What are the best Wacom tablets for your needs? Understanding the Intuos and Intuos Pro lines
What’s the best Wacom tablet?
Graphics tablets are sometimes also called pen tablets, computer drawing pads, or digital drawing pads. Wacom, a Japanese company, is the leader in the tablet market. Wacom drawing tablets are the most popular, and considered to be the best quality. This article will help you find the best Wacom tablet for your needs.
There are many Intuoses to choose from. In the non-Pro line, there are quite a few models, with the main difference being the art programs that come with them.
Graphics tablets attach to your computer and you use your pen on the tablet. You cannot draw on the screen as you do with the Wacom Cintiq. Most artists getting into digital art begin with a graphics tablet rather than a tablet with screen, since this category has the most affordable options. Still, there are some tablets with screens, mainly portable tablets with art capabilities, that are less costly than the top graphics tablets.
Wacom Intuos tablets: Intuos Pro vs. Intuos Art vs. Intuos Draw
The Intuos line is comprised of the Intuos Pro and the Intuos, which includes the Intuos Art Pen & Touch and Intuos Draw.
All (both Pro and non-Pro) come bundled with art programs, depending which package you get, so you’re getting more for your money than just a tablet.
All Intuoses, indeed all graphics tablets, have palm rejection. If the pen is touching or hovering over the tablet, it will take precedence over your hand.
All come with a pen. The pens are battery-free and pressure-sensitive. The digitizer is traditional EMR, which is top of the line, along with the Apple’s iPad Pro digitizer. (For more on that, see our introductory article about tablets). For more on Wacom, check out their site. Because I find their site difficult to navigate, I’ve gone through it and digested the main info here, but there is additional information there.
You can use a desktop or laptop, Windows or Mac, with the Intuos. There’s no best Intuos tablet for Mac or PC, they work equally well with both.
Intuoses come with customizable Express Keys that you program in the driver. You can add more customizable functions using the Radial Menu, which shows on your computer screen.
Intuos Pro: Features
Intuos Pros are professional-level. They offer advanced features such support for pen tilt, and rotation sensitivity. Intuos Pro tablets also have higher specifications, with twice the resolution of the regular Intuos line (2540 lines per inch or LPI, vs. 5080 for the Pro line). So the Pro line has the highest LPI of all Wacom non-screen tablets, equal to the LPI of high-resolution Cintiqs.
The Intuos Pro’s Touch Ring functions as a scroll wheel, which can be useful to architects using design software such as CAD. You can also assign pen buttons to scroll.
All Intuos Pro have multitouch, so calling them Pro Pen and Touch is redundant, yet it’s still the name.
Here are the specs:
– 2,048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity in both pen tip and eraser
-multitouch, allowing gesturessuch as pan, rotate your artwork, zoom, and navigate
-Multi-function touch ring with 4 customizable functions
-Wi-fi kit included
-Customizable Express Keys are application-specific, i.e.., you can program them to different commands in different programs.
-Touch Ring with 4 programmable functions.
-battery-free Pro pen with tilt recognition
-corners light up to show active area
Tilt sensitivity gives you a natural feeling. It’s when the tablet recognizes the angle you’re holding the pen at and changes the mark according to it, like a real pen on paper. The Pro allows this, as does the pen that comes with it.
Rotation sensitivity allows you to make complex, Spirograph-like patterns when you rotate the pen in various art programs. The Pro tablet accommodates this, but the pen that comes with the tablet doesn’t have this feature, it only has tilt.
To get rotation sensitivity, you need to buy the optional Wacom Art Pen, which has both tilt and rotation. See it on Amazon.
Intuos Pro sizes:
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Small
Total Size: 12.6 x 8.2 x 0.5 in
Active area: 6.2 x 3.9 in
Weight: 1.5 lbs.
6 Express Keys
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium
Total size: 15 x 9.9 x 0.5 in.
Active area: 8.8 x 5.5 in
8 Express Keys
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Large
Total Size: 19.2 x 12.5 x 0.5 in
Active area: 12.8 x 8.0 in, Touch 11.8 x 7.5 in
Weight: 4 lbs.
8 Express Keys
Resolution: 5080 lpi
he Intuos Pros are larger than the non-Pros because of the large grip area and the buttons, but the active area of the Intuos Pro and Intuoses are almost the same.
Top pick: Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium. It’s the most versatile and most comfortable to use. You can use with a small or large monitor, and its high resolution makes it ideal for single or multiple displays. It’s large enough to allow comfortable arm movement and long strokes, but portable enough to fit into a laptop bag or backpack.
Of course, it’s what you’re comfortable with–some prefer the larger or smaller one. But the Medium is a favorite among many artists, designers, and photographers.
Pro Pen compatibility
The Pro Pen for the Intuos Pro line has an eraser end that also gets 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It has two programmable buttons and tilt sensitivity. It comes with a set of 5 standard nibs, and you can buy other nibs that vary your line, such as one that resembles a felt-tip pen.
It’s compatible with many Cintiqs and the older Intuos 4 and 5, but not with non-Pro Intuos tablets.
Intuos Art Pen and Touch tablets
The Wacom Intuos Art line (non-Pro) comes in four packages: Draw, Art, Photography, and Comic/Manga. It’s all the same tablet, but the bundled software is specialized for each creative practice.
