Graphics Tablet Impulse Buy!

Okay, so back in 2016 I was picking up my well loved Wacom Bamboo tablet to design some new website graphics thinking it would be nice to upgrade to a newer model.

Finally! An XP-Pen Artist 22, It’s not the Cintiq I wanted (poor struggling artist here) but there just so happened to be an Amazon flash sale, I had 3 hours to decide. 2 hours later on my lunch break I click the Buy button. Quickly followed by guilt 😣😔😞 for spending so much ££ on myself.
Cue delivery of said tablet (in a very large, exciting box).  It arrived very securely packed …even had a sheet of thin mdf in there (thank you I’ll make some use of that along with the masses of cardboard*).

The tablet comes with:

  • Adjustable stand (already attached)
  • 2 rechargeable pens
  • Pen stand with 8 replacement nibs stored screwed inside the stand
  • 2 pen charging USB cables
  • AC Power cable & adapter (a YouTuber recommended these be changed for a better make as this type of unbranded adapter often tend to fail)
  • USB cable
  • HDMI cable
  • VGA cable
  • Some sort of Mac cable (pc user here, excuse the Mac ignorance)
  • Artist Anti-Fouling Glove (not sure what to make of that description. It’s a bit big for my little hand, but not uncomfortable considering it only has 2 fingers…will get some of these for drawing on paper too)
  • Screen cleaning cloth
  • Screen protector (with another cloth)
  • Quick setup guide and Manual (same 1 available to download on the XP-pen site)
  • Driver CD (though as always download the newest driver version online)

At first I was really disappointed, it was impossible to get smooth flowing lines, I was having to roughly sketch everything in and try and erase to a smooth line. Hardly a nice drawing experience 😑 I had uninstalled all other tablet drivers before installation so there’s no conflict there.  I thought I was going to have to return it so didn’t put the protective screen on.  I want to produce some embossing blocks so need smooth neat line work. For example…

Traditionally hand drawn artwork for a Wandsworth embossing die
Hand drawn ink on paper angel with dove for a book cover embossing die

Then I switched from a mirrored screen set up to extended screen and problem over. Nice smooth lines …phew!!!  An occasional jitter but not too bad at all, the faster the stroke the less jittery it is.  Well “that” problem over. 

The calibration is way off now, even after several 9 point calibrations. The cursor is about an inch away from the pen tip at the screen corners and along the edges (the closer to the middle the better it gets) but need my bed now so will try and recalibrate and mess around with screen resolutions another day. 

Top left cursor parallax
Centre parallax

After a little test it looks like it won’t interfere with drawing too much but using top and left hand side menus may be troublesome. The pen stopped working last thing too but I hear this corrects itself with a quick reconnect. I’ll see how it goes when I have chance to have a better look at the weekend.  It’s been a while since I last used my Wacom Bamboo but I’m sure the pen strokes have no jitter at all and obviously no offsetting problem as there’s no graphical display.  

I really hope it runs well when I give it my full attention, it looks great and has a huge workspace (not that the size was ever limiting on the small Bamboo) I really want more of a connection drawing onto the screen rather than the blank pad of the Bamboo and I love the monitor extension but if I’m not comfortable with it’s performance it has to go back.

[Update Sat 23rd Sept]

I’ve done a clean reinstallation of the drivers today as couldn’t get the pen working again, made sure both screen resolutions match (though this is supposed to be relevant to screen mirroring not extended screens I believe) and recalibrate. It was still off a good 2.5cm round the edges of the screen. Recalibrated the pen holding it vertical to the screen not at the angle for drawing and it’s much better. Still off about 5mm on the edges but I can cope with that.  For some reason since the driver reinstallation the pen won’t move the cursor unless it’s on a drawing program now ?? So I have to move it with the laptop track pad if it’s on the desktop. It won’t select menu items on the control panel (but luckily okay with menus in Photoshop), it will work in the pressure sensitivity box and the calibration screen. It was working before but not since reinstallation, odd but as long as it’s drawing nicely that’s all that matters and at some point I’ll sort it out.  It seems to be drawing even smoother since a reinstall too.

The screen protector has a matt paper like feel to it. It just fixes along the top and clings firmly in place over the rest of the screen. It would be a nightmare to fix a fully adhesive film to a screen this size yourself, I think I saw 1 briefly on a video, complete with trapped bubbles so I’d have this 1 over that any day.  It’s actually a bit of a chore to lift it up off the screen once in place as it sits along the slightly raised rim of the screen. It’s not going to get caught on a sleeve and roll or worse, fold up, nice job. There’s a rainbowing of the screen in parts as you apply pressure but this isn’t really an issue for me while working on it, maybe it would be if you’re using the screen to watch a video etc but I’ve not tried yet and don’t really need or want too.  

The fact it took me 20 attempts to even start the laptop earlier made me wonder if I should of just spent the cash on a new 1 of those instead at first!.. But it’s working now along with the tablet which I’m beginning to really like.  I’m enjoying drawing on the screen much more than on the none graphical Wacom Bamboo I’ve moved from, feel more connected to the drawing this way. Will download a trial of Clip Studio tomorrow to see if it works any better than Photoshop. 
*Packing cardboard, particularly corrugated, makes a great blade saver when cutting mounts/matts. Use it on top of your cutting board and the blade doesn’t dull quite as quickly. It’s also good for… packing 😉 

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