Looking for a quality, inexpensive Cintiq competitor? Here is my review of the drawing monitor by Artisul, the D13S.
Wacom currently holds that title for industry standard in drawing tablets and graphic monitors, but I think the competition is getting better, which is amazing for us artists! I did a bit of research and decided that this tablet seemed like a great deal, considering its prices and features.
A drawing monitor is a great product because you can directly see your strokes. It’s closer to that visual pen to paper experience we know and love compared to drawing tablets without a screen (which are easy to get used to and are incredible as well).
Thank you to Artisul for providing me with this product to review!
If you are looking for a review of a great tablet without a screen that is even more affordable, check out my review of the XP-Pen Deco 03
Here are the links Artisul recommends checking out:
- Note: normally, I do not post Amazon links for ethical reasons, but they provided me this tablet to review and I want to accommodate them.
► Artisul’s official website: https://www.artisul.com/
Specs & Overview
- Screen Resolution : Full HD 1920×1080
- 75% Adobe RGB Color Gamut
- Pen: passive (doesn’t require batteries–amazing!)
- Active Area: 293.76 × 165.24mm or 11.57” x 6.51″
- Express Keys: 6 customizable one and this nice circular dial
- Report Rate: 233 PPS
- Pressure Sensitivity: 8192
- Interface Support: HDMI & USB 3.0
- Compatibility: Windows 7/8/10 & Mac OS 10.8 and above Both wired + wireless interface.
- Full specifications + compatibility information
Ebay affiliate, not Amazon for ethical reasons
- Clean, thin, and sleek design with nice build quality.
- Passive pen is accurate, responsive, and a good size and weight.
- The dial is a great feature!
- Customer support is amazing, very responsive to my unit not having a working pen
- Fast response time, not too much parallax (distance from pen tip to the screen)
- Good software support for Krita, PS, Clipstudio Paint, Corel, and others.
- The screen protector offers a nice texture, but does affect the picture
- Sometimes the HDMI/USB get finicky, so you have to adjust it carefully
and not bump it too much. It’s not too bad though, honestly.
Overall, great bang for your buck! $299 USD on average. Deals can be found on ebay sometimes.]
Unboxing and Accessories
Unboxing photos & pictures of accessories, feat my rug!
Form & Function
The tablet is relatively thin and light, which is a definite plus in my book. The corners are rounded and the whole unit seems to be well constructed and sturdy.
You also have an already applied textured screen protector which adds some nice texture so it feels like you are drawing on paper. It does add a bit of texture to the picture, though. I won’t remove it, but I think you could if you wanted.
The buttons are well constructed and click comfortably. The unit seems well made and has nice ergonomics overall.
Sometimes the HDMI/USB get finicky, so you have to adjust it carefully and not bump it too much. It’s not too bad though, honestly.
You also can get a nice, compact stand if you chose to, which allows you to go for different angles. You have 6 choices for the angle in total for the display stand: 14.5°, 19.5°, 22.5°, 37°, 41.5°, and 45°.
I am currently using the stand right now and I think it’s worth the price.
This is from a Mac perspective, so if you have Windows, it may be different. The installation process was pretty smooth and painless.
On Mac, installing drivers is really easy. On their site, they list compatible programs, so I recommend looking at the specs + compatibility link that’s listed in the beginning of this review to see if this tablet will work for you. A lot of popular programs are fully and officially supported, like Corel Painter, Krita, Photoshop, and Clip Studio Paint.
I use Krita, and the lines jitter really isn’t that bad! I think it’s probably better than the Deco 03 tablet I was using before. Krita comes with stabilizers, so I don’t have a real problem. If you are wondering about parallax/accuracy of the pen, I included that in a section below!
Configuration is easy, through “ARTISULsettings” It’s pretty straight forward and you can customize all the dials and buttons, which is great. You can also configure your pressure curve. I prefer mine so that I don’t have to press as hard as default and I can preserve my pen tips.
The pen is pretty light weight and I kinda prefer a slightly heavier pen, but that’s honestly a personal preference. The pen body has a nice soft touch coating and is comfy to hold. I think it’s a good size as well.
I love the clickiness of the side buttons which gives great tactile feedback!
My original pen didn’t have buttons and wasn’t working, so Artisul’s amazing and responsive customer support helped me out with that. They said that some of their pens come with issues, but they have been super receptive to problems, which I think shows that they stand by their products and customers. Interestingly, the old XP-Pen Deco 03 pen works and they are compatible. It’s nice to know you can choose what you want.
The pen comes with a nice fabric case that contains spare nibs and a tool to change the tips. That’s a nice touch!
It’s a nice pen, very light though (lighter than the one I used with XP-Pen). I personally prefer a little heft, but it’s not bad.
Interestingly, the XP-Pen Deco03 pen works perfectly with this tablet, so if you wanted a weightier pen, you could buy one of those.
One thing I wish it had tilt and rotation, but at this price point, the pen and feature set is great.
Not everyone is, but I am a huge fan of the scroll dial (and the 6 customizable express keys). I think it’s a great way to change brush sizes. You can also click it rapidly to change what the scroll dial does, up to 5 total options. I mostly use it for brush size & zoom, but you have options!
It’s easy and smooth to turn, and you have clickiness that allows you to feel and control it without looking.
The placement of the scroll dial is good because it’s hard to accidentally bump into it and start changing random settings.
I do wish it had USB Type C, though. The Type Y cable that is included is pretty nice, but the port can be a little touchy at times. I think TypeC is a more durable option long term, and I think it would have been a better choice.
# The screen
The surface of the tablet itself is nice because the drawing texture is nice. It’s not too slippery or glassy, but also not so rough that it’s annoying to use. I think the textured screen protector is really nice, though you can tell it affects the picture (which does make sense). I like the texture benefit and will not be taking it off anytime soon.
The screen is pretty quite accurate once you calibrate it! I think the screen is pretty responsive and there isn’t a whole lot of noticeable latency. The tip tracks pretty well, as you can see in the quick clip/ pic below:
(In case you don’t want to watch a video lol)
There is a slight space that you can discern between the glass and pen tip, but I don’t think it really impairs drawing or writing.
Drawing Experience and Samples
Overall, this thing is great to work with!
I love the texture, since it balances perfectly between roughness and smoothness. The pressure sensitivity is awesome for this price point, as it’s on par with Wacom’s Intuos Pro line of tablets.
I’ve also enjoyed using it to annotate PDFs because I don’t feel like purchasing an iPad Pro. It’s definitely dope!
Here’s a stupid clip of me peeling off the cover wrapping for hashtag satisfaction vibes:
I hope this review helps! I recommend purchasing this product. It’s been a great, quality product, especially at the price point. ARTISUL seems to be dedicated to its products, and their customer service is amazing and responsive.
Thanks for reading! If this post helped, please consider sharing it with your friends! ❤️