I'm talking about the new tablet PC Wacom Cintiq
Companion. It's a full Windows 8 tablet computer
with a Cintiq drawing surface.
I feel like a kid in a candy store with this little toy.
I gave my Companion a real workout. Here's her
Windows 8 (ughhh)
13.3” screen (yeah!)
i-7 processor, 1.9Ghz (whoosh)
8GM Ram (what sound does a RAM make, anyway)
512 solid state hard drive (no noise at all)
3.9 pounds (oof)
1920 x 1080 resolution (See that? Yes you will.)
2048 levels of pressure sensitivity (tickle, tickle)
Any other measurements don't really matter. I'm sure
you are more interested in how she performs. And
oh baby, does she perform.
When I first got the system, it was set up with all the
power conservation settings for when it's not
plugged in. It ran great on just about everything, but
some graphics intensive things had a slight delay. So
I reset the system for high-performance whether I
was plugged in or not.
In high performance, I didn't see any speed
difference between my Companion and my newly
upgraded editing desktop. That's a good sign.
Battery life is pretty damn good. I didn't run any
specific tests for actual time though. Obviously when
it's running in high performance, the battery won't
last as long, but I did some web surfing and a few
hours of sketching and showing videos to clients on
location and still had plenty of battery life left when I
got back to the studio. I didn't put the charger on it
until I shut down for the night. Good enough for me.
In order to make our presence felt, and establish our credentials further on the world platform, we would make it a point to participate in all major international events related to animation and computer graphics, including MIFA, France, SIGGRAPH, U.S.A, Asia Animation, Singapore and MIPCOM, Cannes. Our issues would also be catering to major studios, talents, professionals, events and other such related aspects, providing an enterprising and enthusiastic platform, to bring out and bring up the best.
I'm not a big fan of Windows 8, but it does work
well with touch screens. I love manipulating the
screen with one hand while I draw with the other.
Photoshop? Yep, she works like a pro. I was using
Photoshop CC and with the 2048 levels of sensitivity,
it's more like working on paper than ever. In many
ways, it's more sensitive than my pencil was. Plus
with the tilt recognition with the pen, I can now
draw a thin hard line or use the side of the digital
pencil and get some nice, wide shading like I did with
my Ebony pencil.
Premiere? I put a big load on her. I layered 3 HD
videos, all with audio, and animated a still image
across the screen and it played back without
missing a frame. Imagine editing HD video and
effects on a tablet with the same programs as on
your desktop. I can start a project on the road and
transfer it to my bigger monitors later to finish it up.
Then there's my favorite program, Toon Boom's
Storyboard Pro. I tried out the latest version on my
Companion and she purred right along. I can drive to
a location and just start drawing without any setup.
Full motion, fast drawing, animatics and an
impressed client. And when I'm near wifi I backup to
my Google Drive.
I've gotten to be a big fan of Autodesk's Sketchbook
Pro. I love the drawing tools and the feel. I also love
that it's designed to work with touch screens. While
I'm drawing with my right hand, I can zoom in and
out and rotate the drawing area with my left hand.
It's easier to turn the digital art than a piece of paper
and I can zoom on it too. (well, technically I can
zoom in on paper by leaning closer to it, but the
older I get the less I can see when I get too close)
Of course there's the obvious comparisons between
the Cintiq Companion and the Microsoft Surface Pro
and the Surface Pro 2. Both are tablets, both runs
Windows 8, both are touch sensitive with drawing
sensitivity. The Companion weighs more, but she
does have a 33% larger screen. The Wacom is also
One of the things that sets Cintiqs apart from
everyone else (well, not many compare, but…) are
the Express Keys, sliders and rocker rings. The extras
that allow us to do more, easier without reaching for
a keyboard (which is important as you may not have
a keyboard with you when you use the tablet.
Although I did test my Bluetooth keyboard with it
and it connected easily.)
At first I was upset that they don't have sliders on the
Companion (to run my fingers up and down on) (has
the companion reference gotten old yet?) But then I
found out that they offer on-screen controls. Click
on the Rocker Ring and you can bring up
customizable controls on the screen to do almost anything you want. I added virtual sliders for my
I customized one button to Save my files and I
customized the button on the pen to act as the Space
Bar so I can pan around my art without having to
reach for anything else.
At first I had an issue with the power button because
everytime I picked up or moved my Companion, I
would hit the power button and put it to sleep. (see
how I avoided the obvious companion jokes this
time?) Luckily the Wacom folks have an easy
workaround. You can set the power button to not
work when the system is already on. Problem solved.
It is a pricey unit. You all know that. But then I looked
at what I paid for my powerful laptop (about the
same as for the Companion) and then I still had to
buy the 13” Cintiq to work with my laptop. The
Companion ends up being over $1,000 cheaper than
my previous set up…and it weighs a hell of a lot less
than my old set up and I don't need to always be near
Pros: Great feel. Fast. Runs my full
Cons: The speakers are really weak.
So the bottom line is that you can have my Wacom
Cintiq Companion over my dead body. Even then I
doubt my hands will let go of it even then. It reminds
me of when I first tested a new 17” Cintiq all those
years ago. Once I touched it, I never looked back.
Companion, I love you baby.
Do you want to see the Companion in action? Check
out this short film Mark produced of a Day In The Life
of a Storyboard Artist.
Mark Simon, is the co-founder of
SellYourTvConceptNow.com and the owner of
Animatics& Storyboards, Inc. and the author of
Storyboards: Motion In Art, Facial Expressions and
Your Resume Sucks. Get Mark's free 7 Biggest TV
Pitch Mistakes download at