Thoughts On My Wacom Cintiq 13″ Tablet


My husband never know what to get for me for any occasion (!), so I asked for a Wacom tablet for my birthday. I have always drawn with my mouse and I had no problem with that. I gave the Wacom tablet a try 15 years ago and I didn’t like it. I thought the world must have changed in these 15 years so I want to give it another try. Little did I know, it really changed. I got this extremely fancy thing called the Wacom Cintiq 13HD Creative Pen Display.

Long story short: While it is a nice expensive gadget that I don’t mind having, I doubt I would buy it myself (or in fact, I would have stopped my husband from buying this had I knew). Here are some of my thoughts.


  • The screen quality is AMAZING.
  • multi-monitor support: I always have an extra monitor hooked up to my iMac, so I have two screens. My husband has threatened that I may have to take down my 2nd monitor in order for my computer to support this. Luckily I didn’t have to, or I would have to return it for sure. I don’t know how it works with other computer models, so please make sure you research in advance to see if you need to sacrifice any additional computer screens if you have a setup like mine.
  • Seamless real-time drawing on screen.
  • Special Wacom Tablet features: I finally get to use “pressure to change the size of the brush strokes” in Illustrator. It is delicious and nice to see it real time. For Photoshop, I also find myself using the various “paintbrush” options offered, which I never touched when I was driving only with a mouse.

Various paintbrush options in Photoshop
And no, in case you are wondering, I didn’t draw all those with the tablet. I drew with watercolor on paper and scanned it in. I was just doing retouching at this point.

  • “Eraser” on the tip of the pen: If you created something wrong, you can turn the pen around and “erase” on the screen as if it were a real eraser. It is quite sweet! It is more self-explanatory in Photoshop as you are creating and erasing pixels. With Illustrator, you do need to know what you are doing though. When you are drawing in Illustrator, you are creating a path; If you turn the pen around and “erase” the path, you will break the path.
  • Easy digital sketching: Now it is very possible if I just want to doodle on screen. Using the tablet, I drew this doily pattern in Illustrator and Photoshop, and I rearranged them on Photoshop. No pencil / paper required.


  • Edited to add this – This fancy expensive thing actually also serves as a lightbox! haha! I don’t have a traditional lightbox myself, so when I need to trace something I have to go to a window at daytime. Now I find myself tracing on the illuminated screen – how handy! The most fancy lighbox ever ;)


  • PRICE TAG: $999?! And a top-of-the-line iPad only costs $399.99??? I found out about the Pencil Fifty Three tool not long ago via my MATS bootcamp class. If I knew about it, I would have asked for that instead.
  • HDMI Adapter: The screen cable isn’t compatible with my iMac. I had to buy an adapter called “Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter”. My husband said that if I were on a PC you probably don’t need this. But most designers and illustrators use a MAC? And why can’t they just throw in the adapter when I have already paid $999.99 for it?


  • Flexibility / Workflow: We have been in the iPad era for a while now, so I find it a bit weird (and backwards) that there is a huge cable that plugs into the tablet. Since it behaves only like an additional monitor, there is no option where you can unplug it and take it around and draw. You are pretty much chained to where your computer / laptop is. Besides, the cable is very thick and short so there is not much flexibility to it. Would you want to pull this further away from your computer and draw while you put your feet on the table? No you can not do that (unless you have very short legs). Then, sometimes this thing gets in the way when you are not using it.
  • Button on the pen: As you can see from the image below, there is a button on the pen where you hold it. So when I am drawing, I constantly press that button by mistake (It brings up the brush options when you do that in Photoshop). It is super annoying.

Sorry about the crazy amount of dust. Yes I know. It hurts my eye too.

  • It does not replace pencil and paper: When you attempt to sketch something directly on-screen, I find myself hitting undo and redo. And sometimes I do not really want to undo completely. With pencil and paper, I can just erase the parts that I didn’t like, instead of undoing the entire action that I just did. There is an eraser tool on the other tip of the pen, but it gets hairy when I am sketching in Illustrator (which is what I prefer to do). As I have mentioned, it breaks the path instead of “erasing the pixels”, so it doesn’t really do what an eraser does in real life.
  • Not suitable for “precise illustrations”: The tablet is more suitable for a carefree style. If you want to create something very “precise” and accurate, I’d think a mouse may still work better than the wacom pen. Just personal preference.

I would prefer to use a mouse to draw illustrations like this.
Avatar Illustrations for

That’s all I can think of now. I hope this is helpful to you!


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7 thoughts on “Thoughts On My Wacom Cintiq 13″ Tablet

    • Yes Vivayne – I am! I felt 50/50 about it, but since I already bought the adapter and installed everything. Besides, I can’t put everything back into their original packaging (!), and there is really nothing wrong with my tablet, I am keeping it :)

  1. Hi Irene, I’m finally taking the time to read your blog post. Wow, what a great detailed review, thank you for sharing your thoughts! You write so well too. After reading it I’m totally sold on the Pencil by Fifty Three. Their website alone is amazing, so well done on every level, which is a really good indicator to me that their product will be the same. Months ago I bought a USB pen from Wacom and I have not even tried it yet lol, just so intimidated by it and it felt like it would take time to figure out, so I went into procrastination mode. This 53 pencil looks very easy to use. Thanks again Irene!

  2. Great review, Irene! I have a Wacom tablet, but the Intuos version and it is wiereless, but you have to coordinate eyes-hand movements. I like it so-so and for a while thought about selling it and getting the one you have, with screen. But now you mentioned the Pencil 53 and I am so getting it for an Ipad!

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