Just when you thought you’d seen everything, Wacom has stepped into the growing world of 3D with the Intuos 3Dtablet. This new release will enable the public eager to try 3D art, design, and modelling in an affordable and accessible way.
The tablet will integrate with ZBrushCore program, made from the same foundation that powers ZBrush, popular 3D software used by virtual reality, game and film studios, and illustrators.
But it’s not all arts and entertainment, it’s also for engineers and fabricators. According to Jeff Mandell, Executive VP for Wacom’s Branded Business, “3D Design has been undergoing a transformation driven by trends in 3D engineering, rapid prototyping and on-demand parts production.”
Cintiqs have been the main tablets for 3D sculpting, but with the popular Intuos, anyone can get started. Other 3D software that has expanded Wacom’s foray into the third dimension includes Dassault’s Solidworks and Autodesk’s Mudbox.
The Intuos 3D will come with ZBrushCore software and “special offers” from Sketchfab and Shapeways.
Once you’ve created your design, you can send it to Shapeways for printing, or publish it on Sketchfab. Sketchfab is a place to explore virtual reality items. History, geography, culture, animals–it’s all there, and you can view it or upload your own.
I’m already a Shapeways fan for the amazing designs people upload, such as jewelry and other items. This new package will make creating for 3D printers a lot more accessible. If you’ve never seen a 3D printer, they basically extrude molten plastic into layers, which build up, forming a shape. The layers and patterns can be programmed to create amazing organic or Spirograph-like forms.
With Shapeways, you don’t need to buy your own 3D printer, those these may become common household items someday. (Lose your cell-phone case? Print one out.)
The Intuos 3D will be for sale in late October 2016. Hopefully there will be enough time to sculpt a Halloween mask.
What are the best Wacom tablets for your needs? Understanding the Intuos and Intuos Pro lines
2016 Intuos lineup.
What’s the best Wacom tablet (non-screen)?
Graphics tablets are sometimes also called pen tablets, computer drawing pads, or digital drawing pads. This article will focus on the types and features of Wacom graphics tablets–those where you do not draw on the screen, but on an opaque drawing tablet attached to a computer. (Note: You must use a computer, not a mobile device).
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.
Wacom Graphics Tablets 2017 (non-screen)
Wacom Intuos Pro Medium (2017)
Professional tablet allows you to customize controls per app. Multitouch, gestures. 8 customizable Express Keys. Pro Pen 2 has 8,192 levels of pressure, and tilt.
This chart gives an overview of Wacom Intuos Pro and Intuos drawing tablets, with photos, features, and links. It illustrates the accompanying article, "How to Pick the Best Wacom Tablet: Intuos graphics tablets." Each tablet comes with a pen.
Intuos Pro 2017 with Pro Pen 2. Image courtesy Wacom
Intuos Pro 2017
The Intuos Pro new for 2017 is thinner with a smaller footprint. The included Pro Pen 2 has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, four times the original Pro Pen, as well as less lag. There are 10 nibs (not 10 different ones), 4 of them felt tip. The pen stand is flatter.
Intuos Pro Paper Edition 2017
The Intuos Pro Paper Edition is the same tablet as the 2017 Intuos Pro, but the Paper lets you use real ink and your favorite paper, which attaches via an included clip called, of course, the Paper Clip.
Intuos Pro Paper Edition with Pro Pen 2 and pressure-sensitive, finepoint gel pen. Image courtesy Wacom
It comes with the Pro Pen 2, as well as a pressure-sensitive, fine-point gel pen. The gel pen looks like a regular pen and is Bamboo brand. There’s also an optional ballpoint pen. In mid-2017, Wacom plans to release a pencil.
With the Paper Edition, you use the Inkscape App, either online or via mobile app. The app has a free and pro version. The pro version lets you collaborate with others, vectorize raster art, and offers more memory (50 GB instead of 5).
Even if you’re not online, the Paper Edition tablet will store 200 files with multiple layers, or 1000 single-layered files.
Intuos Pro Paper Edition with Pro Pen 2 and pen stand
The tablet comes with some paper, but you can use any paper of reasonable thickness. An optional purchase is three different texture sheets you place over the tablet that simulate different paper surfaces.The Intuos Pro Paper Edition only comes in Medium and Large.
If you get the Intuos Pro, you can add the Paper accessories later.
If drawing on paper is a feature you want, it’s worth getting the Paper Edition. The choice of pens and papers, the plan to issue a pencil, and the optional drawing-surface sheets make this a fun and sophisticated tablet.
