Web Design Blog

Apple Pencil versus Wacom Cintiq Graphic Pen Display

Information in this article is gathered from the web as well as from my own experience with the Wacom Cintiq TDK1300 Graphic Pen Display that I own.

1. The Stylus:

Apple Pencil:
The Apple Pencil has a much narrower body and tip, allowing the stylus to not obscure the drawing itself. It provides more freedom of drawing motion.

Cintiq Stylus:
The Cintiq stylus is very big and the pen tips are wobbly, so your fingers keep touching the side buttons accidentally. Pen feels like cheap plastic.

2. The Surface

Wacom Cintiq:
Cintiqs are very heavy. The ones deemed “portable” are hardly portable at all. It comes with a ton of heavy cords (look like cables) because, obviously, they need to be plugged in to a computer.

The screens aren’t like the Retina screen on the iPad. The color is gray, the display is not very bright and there’s a lot of reflection. Most importantly, the screen itself has a huge air gap between the pen and the digital screen, causing parallax. [Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. The term is derived from the Greek word παράλλαξις (parallaxis), meaning “alteration”]. No amount of calibration gets rid of the feeling that you’re not actually drawing on the surface directly. Not exactly your pen and paper feel!

iPad Pro:
You don’t have these issues with the iPad Pro. Also, the iPad Pro runs on its own OS (Operating System) and has the Multi-Touch already built in; you’ll be paying $2,000-plus for multi-touch features on a Cintiq. With other words, to have a Cintiq act like a tablet/computer on its own cost a lot more money and you’re not getting the same quality!

3. The Drawing Experience

Wacom Cintiq:
A big lag. Which means: delay! Because of a delay between making a stroke and seeing it appear on the screen, you have to wait.  I have to literally wait for my stroke to catch up with my Cintiq pen.

If you dragged your pen too far because you couldn’t see where the strike would end up, you would have to undo your stroke. That’s why I mapped 2 of these side buttons to Ctrl+Z. What this means while you are drawing is that you can’t really draw continuously and with any speed because each stroke needs to be checked for accuracy once it’s caught up with the lag.

Apple Pencil:
Apparently, this is not the case at all with the Apple Pencil — barely any lag (we are talking milliseconds), so you actually feel like the pencil is leaving ink and you can see the exact result of your drawing as it’s happening. Makers of real-life graphite pencils got this figured out years ago.

It also seems like pressure and tilt are mapped more sensitively with the Apple Pencil compared to the Cintiq.

Result: drawing more of what you intended to draw on your very first attempt.

4. Price Comparison

The iPad Pro + Apple Pencil total price: between $899 and $1,179
Apple Pencil by itself: $99.00
The cheapest, non-touch-enabled Cintiq: $799 at Amazon. I bought mine for $997 last December 2014.
All other Cintiq models: $1,000 to $2,800

5. The BIG Difference

The Cintiq is an input device for your computer and will work with the programs you have installed on your computer, while the iPad Pro with its pencil is a device that can’t be used as an input device for the programs on your computer and only works with the apps that you have installed on it.

I do think that in time there will be some fantastic new apps coming out that overcome this difference, or maybe there are some already such as Photoshop Touch, and you can do all your work on the iPad Pro and then just save the final results in the cloud or email them to yourself.

6. Importing sketches on the iPad

One question you might have is, how do I import a sketch or other piece of work into the iPad Pro that you would like to work on with the Apple Pencil?

There are several ways that I can think of.

  • Scan the sketch with a real scanner and then put it on a flash drive and use the camera connection kit to transfer it to your iPad.
  • Take a picture of it and email it to yourself and open the email with your iPad.
  • Take a picture with the iPhone and it will show up in your Photos app.
  • Use a better camera and use the camera connection kit to transfer it or by email.
  • Use the iPad’s own camera or a scanning app.
  • Use an app that is also a program on your computer that saves files in the cloud so you can access them with your iPad and your computer.

There might be more ways and if I think of them, I will add them to this article.

If you are hesitating on which device to get when it comes to quality, I think the article above that you just read will make up your mind very easily. And this is without even mentioning all the amazing new features included with the iPad Pro, such as its amazing Retina Screen with 5.6 million pixels.

Take a more in-depth look at each device:

iPad Pro
Apple Pencil
Wacom Cintiq

Apple Pencil and iPad Pro Features

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