Do you love Wacom’s range of Cintiqs but cringe at the price tag? When you decide it’s finally time to buy a drawing tablet, or upgrade your current device, Wacom is often the first brand you think of.
Most artists would love a Cintiq to work with. But they aren’t the most affordable option out there, especially for hobby artists interested in digital art.
Below, I walk through the different features and benefits of the cintiq to help you find something similar but at a cheaper price.
I then list what I think are five of the best alternatives for Wacom’s Cintiq range.
- Why Is Cintiq Considered The Best?
- Noteworthy Cintiq Features
- What Is The Best Way To Use A Cintiq Tablet?
- Why Do Wacoms Cost So Much?
- The Best Wacom Cintiq Alternatives
- #1. Huion KAMVAS Pro 16
- #2. Artisul D13 – 13.3″
- #3. XP-Pen Artist 22
- #4. Ugee 1910B 19″ Tablet
- #5. Ugee UG-2150 21.5″ Pen Tablet
- If We Had To Choose One…
- 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
- Great color quality, and display
- Battery-free Pen with ±60 pen tilt support
- Anti-glare screen
- No touch capabilities
- Stylus must be charged
An affordable alternative, the Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 is a versatile drawing tablet, perfect if you want an upgrade from your drawing pad without breaking the bank.
Why Is Cintiq Considered The Best?
Cintiq is considered by many to be the industry standard. Wacom has been creating drawing tablets for years. They are well known for creating reliable, long-lasting products, with a lot of key tech.
In addition, many Wacom pens work with other devices, such as Android drawing tablets and iPad tablets.
I always appreciate when products from different brands work well together as I’m a minimalist, especially with art supplies.
Noteworthy Cintiq Features
The Wacom Cintiq drawing tablets are known for featuring tilt sensitivity. Tilt is all about the way you use the stylus and makes it function more like a pencil. With a real pencil, you have to tilt it to make a wider line or add shading. A stylus with this capability will mimic that function and feel more “natural” to the artist.
If you have started out drawing digitally, tilt shouldn’t be a noticeable issue. But if you’re a traditional artist like me and are used to graphite or pencil you will likely appreciate this feature. Learn more about tilt here.
Driver Support and Updates
Wacom is known for providing quality driver support. Their tablet drivers continue receiving updates long after a product is released.
Their Graphire 3, for instance, continued getting them for 11 years after its release. Learn more about driver updates here.
Color and screen quality are noteworthy on Cintiq products. The older 24HD, for instance, has a touch-enabled display that shows over a billion colors. It also implements RGB backlighting for improved on-screen color and covers 97 percent of RGB gamut in Adobe.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to find Cintiq alternatives that also offer great clarity and color quality. Almost every pen display tablet on our list has 1920 by 1080 screen resolution. That is the basic resolution for High Definition screens. Learn more about screen resolution here.
Because of its success in the market, Wacom is known for providing great customer support. They have a forum where employees (or occasionally, other users) answer user questions.
There are also Wacom customer support hotlines all over the world you can call if you’re having problems. If you have ever struggled with a tech product only to have no one to contact you about it, this is a relief. Their site is available in many languages and offers driver downloads for Wacom Cintiq products.
If you’re tech-savvy and fine with doing your own troubleshooting, customer support quality may not be a deal-breaker for you. But ideally, the tablet you choose will come with a responsive support team.
What Is The Best Way To Use A Cintiq Tablet?
Programming the Stylus
One of the most important things to do when installing your Cintiq is programming the stylus. This will allow an artist to assign and customize keystroke and scrolling options.
The ability to scroll around or access menus with the push of a button will save you a lot of time. Although this is a feature Cintiq is known for, many alternative products also come with customizable pens of good quality.
Wacom tablets come with a variety of useful buttons along the left side known as ExpressKeys. You can use these to quickly and easily access the functions you need.
Like the buttons on the stylus, they can be used to assign functions to applications. These are great for artists who dislike interruption when they’re in the zone. This tutorial can give you a bit more information on configuring ExpressKeys.
With so much choice in how to customize your device and stylus, it’s likely you’ll forget which button is which at least once. This is where the Express View feature will be of great help.
To find out what a certain key is programmed as, just allow your finger to rest on it and the screen will show you.
Using the Stand
The Cintiq locks into place when put into an upright position, allowing you to use it like a standard computer screen. It can also be adjusted for comfortable use while standing.
