Wacom Alternatives

Contents

If you know anything about the digital art industry, then you know just how popular Wacom products are here. Wacom drawing and graphics tablets are extremely popular with artists. However, not everyone can afford them, especially if they’re just starting out. In that case, it might be a good idea to look for a cheaper alternative that is still good enough that you’re getting the best of what you would have got with a Wacom.

In this article, we’re going to break down the things that people love about Wacom tablets, why they’re so expensive, and what their greatest alternatives are, as well as a brief review of each. Brace yourself, grab a coffee, and enjoy!

In a hurry?…

Best Wacom Intuos alternative

Huion Inspiroy H1060P

This popular tablet has just got even better …a premium design and feel that now comes fully equipped with a rechargeable stylus.

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The Huion Inspiroy H1060P offers more drawing space than the Wacom Intuos S at 10 inches by 6.25 inches. It also has 12 customizable Express Keys and a battery free stylus with 8192 levels of pressure. It’s also much cheaper than comparable Wacom tablets.

Best Wacom Cintiq 16 alternative

XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro

A very affordable digital display tablet ...with tilt recognition, pressure sensitivity and a battery free stylus

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The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro is an excellent choice for those venturing into the world of digital display tablets with an exceptional color accuracy that’s comparable to most other high-end tablets. It’s a worthy contender to the Cintiq 16 tablet and a lot cheaper!

Best Wacom Cintiq 22 alternative

HUION Kamvas Pro 24

Hunion’s highest resolution tablet …and largest ever digital display

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With 2560 x 1440 resolution with 120% sRGB colour support this display is very sharp, line quality in consistent and predictable, and the matte laminated glass display protects the screen well from scratches. Costing 25% less than the Wacom 22, and with a slightly larger drawing surface, the Huion kamvas pro 24 is a very worthy contender.

Why are Wacom considered the best and do they have competition?

Wacom, and in particular the Cintiq line of products, is considered the gold standard of the industry. 

It’s no fluke, for sure. Wacom has been around for many years, creating products, taking feedback from their consumers, and continuously improving their product line. They have garnered quite the reputation for developing durable, reliable products with innovative technology. 

Another factor that makes Wacom products so popular is the interoperability of their styluses. Wacom styluses can be used with many other devices, including the equally premium Apple iPad and Samsung tablets.

Who are and who aren’t the best competing brands?

There are many alternatives to Wacom, but not all of them are great. In fact, in order to choose the best alternative when you’re out shopping, there are some things you should look out for:

  • Look for a drawing tablet with a screen that has great features. These include good resolution, size, and color accuracy. If you’re buying a graphics tablet, obviously this won’t matter.
  • Look for a tablet with a stylus that has high pressure sensitivity. The more the pressure levels, the more accurate the stylus will be when you’re shading, or even doing something as simple as sketching. You also want a stylus with tilt support, so you can work with a more natural angle and achieve greater control over your pen. It would also be great if your stylus has shortcuts on it and is battery free.
  • A tablet with hotkeys is a blessing. These are programmable buttons that allow you to set shortcuts for the most common tasks so your workflow is easier. It’s easier to use your favorite drawing software, so you become more efficient as an artist. While 6 hotkeys is ideal, the more you can get the better.
  • You also want a tablet with good connectivity. Wireless connectivity means, well, fewer wires, which means a tidier work desk. That said, you also want the option of a wired connection as it tends to be faster and more responsive. That said, you will also want a tablet that you can work with as a standalone. That way, you don’t always have to be near your laptop and can go drawing in the park or something.

We’ve done our research, and based off of it, there are a few brands that meet all of these requirements while remaining insanely affordable compared to Wacom. These are Huion, Gaomon, XP-Pen, and Ugee, some of which we have also compared to one another in great detail:

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we do a deep dive into the best alternatives to Wacom on the market, let’s have a deeper looks at what makes Wacom so expensive, and what its most noteworthy features are. We can’t really make a good case for the alternatives if we can’t make a good case for the incumbent, now can we?

Why are Wacom so expensive?

One of the reasons right out the gate is the reputation that Wacom tablets have for being durable. In fact, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard from friends and strangers about how they’ve owned their Wacom tablet for many years, typically a decade or more.

The thing is, Wacom has been in the game pretty long. They are trailblazers when it comes to drawing tablet technology, and the competition is only beginning to catch up.

The styluses are incredibly good. The LCD screens are very high quality. They modify after every model and make sure to incorporate only the best and more innovative tech in the industry. That’s why Wacom has developed such a huge reputation for being trustworthy and reliable among its customers. If you’ve been around the digital art corner of the internet long enough, then you’ve probably heard more than your fair share of Cintiq praise in that time.

