Whether you’re new to graphics tablets or a seasoned pro, if budget is a serious consideration, check out this affordable pen display from XP-PEN
Wacom is the undisputed king of graphics tablets and if you’re even half interested in adding a stylus to your digital workflow, chances are you’re aware of the company’s coveted Cintiq range of pen displays. But while there’s no doubting the high-end quality of Wacom’s wares, premium comes at a price.
If you’re working with a limited budget – whether you’re a graphics tablet newbie or digital art pro – it’s worth taking a look at XP-PEN’s Artist range. Not only are these tablets an affordable solution, but they’re fantastic devices in their own right. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the 22E Pro.
The 22E Pro is currently XP-PEN’s largest Artist tablet. It features a 21.5-inch screen, full HD resolution – although it can support 4K displays – and 77-82% accurate Adobe RGB Color Gamut. XP-PEN also produces the very similar Artist 22 Pro; the difference is the 22E’s 16 customisable shortcut keys.
This might not seem like a huge deal, but shortcut keys can prove invaluable during long drawing or editing sessions. Instead of interrupting your flow by using your stylus to select other options, or reaching for your keyboard or mouse, you can simply tap the desired button to activate regularly used functions with your free hand.
The 22E Pro can be used by left-handed and right-handed users, and I like how the shortcut keys flank either side of the screen. Whether you’re holding your stylus in your left or right hand, your free hand can always access shortcuts unhindered.
Using the P02S stylus
Some might be put off by the rechargeable stylus – something Wacom Cinitq 22HD users don’t have to worry about. However, XP-PEN tells us: “A full charge provides up to two months of scribbling, sketching, and designing.” If that wasn’t enough, the 22E Pro comes with two styluses, so you could theoretically go up to four months without ever having to break out a charging cable.
The P02S stylus itself boasts 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. On paper, this beats the Wacom Cintiq 22HD’s 2,048 pressure levels and equals those found on the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. However, pressure sensitivity is something that has to be felt and I simply didn’t spend enough time with the tablet to make any meaningful comparisons or conclusions.
I can say that the cursor tracked the stylus well. In fact, I was impressed with the whole user experience and felt comfortable drawing with the device in almost no time at all. The P02S stylus features a button on the grip, which allows you to toggle between brush and eraser. While this is a nice idea, I did find myself tapping it by accident. That said, my overall experience with the stylus was one of comfort and adequate precision.
One accessory that first-time users might find rather curious is the addition of a two-fingered drawing glove. This simple item is made from a lint-free material. It covers the wrist and area of the palm that naturally rest on the screen, as well as the ring and little finger. This leaves the index finger, middle finger and thumb, free to hold the stylus.
The benefits of wearing the glove are twofold: Your palm doesn’t stick to the shiny surface of the screen and instead glides as you draw long sweeping lines. It also does a good job of keeping the screen clean and free from oily hand deposits.
Nowadays, it seems as if very few products come with everything you could possibly need out of the box. However, as you may have already gathered, the 22E Pro certainly bucks this trend. The pen display is shipped with all manner of items: two styluses, spare nibs, a stylus case/stand, a drawing glove, a tablet stand, a cleaning cloth and all the necessary cables.
The tablet stand is a particularly impressive addition. It’s suitably sturdy, can be adjusted to alter the viewing angle and can be removed if desired. It certainly feels more like a standalone product than a feature that’s been tacked on. And since the 22E Pro boasts an IPS screen, you can alter the viewing angle without distorting the image.
- OS: Windows (7, 8 and 10) and Mac Os X (10.10 or later)
- Compatible with software including: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter and Autodesk Maya.
Who’s it for? Digital artists and designers, but also photographers looking to spice up their post-production workflow.
Why should you care? The XP-PEN Artist 22E Pro is ultimately going to allow more creatives the chance to own and experience a pen display. It’s affordable, comes with everything you need to get started and I wouldn’t hesitate to introduce it into my workflow.
About the Author
Mike Harris is Wex Photo Video’s production editor and is an experienced journalist with a passion for motorsport photography. You can view his portfolio via @MDHarrisPhoto on Instagram.