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Sketches on the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

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In my previous blogpost I talked about my first impressions from using a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 as a mobile graphic tablet. I little over a week later and I brought the device back to the store. It’s an incredible machine, it’s almost perfect except that the device just doesn’t lend itself for the purpose I intended to use it. The pen with it’s sensitivity and lack of tilt doesn’t compare to what I’m used to in Wacom Intuos tablets that I’ve been working with for over a decade. Feather light touches on the surface hardly or don’t register at all. This becomes particularly frustrating when sketching or trying to color pick when painting as well as trying to get your colors to blend nicely and realistically on the canvas. An accurate sensitivity of which the ability to hardly press down is crucial. This is not the device to get if you’re a professional digital artist looking for a mobile substitute for your desktop.

Here’s a sketch I did on the SP4 and eventually gave up because it felt so frustrating to work on. Normally I would sketch something like this in 15 minutes. It took me over an hour.
SP4

Despite the SP4 being frustrating to draw and paint on, it did show me the potential for mobile graphic tablets and since I had a taste I needed more. I’m not a tech guy and I don’t really keep that up to date with new tech releases, so it’s been only recently since I learned that Wacom brought an already second gen mobile graphics tablet under their Cintiq line on the market. A full Windows 8 (up-gradable to 10) computer to boot; the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.
I was already hooked in and began chasing the dragon of mobile graphic tablets, so I spend a little extra and ordered the Cintiq Companion 2. After unboxing, upgrading to Windows 10 and installing Photoshop and Clip Studio, which took up pretty much all afternoon, I finally could take it for a test drive that evening and wow! what a dream to work on! The device is large and clunky, it makes noice and gets kind of hot and it’s not as pretty as the SP4, but it does the most crucial part exactly right as you would expect from a Wacom tablet.
The customizable physical Expresskeys and Rocker Ring on the side of the tablet come in incredibly handy and are pretty much crucial for a great drawing/painting experience. I hardly ever use those keys on my Intuos Pro, but on this mobile device they totally rock! It’s great to be able to physically feel your most used keys instead of almost blindly aiming your finger on the screen. Apart from that there are fully customizable on-screen controls and a radial ring which allows the use of essentially all shortcuts you use on your desktop. These are great for merging layers, transform, copy/paste, safe etc. I press them with my pen.
The pen is exactly what you’re used to from Wacom and comes with a set of extra nibs.
The only major downside is battery life. After two hours working in Photoshop my Companion was screaming for extra juice.

This is a page that I sketched last night. I took one of the characters and did some painting on it.
sketches_01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Rudy Faber

This post has 2 Comments

  1. Thomas gottschalk on July 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm Reply

    Hey,
    thanks for your reviews. They where the only reviews that really helped me out. I just ordered the SP4 and will test it out for a few days. And now i’ve just read your review on the Companion 2. Dang.! ive should have ordered the companion?!
    …So what is your overall Conclusion? Did you keep your Companion? And do you still work on it ? Or is it lying in the corner? Is Windows running as well as on the surface pro?

    • Rudy Faber on July 20, 2016 at 8:12 pm Reply

      Hi!
      I still have the Companion and I use it all the time. Currently I only fire up my pc to be able to reach files through a home network, but the Companion isn’t perfect by any means.

      – Battery life sucks. 2 to 3 hours give or take makes it very unsuitable to work on it away from a power source for long. I keep mine plugged in all the time.
      – There’s hardly any palm rejection (I guess there’s some when the pen tip gets detected close to the screen). I have to lock all Photoshop layers that I’m not working on to prevent accidentally switching layers. A special two finger glove helps slightly.
      – Sometimes my opened screen freezes and won’t register touch. I have to open something or switch to a program on my taskbar to get it to unfreeze. This is only slightly annoying.

      Windows 10 runs smoothly as well as the programs I’m running although Photoshop is clearly heavy on the RAM. It runs well enough as it does on my pc.

      Overall I think the SP4 is the superior device, but it lacks the most crucial parts that make it pleasant to work on as a graphic tablet. This is what makes the Companion win in this department. Mainly due to it’s superior touch and because it has physical touch keys which is a total must if you’re not going to use a keyboard.
      I assume Wacom will fix many of the current problems for the next-gen, but if you’re in the market for a graphic tablet right now, mainly to use as a (semi)pro drawing and painting device, Companion is the one to get in my opinion.

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