for many baseline Wacom Cintiq tablets such as the Cintiq 13HD and 22HD can easily exceed $1,000, making entry for new professionals and hobbyists tougher.

Thankfully, Wacom has released a new tablet that bridges the cost versus need divide with the Cintiq 16, offering a solution that does not come with the weight and stress of thousands of dollars up-front, before getting started.

The hardware

Wacom products have always had a certain sleekness and simplicity in their appearance and function and the Cintiq 16 is no different. The standard dark hardware is present, and everything is clearly labeled.

The box contains the tablet, the Pro Pen 2 stylus, a setup guide, and a 3-to-1 connection cord that divides into the USB, HDMI, and an AC adapter for the tablet for less top-of-the-desk clutter. As someone who moves their tablet and keyboard around often while I work, this is important and appreciated. It is efficient.

the Cintiq 16 offers 15.6 inches of screen space at 1920 x 1800 resolution and a nice color gamut for professional work.

The tablet is lightweight but sturdy. It does not feel cheap and while testing those limits with drops from the top of a desk is unwise, it feels like it will stand up nicely to the wear and tear of daily use. We'll let you know for sure about this in a few months, though.

Cintiq 16 fold-down legs
Cintiq 16 fold-down legs


Flip-down legs give the tablet a bit of height and angle, with rubber pads adhered keep it more securely anchored to the desktop. Optional mounting holes for swing arms and other stand options can be attached as well.

Setup

The simple instructions provide information on where to downloaded the drivers, and how to install them. The pamphlet included with the box provides illustrated steps on how and where to plug everything in and connect the tablet to your work station -- but it's pretty obvious to begin with.

Using the Wacom Desktop Center app, I went in and set up the Pro Pen 2 settings to what I personally like to use, calibrated the screen though the prompts, and I was ready to work. The setup process took minutes.

Granted, I know my way around the calibration process and pen settings but on a fresh install for the first-time user, the prompts and app interface are clear and helpful.

I work on Mac exclusively, but just to be thorough, I set up the Cintiq 16 the exact same way on a friend's standard PC, just to see what would happen and the process was equally smooth.

Yes, the Cintiq 16 works on Windows too
Yes, the Cintiq 16 works on Windows too


Truly, the Cintiq 16 is plug-and-play. That is, assuming you have a USB-A port. This isn't an issue with the iMac line, or the Mac mini, but you'll need a pair of adapters or a Thunderbolt 3 docking station to use it with a 2016 and later MacBook Pro.

The Stylus

The Pro Pen 2 is fantastic. The pressure sensitivity is on point and there is little-to-no lag in responsiveness. I was able to draw with confidence as the pen behaved exactly as I hoped it would with pressure, line weight, and range of motion.

Cintiq 16 Pro Pen 2
Cintiq 16 Pro Pen 2


The Pro Pen 2 feels a little lighter than the stylus you get with a Cintiq 22HD which is my primary tablet, but it does not feel cheap. This is probably because there is no battery -- Wacom's continued electromagnetic resonance witchcraft with this stylus means that it does not need an internal power supply, which is a fantastic touch.

Working Experience

After setting up the tablet, I opened a fresh Photoshop document and started sketching. Once my settings were adjusted, I used the Cintiq 16 to draw a sketch of one of my characters.

Immediately, I noticed that I did not feel restrained or cramped on the workspace like I have with other tablets. I had full range of motion and the slightly elevated angle with the built-in legs meant that I did not have a backache from being completely hunched over while I worked.

The stylus was responsive and comfortable and the screen material on the Cintiq 16 has a satisfying amount of resistance. It doesn't feel perfectly smooth when the stylus runs across it, this isn't a bad thing. If you have ever run a great pencil or pen across a nice piece of paper, it has that level of satisfaction to it.

This is one reason I point artists toward Cintiq products. Non-screen tablets are very affordable and loved by artists, but I am one of those people who cannot not see their hand draw while they work. Cintiq tablets provide a traditional drawing experience in a digital medium and for me, that is worth a higher investment cost.

My original 21UX changed my life and the way I create. It was a large investment, but I have never regretted it, not even once. If the Cintiq 16 had been an option for me back then, I would have jumped on it immediately.

