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.
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.
Cintiq is considered by many to be the industry standard. Wacom has been creating 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 Samsung and iPad tablets. I always appreciate when products from different brands work well together as I’m a minimalist, especially with art supplies.
These 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.”
If you have started out drawing digitally, tilt shouldn’t be a noticeable issue. But if you’re like me and are used to graphite or pencil you will likely appreciate this feature. Learn more about tilt here.
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 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 your 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 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.
One of the most important things to do when installing your Cintiq is programming the stylus. This will allow you 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.
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.
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 artist, 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.
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 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.
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.
A good Cintiq 16HD Alternative
For an alternative to the 16-inch Cintiq tablet, there’s the GT-156HD by Huion. This 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.
An Excellent Cintiq 22HD Alternative
If you’re looking for an alternative to the 22-inch Cintiq, the Artist 22 is worth looking at and has a 1920 by 1080 screen.
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.
The drivers for this Ugee aren’t as customizable as those of the Cintiq. The 1910B also doesn’t come with programmable express keys.
Lighter Alternative To The Cintiq 22HD
Like Cintiq tablets, the Ugee UG-2150 tablet has 2048 pressure levels and full HD resolution (1920 by 1080). Though it’s a similar size, I like that it’s lighter and smaller than the 22HD by Cintiq.
The most immediately noticeable difference between Cintiq and this product is the shiny glass screen. It also doesn’t have Express Keys.
If I had to choose one tablet, I would say the best Cintiq alternative is the XP-Pen Artist 22. It’s far less expensive than the Cintiq with a responsive screen.
The resolution, color quality, and display are on par with the non-touch Cintiq 22HD as they both offer 1920 by 1080. Though glossy, 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 while it’s charging you’ll have an extra to work with.
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?