Intuos4 or Cintiq 12wx? Sketching

Let me preface this by saying that I had a Cintiq 12wx last year for about a month but decided to return it since I felt my money would be better served on a faster computer.

Well, now I’m thinking about buying one again. I didn’t like all the cords that came along with it but I was able to bust out some pretty nifty sketches with it. I like drawing directly on the screen.

That said, in order to save money and desktop space/congestion, I’m looking to try one of the small or medium-sized Intuos tablets. Have any of you had experience trying to sketch on one of these things? Is it intuitive at all? I just am concerned about the disconnect between my hands and eyes.


I found it very difficult to sketch on an intuos. I now have the cintiq 21, but before I got it I would use the intuos for adding color, logos, etc… to a scanned sketch. My suggestion is to fork out the money and get the Cintiq. Even with the small one you will be very happy and it will increase your work flow.

Sketching on an Intuos is a black art IMO.

You aren’t “Sketching” as much as you’re drawing a line, undoing, drawing a line, undoing, x100 till you get a stroke you like. You can rough things out but it’s really disorienting compared to paper. I could never get used to it, so I only used my Intuos for rendering (blocking out color, erasing, touching up images etc) then got rid of it for a tablet PC and finally a Cintiq once I started working.

The most effective technique I have seen for using an intuos is working super rough (almost unintelligible scribble) and then gradually working over top of it on new layers to refine your lines.

I am always perplexed by how many people seems to claim it’s impossible to sketch on an intuos. I prefer a
cintiq when one is available (and I’m not paying for it) but with a little time an intuos is a great alternative.
I have had the pleasure of having a Cintiq 20 or 21 at each of my last three employers and while I had the money
to buy the Cintiq 12, this past summer I chose the Intuos 4 medium. I also have an Intuos 1 12x12 that I’ve had since
2003 and they have been great. If I was doing more freelance work at home, I would most likely buy a Cintiq.

Thanks for the comments. Very helpful. At this point, I’m leaning towards the Cintiq but I’m not sure how it will work with my dual-monitor system.

if you can budget it, go for the cintiq or tablet pc… why make it harder than it has to be (or go the cheapest less intuitive route)?

Not impossible, just not intuitive or without it’s learning curve. Theres a natural hand eye coordination with sketching, and the Intuos model doesn’t follow that same mentality, so it involves re-teaching your brain how to draw.

I sold my Intuos 6 months after I bought it - just couldn’t use it effectively even after months of trying. It would take me more time to put out a simple sketch than it would do do the same sketch on paper then scan the linework in and detail it digitally. Picked up a tablet PC and felt natural sketching with it after a few hours.

You have a few options depending on your machine.

1: Get rid of a monitor and use the Cintiq as your second display. Standard machines will not support more than 2 monitors.

2: If you have a PC desktop that has dual PCI-Express slots (typically referred to as SLI for Nvidia or Crossfire for ATI) to support 2 video cards you can add a second video card and NOT run in SLI/Crossfire mode. This will recognize 2 discrete cards and allow you to run all 3 displays. If you have a desktop you are looking to upgrade, this could be a reason to do so as it requires changing the motherboard and reinstalling (or a complex repair install) of windows.

3: Purchase a Matrox Triplehead2go unit that will allow you to run 3 monitors on any system. It is a $250-300 upgrade, so if you did need to upgrade your system it may make more sense to upgrade and factor this technology into your upgrade. You could even use your current video card in your new system depending on your current hardware.

3 monitors is tough functionality to pull off easily. (Unlike 2 screens which is just plug and play)

I find it hard to use a Cintiq as both a sketching display as well as a normal monitor… it just doesn’t tilt up enough. That’s a deal-breaker for me with a laptop that can only handle one large screen, so I use a KVM to go between monitors and hotkeys to set up the resolution. The downside, a giant screen on my desk half the time that isn’t working a lot of the time

Hmmm…ok, well, I just bought a posh new Dell laptop a few weeks ago and have dual 22" monitors, so adding a third isn’t really an option. I also don’t really want to replace one of the monitors with the Cintiq.

So, what about finding a cheap Tablet PC? Any recommendations there? Will I be disappointed by their pressure-sensing?

I bought the HP tx 2000 and have absolutely loved it. I couldn’t beat it for the price. I picked it up for about $750 on sale with a free upgrade on RAM and memory. I see very little lag and pressure sensitivity has not been a problem whatsoever. It has a wacom digitizer so you should see the same results that you see on the Cintiq. I have an intuos3 also that barely ever gets used and I have used a Cintiq at work for some time. My biggest argument was that I could by a Cintiq or a tablet for about the same price but with the tablet I can get dual functionality out of it. The only issue is hot keys. They are non existent on most tablets so I use a wireless number pad which works great for some programs i.e. Corel Painter but not Photoshop because they won’t let you assign some shortcuts to numbers or symbols. But for the most part I use Sketchbook Pro which was designed with tablets in mind so it works great. Someone needs to make a tablet for designers.

The triple head would allow you to do what I mentioned without replacing a monitor and it will work on a laptop.
Now that I think about it, you should also be able to get a USB video adapter (video card on a dongle essentially) that should also work and they are sub $100.

That may be a better alternative than the tablet PC.

I just bought a Lenovo Tablet X60… duocore… wacom penabled. Best $600 I spent in a while, definitely recommend

i use both and like them both for different reasons. Sketching on the Cintiq is super easy, but the Intuos has, IMO, just as good sketching feel & function as the Cintiq, you just don’t have the “crutch” of drawing on screen. It’s like that old art school exercise: look at your thumb and draw it, but don’t look at your paper. I use the Cintiq on my lap when drawing and the rest of the time it’s my second monitor. I really like the Intuos for it’s single usb connector, the digital read out button names and it’s super portability. I’ll use it on my work PC and take it home and use on my Mac. It’s pretty versatile, but getting used to drawing on it takes a minute.

best, j.-

Where did you get a Lenovo X60 for $600? If you don’t mind me asking.

Ebay, used, missing a screen clasp and with no OS… with a little time it now works perfect and is now my commuting toy. I’ve been jealous of Blaster’s sketching on his trips with his TabletPC for a while, always showing off those amazing plane sketches! I wanted to have the tools. Anyway, deals can be had if you look carefully…