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 like the Intuos 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.
Intuos Pro Pen 2, with 8,192 pressure levels in both the tip and eraser end
Wacom Intuos tablets: Intuos Pro vs. Intuos Pen & Touch and Intuos Draw
The Intuos line is comprised of the Intuos Pro and the Intuos, which includes the Intuos Art Pen & Touch line and the Intuos Draw. On the Wacom site, these are also referred to as the Creative Pen & Touch line, such as the Art Creative Pen & Touch, etc.
All (both Pro and non-Pro) come bundled with art programs which vary depending which package you get, so you’re getting more for your money than just a tablet. Last year, Wacom introduced the Intuos 3D, which has 3D software.
Main differences, Pro vs. non-Pro:
The Intuos Pro with Pro Pen 2 has 8,192 pressure levels. The pen has an eraser tip with the same amount of pressure levels. The Pro has more Express Keys. It allows you to customize commands per application. The Pro Pen 2 has tilt. The tablet supports tilt and rotation. Comes with Wi-fi kit.
The Pro Pen 2 can work with newer Wacom tablets that have screens as well, such as the MobileStudio Pro and Cintiq Pro. It comes with a set of 10 nibs, including 4 felt-like ones. I am trying to get the info about backwards compatibility with other Wacom tablets.
The Intuoses have the Intuos Pen, which gets 1,048 pressure levels. The pen has no eraser tip. You can customize commands, but not differently for each program. The pen has no tilt and the tablet does not support tilt and rotation. The Wi-fi kit is not included.
Features of all Intuos tablets
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. Wacom 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). You can use your fingers to do gestures such as pinch, zoom, and navigate. You won’t be able to draw using your fingers.
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. You can also use Linux.
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.
Because I find the Wacom site difficult to easily find specific information on, I’ve gone through it and digested the main info in this article. But there is additional information there.
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 (2,540 lines per inch or LPI, vs. 5,080 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. LPI means Lines Per Inch, which defines the resolution of the drawn line.
Drawing on Intuos Pro Medium (old model) while using the Touch Ring
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 Pros have multitouch, so calling them Pro Pen and Touch is redundant, yet it’s still the name.
All Intuos Pros have Bluetooth built in, except the Intuos Pro Small, which has RFID, according to Wacom.
Here are the specs for the 2017 Intuos Pro:
– 8,192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity in both pen tip and eraser when using Pro Pen 2 (Pro Pen original had a respectable 2,048, which is plenty). -Multitouch, allowing gestures such as pan, rotate your artwork, zoom, and navigate -Multi-function touch ring with 4 customizable functions -USB -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 2 with tilt recognition -corners light up to show active area -built-in Bluetooth
All Intuos Pros have tilt sensitivity, which gives you a natural drawing 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 the Art Pen on Amazon. This pen does not work on newer models. It is only compatible with: Cintiq (these models including the Touch versions): 27QHD, 24HD, 22HD, 21 UX, Cintiq 13HD, all Cintiq Companion 1 and 2 models, Companion Hybrid, Intuos Pro, Intuos5, Intuos4.
2017 Intuos Pro dimensions (same for Paper Edition):
13.2 x 8.5 x 0.3 in. (338 x 219 x 8mm )
Active area 8.7 x 5.8 in. (224 x 148 mm)
8 Express Keys
16.8 x 11.2 x 0.3 in (430 x 287 x 8mm)
Active Area 12.1 x 8.4 in. (311 x 216 mm)
8 Express Keys
Old Intuos Pro dimensions
old Intuos Pro small
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.
Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Total size: 15 x 9.9 x 0.5 in. Active area: 8.8 x 5.5 in Weight: 2.2 lbs.
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.
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 about what you’re happy with–some prefer the larger or smaller one. But the Medium is a favorite among many artists, designers, and photographers.
Intuos Art Pen & Touch tablets
Intuos Art Pen and Touch
Intuos Art Pen & Touch is the non-Pro Intuos line.
Wacom didn’t update this line for 2017, though it did release the 3D Pen & Touch last year.
The Wacom IntuosArt Pen & Touch line comes in four packages: Draw, Art, Photography, Comic/Manga, and 3D. Each tablet is referred to by its software: Art Pen & Touch, Comics Pen & Touch, etc.
It’s all the same tablet, but the bundled software package is specialized for each creative practice. You can purchase any of the software separately or use other programs, including free ones.