Wacom is clearly trying to bring the full Cintiq experience to more people with the Cintiq 16. While you might lose a few bells and whistles of the larger tablets, this product succeeds in the goal.

It is clean, quick, and professional-level quality at a fraction of the standard cost.

Pricing and Value

The Cintiq 16 retails for $649 through the Wacom store and Amazon. The Cintiq Pro 16 retails for $1,499. At less than half the price, the Cintiq 16 is a fantastic step in the right direction.

Nearly $700 for a tablet is not cheap, but it is an investment in the right tool for the job. If you are someone who is ready to step into the world of digital art, this is completely worth it. With it, you are securing a generous workspace and canvas area using Wacom's intuitive hardware, along with options as a solid second monitor and travel work solution.

I will be wholeheartedly recommending the Cintiq 16 to professionals and hobbyists looking to make the jump to digital workflow. I am not exaggerating when I say that it could lead to a new generation of digital artists taking their first steps into the world who otherwise might need to wait much longer to do so, and I cannot wait to see what they create with the Cintiq 16.

We'll be talking more about using the tablet, and long-term impressions, in a few months.

Where to buy

Wacom's Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet is currently in stock for $649.95 at several resellers, including Adorama (no tax collected outside NY & NJ), B&H Photo (free expedited shipping), and Amazon.com.

The Cintiq Pro 16, also available at Adorama, B&H Photo and Amazon.com, sells for $1,499.95.
Sanctum1972

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    DreggorDreggor Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Great article from a great artist, AI should do more of this Industry Expert collaboration articles, they bring a great perspective to the site.
    jeffharrisMike WuertheleSanctum1972baconstang
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    rko
  • Reply 3 of 15
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    The editorial cartoonist for my local news outlet recently got an iPad Pro to do his work on.  He has gone crazy putting out new content, sometimes multiple times per day, and absolutely loves it.  Check out Marshall Ramsey if you are interested.
    seanismorris
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,642administrator
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    This is just a first look, and basic usage. We'll be talking more with Brian about it as time goes on.
    seanismorris
  • Reply 5 of 15
    nhtnht Posts: 4,487member
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    This is just a first look, and basic usage. We'll be talking more with Brian about it as time goes on.
    I guess the obvious question is whether he’s used the iPad Pro professionally...
  • Reply 6 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,051member
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    This is just a first look, and basic usage. We'll be talking more with Brian about it as time goes on.

    My daughter is going back to school to study animation. They're using TVPaint for her 2D class and were able to get large Cintiq Pro pen displays for their classroom (Windows version of TVPaint appears to be more updated than Mac version--where have I heard that before?????). She'll progress into 3D animation so she'll be introduced to a variety of applications like Maya, 3Ds Max, etc.

    I heard the iPad Pro can work with some 2D/3D applications but I'd like to see a comparison between iPad Pro animation application capabilities and Wacom pen display application capabilities.

    Is the 15.6" diagonal size large enough for both beginners and professionals, at least until someone else is paying for the hardware? Does anyone foresee Apple being able to get application companies to port enough of their software to the iPad Pro so it can be used for professional work as a standalone and connected pen display device?
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,642administrator
    nht said:
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    This is just a first look, and basic usage. We'll be talking more with Brian about it as time goes on.
    I guess the obvious question is whether he’s used the iPad Pro professionally...
    He has.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    rob53 said:
    Obviously you can’t do a direct comparison the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.  But, doesn’t the drawing experience (of this product) blow it away?

    Does the 12.9” feel to small after using this? What about the feeling and accuracy of the stylus?

    Should artists that own the iPad consider upgrading to the Cintiq 16?

    It’s difficult to judge how much the iPad has resonated with artists... 
    This is just a first look, and basic usage. We'll be talking more with Brian about it as time goes on.

    My daughter is going back to school to study animation. They're using TVPaint for her 2D class and were able to get large Cintiq Pro pen displays for their classroom (Windows version of TVPaint appears to be more updated than Mac version--where have I heard that before?????). She'll progress into 3D animation so she'll be introduced to a variety of applications like Maya, 3Ds Max, etc.

