Digital Art

Huion GT-191: Final review

So if you’ve been reading this blog then you know I’ve had some good and some bad experiences with Huion and the GT-191. I have one sitting on my desk right now so I’ve decided to go with Huion, and I figured I should write a final review about all the pros and cons and why I ultimately decided to go with the GT-191 despite some problems.

Huion GT-191

So here’s the thing. Huion is giving you bang for your buck. They’re not giving you perfection. If you’re an amateur artist or someone who only uses Photoshop from time to time then it’s going to be a great tablet for you. If you’re the kind of person whose professional livelihood depends on color accuracy and things like that then it might or might not be the tablet for you, but it’s definitely a contender for the price.

The good:

Price:

The price on Huion products can’t be beat. I got mine through a sale they were running on eBay that gave me a brand new device, straight from Huion, at a substantial discount. I think they were trying to get rid of older versions of their Kamvas line now that they’re releasing newer versions with pens that don’t require charging. Either way, a 19″ pen monitor at Huion prices is a great deal. Especially compared to Wacom and their exorbitant and prohibitive pricing.

Setup:

Setup was quick and easy. Everything on the Huion is using old technology that’s well tested. It uses an old fashioned USB 3.0 connection and an HDMI cable to provide signal from the computer to the monitor. If you’re running a fancy new MacBook Pro with its USB-C connections that might be an issue, but there are a lot of people out there running on hardware that isn’t at the bleeding edge and these older connections are appreciated.

Actually setting up the monitor only took maybe fifteen minutes. That includes attaching the stand, connecting the wires, and downloading the Huion software.

The user experience:

This is what really matters. The experience of putting a pen to the screen is about the same as using a Cintiq 22HD. There’s a little bit of parallax that really becomes obvious when you’re moving the pen around, but you also got that on older Wacoms. It doesn’t hold a candle to the new Cintiq Pro line and the complete lack of parallax, but it’s pretty easy to train yourself to look at where the cursor is on the screen and adjust your stroke accordingly. This is especially easy if you’re upgrading from a tablet where you’re used to the disconnect between pen and cursor.

I’m not saying the parallax is a deal breaker, just that it’s there and is about the same as what you’d expect from a last gen Wacom monitor. You’re not getting the complete lack of parallax of the new Cintiq Pro line, but you’re also not paying the equivalent of a down payment on a cheap car on this monitor either.

Other than that the experience is natural and easy. Drawing on the screen or on the provided screen protector is a pleasant experience. With the protector on it feels like drawing on paper. The screen protector does blur everything just a bit, but you’re going to get that from any screen protector that has a paper consistency. Again I’d compare the screen resolution to the Cintiq 22HD in terms of quality and graininess.

The stand:

This is wonderful. Seriously. I wish Wacom would figure out how to make stands like this. All it takes is a little pull on a lever and the stand moves forward and back providing whatever angle you want. The real beauty is the stand has a tiny footprint that makes it easy to fit the GT-191 on a desk.

Compare that to the 22HD and larger in the last gen of Cintiqs. That stand was a beast and it ate up desk real estate. One of the reasons I ended up getting rid of my 22HD was the thing was just so damn big that it was unwieldy and unpleasant to use. Or compare that to the Cintiq Pro line that doesn’t come with a stand at all.

The Huion doesn’t have this problem. The stand is compact and gets the job done, and it just works. Wacom could take a page from Huion on stand design.

The extras:

The tablet comes with an extra pen and drawing glove as “gifts.” This smacks of marketing speak to make me feel warm and fuzzy about something they would’ve included anyway, but whatever. Having a second pen is a must with a pen tablet that relies on battery driven pens. You can always have one charged and ready to go.

The bad:

Color accuracy:

This is the big one that was such an annoyance with the first one I tried out. No matter how many times I tried to calibrate the screen there was a blue tint to everything that drove me nuts. Trying to return the GT-191 to Huion and not get charged a restocking fee also took some back and forth that was annoying.

Still, I couldn’t beat the sale price they were offering and I figured for that price I could put up with a little color inaccuracy. I’m pleased to say that the screen I have now doesn’t have that tinting issue, but it’s still washed out and not all that vibrant for an IPS panel. It’s really obvious looking at my calibrated Asus PB-278Q which sits just above the Huion tablet.

Another consideration is that the Cintiqs also appear “washed out” compared to monitors designed to pump out more saturation, and this is deliberate. Huion is doing the same, but the colors on the Huion are definitely a little more washed out than what you’ll get on a Cintiq.

