Unfortunately Wacom Finally Made My Dream Tablet

A few years ago when Apple came out with this newfangled device called an iPad, I acquired one just months after it was released. My hope was that it would work as a portable digital sketch pad, and it did… well, sorta… but with no pressure sensitivity on the screen and the somewhat clunky painting apps that were available at the time, I quickly lost interest in painting on an iPad.

I work everyday on a Wacom Cintiq which is a fabulous tool to make art on. I have been hoping for several years that Wacom would jump into the portable device market with some sort of portable Cintiq, and they finally did… and while I have not had a chance to demo the new Wacom Companion, it looks like everything I had hoped and dreamed for…

WacomCompanion

…unfortunately, then there is the price tag… $2500.00 …ouch. If the Companion was going to be my primary art making device I could easily justify the steep price tag, but for me, I already have a Cintiq, I’m just wanting something to make pictures on during the commercials of an NFL football game… so now I’m thinking iPad again…

Developers have been working overtime trying to come up with an art stylus for the iPad that has some sort of faux pressure sensitivity and I am seeing new ones hit the market every day. The latest one I’ve seen is the JaJa Hex3, and while I have not tried it personally, it looks pretty great in this video…

Additionally, developers have been hard at work improving their products and I have been especially impressed with the retooled ProCreate painting app.

Procreate

All that to say, Wacom finally created the portable digital art pad I have always wanted. Unfortunately, with that steep price tag, I cant justify getting one just so I can occasionally grab it and make a nice picture. On the other hand, I use my iPad every day for everything… so my current plan is to upgrade my iPad (I still have the 1st generation dinosaur), get a fancy new pressure sensitive stylus, and give the iPad one more chance to be my portable digital art tablet.

22 comments

  1. Dennis, first off, I love your artwork, I am an illustrator also, as well as a fan of yours! I too am disappointed in the price on the “companion” to the Cintiq, and I have let Wacom know. I have been hoping for Wacom to come out with one for a while as well, but no way, not for that price. I have had great success using a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The drawing on it is great, the pressure sensitivity is superb! I highly recommend it. Apparently Wacom did work with them on designing the Galaxy Note. The iPad has been dismal when it comes to drawing, just thought I would give you another in the meantime solution, until Wacom gets off of their high horse.

    Keep up the great work! Thanks for blessing my home and my children with your talent!
    Sincerely,
    Brian Gall

    1. Hi Brian. I just told someone over on my Facebook page that I’m a Mac guy, but not a Mac fanatic and would surely be open to using any brand that worked well. The Samsung Note, Surface Pro and that mysterious Fujitsu model have all been on my radar screen… I just have no way to experiment with them to see if I like them or not…

  2. Hey Dennis, I too am a Mac guy, but have been disappointed with their mobile products, so I have ventured out. My desktop will always be a Mac, hopefully they will get where I would like them to get with ipads and iphones. If you ever make it to Nashville, you can give my Note a test drive!

  3. hi Dennis, i use the Jot touch Stylus i my Ipad 2 and it´s great,. Pressure sensitive and very confortable.
    Love your art by the way and very inspirational too. Keep the great work master!

  4. Dennis,
    I just purchased a Windows Surface Pro last week. I’m a graphic designer and have been wanting to get back into hand drawing and illustration. I’m pretty happy with it. The pen uses wacom drivers and is pressure sensitive. It seems to work well with Corel Painter 12, Photoshop, and Sketchbook Pro. Not to mention, it’s a full PC running windows 8. You can run any program you want as a notebook / tablet. I almost went for the Samsung Ativ 700 (with an 11.5″ screen) but you can only find them online & I like to touch and feel what I purchase.

    By the way, I was glad to stumble upon your website & love your Christian artwork. I do a lot of design / marketing for churches and it was a bonus when I saw that you are in Indiana!

