Price: £1,531 plus VAT
Pros: Hands-down the best way to draw and paint digital artworks.
Cons: Screen glare issues; large and heavy if used on your lap; pricey.
Forget about the iPad: here’s the digital sketchpad most artists will want. Despite costing more than many workstations and being about as portable, the Cintiq 21UX is so much more than a sketchpad. It’s an easel and a full set of Grumbacher paints and brushes to the iPad’s 2B and a Moleskine sketchbook – it enables you to create final artworks, not just roughs.
The Cintiq 21UX puts an iPad/iPhone-style bezel around a 21-inch screen that’s also touch-sensitive. Like the iPad, it has a 4:3 screen that feels odd if you’re used to widescreen displays – but its 1,600 x 1,200 resolution is enough to prevent tools from Photoshop and Painter to After Effects and Nuke from feeling cramped.
The design doesn’t come from Apple though – it’s from Wacom’s Intuos4 line of tablets, and is more appealing than the muted greys of the 21UX’s predecessor, which confusingly had the same name.
It’s not just the design that Wacom has overhauled: the new 21UX works better too. The level of sensitivity has been doubled to 2,048 – so you’ll really be able to fine-tune effects in tools such as the new wet paint system in Photoshop (or the long-standing one in Painter).
Possibly more importantly, the older model’s parallax effect – where the point where your pen appears to touch the screen seems to float over what you see in Photoshop – has been reduced dramatically, giving a more natural, tactile experience.
Despite having a good colour depth, the screen of the 21UX screen has one major flaw – it’s a heavy gloss that shows considerable glare under bright sunlight or studio lights.