It’s not a huge issue for me though. Like I said before, this is a bang for the buck unit. If you’re doing digital art or photo manipulation seriously then you have a second monitor you can mirror your current Photoshop window to anyway so you can periodically check on what you’re working on, but it’s definitely a concern if pinpoint color accuracy is something you absolutely have to have.

Parallax:

I talked about this up above, but wanted to include it in the cons down here. Parallax is there, but it’s about on par with what you can expect from a Cintiq 22HD or a 13HD. It’s especially obvious if you twist the pen around as the tip will quickly become disconnected from the cursor on the screen. This wasn’t much of an issue for me. I’ve worked with tablets long enough that I can deal with the disconnect between what my pen is doing and what the cursor is doing, but it might be an annoyance for some. Watching where the cursor is versus where the pen is can be helpful, though, and the disconnect is way less with the Huion than it would be with a traditional non-screen tablet.

Does it compare to the lack of parallax on the new Cintiq Pro line? Not at all. Parallax is nonexistent on those bad boys. Is it a small enough annoyance that the price difference more than makes up for it if you’re starting out with digital art or on a budget? Most definitely in my opinion.

“Only” High Def:

This is really a matter of opinion. The last gen Cintiq displays were all good old 1920×1080. The picture looked decently crisp on the 13HD and a little grainy on the 22HD.

With the GT-191 you’re also getting “only” 1920×1080 resolution. The display looks a little grainy, especially with the protective screen over it, but it’s not a huge deal. It’s definitely not as crisp as a display on a Cintiq Pro 16 or running AstroPad Pro and an iPad Pro, but again it gets the job done. I’ll also note that the Cintiq Pro running at 2K also looks a little grainy and pixelated, and running at 4K on a 15″ monitor made everything so small as to be uncomfortable.

The GT-191 really is a nice compromise between screen size and resolution. 1080P works for a monitor that size. Would 4K be nice? Yeah, but that would up the price and we wouldn’t be having this conversation about a value pen screen.

No tilt:

The GT-191 doesn’t have tilt functionality in its pen. I don’t use tilt so it’s not a big deal for me. If this is a big deal for you then you’ve been warned.

Cable placement:

Cable placement is a little awkward on the back of the device. The ports are on the bottom of the screen, and that means if you’re sliding your monitor forward and back on the aforementioned stand a lot then you’re going to spend some time pushing the cables out of the way. This also doesn’t seem like a great arrangement in terms of cable strain over the long term, but I also haven’t seen any complaints about this so who knows if it’s really a potential gripe.

Just be warned that the cable situation in the back isn’t ideal, and you will spend some of your time moving cables out of the way if you move the stand up and down a lot.

The verdict: bang for your buck

Bang for the buck. That’s what it all comes down to. A last gen Cintiq 22HD will still run you $1700. A last gen Cintiq 13HD will run you $800. To get into the new Cintiq Pro 13 you’re looking at $1000. For the Cintiq Pro 16 it’s $1500. When you go higher than that for the Cintiq Pro 24 and 32 you’re looking at behemoths that swallow your entire desk and cost the price of a cheap used car with some mileage on it or a good down payment on a new economy car.

Does Huion still have some issues with their tablets? Yes, but in my experience they’re all issues that existed on the last generation of Wacom Cintiq tablet screens, and they were all things people learned to live with. That’s something else to consider. Every generation of Wacoms has had their issues, and people pay a premium to deal with those issues.

Weigh all of that against the price, because damn. That price is amazing. If you’re on a budget, dipping a toe into digital art, or only need to use a screen tablet occasionally for work like I do then that price can’t be beat. Wacoms are expensive. Like “I do art for a living and can justify this expense” or “corporate bought all of these with a line item in the budget that was going away if we didn’t spend it by the end of the year” expensive. That’s a lot of money to spend, and I think for the money the Huion is a great, if slightly flawed, alternative whose price more than makes up for those quibbles.

Bang for your buck. That’s what Huion delivers. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re willing to shell out an extra thousand bucks to get something slightly better in quality and way smaller in terms of screen size to have Wacom on the branding.

Huion GT-191 Update

I figured I should write an update to a post I did a couple of months back about the Huion GT-191 drawing monitor.

Pretty much everything I said in that post still stands. The GT-191 was a beautiful piece of kit, and I found the drawing experience to be comparable to working on a Cintiq. The thing was the perfect size to sit on my desk. Not so small that everything looked cramped on the screen and not so big that it completely dominated my desk.

I still ultimately had to return the thing though. The problem? Color calibration.