The Creative Pen & Touch line also has touch capability, but has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity as opposed to 8,192, 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 support tilt or rotation sensitivity. The pen does not have an eraser tip.
The Photography tablet comes only in Small and the color black, with photo-editing software. It has a Wi-fi kit option.
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.
Art Pen & Touch Small
Bundled software changes from time to time.
The Art, Photography, and Comic, and 3D tablets all have touch. The Draw is the only one that doesn’t. (Most non-Wacom graphics tablets do not have touch, tilt, or rotation sensitivity.) Because it lacks touch, you can’t use gestures on the Draw.
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.
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. It’s the simplest, with the fewest bells and whistles.
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.
We think the best Wacom tablet for beginners or those on a budget is the Intuos Draw. If you’re just dipping your toe in the digital paint, this tablet is a good place to start.
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.
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.
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 pens and styluses bearing the name Bamboo.
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.
When choosing the best Wacom tablet, 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.
Intuos Creative Pen & Touch Small: 8.5 inches x 10.75 inches x 0.25 inches Active area: 6.0 x 3.7 in
Intuos Creative Pen & 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.
Drawing on a small Wacom tablet
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).
Getting started with Intuos
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? Check out our Huion 610 Pro review. The Huion has 2,048 pressure levels, but no touch, tilt, or rotation. It allows much less customization, and installation can be a little tricky for some. Still, it offers quite a lot.
The Intuos Art Pen and Touch is a graphics tablet, or pen tablet, that you attach to your computer via USB. You draw on it and see the image on your computer screen. (Click here for more info on types of tablets). Note that this is not the “Pro” version, which has more features (such as greater pressure sensitivity and tilt sensitivity) and a higher price. The older version of this tablet was called the Intuos Pen and Touch.
3 extra pen nibs
black pen loop (attached) as well as extra blue pen loop
rings to personalize the pen’s look, that match the pen loops
nib replacer ring
CD with driver, documentation, online user manual
Artpack with Corel Painter Express and other freebies
You can also download drivers from the Wacom site.
Requires Mac 10.8. or above or Windows 7 or above.
The Intuos Art Pen and Touch Small Tablet measures 8.25″ by 6.7″ with an active area of 6″ x 3.7″. Its resolution is 2,540 lines per inch (half that of the Intuos Pro tablets). It has four customizable Express Keys. You can’t see the Express Keys unless the Express Key display is toggled on; it’s a lit-up display. A handy pen loop on top helps keep the pen from getting lost. Three replacement nibs that come hidden in a compartment in the back of the tablet on top in the center, where the pen loop attaches. A Wi-fi kit is not included, but can be purchased separately. (See under Optional Accessories at the end of this post). This line of Wacom tablets used to be called Bamboo, so if you are looking for a Wacom Bamboo review, you will see Intuos reviews instead. Bamboo is now Intuos, and the Intuos5 is now the Intuos Pro. Wacom still uses the Bamboo name for a stylus line.
The tablet has multitouch. You can use your hands by using gestures to scroll, rotate, zoom, or flip through image files by tapping, swiping, clicking, and holding. It sports an attractive silver and black design. It attaches to your computer via USB. The USB cable is rather short, but as the USB can be detached from the tablet, you could use a longer USB cable if you choose.
The tablet surface has a rough, papery-like feel, which is nice to draw on because of the paper-like bite, but can wear down nibs. Besides its use for art, it has the ability to function as a finger-powered trackpad on any document, such as a Microsoft Word file. (The most popular tablet among artists is the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium size.)
The small size is a bit small for drawing, and would be pretty useless if you are using multiple monitors and trying to stretch its resolution to cover all of them. You should not use too large a monitor with this tablet–up to 17″ would work well, up to 19″ is possible. The resolution on the regular Intuos line is only half that of the Pro line.
At its small size, thinness and weight of 12.8 oz. it’s easy to carry around. I recommend getting a case to protect it; it can fit into any laptop case.
The black Intuos Pen matches the tablet. Its 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, while only half of the 2,048 the Pro line offers, are plenty. The battery-free pen has an eraser, which does not have pressure sensitivity. The pen is ergonomic for a comfortable hold. There are two programmable switches on the side. You have to click the buttons when the pen is within half an inch of the tablet for the buttons to work.