Since excessive sitting is bad for your health, this could be a welcome feature for some professional illustrators or hobby artists. For tips on using and setting up your tablet stand, check out this page.
Why Do Wacoms Cost So Much?
Wacom tablets are known for lasting a long time. In fact, I’ve read about multiple artists still proudly owning the same product for over a decade.
Wacom is at the forefront of tablet technology, though other brands are catching up.
The stylus performance and LCD screen in particular call for extensive modification for their quality level. For this reason, the brand has built up a certain level of trust with its customers. This is why you’ve probably heard and read about people singing Cintiq’s praises more than once.
But the price tag on a Cintiq is a bit shocking.
When I first saw how much a 27QHD costs, my first thought was that I could probably find a used car for that price. If you’re a working professional digital artist or illustrator, however, dropping this kind of cash could be worth it because you’d soon earn it back.
It’s also worth looking for used, affordable Cintiq tablets. For the rest of us hobby artists (until we become famous, of course), spending that much is just not in the cards. But it’s perfectly possible to find a suitable alternative without sacrificing quality.
Just look for quality pressure sensitivity, good screen resolution, and make sure the active drawing area is big enough for your needs.
The Best Wacom Cintiq Alternatives
Cintiq alternatives have evolved over the years. Below, I review my top picks.
#1. Huion KAMVAS Pro 16
A good Cintiq 16HD Alternative
For an alternative to the 16-inch Cintiq tablet, there’s the KAMVAS Pro 16 by Huion. This drawing tablet monitor is 15.6 inches with an anti-glare screen. This feature plus 1920 by 1080 screen resolution give you a clear image even in less-than-ideal lighting.
- Light Stylus: The stylus that comes with this tablet is light and easy to hold. It also has ±60 degree pen tilt support. Since I’m used to working with pencil, this is the type of tablet pen I’d prefer.
- Pressure Control: The pressure control on the Huion KAMVAS is smooth and gives good feedback. With 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, this makes it very as good (if not better) to Wacom in terms of quality.
- Suitable for Left-Handed Users: You may move the display connectors to the left side of the tablet monitor for a better working experience if you’re left handed.
- SD Card Slot: The screen comes with a micro SD card slot built in. This enables you to carry your projects with you regardless of which PC you’re using. For those who shift between a laptop and PCs, this accessibility will be a welcome change.
- The Stylus must be Charged: You must remember to put the pen back on the charger after every session or you risk it running out of power mid-project.
- No Touch Controls: If you’re accustomed to using gesture controls to rotate, scale and zoom, the Huion KAMVAS’s lack of touch controls may take some getting used to. However, the customizable touch bar alongside the express keys is a nice addition.
#2. Artisul D13 – 13.3″
A suitable Cintiq 13HD alternative.
A suitable Cintiq 13HD alternative in terms of size, the Artisul D13 has 1920 by 1080 screen resolution. Like the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13, it has 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
There is a matte screen protector that comes with this tablet monitor, which is ideal for artists who prefer a natural, paper-like feel. It also reduces glare. As an artist who likes to work in a variety of places with different lighting, I would appreciate this feature.
- A Battery-Free Pen: The stylus never needs to charge, which is great for busy artists who don’t need yet another task to remember during the day. Lighter than other styluses, it comes with a case and has user-friendly buttons.
- Sturdy Stand: This tablet comes bundled with a stand. Though it’s lightweight and thin, it’s very sturdy. I like that it’s not built-in and is more of an optional feature.
- Easy Installation: The installation process of the Artisul D13 is straightforward and simple. The hot keys are easy to program, which is great for those who are new to using a drawing tablet. It also comes with a customizable quick dial, six quick access keys, and is USB-powered.
- You may need an Adaptor: The D13 only comes with an HDMI port, which could limit you, depending on your current setup.
- Compatibility: This tablet may not work well with certain open source software and may need additional programs set up if you have a Mac.
The D13 has 7 hardware buttons included on its left side, just like the Cintiq. You can configure each of these for applications, Clip Studio Paint, and Photoshop.
#3. XP-Pen Artist 22
An Excellent Cintiq 22HD Alternative
If you’re looking for an alternative to the 22-inch Cintiq, the XP-Pen Artist 22 is worth looking at and has a 1920 by 1080 screen.
- The Viewing Angles: This is an IPS monitor, meaning it offers rich colors and accuracy with various viewing angles. You will only see a little color degradation with extreme angles viewed from the side.
