Desperately Cintiqing Susan – Working with the Wacom Cintiq

For the past three weeks or so I’ve been using one of the library’s Wacom Cintiq displays for creative work and graphic design stuff.  These things were originally purchased as part of a digital art kit that travels from branch to branch but, right now, no one has a request for that kit. So I asked if I could play with one of these nifty creative tools for a while.

The Cintiq is a fantastic device where you can use a stylus and draw, manipulate, and create right on the screen. You work right inside of Photoshop, Manga Studio, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, or whatever and it’s amazing. Then again, that’s no surprise. If you’ve ever done any digital illustration or design you’ll already know how excellent Wacom products are. As a digital artist and sometimes graphic designer, I have to say that it’s a groundbreaking device.

The weird thing is, I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that I still prefer my Wacom tablet. While the Cintiq is awesome, the tablet just fits my workflow in a much better way.  When I draw or create with a tablet, I’ve got my right hand on the tablet with the stylus and my left operating my keyboard to issue commands and shortcuts. With my tablet, that’s easy. Tablet on the right, keyboard on the left, eyes on the screen. For me, there isn’t the slightest bit of disconnect between these three devices.

Also, maybe you can draw at this angle, BUT I CAN'T.

Also, maybe you can draw at this angle, BUT I CAN’T.

With the Cintiq, the strangeness started when I began looking at my “tablet” instead of my screen; even though the tablet and screen are the same thing on a Cintiq. The smallest Cintiq is still bigger than my tablet and that extra space put desk area at a premium. I noticed that I couldn’t find a  good place for my keyboard. I spent quite a bit of time moving my keyboard or the Cintiq into some kind of different configuration, or just a little more over there, or a little closer. It never seemed to be just right.

Still it was worth persevering to discover whether or not this would be a work changing device for me and, in the end, it really isn’t. The Cintiq is amazing and it can do amazing things for the right person. I’m just not that person. After three weeks of working with it, I unhooked everything, packed it lovingly back in its Pelican case, and returned it to its kit. I missed my tablet and I can wait to go back to it full time.

The Cintiq is a perfect example where, no matter how nice the device or how awesome it is, if it’s the wrong tool for your job, then it’s just not going to help you.

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