The screen had a blue tint to it no matter what I did. I tried calibrating the monitor using the onboard color options. It didn’t work. I tried using different color profiles via System Preferences on my MacBook, but again there was nothing that could get rid of the color issue. No matter what I did there was a blue color to the screen, and it was really noticeable with the Huion sitting under my Asus IPS monitor that had been properly calibrated.

In the end I opted to return the monitor. It might be nice for someone who’s playing around with a drawing screen for the first time, but having something that couldn’t accurately reproduce colors was a dealbreaker for me. Especially when I had my MacBook monitor and my external monitor both sitting next to the Huion showing me what the colors should’ve looked like without that blue covering everything.

I was very pleased with Huion aside from the color. I really hope that in some of their newer products they’ll be able to get some better color accuracy on their monitors. They have promise to be a real market disruptor, but the GT-191 is a product that isn’t quite there yet. Especially if you’re used to working with monitors that have appropriate color accuracy.

Huion GT-191: first impressions

I’ve already detailed all the problems I’ve had with the latest offering from Wacom. That was frustrating, to be sure, but I still found myself in need of a tablet of some sort. An iPad Pro with ProCreate was nice, but the screen was small enough that it was irritating to work with Photoshop for long periods of time.

So I decided to give Huion a try. They’re a Chinese company based in Shenzhen, aka that place in China where all of your electronics are manufactured. They’ve been up and comers for a couple of years now making cheap Wacom alternatives. At first it seemed like their products were a crapshoot, but the longer they’ve been around the better those reviews get.

I picked up the Huion GT-191. It’s the latest version of their stuff and at 19″ it’s just a tad bit bigger than the Cintiq Pro 16 which comes in at 15.6″ diagonal. I looked at their GT-221 Pro, but I’ve had a Cintiq 22HD on my desk before and the thing was too big for my space. Not to mention I don’t use express keys so the GT-191 with its lack of keys was perfect.

I’m going to break this down into three parts. The good, the bad, and the mildly annoying. Is Huion the Wacom replacement they so desperately want to be? Read on and find out!

The good

Price – There’s no arguing with the price. The Cintiq Pro 16 goes for $1500. Go back a generation for the nearest equivalent and the Cintiq 22HD retails for $1700. Compare that to the $500 for the GT-191 and you’ve got a hell of a deal! If you’re looking for an entry level pen screen then this is the way to go.

Looks – Right out of the box I was impressed with how sleek and nice the 191 looked. The first time I unboxed a Cintiq 22HD I was struck by how damn bulky the thing was. The Huion is still thicker than the new Cintiq Pro line, but it’s nowhere near as bulky as the last generation Cintiqs.

Connection – The GT-191 has connection options for VGA, DVI, and HDMI. After all the drama surrounding the breakout box for the Cintiq Pro 16, which only supports USB-C natively, it was nice to have something that would plug in directly to my mid-2015 MacBook Pro without any go between.

Screen resolution – The GT-191 is “only” 1080p, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At 19″ the screen looks very crisp sitting beneath my main monitor, and I have to get up close to the thing to see pixels. Compare that to the Cintiq Pro 16 which looked a little pixelated running at 2k through the breakout box. Not to mention at 4k everything was a little too small. 1080 on the 19″ monitor feels right.

Size – The size is just right for my desk. The Cintiq Pro 16 felt a little small and I didn’t want to use it as a second monitor. When I tried out at 22HD the thing was too big for my workspace. I could see it being a good primary monitor for someone who only used the Cintiq, but for my setup where I mostly write on another monitor it wasn’t ideal. Plus I felt that the 22HD screen looked a little pixelated. The 22″ size was just a little too big for 1080p viewed at close range. The GT-191 feels just right and is also a nice second monitor positioned just below my main monitor.

Pen response – Of course this is the main reason to buy the thing. The pen. I’m here to report that it works beautifully. I’ve been using Wacom products since the Intuos3 back in 2007 and this feels more or less like a Wacom pen. You can adjust the pressure curve if you want to, but I didn’t find that to be necessary. Note that the pen doesn’t have tilt support. That’s not something I’ve ever used in my work, but I want to put that out there if it is the sort of thing you use a lot and it’d b a dealbreaker if the pen doesn’t have it.

The stand – The stand is amazing. It bolts to the back of the tablet and it’s small and unobtrusive while also being large enough to comfortably hold the thing up. Adjustments are super easy as well. It’s easy for me to pull the monitor into an upright position to act as a second monitor and then pull it down if I need to do some work in Photoshop. It’s far less bulky than a Cintiq 22HD stand and fits nicely on my small workspace.