    I heard the iPad Pro can work with some 2D/3D applications but I'd like to see a comparison between iPad Pro animation application capabilities and Wacom pen display application capabilities.

    Is the 15.6" diagonal size large enough for both beginners and professionals, at least until someone else is paying for the hardware? Does anyone foresee Apple being able to get application companies to port enough of their software to the iPad Pro so it can be used for professional work as a standalone and connected pen display device?
    You can use Astropad (and others) to use an iPad Pro and Pencil as a Mac display, just as you’d use a Cintiq. I plan to get a Pro and Pencil this year to use wirelessly with my Luna Display dongle.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 85unconfirmed, member
    Great review! The new Cintiq 16 was one of the tablets I was seriously looking into besides one other competitor named XP-Pen for a similar size and function, although the latter is cheaper. I currently use an old school Wacom Intuos medium for my iMac and it has worked well over the years but the lack of multitouch had made things a bit awkward especially when switching from iPad Pro to the desktop ( one reason why I'm very frustrated at Apple for not coming out with an actual Surface style desktop when it should have ). Wacom is an excellent company and their tablets are of high quality for professional work but the new Cintiq is a nice addition for new artists or beginners who want to try their hand on the product. I'm considering replacing the Intuos with either the Cintiq or XP-Pen for desktop work, unless I get a new Mac Mini or PC tower so I can experiment with VR projects as a new medium. 
  • Reply 10 of 15
    rkorko Posts: 12member
    It would be great if you could use this with an iPad Pro, especially the 9.7.  
  • Reply 11 of 15
    rko said:
    It would be great if you could use this with an iPad Pro, especially the 9.7.  
    Uhhh what? The iPad Pro is already a drawing tablet.
    edited February 14
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Comparison of this with the iPad Pro is kind of a red herring. It's a device you use on your desk, in that use case scenario it's a more subtle tool, really designed to be part of a desktop workflow. For a lot of artists designers, the smaller portable Cintiqs are travel substitutes that they use when working off site that replicate the feel of the large Wacom tablets they use at home. It's a second screen, so you have all your Macbook's real estate for visual reference, editorial notes etc. The iPad Pro is a much better portable performer - iOS touch gestures put it streets ahead of the Cintiq's clunky touch (I don't think the Cintiq 16 even has touch - I always turn it off on the Pro 16) so you don't need a keyboard for shortcuts, but it's harder to get work done on one screen. I think of the iPad Pro as an incredibly versatile, useful sketchbook but still as a compromised platform for doing finished pro work.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    Comparison of this with the iPad Pro is kind of a red herring. It's a device you use on your desk, in that use case scenario it's a more subtle tool, really designed to be part of a desktop workflow. For a lot of artists designers, the smaller portable Cintiqs are travel substitutes that they use when working off site that replicate the feel of the large Wacom tablets they use at home. It's a second screen, so you have all your Macbook's real estate for visual reference, editorial notes etc. The iPad Pro is a much better portable performer - iOS touch gestures put it streets ahead of the Cintiq's clunky touch (I don't think the Cintiq 16 even has touch - I always turn it off on the Pro 16) so you don't need a keyboard for shortcuts, but it's harder to get work done on one screen. I think of the iPad Pro as an incredibly versatile, useful sketchbook but still as a compromised platform for doing finished pro work.
    You can use it as a touch/stylus monitor for your Mac though, so what’s the difference other than size?
  • Reply 14 of 15
    rkorko Posts: 12member
    rko said:
    It would be great if you could use this with an iPad Pro, especially the 9.7.  
    Uhhh what? The iPad Pro is already a drawing tablet.

    -Small screen, clunky “pencil”, it’s a tablet you can draw on, but not a great drawing tablet.  

  • Reply 15 of 15
    rko said:
    rko said:
    It would be great if you could use this with an iPad Pro, especially the 9.7.  
    Uhhh what? The iPad Pro is already a drawing tablet.

    -Small screen, clunky “pencil”, it’s a tablet you can draw on, but not a great drawing tablet.  

    Have you actually used one? Because that's not what most people say.
Sign In or Register to comment.