Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch Review – Perfect for Beginners and Photo Touch-Up
The Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch is Wacom’s update over the Bamboo and all its variations (Fun, Splash, Create, etc). The Bamboo was a great tablet for beginners to start on, and I, myself started on a Bamboo when I was 14 and still drawing terrible anime art. I still do sometimes, but it’s just a lot better now! What’s the difference between the Old Bamboo and newcomer Pen & Touch? I’ll run through all the major things in this review and let you know whether this tablet is worth buying and who it’s suited for.
The Wacom Bamboo looks like a sleek black tablet with a 5.8 in x 3.6 in active area and no hotkeys. It’s marketed as a “Lite Art Creation Device” that allows you to mark up documents and do some light doodling or rough sketches. The Pen and Touch upgraded to a two-toned design, silver with black highlights. The silver part is the active area, and the black trim on the top contains 4 expresskeys (hotkeys).
The stylus is also two-toned now, with a black tip and grip. The top half is silver with a slick-looking blue identification ring. The design feels very space-age, just like the Bamboo did, even more so because the of the color scheme and the electric blue accents in the ring and right hotkey. I much prefer this new design better than the all-black Bamboo. Whereas the Bamboo is a stodgy, men-in-black type– put together, no-nonsense but ultimately boring, the Pen and Touch is fun, edgy and oozes industrial chic. Check out the little hoops that look like the tags you get on your shirts. These colored hoops are stylus holders and come in default colors but can be swapped out for any other color your want.
The boxes are similar however, and tell you a lot about how Wacom wants the Bamboo and the Pen & Touch to be viewed and who they are targetting. The Bamboo has a boring looking box with a field of gradated green, and markets itself as a signing pad, something to help you browse the web or do office work more ergonomically. The Bamboo Splash and Pen & Touch have artsy boxes with images of fantastic animals, shapes, monsters and other designs drawing in a sketchy style. It’s clear that they were looking to sell the Splash and Pen & Touch to artists. Let’s find out if these tablets have what it takes to keep up with you! Scroll down to read the meat of my review.
The Intuos Pen & Touch is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10; Mac OS 10.8 and Mac OS 10.10. or higher. Works with software like CorelDraw, Corel Painter, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Macromedia Flash, Manga Studio, Stratos3D Max, AutoDesk Maya and ZBrush— basically supports anything. Look for driver updates HERE.
Controls and Functionality
The active area for a Wacom Pen & Touch small is 6 in x 3.7 in, for a medium it’s 8.3 in x 5.3 in. The Small comes in non-Touch and Touch, the non-Touch version is just called the Wacom Intuos Pen (what a creative name, right?). The medium comes in just the Touch version. Compared to the old Bamboo and Bamboo Splash, this is what the Pen & Touch will do for you as an artist: it will speed up your workflow, reduce wrist strain and untangle your workspace. The Pen & Touch adds 4 expresskeys that you can program with any combination of hotkeys you want so you can have them at your fingertips. The defaults for the hotkeys are scroll, zoom, rotate and flip. It is lighter and slimmer than the old Bamboo pads and has a lighter stylus. The Touch function allows you to program it with touch combos (done by sliding your fingers across the active area), you can program these combos with any hotkeys as well, adding a lot more to your hotkey and macro toolbox without reaching over to your keyboard or remembering complicated hotkey sequences. These Touch functions are not very accurate though, they don’t replace the detailed movements you make with the stylus, so if you were hoping to draw with your finger on the pad or edit photos with your fingers, you’ll be dissappointed because this tablet does not do that. The Pen & Touch also comes with a wireless kit so that you can go cordless.
The Pen & Touch, Bamboo and Bamboo Splash all have 1,024 levels of sensitivity compared to the Intuos Pro and Cintiq‘s 2,048 levels. That’s why I only recommend the Pen & Touch and Bamboo tablets to be used by beginners or non-realistic art. If you’re a graphic designer or web designer, this tablet is enough to serve your needs. If you want to take college notes in OneNote or take pressure off your wrist and forearm during mousework, this will also work great for you. One of your fellow readers wrote in to say that he used this tablet to do 3D sculpting, which can be done with a mouse, but is rough on your wrists because of the small, delicate movements you need to make. He started experiencing wrist pain from keeping his arm muscles tight all the time, and found that using this tablet relieved his pain. If you’re looking for a professional level tablet that allow you to make very small gradations of fine levels of detail needed for realistic painting (think 2-3 pixel brushes), you’re better off with the Intuos Pro or Cintiq.
I also recommend that you not use the wireless function for very graphically intensive things. For example, if you’re using a software like Painter, which simulate natural brushstrokes in tons of little pixels that are in base color, shadow color, reflected color, you’ll find wireless mode to be VERY laggy. If you start having this problem, just switch to wired USB mode for more reliable performance.
The surface of the Pen & Touch is a great improvement over the older tablets. I remember when I still used my Intuos 4. At the time it was the best thing since sliced bread and skyrocketed my abilities with all the options it opened up in photoshop: undo, zoom (to get the really little things), mirror, filters, lens flares, blurs, etc. However, the surface was smooth and the bottom of my palm would just sit on it for hours and hours. When I finally lifted my hand, it would stick a little bit and leave a sweatstain shaped like my hand… The new textured surface feels much better to draw on, and give you a little resistance just like real paper, though it does eat up the nibs pretty fast since it’s being worn away by friction all the time.
For those with a 15″ or larger screen, look at buying the medium size as the small size is a little too small for you. Unless you’re the type of person who makes really small hand movements when working, then get the small size. A last note, this tablet is ambidextrous. Since the hotkeys are at the top, you don’t have to switch the tablet upside down to use non-pen hand. Since I’m a lefty, I always rejoice when designers think of us and make products that aren’t troublesome to use.
What’s in the Bundle?
The bundle contains the tablet, pen, a pen holder with 8 extra nibs inside, extra color identification rings (switch out the blue ring on your stylus), nib changing tool, ArtRage Studio and the Creative Starter Pack. Identification rings are used to tell your styluses apart if you have more than one. Since you can program styluses with their own settings, it helps to tell you if your stylus is programmed to emulate a pencil or a paintbrush. The Creative Starter Pack consists of Autodesk Sketchbook 90-day Pro membership and 20% off the pro membership, Lynda.com 30-day membership for online training and a free Shutterfly 8 in x 8 in photobook.
The Intuos Manga Pen & Touch replaces the Creative Starter Pack with manga and anime software instead.
- light art and doodling
- portable tablet
- vector work
- mouse replacement/ office work
- kids/ young adults
- photo editing
Click HERE to learn about our grading criteria.
This is a great starter tablet for those who are just starting out, or parents looking to buy their kids their first drawing tablet. You won’t be out a lot of money if your kids change their mind and get bored, but if they are serious (and getting seriously good), you can trade it in for an Intuos Pro to arm them with the big guns. For web designers and others who work with vectors and shapes, this will do just fine for you, but you might be unhappy with the sizes and limited hotkey options.
The small size is great for office work and replacing your mouse for browsing and 3D modeling, as well as playing games like Osu!
The Touch function is its biggest upgrade over the Wacom Bamboo, so if you’re not getting the Touch version, you should just get the Bamboo. If you would like a larger tablet but are turned off by the hefty price tags, check out newcomers Huion H610, 1060PLUS or Ugee M708. These tablets are not bad, but are not the same quality provided by Wacom and their team. What they do give you is a tablet with solid performance and an area that rivals Wacom’s mid-range Intuos Pro for a quarter of the price.