Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Artist review - 40 days with the Wacom Cintiq Companion - Part 1

Those who are attentive and have an interest in things technological for artists will remember that some time ago, I published this blog post, a comparative review of Windows 8 tablets that I thought might be  suitable for use by artists who want a pressure-sensitive pen solution for digital drawing and painting. Digital drawing is something which had become a bit of a mainstay of my practice, and which I've been a bit lost without since my old HP Tx2500 tablet PC died a couple of years ago.

Wacom Cintiq Companion
The object of the exercise was to decide which PC to specify in a large project grant application I was preparing for the Arts Council of Wales at the time. The clear winner in terms of functionality was the Wacom Cintiq Companion, which was about to come onto the market at the time. Sadly I didn't get the grant, and the project continues in a much reduced form. I resigned myself to carrying on using a standard non-pressure-sensitive Android tablet for the moment, and possibly getting a much cheaper Windows model like the Samsung Ativ Tab 3 later on…

Moving on a few months, and I happen to notice in passing a competition being run by Digital Arts Magazine.  The winners get a Cintiq Companion tablet (!), and the runners-up get a review unit free for 40 days in return for supplying feedback on its useability for art, with a big discount off the full price if they decide to keep it at the end of the review period. All that is required is my contact details and a link to my portfolio, so I spend 30 seconds filling them in, just entering a link to my website as the portfolio address, move on, and forget all about it. Obviously they are looking for illustrators and graphic designers to assess the product, and aren't going to be interested in a fine-artist specialising in oils and egg-tempera. Some weeks later I get an email from Digital Arts. Sorry, I wasn't one of the lucky few who won a Cintiq outright, but I AM one of the 50 who get a review unit for 40 days - yay!

So - I get my new tablet after all, for 6 weeks, with the option to purchase at a reduced price if I can raise the money in time (on top of getting together the cash for my MA course fees!).  I've just received notice that my new toy has left the manufacturers in Germany and should be here soon, and will be putting it through its paces for the next 40 days, writing about my experiences as I go. It's a timely happening, since apart from fine-art work, I have a book cover commission to do, and 2 website designs to thrash out over the next few weeks. I hope the blog posts will be useful to others who're considering what is, after all, a very expensive purchase for an independent artist (the full price is currently £1,599, so it's got to be worth about three iPads for that!).

So … here goes - a number of blog posts to come about how I get on. If you're an artist who's interested in how the Wacom Cintiq Companion performs in a day-to-day arts practice, please follow the blog (see top right for links). I promise one thing though - no crappy unboxing video!

… oh, and, expect me to try to sell you some art to pay for this thing if it turns out to be as useful as I hope!

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