That said, that price still is capable of inducing trauma in the uninitiated. I remember when I first set my eyes on a 27QHD. I was wowed, to say the least. My jaw dropped to the floor! And then I set my eyes on its price tag and I promptly picked that jaw up and walked, no ran, out of the store with my tail between my legs. With the money it would take to buy that tablet, I could purchase a great used car at a bargain.

But that’s not to say that the price is entirely inaccessible. If you’re a professional graphic designer or digital artist and have a job, spending that kind of money on what would be your primary tool of trade wouldn’t be more of an investment than an expense as you’d earn it all back soon enough.

But if you’re a hobbyist, like I was on that fateful day when I saw the 27QHD, you’re going to want to look for budget Cintiq tablets. And even then, the price might still be out of your reach as a beginning hobby artist who isn’t expecting to earn from their work anytime soon.

That’s why such an article is necessary. Here we help you find alternatives so you can still get the same quality without having to sell your kidney, or a bunch of other assorted organs.

Key and noteworthy Wacom features

Tilt sensitivity

Wacom tablets are well known for having great tilt sensitivity. Tilt is basically a feature of how we use traditional pencils. We don’t sketch or shade with the pencil perfectly perpendicular to the drawing surface. Instead, it’s usually always at some tilt. Tilt sensitivity in a stylus allows it to function just like a traditional pencil would.

And tilt isn’t a matter of style either. It’s quite necessary from a functional viewpoint. It allows us to widen our lines at will, especially when we’re shading. 

A stylus with tilt sensitivity should be able to mimic the tilting function of a traditional pencil, hence feeling more natural than once that doesn’t. If you’re just starting out as an artist, a stylus with tilt sensitivity is a must, and you shouldn’t be able to notice any discrepancies in the tilt function, as they can very well throw you off. This is especially important if you’re coming from a traditional drawing background where you used graphite pencils a lot.

Updates and driver support

Wacom is known for providing high quality driver supports. Drivers are pieces of firmware that make it possible for your tablet to interface with different software, as well as with other hardware. They are what make it possible for you to hook your tablet up to your desktop and draw from it, with the image rendering on your desktop in real time.

Wacom’s tablets have excellent driver support and are constantly updating their drivers to the latest version, not only for new drawing tablets coming out, but also for tablets that have already been released. My favorite example is the Graphire 3, which continued to get driver support over a decade after it was first released.

Wacom Alternatives.jpg

High quality screens

Cintiq products are well known for the quality of their screens and the color output. The 24HD, for example, which is one of the older Cintiqs, has a display with touch capabilities that can show over a billion colors. It also has RGB backlights so that on-screen color is better, leading to a color coverage of 97% AdobeRGB. It’s hard to get a color gamut that wide anywhere else.

That said, with modern innovation and the competition doing its best to catch up, it’s easier nowadays to find alternatives with excellent color quality and screen clarity. Almost all of the ones I list in this review have 1080p HD screens offering 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution. 

Great customer support

Wacom has been very successful in the market. They have developed a reputation and they know that they have to do their best to keep that reputation spotless. One of the areas in which they’ve invested heavily is customer support. As a result, they are well known for providing some of the best customer support in the industry. 

For starters, they have an online forum where customers can ask questions related to their Wacom products and employees or even other users can answer their questions.

There are also many customer support lines for different parts of the world which Wacom customers can call if they are experiencing any issues with their Wacom products.

If you have ever bought a tech product and then struggled with it and not had anyone to talk to about it, this can be a huge advantage. 

The Wacom website also offers driver downloads for many Cintiq products and is available in a wide range of languages. 

If you are good with technology and don’t mind handling your own troubleshooting, then you probably don’t worry too much about customer support. However, for most people, it’s better to know there’s responsive customer support and not use it than to need one and not have it.

How do you get the most out of your Wacom Cintiq?

There are a few useful tips which you can implement to get the most out of your Wacom Cintiq tablet (Amazon link to product). 

Start by customizing your stylus

This is one of the most important things you should do as soon as you get your Cintiq. Programming the stylus means assigning options for scrolling and different keystrokes. This allows you to access and navigate different menus using a single button.

While Cintiq is famous for having this feature, there are plenty of alternatives that offer the same feature.

Use the express keys to your advantage

Wacom tablets certainly do not have a shortage of useful buttons. These are usually located on the left and are known as Express Keys. You can use them to access the most important functions you might need to use quickly and conveniently.

The express keys are just like the hotkeys on the stylus. You can program them and assign various shortcuts to them. That makes them a boon for those artists who don’t like to be interrupted when they’re in a state of flow.

