Wacom Cintiq 21ux Review with ZBrush 2.0

Feb 20th 2006: Article Updated for 21 UX

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18 SX shown


Recently I was fortunate to be asked to review the new Cintiq tablet screen from Wacom. I am a digital sculptor at Gentle Giant Studios in Burbank. At Gentle Giant we work on everything from modeling for visual effects and games, scanning props, actors, and sets, to creating high end collectables and toys, and design maquettes for the entertainment industry. If it is a sculpture of any form, digital or practical we make them here. I spend my day at the computer trying to bring sculptural form into a 2D realm, the computer screen.


Since the introduction of the mouse in 1973 the computer industry has been trying to further simplify the interface between humans and the machines that have become such an ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. Nowhere has this challenge become more apparent than the attempt to create a union between the artist and the computer.

Wacom helped this process along with their popular pen tablet technology however there was still an uncomfortable level of abstraction when looking at a screen for feedback while at the same time working on a completely separate plane.

This offset can be overcome with a modicum of hand eye coordination and practice but it remains an unfortunate hindrance. Despite their superiority over the mouse working with tablets was still fundamentally clumsy.

Wacom has made a huge step forward with the Cintiq 21 UX. An update to the previously reviewed 18SX the 21 boasts a larger screen, hotkeys placed on both sides of the screen and 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. It is also worth mentioning that the unit weighs considerably less and has a thinner more streamlined footprint.

21 UX shown

The Cintiq does not represent the first screen tablet but the first in a price range reasonable to the average professional or small studio. The Cintiq has opened the doors for all manner of artists and designers using the computer as a medium. It facilitates the transfer of real world approaches and existing muscle memory to the digital realm. This review will look at the Cintiq from the perspective of a digital artist focusing on painting and digital sculpting applications. Specifically we will examine the Cintiq with Zbrush for digital sculpture.