- Lots of Extras: The XP-Pen Artist 22 comes with a fair amount of extra items. This includes an extra stylus, cleaning cloth and brush, an adapter for Mac, a screen protector, and various types of cables.
- Programmable Stylus Buttons: Like the Cintiq, the XP-Pen Artist 22 has programmable pen buttons to increase the efficiency of your work flow.
- No Rotation or Tilt Sensitivity: The XP-Pen Artist 22 doesn’t have these features as Cintiq does, but you may manually adjust pen tilt.
- Stylus Noise: The pen can, at times, make noise when you’re drawing on the screen. The screen protector may help with this issue, though.
- A Glossy Screen: Depending on your preferences, this could be a pro or a con. The glossy screen allows for brighter-looking colors but will definitely reflect light more.
#4. Ugee 1910B 19″ Tablet
Most affordable alternative to the Cintiq
Unfortunately, there isn’t an alternative to the Cintiq 27QHD that really compares. But for its size, the Ugee 1910B is among the most affordable of Cintiq alternatives. This can be attached to a projector, your TV, or used with Mac or Windows.
- A Balanced Pen: This stylus isn’t too heavy or too light. Thicker than an ordinary pen, it’s heavy enough to feel balanced but light enough to prevent fatigue. Since you’ll likely be holding your pen for hours as you work, this is a key quality.
- Responsive Drivers: Ugee’s driver comes with a quality pressure curve that can maximize line variation. Depending on how you use this, it can work similar to a ballpoint pen, creating thin and accurate lines.
- Solid Build: The 1910B looks attractive and feels solid even though it isn’t very thick. It’s easy enough to carry from room to room but probably not comfortable to transport around town.
- Easy-to-Smudge Glass: The slick, glossy screen can be a downside to some as it’s easy to smudge and causes glare.
- The Cords Require a lot of Room: The cords on this tablet monitor make it quite bulky, which is inconvenient for those with limited desk space.
- Limited Customer Support: Ugee doesn’t have the best customer support. If you have any driver or general tablet issues, you can only contact them via chat or email. It could then take them quite a while to answer which may be frustrating.
- Drivers: The drivers for this Ugee aren’t as customizable as those of the Cintiq. The 1910B also doesn’t come with programmable express keys.
#5. Ugee UG-2150 21.5″ Pen Tablet
Lighter Alternative To The Cintiq 22HD
Like Cintiq tablets, the Ugee UG-2150 tablet has 2048 pressure sensitivity levels and full HD screen resolution (1920 by 1080). Though it’s a similar size, I like that it’s lighter and smaller than the 22HD by Cintiq.
- Great Value: Those seeking a cheap Cintiq alternative will be glad to know that the price of this is almost 4 times lower than Cintiq.
- The Pen Holds a Charge Well: An inspiring art session means being able to draw without interruptions. Though you do have to charge the stylus, it will last much longer than many competitors’ products. This will mean having to pause less often.
- Sturdy, Adjustable Mounting Arm: Like the screen itself, the mounting arm feels sturdy, even if you have to move it a lot.
- Support Offered: This tablet supports VGA, DVI-I, and HDMI, so there’s no need for an adapter like there would be with a Yiyinova tablet.
- Limited Customizability: You will be quite limited with how much you can customize the stylus and drivers on this tablet.
- Cables and Cable Placement: This tablet comes with a bit of wire clutter which could get in the way. The cables also attach near the lower part of the unit which some artists will find inconvenient.
- Limited User Support: Again, Ugee doesn’t have the best tech support compared to Wacom. You could end up waiting days for an email reply from them.
The most immediately noticeable difference between Cintiq and this product is the shiny glass screen. It also doesn’t have Express Keys.
If We Had To Choose One…
Wacom or Huion, both brands deliver tops products.
The 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, new glare screen patented technology, touch bar and ±60 levels of tilt recognition has made the Huion KAMVAS far better compared to its previous counterparts.
The color quality, and display are on par with the Cintiq Pro 16HD however the Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 doesn’t have touch capabilities. The screen offers true colors and can also works as an additional monitor.
Visible black shades are important in certain pieces and this delivers them. The pen is solid, comfortable, and battery-free. Perfect for long drawing sessions.
As an added bonus, it doesn’t put off a lot of heat like other products and is light enough to hold in your lap.
So what do you think of our selection? What is your #1 alternative to the Cintiq?