Use the express view to your advantage

While it’s great to have express keys, it’s also easy to known which button does what. That’s where the Express View comes in. It helps you find what the setting is for a given key. All you have to do is rest you finger on the key, and a popup on the screen will show you what that key is programmed to do.

The stand

The Cintiq is very ergonomically designed. It locks into place when you put it into an upright position, which allows you to use it the same way you would use a normal computer screen. You can also adjust it for convenient use when you’re standing up.

Basically, you don’t want to sit too much when you’re working, since that’s bad for your health. That makes the stand a great feature for both hobbyists and professionals.

The alternatives

XP-Pen Deco

XP-PEN Graphics Tablet Deco

Dimensions: 13.8 inches x 8.5 inches x 0.3 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 10 inches x 6.25 inches | Item Weight: 1.3 pounds | Multi-Touch: No | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 | Express Keys: Yes | Customizable Express Keys: 8 | Supported Software: Android, Windows and MacOS | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB/Bluetooth

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The XP Pen Deco series is a series of graphics tablets, each with its key features. They all come with 8192 pressure levels, which is actually a great deal for a graphics tablet. 

The working areas on these tablets are also fairly large, ranging from 9 inches to 11 inches in length. All of them come with 6-8 shortcut buttons, which is plenty for a graphics tablet, along with a roller in the middle for more analog tasks, such as zooming, scrolling, and rotating. The Deco Pro series even comes with a touchpad for even more fine tuning.

The styluses on the Deco tablets all have 8192 pressure sensitivity levels, with the Deco 02 having an eraser at the back. The Deco Pro series and Deco 01 also have tilt support. Unfortunately, however, you cannot swap out their styluses with others for better functionality if you’re looking for specific functions.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Very pressure sensitive styluses
  • Lots of express keys plus a roller
  • Large drawing surface

Cons

  • Pens can’t be swapped out
  • Screen tends to develop scratches after a couple years of use

XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro

XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 17.5 x 11 x 0.4 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 15.6 inches | Item Weight: 3.2 | Multi-Touch: No | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Customizable Express Keys: 8 + Touch Dial | Supported Software: Windows, Mac | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB

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The XP Pen Artist 15.6 Pro has a 15.6 inch screen and costs around $400. That’s more than $200 cheaper than the closest Wacom equivalent. With this tablet you get a full HD display at 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution and 72% AdobeRGB, which is pretty good! It also has a laminated screen, which drastically reduces parallax and makes the strokes more accurate.

The Artist 15.6 Pro also has 8 shortcut keys along the front, laid on top of the screen, which is a convenient place for both right handed and left handed people to access them. Each button has a unique pattern, which is useful for when you want to press a hotkey without necessarily looking at it. There is a roller in the middle for performing more analog tasks, such as scrolling, zooming, and rotations.

The stylus has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as tilt functionality up to 60 degrees. It also has 2 hotkeys for even further customization. You also get a free pen holder with 8 replacement nibs on the back.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Comes with lots of hotkeys
  • Has 8 replacement nibs
  • Comes with free pen holder

Cons

  • Stand is a little flimsy
  • Despite the wide color gamut, it needs calibration upon purchase as it is uncalibrated

Huion H610X

HUION Inspiroy H610X

Dimensions: 12.78 x 8.09 x 0.31 inches | Display Area: 10 x 6.25 inches | Display Resolution: N/A | Item Weight: 515 grams | Shortcut Keys: 8 | Connection type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No | Processor: N/A | Memory: N/A

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The Huion H610X is a budget graphics tablet that’s an excellent substitute for those looking at the Wacom Intuos range. It comes with basic but very necessary features, making it excellent for those who are just starting out and need something simple and affordable to start with. 

The drawing area is 10 inches by 6.15 inches, which is wide enough for most applications, with a resolution of 5080 lines per inch (LPI). The report rate is 233 on the pen, allowing it to draw with remarkable accuracy. The downside of the pen, though, is that it is battery powered, so it needs to be recharged before you can use it. It also has 2048 pressure sensitivity levels. That might sound low if you’re used to the high pressure sensitivity levels on Wacom, but it’s still good enough for you to do good work with.

The tablet comes with 8 express keys on the side, as well as an extra 16 soft function keys if you want to program extra shortcuts. You can also flip the tablet around and draw that way if you’re left handed.

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Great price
  • Has left handed support

Cons

  • The frame is tapered, which means you can’t always plant your hand while drawing
  • The pen has few levels of pressure sensitivity compared to Wacom
  • It has no wireless capability, which means you always have to be close to the screen

Huion Kamvas Pro 22

Huion Kamvas Studio 22

Portability at an affordable price …that doesn't compromise on quality, and much like the above Wacom Studio Pro, is aimed at those requiring portable performance.