It’s also way better than the stand Wacom is providing with their new Cintiq Pro line. Anything is better than nothing, right? It’s also way better and more solid than the flimsy folding joke of a stand that came with the Cintiq 13HD.

The bad

Color accuracy – What you see on the screen isn’t necessarily all that accurate. Out of the box the colors were skewed a bit towards the red. I switched the monitor to using the User color profile on the monitor and set it up on an sRGB profile in MacOS and that got rid of that problem. The colors are still a little washed out and the whole monitor feels like it has a slight blue tint to it compared to my Asus 278Q which hovers above the Huion for a constant comparison. The whites are white on the Asus monitor and they seem slightly blueish on the Huion.

I’ve looked at videos of other people doing reviews and that seems to just be a thing with these monitors. Having said that, Cintiq monitors also appear “washed out” as well, so I’m not sure if going with the more expensive alternative is going to necessarily “fix” the issue.

Having said that, once I’ve been using the monitor for awhile my eyes adjust to the color oddness and it doesn’t seem so bad. I also have a second Photoshop window open on the Asus which I feel has more accurate color reproduction just to keep an eye on things. If you plan on using this as your only monitor for art it might be an issue, but even then I’d say that’s more a problem for professional artists and not people using this occasionally for work or as a hobbyist.

The mildly annoying

Lack of eraser – You can’t flip the stylus around and use the eraser functionality. I’m sure that’s an annoyance for some, but come on. This is a digital stylus. It’s easier to hit the keyboard shortcut for the eraser tool than it is to flip the damn pen around and erase, but I include this in my summary because I’m sure that’s a hill some people are willing to die on.

Charging a pen – This is another one that I don’t think is terribly annoying, but include it because I’m sure there are some people who will think it’s the end of the world. Yes, you have to charge the pen. I’ve gotten used to charging my Apple Pencil so it’s not a big deal, but it might annoy some. Thankfully Huion provides two pens with the tablet which means you can always have one charging while you use the other one. I think this is a non-issue, but include it here for the sake of being thorough.

Lack of express keys – Another non-issue for me that a lot of people might care about. For me the lack of express keys along the side was a feature and not a bug. When I’m in Photoshop I always have one hand on the stylus and the other hand on my keyboard. I’ve always felt that the keyboard or my Razer Tartarus were way better than express keys and was happy to see a cheaper model offered without the damn things.

Some people love their express keys though. Of note is that even Wacom has stopped including them on their device though. Now you get a nice upsell for a $100 bluetooth express key device. I think that $100 would be better spent on a bluetooth keyboard or a programmable gaming pad, but if you’re the kind of person who lives and dies by the express key then this tablet might not be for you.

Cables along the bottom – This is a very minor annoyance, but it is a thing. The cables stick out of the bottom of the thing which means if you’re constantly pulling it forward and pushing it back then you’re going to have to wrangle those. A plastic tie goes a long way towards taming this and it’s not entirely fair to complain about this since any drawing tablet is going to have cable management issues, but it is something that bugged me so I include it here.

Parallax at the edges – Yes, this table has some Parallax. I’d say it’s better than a Cintiq 22HD and worse than the new Cintiq Pro line which has mostly eliminated this by putting the pen right up against the monitor. The parallax effect gets worse as you get closer to the monitor’s edge which is also something that happened with the 22HD. It’s an annoyance, but it’s an annoyance that’s been with the Cintiqs up until the Pro line and something you can easily adjust to if you watch where the cursor is on the screen rather than where the pen tip is.

Wrapping up

Is the Huion GT-191 worth it? Honestly you’re going to have to read above and see what you think. I’ve tried to be as honest as possible with all the good and bad that comes with the tablet. As with all drawing monitors you’ll have to decide if the good outweighs the bad.

Drawing monitors have never been perfect. Even with the super expensive Wacom stuff there have always been issues. Check out my thoughts on the Cintiq Pro 16 for a laundry list of issues that I feel shouldn’t come with a $1500 piece of kit.

That’s the thing. There are always going to be issues and tradeoffs with these tablets, but with the Huion you’re paying a fraction of what you would on a Wacom. If you’re a professional artist then maybe this isn’t the tablet for you. If, like me, you only use the tablet occasionally for Photoshop stuff related to work, or if you’re a hobbyist looking for a way to get away from your Intuos, then I think this is a great value for the price.

Wacom has issues. Huion has issues. Huion’s issues come at a far more reasonable price point, though, and that makes all the difference for me.

Huion “device disconnected” and a lesson in humility

After trying out and returning a parade of Cintiq Pro 16s I decided to give the much cheaper competition a try. I picked out an inexpensive Huion GT-191 which arrived today.

