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Hands-on review: Wacom One graphics tablet

24 Mar 2020

I believe that deep down there lurks a potential van Gogh in all of us.  With the current climate encouraging social isolation, I’ve been spending several hours a day searching out and embracing my inner artistic muse. In my own experience, I’m fast gaining confidence and aided by a few online tutorials, I’m beginning to show promise.

Wacom’s One graphics tablet has helped me join the dots. With its 13.3” workspace and versatility, it promises to appeal to amateur and professionals alike. 

The Wacom One boasts an interactive 13.3” screen and a price tag of NZ$649. I chose to connect it to my MacBook Pro, where it works as an extension of my existing monitor. Some Mac Users will need to use their adapters as the HDMI cable needs to pass through the mini-HDMI in use on the MacBook Pro.

I’m using a pre-2016 MacBook Pro so I don’t have the luxury of Sidecar. The later models will doubtless avail themselves of the plethora of USB docks as a workaround for the USB-C ports. It comes bundled with some useful software for both Windows and Mac OS. With the purchase of a separate adapter, you can also use it with specified Android products manufactured by Samsung or Huawei. Check the BuyWacom website for more information. 

Those of you already using different graphics pens will be cheered to hear that the Wacom One is compatible with several “digital pens from top brands.” The supplied pen lives up to Wacom’s assurance that it feels “like a pencil”, and on top of that it is battery-free. The built-in software gives the pen the ability to “act as multiple pens and brushes in a full range of colours” and the surface is constructed to give you the feel of working on paper rather than on glass. 

The built-in legs will come in handy for those who want an angled screen when working. I found the setup felt quite natural, right down to the scratch-like quality feel of pencil on paper.

The Wacom One “Bonus Pack” includes some very handy software: Clip Studio Paint, software for drawing and painting, Bamboo Paper, your digital paper notebook from Wacom, and Adobe Premiere Rush, software for shooting, editing and sharing online videos. Coming soon is Adobe Fresco, drawing software offering a large collection of vector and raster brushes.
 
I envisage the Wacom One becoming a part of many digital technology teaching programmes, and I would have been lobbying for a set in my past life as a specialist IT teacher. Coupled with the likes of Adobe Creative Suite, the possibilities are limitless, from creating simple web graphics through to animations. In fact, New Zealand’s Animation College, (now known as “Yoobee Colleges”) makes use of these products in their coursework for animation, digital design and film production. 

Another advantage for me is being able to do what I cannot do without spending thousands on updating my faithful MacBook Pro. Mine dates prior to 2016 as I mentioned, and the Wacom One is a way of achieving similar results without having the benefit of Sidecar.

In the last day or so I have communicated with two graphic designers: one from Portland, ORE and the other from the Blue Mountains of NSW.  One is using the Wacom One and finds it absolutely wonderful. I got a distinct impression that it makes her life easier and has boosted her productivity. The other wondered if there wasn’t something to be said for sticking with pencil and paper.  He asked “Just curious… what do you see as the benefit of digital over pencil and paper? … And it’s certainly nice to have a physical artefact when you do stay in the analogue world.”  My advice is simple. Artists are individuals with wonderfully wired brains.  What works best for you? 
Make your own checklist but here is my own;

1.    Does it help me organise my work?
2.    Does it help me work more efficiently?
3.    Is it making my time more productive?
4.    Does it enhance my work/ make me a better artist?

For me, the answers were yes, yes, yes and yes. It’s even given me the confidence to launch my own cartoon series on social media, just for fun. Who knows - thanks to Wacom, I may finally gain fame as the Florence Foster Jenkins of the digital art world! 

Specifications
•    Resolution: Full HD 1920 x 1080
•    Colour Gamut: NTSC at CIE1931 - coverage ratio: 72%
•    Screen Size: 13.3 inch (33.8cm)
•    Pen pressure: 4096 levels
•    Ports: Wacom One X- Shape Cable with HDMI and USB connector (to computer), Display Connector (to Wacom One display) and power plug only
System Requirements
•    For PC: Windows 7 or later (latest service pack/build) or For Mac: OS X 10.13 or later (latest update)
•    HDMI port and standard USB-A port
•    Internet access for driver download