Corel Painter Essentials comes bundled with the tablet. Here are some other free or inexpensive suggestions:
Autodesk Sketchbook Express is a free art program for Mac or Windows (not an app) that is a bit limited. It is adapted for tablets and makes use of gestures in its menus. Pressing the space bar opens up a “puck” that lets you navigate around the canvas. There are preset tools, but you can’t customize them a whole lot as you can the full version. It lets you draw perfect shapes such as squares and circles. There are 6 layers, which, depending how you work, may be fine or not enough. The full program, which costs under $100, has unlimited layers.
ArtRage has interesting brushes that resemble real oil paint, glitter, palette knife marks, and such.
I like to use the above programs in conjunction with Photoshop or the much less expensive Photoshop Elements. Though you can do a lot with ArtRage, you might still want features such as Save to Web (which shrinks file size) and to not create artwork as a specific ArtRage file which must then be exported as another file type.
The tablet is reversible, so it’s fine whether you are right-handed or left-handed.
With gestures, the tablet can act like a trackpad, or perhaps a mousepad with your hand becoming a mouse. Though the same tablet without touch is a bit cheaper, it’s worth it to get the touch capability.
However, the touch does have some drawbacks. If your hand accidentally brushes against the tablet, the tablet may interpret it as a gesture. Be a bit careful to not put your fingers too close together–if the gesture calls for three fingers, having all your fingers touching each other be interpreted as one finger.
It’s kind of like learning to drive a stick shift–well, easier than that. If the pen is touching or hovering over the tablet, touch will be disabled. Touch can also be shut off via an Express Key.
INTUOS ART PEN AND TOUCH SMALL VS. INTUOS DRAW SMALL
If you don’t want multitouch at all, the only Intuos option is the Intuos Draw Creative Pen Tablet Small, the simplest of the Intuos line. It has the same 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity) and all else about the tablet is the same, but there’s no multitouch.
The pen has no eraser, but you can easily use the eraser tool in your art program instead. You don’t need multitouch to use this tablet as a mouse replacement; you can select text with the stylus just as with a mouse, through a series of clicks or by clicking and dragging.
This photo actually shows the older Intuos Small, which is about the same size.
CUSTOMER REVIEWS AND RATINGS
This pen tablet is popular among users, who praise its response time and say they get much more work done than with just a mouse or trackpad.
Many report switching from mouse to pen helped their repetitive strain injuries, though if someone is suffering from RSI from drawing already, it can exacerbate it. In general, wrist injuries are common, so a stylus is much less likely to cause or aggravate injuries to the wrist than clicking a mouse would.
You may have trouble finding the replacement nibs. Wacom should try to do a better job of showing them.
USB cable is detachable from the tablet, so you can use one that has a longer cord if you want Great response time.
The tablet and pen may be a bit cramped for large hands. Some complain about the Wacom Web site registration process. Others find the tablet difficult to use. You do not have to use the Express Keys or gestures, they are there for your convenience.
Once you’ve tried an Intuos Pro tablet with 2,048 levels of pressure, you do feel the difference.
Nibs can wear down quickly due to the textured surface of the tablet.
Try using a screen protector (see link below, under Optional Accessories) or even just a sheet of regular paper over the tablet.
The tablet is quite small and would be better to use with a monitor of no larger than 17″, 19″ at the most. Because of its size, moving the pen, mouse, or hand on the monitor even a little can move the cursor quite a lot.
I find small tablets best for basic photo editing or coloring small drawings that I’ve scanned in or created on a larger tablet. It’s not that easy to draw a larger picture on such a small tablet; you have to keep zooming and panning.
I end up zooming and panning even on my Cintiq, but most of my drawings are not much larger than the Cintiq 13HD screen, so some of the zooming is just because I like to do that with detailed areas.
The Intuos Art Pen & Touch small tablet is fine for doing small drawings that don’t require a lot of hand movement, as you can feel cramped on a small tablet both mentally and physically. It’s more ergonomic to use a larger tablet. This one is OK for drawing, and excellent for crafts, basic photo editing, and scrapbooking.
In my opinion, the best size for art is the Medium, which is also the most popular of the Wacom pen tablets among creative professionals. This size tablet is also find if you want to use it and the pen as a mousepad replacement. Multitouch gestures let you select text.
The Small it’s a good tablet for beginners who aren’t sure they’re going to commit to digital art. It’s fine for lots of other uses, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it for professional artists because it’s too small; it can be a good, portable backup tablet.
Looking for the Pro version? Here’s the Amazon page for the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Small. And here’s our review of the Intuos Medium Pro–similar to the small but a bit larger.
If you find the USB cord to be too short, we recommend this USB extension as a simple solution.