I loved the look of the thing from the moment I unboxed it. The 19″ monitor looked beautiful even before powering it on. I didn’t care about the lack of side keys because I always have a keyboard sitting beside me.

I wasted no time in setting the beauty up and powering it up. I installed the drivers. And no matter what I did the Huion software helpfully told me that the device was disconnected.

Huh.

I looked around on the Internet for a solution, but most of the solutions out there involved messing with stuff in Windows which wasn’t helpful to me since I’m on MacOS. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling drivers. I tried going with an older version of the driver. I restarted the computer several times. I did a complete power down and back up.

Nothing was working. I was ready to give up on the thing. I was angry. Clearly you got what you paid for, right?

Then I decided to do one final thing. It said the device was disconnected. So I flipped it over and double checked the USB connection on the back of the monitor.

Sure enough, I either hadn’t plugged the damn thing in all the way to begin with or it got jostled loose while I was putting the monitor in place. The software kept telling me the device was disconnected because the device was, quite literally, disconnected.

I sheepishly plugged it back in and so far the monitor has proved to be a lovely little Cintiq replacement. Only it’s not little since the thing is much larger at a fraction of the cost.

I’ll do a full writeup here in a day or two when I’ve had more time to play with the Huion, but so far I’m very happy with the thing. Especially for the price!

Finding a cover artist and covering your butt

Today I’m going to cover something that’s been on my mind because of a situation I’m dealing with: finding a cover artist.

There are a lot of resources out there for finding cover artists. A lot of author databases that you can go through and hope to find someone who’s good. I don’t bother with any of that stuff though. Not when I know of a great artist community that has a job board specifically designed for people seeking commissioned art.

That site? The Deviant Art jobs forum!

Finding an artist

This is the easy part. Create your own account on DeviantArt and post on the forum letting people know what you’re looking for. You’ll quickly be inundated with artists who are looking for work, and they’ll continue to stream in for a couple of days as people check the forum.

From there it’s a matter of sifting through the various offers you get. I maintain a note that I’m constantly updating when I find an author who looks promising. In that note I include the artist’s name, a link to their profile, and information about what they charge if they make that available.

You’re going to get some people who clearly aren’t up to the standard of what you need for your cover. You’re going to get people who are amazing and clearly out of your budget.

Here are a few things I look for when settling on an artist:

  1. What kind of styles do they work in? Is it cartoony? Full realistic renders? Realistic but with some exaggerations? Does their style fit what you’re looking for?
  2. Does the art flow? Are they able to do multiple poses and different scenarios? Is it stiff at all? Are they able to do men and women or is it clear that they’ve been drawing sexy ladies or sexy men since middle school and never bothered to learn how to draw anything else?
  3. Do they have a lot of work on display? I’m wary of artists who have newer profiles or don’t post all that much on their DA profile. Not all of them are scammers, but it is suspect.
  4. Do they have comments on their profile from people who’ve worked with them? Are those comments positive or are their complaints that they’re scammers?

Those are just a few things to consider. Look for an artist who has a varied portfolio and clearly is good at what they’re doing. Compare between several artists until you find one you like, and then start negotiating the price.

Settling on a price

Give serious thought to what your budget is for this project. I wouldn’t recommend including that budget in your initial post because that’s going to encourage people to come in at whatever price you offer even if they would’ve started lower. This is a negotiation even if you are going to pay the nice artist what they are worth.

We’re looking for a sweet spot. Someone who clearly has the ability to do what you need but comes in at a price you can afford. You need to go into this with the attitude that you’re paying a business associate for a service. You want to get paid for your writing, and you should be willing to pay a reasonable sum to an artist as well.

I can’t reiterate that enough. Good artists who are responsive and deliver good work in a timely manner? They’re unicorns, and you should treat them like the precious and valuable resource they are.

If someone is amazing but they’re a little out of their price range then don’t be afraid to ask them to come down just a little. This is a business transaction, after all. The worst they can say is no.

Don’t be afraid to work with someone from halfway around the world. If you’re in the U.S. or Europe then that exchange rate is pretty favorable if you’re working with an artist in, say, Asia or another place where USD or GBP or the Euro stretches pretty far.

If someone is coming in with a quote that seems too good to be true then that’s probably because it is. I’ve been burned a couple of times by artists who had amazing work but ghosted once they got their payment. Again you’re looking for a sweet spot, and someone who comes in too low is probably trying to lure you in.

Covering your ass

There’s no way to guarantee completely that you don’t get scammed, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself while searching for an artist.

