Review: Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition

For artists and designers used to drawing directly onto paper, the Wacom Intuos Pro (Paper Edition) must appear to be an attractive entry level digital illustration tool. But the traditional “scan a drafted sketch then paint it digitally” approach using standard affordable drawing tablets has generally satisfied those creatives who prefer the feel of a pen scratching on paper. 

So what exactly does the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition offer beyond what a standard tablet and a decent scanner has already been doing for us? Admittedly the product idea is appealing. I can draw directly onto paper and this special Wacom ink pen automagically transmits that sketch directly to my computer. How cool! Only…it isn’t nearly that easy, straight forward or satisfying. First the good stuff though, the hardware is really cool.
The Paper Edition of the Intuos Pro improves on Wacom’s standard tablet design. There seems to be very little wasted surface area and the ratio of drawing space to plastic expanse of tablet is finally entering the realms of sanity (so many inches of wasted plastic and so little drawing space on those older tablets!).

Plus the edition comes with a whole suite of new toys. The package is divided up into two halves. The left half contains all the materials associated with the paper ink drawing functions of this tablet and the right side of the packaging supplies all the tools you would usually find included in the standard suite of Wacom drawing tablets. If you were hoping to find some documentation explaining how the paper transfer works or what you need to do to start working effectively quickly… you won’t find it in this box. What is provided is a tiny foldout of illustrated instructions (Ikea style) that provides little more than a “plug this into that; in this order; then logon to this website for reasons” diagram.

If all goes well, plugging your new Intuos Pro Paper Edition directly into your laptop or computer should result in all necessary software getting downloaded automatically. Otherwise Google  “Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition Drives” and “Wacom Inkspace Application”.

In order to use this tablet for its intended purpose of drawing directly onto paper and having that drawing transfer across digitally, you’ll need to install Wacom’s Inkspace App, either during initial setup or after a bit of Googling. And this is where I have to question the logic behind such an expensive device that effectively operates just to replace the scanner in the “sketch a page” and “paint the page digitally” equation. Because Inkspace is a horrible program. For one, you will be stuck in a loop of tutorial screens that you can’t close, cannot minimise and will only be able to get rid of once you’ve figured out how to create your first drawing. 

Apparently Inkspace performs some kind of check to see whether or not it should lock you up in tutorial screen limbo: “is there a drawing file created? Yes? Then this user is wise and does not need our finely crafted tutorial presentation” or “is there a drawing file created? No? Then surely this user has never touched the program before and we must educate them continuously!” 

It’s possible to get out of this loop, but before you can use your new digital drawing you have to export it from Inkspace and then open it in your drawing program of choice to be able to edit and work with it. You know, exactly as you would if you had just scanned the sketch. 

This tablet would have scored even lower for the reasons listed above except for the potential for this to be a great mid-tier tool for artists who want to capture that drawing on paper feeling, but can’t yet afford the Mobile Studio Pro or Cintiq Companion tablets. 

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