Most of the Art line also has touch capability, but has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity as opposed to 2,048, comes in Small and Medium (no Large), and does not come with the Wi-fi kit–that’s an optional purchase. The non-Pro line does not have tilt or rotation sensitivity.
The Photography tablet comes only in Small and the color black.
The Intuos Art comes in Small and Medium, and has software for digital painting. The Intuos Comic comes in Small, though there’s a Japanese Wacom tablet called Intuos Manga that comes in Medium.
Bundled software changes from time to time.
The Art, Photography, and Comic tablets all have touch. The Draw is the only one that doesn’t. (This is not true of non-Wacom graphics tablets, many of which do not have touch.)
Toggle off the Touch.
Touch speeds up workflow. If you don’t always want Touch, all the Intuoses have a toggle that let you turn off the feature. You may find you don’t use Touch at all.
Intuos Draw: the simplest: non-touch
The Intuos Draw comes only in small, and is blue or white. Like the others, It has four Express Keys. It doesn’t have touch.
Photoshop, Illustrator, and other art programs, as well as Mac and Windows operating systems, are increasingly integrated with touch. So getting one with touch prepares you for the future. But if you just want something simple, the Draw may be the best graphics tablet for you.
The pen that comes with the Intuos line does not have an eraser. You can erase using your art program instead. The Intuos Pen is different than the Pro Pen that comes with the Intuos Pro. The Intuos Pen is thinner and has no eraser end.
Best Wacom drawing tablet for beginners: Intuos Draw
The Intuos Draw is good if you’re starting out in the world of digital art. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles.
With Intuoses, most of the tablet is the active area. The buttons are in the top corners. The Intuoses have the benefit of saving desk space.
Small 6.0 x 3.7 in
Medium 8.5 x 5.3 in.
Most of the tablet is the active area. The dots on the tablet mark the active areas where you can map the tablet.
A note on Wacom Bamboo tablets: Many people still refer to Wacom tablets as Bamboo, since the Bamboo line was made for a very long time. Wacom still updates Bamboo drivers. The Intuos line was formerly known as Bamboo, and the Intuos 4 and 5 are now known as Intuos Pro.
Wacom still make a few Bamboo tablets, but they are not like the old ones–these are very basic ones meant more for signing documents. They are limited, and should not be confused with Wacom drawing tablets. Wacom also make some styluses bearing the name Bamboo. But those styluses are not for use with Bamboo or Intuos tablets! Maybe Wacom needs to come up with some new names. Many people still use Bamboo as almost a generic term for graphics tablets.
Ask yourself: What will you use it for? How large is your monitor? Will you use more than one display at a time? How much desk space do you have? Do you need to carry the tablet around? What’s your budget? Are you going to be happy with a tablet that does not have a screen? Do you have any problems such as repetitive strain injury (RSI)? If you do have RSI, a Small may cause cramping.
Choosing a size of Intuos/Intuos Pro
A good rule of thumb in finding the best Wacom tablet is that the tablet’s active area should be at least 1/3 the size of your computer screen, diagonally measured. So if you’ve got up to a 19″ screen, you need at least a 6″ in active area, which would be the Small size. Though it would work, you might feel constrained. When drawing on a small tablet, a small hand movement can cover a lot of space on the monitor, so you may find it hard to get good accuracy. You can zoom in on the drawing to help.
If you’re using a desktop or tablet with a keyboard, the keyboard is going to take up more room on your desk, so that’s one consideration. A desk with a slideout tray is useful to place the tablet or keyboard.
Using multiple displays? The settings will allow you to map the tablet to a horizontal area that works with more than one display.
Tablet resolution is much higher than monitor resolution, so you shouldn’t have resolution issues, unless perhaps you are using a small, non-Pro tablet on multiple high-res monitors.
A “too large” tablet, one larger than your screen, will still work if mapped to the monitor correctly.
Intuos Art sizes
Intuos Art Small:
8.5 inches x 10.75 inches x 0.25 inches
Active area: 6.0 x 3.7 in
Intuos Art Pen and Touch Medium
Total Size: 10.75 x 8.75 in.
Active Area: 8.5 x 5.3 in
Only the Pro comes in large.
Pick a Small Wacom drawing tablet if: you’re using the tablet mainly to lightly touch up photos, scrapbooking, or drawing or coloring if you don’t mind drawing small. Or, you have a small desk space, or if you need something really easy to carry.
Pick Medium if: you’re illustrating, or doing detailed photo editing or graphics, Medium is the best graphic tablet size, as you will be able to get more detail and precision. It’s the most comfortable for drawing, too. It will let you move your arms and shoulders, which is positive for drawing. It’s he best Wacom tablet for most uses. Like Goldilocks, you’ll probably find that the one in the middle is “just right.”
Pick Large (Pro only) if: you have a very large monitor or multiple displays. Large is not optimal for drawing. Your arm will be traveling a lot and it can get tiring.
This video shows a graphic designer using an Intuos with gestures (a small part of the video also shows a CIntiq).
Wacom drawing tablet with pen and multitouch
Wacom has an extensive YouTube channel with information and tutorials.
Conclusion: There are quite a few things to keep in mind in choosing an Intuos graphics tablet, including comfort, pen capabilities, desk space, and included software. Luckily, there are a lot to pick from, so finding the best Wacom tablet for your needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
Looking for a more affordable graphics tablet, or Wacom alternative? Check out our Huion 610 Pro review.
end of Choosing the best Wacom tablet