Social proof – A serious artist is going to have lots of happy comments from people who commissioned them. Look for these. Don’t be afraid to ask the artist for references. This is a business transaction, and if they aren’t willing to provide references then you should run for the hills.

Half and Half – Whenever I make a job offer I make it clear that I’m paying half up front and half upon delivery. This makes the cost of the commission hurt a little less, and it also is likely to scare off some scammers. Not all, but some.

Use protection – A lot of people will want you to pay with a PayPal money transfer. Don’t do this. There are no buyer protections built in with money transfers. What you’re going to insist on is that the artist invoices you via PayPal, and only then will you make your payment. This means you have PayPal’s buyer protection if they ghost you.

Other considerations

Contracts – You can do a contract if you want. There are indie author sites out there that offer boilerplate contracts. I tend not to mess with them. I have a paper trail of email conversations where expectations are clearly laid out and make sure the invoice include exactly what’s being bought and paid for. Including considerations like copyright transfer. If a contract makes you feel better then by all means go for it, but I’m not an IP lawyer so I’m not going to comment on them other than to say I don’t use them.

Copyright – One of the conditions of commissioning your work should be that all copyright to the work transfers to you. Full stop. I wouldn’t work with anyone who isn’t willing to do this. Some people will charge a little extra for this and some will throw it in. I’d recommend indicating you want the copyright transfer in your initial post and seeing what the artist says.

This is something that you need to have spelled out in your conversations with the artist and in the invoice so it’s clear on the off chance they try to come after you later. It’s also an area where it might be helpful to get a boilerplate contract from somewhere on the Internet, but again I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice.

Price Increases – I’ve heard a few horror stories over the years about artists who commissioned a cover, then when their book did very well the artist turned around and jacked up the price for future covers. This can lead to situations where book releases are delayed while things are renegotiated.

I’ve never had this happen to me before, but if it did then I would politely tell the artist to go and pound sand. I believe that artists deserve to be paid a fair amount for their work, but if someone raises the price by some exorbitant amount because they think an author can cover it they’re essentially trying to hold future releases hostage. That’s not someone I’d want to work with, and there are plenty of other artists out there who’d be able to do a new cover.

Having said that, there are instances of artists who raise their fee as they get more popular. That’s to be expected if they’re making a go of making a career as an artist. In that case you’ll have to decide whether or not the slowly increasing rate is worth it, but that’s a completely different scenario from someone trying to extort an author because of some success.

Lettering – Cover artists make cover art. Letterers do lettering. There are some people who have both skills, but not necessarily. Ask your cover person if they’re comfortable doing lettering, and if not then look for someone who can do this and expect to pay a little bit for it. Good typography on a cover is every bit as valuable as the art beneath it.

If the artist can do typography then be sure to get a copy of the art without all the lettering on it.

Timeliness – Figure out what your release schedule is going to look like. Then figure out whether or not your artist can keep up with that schedule. Art can take time to complete just like it takes time to write and edit a book, and if you have a release schedule that doesn’t match up with what your artist is able to do then it’s time to find someone else for your project.

Wrapping up

Finding an artist! There’s a lot of stuff to consider if you want to find someone who’s good, reasonably priced, able to complete their work in a timely manner, and isn’t out to scam you. The good news is that it’s not all that complicated so much as it’s time consuming. That’ll be time well spent when you get that perfect cover that drives the sales to you though!

Cintiq Pro 16 4K workaround if you have an external monitor and connect via DisplayPort

Whew. That headline was a mouthful, but there’s really no other way to describe it. This is a workaround for people who want their Cintiq Pro 16 to run at 4K via DisplayPort while keeping an external monitor connected. This assumes you’re on a Mac with a DisplayPort and HDMI connection. I haven’t tested this for PC as I don’t use the platform, but this might work on Windows too.

The problem

Wacom, in their infinite wisdom, released the Cintiq Pro 16 at 4K, but if you’re connecting via their DisplayPort breakout box and not via USB-C then you’re stuck slumming it at 1440p instead of 4k. That means you’re missing out on a lot of pixels the Cintiq is capable of pushing. Which seems like a big deal for a piece of kit that costs this much, but Wacom didn’t ask me before they made that boneheaded decision.

Some enterprising individuals discovered a shockingly simple workaround. The DisplayPort cable Wacom shipped with the Cintiq Pro 16 wasn’t 4K capable. If you buy a 4K capable DisplayPort cable on Amazon then you can get 4K via the DisplayPort/USB breakout box.

Great, right? The only problem is if you want your Cintiq Pro 16 to run at 4K and run an external monitor at the same time.

