Being a digital artist I know how frustrating it can be to get just the right tool. I could use a mouse to navigate to my favorite program, but a mouse lacks the natural feel of a pen or a brush, or even a stylus. After all, mice weren’t designed by artists but they were designed by computer programmers. The next logical option is to use a stylus.
Using a stylus gave me a more natural feel of painting or drawing with a physical tool. But most touchscreens don’t provide a great feel, being either too sensitive or not sensitive enough and lack the ability to respond to fine variations in angle and pressure.
The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro pen tablet is designed to solve all these problems. It is a dedicated display that is designed especially for artists and made to solve all your problems. I have also included this in my list of recommended tablets for artists. Now I’m going to share my experience after owning this device for a few months highlighting its pros and cons.
|Hardware Specifications of XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro|
|Pen sensitivity||8192+ Levels|
|Active Area||9 x 5 inches|
|Input Resolution||5080 LPI|
|OS Support||Windows 7/8/10, Mac OS X 10.10 Android 6.0|
|Battery Life||USB Powered|
What’s in the box?
When I opened the box I could see the following things and a bunch of extra goodies which were:
- The tablet
- A tablet stand
- The stylus, including 8 replacement nibs
- A stylus case and stand
- A drawing glove
- 4 different international power adaptors
- A cleaning cloth
Design and features
The XP-Pen 15.6 inch Pro Drawing Pad is not designed as a standalone device and requires to connect to your computer. From its name you can guess that it has a screen size of 15.6 inches. XP-Pen has some other older pen display tablets of this size out there and the naming conventions can get a little confusing thus my advice is to look for the red circle on the side, that is how you know if you bought the right one.
I like the whole design of this device which is made of plastic and is lightweight. It doesn’t feel premium but at the same time also doesn’t feel cheap either and fills that middle ground.
The 15.6-inch screen looks good as it is a Full HD display, that’s 1920 x 1080 pixels and the colors feel good and vibrant as well. It has a 90% Adobe RGB color range. The screen also has a textured matte film over it this is to give the pen more grip and give the rough feeling of drawing on paper.
The screen is a laminated display where they reduce the space between the screen and the glass to increase accuracy and to reduce the parallax.
On the left side of the screen, I found 8 buttons and a handy dial. These buttons can be set to any feature that the user likes, using the dial the user can zoom in and out or change the size of your brush for example.
The setup begins with the three-in-one cable included with the package. The single plug connects to the tablet through a port on the side.
The cable has an HDMI plug, a black USB plug for connecting to the computer, and a black USB plug for power. The HDMI plug plugs into my PC. The black USB cable is connected to the USB port on the PC.
With all the options of international power adapters, you can pretty much connect to any compatible device. Powering it all up and I was needed to download some software from the XP-Pen site to meet your computer’s requirements.
The instructions may vary based on the setup and operating system, but XP Pen’s website provides a user-friendly support section to find the software that’s right for the user’s computer.
The installation will set you up with multiple monitors, and optimize the display for the tablet. I chose to mirror the tablet and main monitor settings for my testing and did some fiddling with the settings and the whole process took less than 30 minutes from start to finish, which was okayish in my opinion.
I’ll confess that this was a bit of a new learning experience for me as I do all of my illustration work on my iPad Pro with Procreate these days but that can be a little tough to manage if you’re doing professional work or need to leverage the more creative packages like Photoshop. I’m happy to state that despite my lack of practice with this toolset the XP Pen Artists Drawing Pad made the process easier for me to work on this setup properly for the first time.
The drawing surface on the pad is excellent and has a scratch-resistant, anti-glare, high-transparency surface that suppresses ambient light glare and provides a smooth drawing surface. I never got the feeling that I was experiencing any drag or choppy movement of the pen across the surface as it was very smooth, and that fine pen tip allows for accurate detail work but sometimes I found a hint of lag if I draw too quickly.
The pen itself has a very natural feel and expresses a 60-degree sensitivity angle for shading and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity which means you can deploy a full suite of painting, sketching, and shading effects with practice. the configuration options can also be saved, so you can set different defaults for the buttons and scroll wheel depending on what you’re doing at the time.
I doubt that this feature will come in handy if I am doing more “painterly” style work where I might want to do more quick-switching for blend and smudge tools as opposed to line art illustration. You have some adjustments you can make to the brightness on the side, but the color levels are excellent overall.
The XP Pen Artist Pro 15.6 is a great budget screen tablet and is a great choice for beginners who can live with its flaws but if you are a serious or a pro artist, you’ll probably find it makes too many quality concessions to hit that lower price point.