      1. Are you ready for some FOOOOOOOTball? 🙂 And how do you explain your theology of believing in Luck? haha

        I too am sad about the high Wacom prices, but excited that new products are coming out to hopefully jar Apple awake to the opportunity they are missing with the artist base that loves them and into moving away from Steve jobs stubborn stance of no stylus’ or at least making Apple iProducts able to support pressure sensitivity.

    1. I’ve been following the progress of the Wacom Companion since February. I knew they would be pricey, but rumor was they would hit the market at around $999.00… that rumor was nowhere close!

      1. It is a challenge dennis. I looked at the newest Thinkpad Helix (fantastic specs!) but the price on that is crazy too. I might stick to the big Clintiq on my desk for a while. The iPad will do for the occasional mobile need (keeping it occasional). I like my traditional sketchbook too anyway. There is something special about the real thing 🙂

        1. You can’t beat a traditional sketchbook. Supposedly they will be releasing the iPad 5 in September which is what I have been waiting for. My master plan ultimately is to be able to shoot a picture from my traditional sketchbook with the on board iPad camera straight into the ProCreate app and I will be off and running on a picture to paint with one of those new faux pressure sensitive styluses!

  5. Which would be best? to all those who have experience with both or either, which feels closest to pencil & paper? I have never used a digital tablet, but have just used pencils & paper old school style. I would also like the tablet and or software to be able to trace over sketches & compare sketches side by side for comparison, as I do this to pick a final sketch for an artwork. I have seen some of the sketches with the ipad, & they look impressive, I like how the ipad is portable, & from some of the scenic art sketched on it, it seems like it could be taken outside. The ipad looks like it would be easier to take out in the filed or outdoors to sketch, where as the wacom tablets have to be connected to a laptop or computer. I asked about this on another forum, & was told the ipad’s screen is too shiny to be of any use for drawing outdoors on site. I have a macbook laptop, & will probably be getting the student version of Adobe CS5 software to take some classes on it. I am looking into digital sketching as well because, I have alot of sketchbooks around, & the paper attracts silverfish, & I archive some of them by scanning them. I do this to get the sketches on smaller media like DVD’s to archive, since I live on a canyon & my area has had wildfires. I would not want to lose my sketches on the paper pads, that is why trying or doing digital sketching would have my sketches in digital form. The scanning of the paper sketching get tedious, as a single project can produce 10 to 60 or more sketches, so I find myself falling behind on my scanning.

    1. …well, I’m not really an expert on any of this, I’m just trying to figure out what the best options for digital painting are, too. It is hard to see the screen of an iPad in direct sunlight. When outdoors with an iPad you can try to find shade and then turn the brightness on the screen up, that will help… but I’m not so sure an iPad is the ideal device for doing digital artwork… other than the new Wacom Companion, I’m not sure what is…

  6. Tablets don’t seem to be quite ‘there’ yet, so I decided to get a used samsung slate 7 which isn’t far behind the current tablets in its specs. Wacom stylus, full windows desktop (if you can handle windows), 4GB ram and so on. Not full hd screen though. And still no good in bright light. I just couldn’t justify paying full price for a tablet pc that still isn’t what I want though! All the tech for an ideal tablet pc exists on the market, just not in a single machine! The companion is the closest yet though. And worth the money as a primary production device, although it seems to have an older generation cpu; the new (4th generation) cpu has twice the battery life, which would make a big difference. Still, it’s a pretty good time for art hardware!

  7. Hey, Dennis,
    Haven’t visited your blog in a while, so, sorry if this reply comes a little late.
    Let me place a WHOLEHEARTED endorsement for the Surface Pro 2! I just purchased one after Christmas and let me tell you, it’s FANTASTIC and about half the price of the companion. I’ll have a video review up on my blog soon, but if you get a chance, they’re REALLY capable machines for art. If you have any questions, I’ve been using it for about a month or so for exactly the purposes you described (sketching, concepts, etc), but the monitor’s color calibration and processor’s horsepower are strong enough that I’ve actually started doing some final airbrushing in it as well.

    Happy shopping!
    Shoot me an email if you’d like any more info.

    God bless!
    -Bret <

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