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Wacom has refreshed its entry-level tablets. We find out what new features have been introduced.
Moving from a mouse to working with a pen tablet is the biggest step you can take as a digital illustrator, so choosing the right tool for the job is crucial. The Intuos Draw is Wacom’s new beginner offering, but the Intuos Art reviewed here targets users with ‘more advanced artistic skills’ by offering two tablet sizes (medium as well as small) and supporting touch gestures, and includes Corel Painter Essentials over ArtRage Lite software.
The simple design of the small tablet has definite advantages: it’s thin and light enough to slide easily into any laptop bag and has two customisable ExpressKey buttons on either side, making it fine for either left- or righthanded use. It’s also well-sized for twinning with small laptop displays, but anything bigger than 15 inches and the active canvas area can begin to feel restrictive, especially for intricate, precision work.
The gestures, meanwhile, are a welcome addition: a single finger drag controls the mouse pointer as usual, but a tap-to-click, pinch-to-zoom or four-finger spread to reveal the desktop (for example) have the intuitive responsiveness of built-in Mac and Windows gestures.
The dots on the canvas area serve to orient your draw path and there’s a convenient tag on the top of the tablet to stow your pen. A lock and touchfeatures switch are housed on the top along with a micro USB port for the conveniently L-shaped connector.
On the rear of the tablet are four rubber moulds that grip work surfaces well, and there’s a flap that pops off to reveal port instructions, a battery compartment and wireless module slot (sold separately at a relatively pricey £35), and a cradle holding three spare nibs (together with a handy hole to detach the one in the pen).
The pen itself is battery-free, making it lighter, thinner and more streamlined than previous Wacom pens. Its rubber banding and matt body feel solid and
grippy, and the two customisable buttons are well-placed for averagesized fingers. There’s no tilt sensitivity, but the 1,024 pressure levels match the previous generation of entry-level Wacom tablets and offer a decent range of brush control. There’s also no discernible lag in use, and although the pen’s dedicated eraser function has been ditched you can set an ExpressKey to Erase using the Wacom control panel, where you can also modify pen pressure, button and gesture controls, and set them as global settings or only for specific apps.
The Intuos Art delivers on its aim to offer a realistic painting experience, but in an era of multi-touch mice and trackpads you may find the gestures surplus to requirements, making the Intuos Draw (£55) a cheaper alternative. And if you’re illustrating on a big desktop screen, the medium-size Intuos Art (£150) is a smarter option.
The gestures are a welcome addition and have the intuitive responsiveness of built-in Mac and Windows gestures
s on test
Web www.wacom.com The medium-sized Art is recommended if you’re working on a desktop screen.
The Intuos Art comes in three colours and two sizes.
You can power the Art by cable,
or use a wireless upgrade.
The nibs are robust, but there are three spares supplied, in case of wear.
Two ExpressKeys on either side of the tablet can be customised to suit your needs.