I’ve had my Wacom Cintiq 12WX for about two months now so it’s time to write down some of my thoughts about it. For those of you who don’t know the Cintiq is a graphics tablet that is an LCD screen. You interact with a computer and draw right on the flat screen of the Cintiq.

I bought the twelve inch model (measured diagonally like every TV and computer screen) rather than the twenty two inch one because I wanted to use it on my drawing table as I would a piece of paper. The twenty two inch one was too big for that task. That and too expensive.

The first problem I had with it was that the Cintiq was not made to work very well with my old school CRT computer monitor. The aspect ratio of my old monitor is 4:3 and the Cintiq is somewhere around a letter boxed movie. Since both screens have to have the same resolution one or the other is going to be distorted.

Like I said I wanted to use the Cintiq on my drawing table so I wouldn’t be looking at my monitor much anyway so I thought this wouldn’t be much of a problem. I’d set my preferences for the Cintiq resolution when I was going to use it and change them back after.

Surprisingly this turned out to be more of a pain in the ass then I thought it would be. My monitor can be set to a zillion different resolutions and Mhz and I never remember which one I use. Even writing it down was a pain since every time I want to use the Cintiq I have to find where I wrote the info down. That is just a small irritating thing but it usually made me think, “Eh, it’s faster to do this without the Cintiq”.

As a matter of fact for the last couple of days I’ve been using the Cintiq without bothering to change the resolution. It was easier to deal with the distorted image. None of this is really the tablet’s fault and I hope to get a new monitor sometime soon and eliminate this problem but it is a problem.

I use the Cintiq for a few specific tasks. When I’m using photo reference for something it makes it real easy to draw on top of a photo. That is where I knew it would excel and it does. I can still draw on paper and scan in a lot faster and easier than using a tablet but for that specific type of drawing (photo reference) I prefer the Cintiq over drawing on paper or with my regular graphics tablet.

The other type of work I’ve been using it for is my vector based artwork in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll draw on paper, scan it in, and then color the drawing with the computer. I draw shapes of color on top of all that. That is where I’m using the Cintiq. To draw those shapes of color.

Because I’m new to the Cintiq I’m a little slow at the drawing vector shapes part. I’m not using it in conjunction with my keyboard or CRT so all the key command shortcuts I’m used to aren’t there. I’ve been setting up the function buttons on the Cintiq to substitute for the key commands but it takes practice to use them effortlessly. There is a learning curve.

My fingers automatically hit the key commands when I’m using my keyboard and regular graphics tablet. I’ve been doing it so long I don’t have to think about it. I’m nowhere near that level on the Cintiq and it’s a little frustrating sometimes. Learning a new working method is usually not easy.

I do like the three little bumps they put on some of the function keys to differentiate them by feel. I call them the “Pain Lands” (an old Magic the Gathering term that popped into my head) and know that the buttons I have to think about, undo and save, are under the bumps. Learning is all about association.

One funny thing about when I first got the Cintiq is that I couldn’t find the on switch. It’s on the upper left narrow edge side of the tablet. It’s recessed and marked in a subtle fashion. I really couldn’t find it. I had to look up in the instruction booklet where it was. I can’t remember ever having to do that before.

Overall I’m happy with the Cintiq even though I haven’t used it enough to be efficient with it. Hopefully when I get a new monitor it will be more effortless to use. I expected it to a complement to my existing computer tools, including my regular graphics tablet, not replace them and that is what it’s done. It does a few things well and that’s what I’ll do on it but the Cintiq not the be all end all of drawing on the computer. At least not for me.