Learning Curve Sketching on a Cintiq or Display

Hi All,

Ok, I’ve been a designer for almost 10 years; and have mostly used my Cintiq (which I’ve sold recently in favor of a Microsoft Studio Surface 2) for 2D rendering/coloring/photoshop editing, etc. Basically, in all the time of owning my Cintiq, I’ve only tried sketching on it a few times, but gave up once I realized I preferred paper over a slick screen. In my last job, I was sketching on paper, scanning my sketches and then using digital means for adding color/line weights/texture/call outs, etc. It wasn’t necessarily a problem during my 5 year tenure; but once I started to notice a few of my designer peers using their Cintiqs for sketching and eventually coloring/2D rendering, I realized I was definitely behind.

Now that I am back on the job market, and now owning a newer drawing display, I figured I’d give this a try and get better at it as it would definitely improve my workflow staying digital from beginning to end.

Anyone else had that first disconnect with going from paper to glass display; and how did you overcome it? Anyone still scans in their sketches?

Thanks everyone,



One part is practice for sure, it takes a bit of time but I think you can get there. I always had a bigger issue of the flat of my hand getting sweaty after sitting on the warm screen for too long.

However if you go with a Cintiq (not sure about the no-name brands) they include a whole set of different types of nibs in the pen holder. There is a felt nib that has a lot more friction if that’s your cup of tea, but in my experience once you got used to the smoothness it was easy to adapt.

I use pretty much everything. They are all just tools. I actually tend to use paper (just super cheap printer paper, low poundage) or my iPad for early ideation sketches and then only got tot he Cintiq for more tighter refined work. It might be more psychological than anything.

I went through this transition during my last job as well. For me it was just forcing myself to commit to only sketching digitally for a few months. Over time it eventually became natural. It will be rough at first, but will definitely get better over time. Plus the longer you spend in whichever program you choose (photoshop, sketchbook, procreate, etc.) you eventually find the brushes and workflow that suit you and everything begins to fall into place.

I also agree with Cyber that the felt tip for the pro pen makes a huge difference. Mine is super worn down and feels pretty comfortable similar to a broken-in pair of shoes.

Thanks everyone for the input. I agree; that just like any software or new tool, you have to just use it regularly and be consistent. I will give it a whirl and dedicate this “downtime” to getting really good at it. It will certainly save me time in scanning paper sketches, doing the levels cleaning up on each, etc. For quick ideation, 8.5" paper still rules as Yo has mentioned, but it would benefit me to pick up another skill for refinement sketches. It’s about time.

As for the felt tip, I am afraid to say I already have my Microsoft Surface Studio 2; so I will have to see if they provide other types of nibs for their pen. I am loving my MSS2 so far (but that’s another thread entirely). : )

Thanks guys!