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Coming in at a price point of $900, this isn’t a cheap tablet, but again, it’s cheaper than the closest Wacom equivalent. Also, if you consider the features you’re getting, it becomes immediately obvious that you’re getting insane value for money.

For starters, you’re getting a 22 inch screen, which is very large and more than ample for work. This tablet comes with a full HD display at 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution. It has a very wide viewing angle of 178 degrees, allowing you to work from different angles without experiencing difficulty viewing your work. 

Another great thing about the screen is that it supports 100% sRGB color gamut. That’s pretty much the full range of color, meaning you get very rich colorscapes. 

Another great feature is there are 10 customizable express keys and a touch bar on not one but both sides of the tablet. The catch is that the hotkeys are set to mirror each other. So the idea is that you can use them whether you’re left or right handed. However, a left key and its right equivalent cannot be individually programmed, rather, a single setting governs them both so that they mirror each other.

The screen itself is made of anti-glare etched glass, which makes it very pleasant to work with. The pen comes with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 5080 LPI, and a report rate of 266, which is actually the highest in the industry at the moment. The pen also has tilt support and is battery free.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Large screen
  • High quality pen
  • Adjustable stand

Cons

  • Parallax is still there
  • The custom hotkeys are mirrored so you can’t individually set them, despite being so many

Ugee 2150

UGEE Drawing Tablet

21.5 Inch Pen Tablet Monitor Pen Display with Pergear Clean Kit IPS Panel HD Resolution

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The Ugee 2150 comes in at $568. While this may sound like a high price, it’s still lower than what you get for an equivalent Wacom. Much lower, actually, if you consider the fact that you get a 21.5 inch IPS screen. It also comes with a very wide 178 degree viewing angle, allowing you to work comfortably with the tablet from just about any angle. 

The screen itself is HD, with a 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution. The stylus comes with 2048 pressure sensitivity levels, which might sound very low, but is actually still enough for any artist to get very good work done. With that kind of pressure sensitivity you can easily control the color, thickness, and transparency of your line work to a fine point.

The Ugee 2150 comes with a USB port, which you can use to connect it to a Mac or Windows PC, and it interfaces well with the most common graphic design software in the industry, such as Autodesk Maya, Corel Painter, and Adobe CC. It also comes with a stand that can be adjusted to multiple angles, making working with it very pleasant. There’s a two finger glove to reduce the friction you sometimes experience between your hand and the surface of the tablet.

The display must be hooked up to a desktop or laptop in order to be used. You can then use it as a second monitor, an extended display, a duplicate monitor for your desktop or laptop, or even as the sole monitor.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Interfaces well with popular industry software
  • Comes with an adjustable stand
  • Very large screen

Cons

  • Pen only has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Does not work on its own; must be hooked up to a monitor to work

Gaomon PD 1560

Gaomon PD1560

Dimensions: 22 x 13.7 x 5 inches | Display Area (Active Area): 13.5 x 7.6 inches | Item Weight: 3.48 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Pixel | Screen Size: 15.6 inch | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported Software: Windows and Mac operating systems | Battery Power: AC Power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Express Keys: 10 | Customizable Express Keys: Yes

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The Gaomon PD 1560 costs about $400 and is about $200 cheaper than the cheapest Cintiq. Sure, you might be a die-hard fan of the Cintiq and find that it feels a lot more solid. However, the accessible price point f the Gaomon PD 1560 is a great selling point for it, and it also comes with lots of quality features that make it a great buy.

For starters, it has the same pressure sensitivity levels as the Cintiq at 8192. It does have a more noticeable parallax, and feels less precise, but by so much that working with it is impossible. You can also adjust the settings of the tablet and rotate it for more comfortable use if you’re a leftie.

The screen itself is very large at 15.6 inches, and that’s more than enough for you to do all your most important work. The tablet also has an overall premium build and feel, offering plenty of value for the price you pay.

Pros

  • Comes with lots of express keys
  • Very affordable compared to the Cintiq alternatives
  • Has good screen clarity and color range

Cons

  • Takes rather long to charge
  • The pen is less precise than what you’d get with a Wacom.

Summary

And with that we come to the end of our review. As you can see, there are lots of alternatives to Wacom out there to consider, and some of them actually offer insane value for money. These are good alternatives to start with, especially as you hone your skill, until you can start to get paid for your work and finally afford whatever premium tablet you really want.

Who knows, you might actually fall in love with the alternative and become loyal to the brand! That said, the important thing is that you pick a brand and start. Until next time, happy drawing!

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