The second monitor problem

A lot of people reported that they still couldn’t get the Cintiq Pro 16 to run at 4K if they had an external monitor connected. I ran into this same issue on my MacBook Pro. If I connected just the Cintiq Pro 16 then it worked at 4K with no issue. If I had an external monitor connected via DisplayPort the Cintiq would switch to 1440p. Talk about annoying. Writing is my main work and that second monitor is sort of more important to my workflow than the Cintiq.

The second monitor solution

The fix I found was amazingly simple. I was connecting my external monitor and my Cintiq via the two DisplayPort/Thunderbolt ports. My MacBook also has an HDMI port. I plugged my external monitor into the HDMI port and magically the Cintiq started putting out 4K even with the external monitor connected.

Talk about amazingly simple. So far it’s worked every time I’ve powered up the Cintiq without issue. If you’re running anything but the latest MacBook Pro, which describes a lot of creatives out there, try this workaround and see if it does the trick for you too.

Again I’ve only tried this on my Mac. I don’t use PC for all that much anymore so I didn’t bother to dust off my old laptop. It’d be worth a shot if you’re running a Windows machine though. Comment and let me know how it goes!

Test driving the Cintiq Pro 16

I do a lot of work with Photoshop. Sometimes it’s tossing together a cover. Other times I’m doing graphics for an advertisement or something. Photoshop skills are useful to have, and it’s even more useful to have a good digitizer.

I’ve been using my iPad Pro + Astropad, more on that in a post of its own, for the past year or so. Before that I had a Cintiq 22HD, but the thing was so big and unwieldy that it wasn’t pleasant to use. I do love the feel of Wacom’s products, though, and so with their new Cintiq Pro line out I decided to give the 16 a test drive.

Note that I mostly do Photoshop manipulations. I dabble in digital art, but I’m far from a great artiste or anything like that. My creative talent lies with the written word, though digital painting is one of those things I’ve always wanted to perfect on that magical far future day when I have the free time to do it.

I just wanted to get it out there where I’m coming from when I talk about the Cintiq. I’m semi-pro/hobbyist, and not the kind of person who is putting in ten hour days in front of the Wacom.

The good:

Sleek, stylish, and functional.

The Cintiq Pro 16 is fucking beautiful. It has smooth lines. The screen is quite good. One of my complaints with the 22HD was the 1080p was really showing its age even on a 22″ screen in a retina display world, but there’s none of that with the Pro 16. Even running at 1440p it was wonderful to look at.

The pen is a Wacom pen.

Enough said. There’s a reason they’re the industry leader and people have been using them despite some of the wonky issues that inevitably show up with each new generation of their products. There’s no substitute for the Wacom pen experience. At least not until their patent runs out.

Parallax

I’m talking about the annoying thing where the cursor was offset from the tip of the pen. Not a useful method for determining distance to celestial objects or a villain from the Green Lantern comics. Parallax plagued earlier Cintiq models, but it’s almost completely gone with the Pro line. Sure there was a little bit of offset, but not enough to be truly noticeable.

The footprint for the 16 Pro is way smaller.

The whole thing is smaller and sleeker than the previous Cintiq line. I was able to easily find a place for it at my writing desk which was nice for me since Photoshop is more of a side gig for me rather than the main event. If space is a concern then the 16 definitely saves it. It’s still not going to be terribly convenient to take out to a coffee shop, but if you’re serious about using a Cintiq then you’re not working in a coffee shop to begin with.

That reduced size also means that the Cintiq Pro 16 is a hell of a lot more comfortable to pick up and place on your knees. There is still cabling attached, but it’s not nearly as intrusive as the 22HD or the 13HD were once upon a time. And the USB-C connectors seem to be pretty reliable without some of the breaking issues that plagued the 13HD which should make people feel better about using this on the couch. If you have a laptop that allows you to use a Cintiq on the couch, and a power strip nearby, and a good cable management solution, and so on and so forth.

This isn’t really a mobile device, is what I’m getting at. You’ll have to pay the premium for the MobileStudio if you want that, or just buy an iPad Pro with the pencil and ProCreate or Astropad which is close enough for quick work.

The bad:

Wonky touch controls

The touch controls suck. There’s no getting around it. Moving around the canvas with two fingers works well enough, but the zoom is basically broken. You either zoom way in or not at all. The palm rejection also wasn’t the greatest even when I was wearing a drawing glove. I disabled the touch controls and found myself pining for the good old days of zooming with the touch ring, which brings me to…

No buttons

The quick buttons that lived on the side of the previous line of Cintiqs are gone. Sure it makes for a more aesthetically pleasing device, but it is something I missed since the touch controls were such crap. Wacom helpfully sells an external ExpressKey remote for about $100 if you absolutely have to have them, but for that price I had a bluetooth keyboard by my side. Why pay $100 for a few shortcuts when you can have all the shortcuts for cheaper?

