Wacom’s Cintiq Companion
As anyone who has followed me knows, I love me some Wacom technology. I don’t even use mice anymore. What is a mouse? I was so excited about the announcement of the Cintiq Companion, I could hardly contain myself. But my inner child and my rational adult are conflicted…
The Cintiq Companion is a Windows 8 tablet genetically mixed with a 13” Cintiq. You get all the 2K pressure sensitivity and response as a landlocked Cintiq, with the benefit of portability. There is enough onboard drive space and RAM to get through most tasks that you may have to tackle while on the move, with lots of ports for interfaces. And the thing is pretty.
I managed to whip out some concept art in SketchBook Pro. Then I drew up some storyboards by taking shots with the built-in camera and drawing on top. Corel and ArtRage behave gloriously with the pen pressure and angle—unlike Photoshop (cough, cough). And I let a fellow artist, Jacob Shroades, play with ZBrush, and he forgot to eat lunch because he lost himself in the process sitting back on the couch and sculpting. And watching Netflix and Hulu on the Companion is a brilliant experience.
The downsides for me are that it lacks what Microsoft insiders refer to as “lapability,” meaning that when working on the go, it isn’t particularly conducive to what Cintiqs are best for: drawing and sculpting. Professional artists have their workflows, which generally include constantly using keystrokes to modify or change tool functionality. Without that keyboard, one loses a lot of their efficiency. The Companion has customizable buttons like its big brothers, but it’s just not enough for something like ZBrush. To alleviate that, Wacom does sell a portable Bluetooth keyboard, but even with a keyboard, I found it cumbersome to get comfortable enough to work in the field.
My takeaway is that I love the tablet. It’s Wacom, what’s not to love? I’m not sure, off the top of my head, how to get over the “lapability,” outside of “don’t work on your lap,” and the equipment is expensive. But, I’m a professional artist and my needs justify the cost of three times that of a Surface or an iPad.
This may also be the case for most Cintiq users, who will probably jump all over it. For those just getting into the race, the cost of entry may be daunting, and the more rational choice would be to invest in a 21” or 24” desktop Cintiq, make cool art like a boss and then use the proceeds to add the Companion to the toolset. Price: $2,499 Website: wacom.com
Todd Sheridan Perry is a vfx supervisor and digital artist who has worked on numerous features, including LOTR: The Two Towers, Speed Racer, 2012 and Final Destination 5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.