For the few people on the planet that don't know. A Cintiq is a tablet and monitor in one developed by Wacom. Imagine a screen that you can draw directly on with a cordless pen. Add pressure sensitivity, and you have a Cintiq..
Ding, dong! The doorbell rings. I open the door to reveal the UPS guy and a tablet is thrust under my nose for an electronic signature. As I sign my life-away I take possession of a brand new Wacom Cintiq 12. I tear open the outside box to reveal a black box nicely designed with Wacom's trendy new branding.
For the few people on the planet that don't know. A Cintiq is a tablet and monitor in one developed by Wacom. Imagine a screen that you can draw directly on with a cordless pen. Add pressure sensitivity, and you have a Cintiq. Wacom has had the 20" and the 21" inch models for a while. The 12" is the newest addition to the family. The 12" is like the sexy younger sibling of the family. This monitor looks more like a tablet and can stand upright, thanks to the built in aluminum stand (very steady), or rest flat on your lap like a tablet. It even has a little dome on the back so you can rotate it while it sits on a flat surface.
I carefully open the box and remove all the contents. At first there seems to be a lot of cables, but everything is very intuitive and comes together very easily. I notice that everything is carefully wrapped in protective materials and individually bagged. Even the cables have padded covers attached with elastic bands and plastic caps. I can see why Wacom has a reputation for quality.
In about 5 minutes everything is set up on my Mac Book Pro. The tablet itself has a long cable which goes into a box. The box has a power cable, a DVI cable (Comes with both DVI and DVI>VGA cables included) and a USB cable for tablet controls. Because all of the cables are connected to this external hub, it keeps the weight of the Cintiq tablet as light as possible and you only have to deal with a single cable on the tablet itself. Thankfully this cable is long so you can rest it in your lap and recline for some creative freedom.
To get the full potential of the tablet it's advisable to download the latest drivers from the Wacom website www.wacom.com. My Mac Book Pro had no problem recognizing the screen on the Cintiq. The display is very crisp and bright. It runs at 1280 x 800 pixels. Be sure to calibrate the screen if you can. If you don't have a calibration device, some color profiles are included in the installation. Choose your display preferences, the Cintiq>Color settings. Once you have selected the Cintiq 12 color profile the screen very closely matches your main display. It's important not to skip this step or your work could end up looking a little odd in color.
The tablet itself is very solid feeling, and it looks even better in person than it does in the photos. The screen is bright and clear. The grip pen is light and comfortable. The pen contains no batteries or cables, so you are free to use it like a regular pen.
Drawing with the tablet is smooth. Out of the box it felt like there was a bit too much drag on the surface. A quick wipe down later, everything is smooth as silk.
The pen supports 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as tilt sensitivity. These functions open up the brushes in Photoshop. Once you experience pressure sensitivity with Opacity and brush size, it's hard to go back to a mouse. With the pressure, it's like drawing with a real pencil, shading becomes natural. Not to mention the fact you are drawing directly on the screen. I was expecting some lag with painting, but was very surprised by the response, even at high resolutions. I'm sure that CPU and Video cards come into play a lot here. It seems that the performance is limited only by the performance of Photoshop, Painter or whatever application you're working in. Adobe has hinted in press conferences that the next version of Photoshop has GPU performance boosts, so the future only looks better for the Cintiq.
The Cintiq itself comes with 10 buttons and 2 sliders;. 5 buttons and a slider on each side. These are all programmable in various ways. Assign your favorite keyboard shortcuts so that you don't have to reach for the keyboard for anything but typing text. What if you run out of keys? You can assign one of the buttons of the pen to a popup menu. Now add all the shortcuts you like. I even added a couple of Mac specific ones to control spaces, widgets etc.
The Touch Strips are the sliders on each side of the tablet. I set up the left slider to change the brush size while the right zooms. Depending if you are left or right handed, you'll want to have two options that you change while drawing (modifiers) work on your non-dominant hand. Use things like zoom, new layer and brush options for your dominant hand, so you don't interrupt drawing.
One of the default settings is the screen toggle. This is great because you can go between drawing on the tablet and the main screen at the tap of a button. This is useful in extended mode, where the Cintiq works as a second monitor. You can also use mirror mode where both the main display and the Cintiq show the same thing. I prefer extended because it gives me a lot more real estate.
The display itself is a beautiful monitor. I watched a few videos on it and the redraw and refresh are exceptional. I really put this to the test at Photoshop World. I created a Flash Based interactive kiosk. I set up three Cintiq's at our booth (PhotoshopCAFE) and ran the kiosks. The screens looked great and ran video and animations for 3 days with no issues on any of the tablets. (I could have sold a number of tablets at the show if I were selling them.)
I really have nothing bad to say about the Cintiq 12WX. It's well constructed and a joy to use. Compare working with a "Soap on the Rope" mouse to the experience of drawing with a pen on a screen. It's more natural and comfortable, not to mention better for your health because of the reduced strain on tendons. I highly recommend this to all creative professionals and hobbyists alike. I would even venture as far as to say, if you're a creative professional and you have the thousand bucks (or can beg, steal or borrow the green) you're nuts to not have this device. (Or at least any Wacom tablet).
The Cintiq 12WX is a 12.1” wide format pen display with a native WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800. It has an integrated adjustable stand that allows the display to be inclined or quickly adjusted for in-lap use. In addition, the Cintiq 12WX has an integrated dome-shape pivot located on the back-center of the product, allowing the user to rotate it when it is placed flat on the desktop. To further enhance your comfort, the Cintiq 12WX comes with a cushioned Grip Pen for use directly on the screen. This comfort allows you to experience a true pen-on-paper sensation in the most natural way possible.
1,024 pressure levels on both the pen tip and the eraser, with a +/- 60 tilt sensitivity.