USB-C vs Displayport + USB

Wacom, much like Apple, is jumping onto the USB-C bandwagon. USB-C might be the wave of the future, but Wacom fans are going to have to get in line with the Apple fans who have had to stop worrying and learn to love adapters and backwards compatibility issues.

If you have  USB-C port on your computer great! You’re good to go. If you’re like most of the current population who haven’t upgraded yet there is a solution provided in the box. They have a breakout box that goes from one USB-C wire to a USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort connection. This worked on my MacBook Pro even if it added more wiring to hide away, but it wasn’t without problems such as…

Resolution

Wacom advertises the Cintiq Pro 16 as a 4k screen. Which it is if you use a USB connection. If you use the breakout box with the USB/Mini DisplayPort adapter the most you get out of the box is 1440p. Which is still plenty big, but not the 4k advertised. There are posts around the Internet that claim the issue is with the Mini DisplayPort cable Wacom provides and that swapping it out for a cable that supports 4k fixes the issue, but as of this writing I haven’t had a chance to try that out.

Edit: I’ve since tried this out with mixed results. I was able to get it to work at 4k by getting a new cable, but there’s a catch. It’s wonky if you have another external monitor hooked up. I got it to work at 4K with another monitor connected a couple of times, but eventually it stopped working and I had to disconnect the external monitor which was annoying, to say the least.

Stand issues

The stand is pretty much nonexistent. There are two little kickstands on the back of the Cintiq that raise it a couple of inches, but there isn’t the adjustable stand that came with the 13HD or the Companion 2 line, and nothing like the massive desk real estate devouring stands that came with the 22HD and higher. It didn’t bother me too much, but if you’re the kind of person who sits staring at your Cintiq all day long you might want to look into a third party solution so you don’t develop any neck RSI from constantly hunching over to look at the screen.

Fan noise

There are fans in the Cintiq Pro 16. They kick on pretty quickly and run almost constantly. This faded into the background for me and wasn’t a bother, but I know there are some people who get annoyed by that so I wanted to note it. Not to mention it did lead to an even bigger issue which I’ll detail below in a section I’m calling…

The ugly:

The fans ran almost constantly. That wasn’t an issue. What was an issue was when I rested my hand on the left side of the screen, we’re talking the minimal amount of force caused by gravity pulling my hand towards the center of the earth with the screen in between at good old fashioned 9.8m/s squared, it pressed the screen down to the point that it brushed against one of those fans inside and created a godawful buzzing noise.

I can’t imagine that was good for either the fan or the expensive sensitive screen. I asked around in some Wacom enthusiast forums and other people say they don’t have that issue so it’s entirely possible it was a defect with the unit I tried out, but it’s something to be aware of.

Edit: I’ve since tried TWO other units. Neither one had the fan buzz issue. It looks like I got a slightly defective unit the first time around.

Wavy horizontal lines

This was another dealbreaker for me and apparently it’s an issue that several people have had. Every time I moved the pen near the bottom of the screen, or touched the pen to the bottom third of the screen, it would create several rows of faintly flickering horizontal lines about an inch tall and an inch across. It was prominent enough to be a distraction and an annoyance, and not the kind of thing that should be showing up on a piece of kit this expensive.

I contacted Wacom customer support about the screen issue and they were very nice and asked me to duplicate the issue, but at that point the minor annoyances in the bad coupled with these two dealbreakers in the ugly convinced me this unit wasn’t for me. Especially for what they were asking. I don’t mess around in Photoshop often enough that it was strictly necessary, especially considering I already have the iPad Pro and AstroPad, and I figure something that expensive shouldn’t have that many issues right out of the box.

Edit: I mentioned above under the fan noise that I tried two additional units. Both of those units exhibited the ghosting dark lines issue along the bottom of the screen, so that seems to be a price of doing business with the Cintiq Pro 16.

The takeaway

The Cintiq Pro 16 is an amazing looking device. It has the Wacom pen which is still the best in the industry, but the issues plaguing it mean I’m going to hold off before I give it another try. Obviously they still have some kinks to work out, and here’s hoping that they work them out in the next revision. If you already have a Cintiq it’s probably wise to wait just a bit, and if you’re using a tablet it’s not time to upgrade just yet.