The Cintiq Companion from an Animator’s Perspective

In this edition of Old But Good Tech, we’ll review Wacom’s Cintiq Companion which at this point is 3 years old and two generations behind the times. That of course doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option for an artist or animator, so read on and we’ll go over why we think it’s still a good purchase.

The beauty herself!

The tablet features a full HD display with touch control, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and rear 8-megapixel camera, stereo headphone jack, and microphone. It also comes with the Wacom Pro Pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Out of the box the Companion runs Windows 8 (mine is updated to Windows 10) and houses a third-generation Intel Core CPU and Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The base Windows 8 version houses 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and the Windows 8 Pro version includes 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. My device features a 512gb HD and 8gb of memory as well as an i7 chip.

I bought my Companion off eBay for $900 have been using it now for about 4 months and in that time I have found it to be a capable device if you take the time to hack it to work correctly. Below are my reactions to this old school device.

First off, when you buy one the basic things you get are: the tablet, tablet stand, power cord, pen, pen case, nibs, and a faux leather carrying case complete with two custom pockets for the charger and the pen case. Your mileage may differ since it’s hard to find a new one at this point but it is cool to note that if yours doesn’t come with a pen, the Cintiq 22HD’s pen works with it as well which is nice, although it doesn’t look the same.

The Stylus box

A comparison of the Companion’s pen vs. the 22HD’s pen.

The carrying sleeve that comes with the device. Also note the pockets for the stylus box and charger cord.

From a Hardware standpoint the Cintiq Companion performed admirably with any piece of software I threw at it. It worked well with every Adobe application,  Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Premiere and Animate all performed exactly as they would using my desktop Cintiq. I found them all responsive and snappy when trying to access menus or drawing or scrubbing the timeline.

The Companion’s programmable buttons.

There are four buttons and a ring with a button inside it which combined with Wacom’s software you map functions to and you can even have the same button do different things depending on which program you’re using which is extremely valuable to me and I get a lot more use out of having them as opposed to another device like the Surface Pro 2 which has no such buttons especially when using it without a keyboard for programs like Animate (Flash), Storyboard Pro and Photoshop which are all keyboard heavy apps. The device itself is extremely solid if not a little heavy and I read that the Cintiq Companion 2 is lighter in weight but I don’t personally use it while holding it in my arm so I really don’t care about the weight so much but you might.

The Cintiq Companion’s stand

The stand the unit comes with is extremely odd in its setup and feels clumsy because doesn’t attach securely and instead just has tabs that fit into slots which I find to be lazy in such an expensive flagship device. There are some larger folios that you can purchase which is the same form factor but are essentially attached to the unit which cost more but I think might be worth it if you find you’re traveling with it and setting it up and breaking it down a lot. As I said I don’t use it like that much so for me the stand is fine.

The slot the Companion’s stand slides into. No it does not lock which is one of the reasons I don’t like it much.

A view of the Cintiq Companion’s 3 stand ‘flaps’ which slide into slots depending on what height you want.

One other frustrating thing which has largely been reported about his the power button is exactly where you put your hands to grab it and therefore makes you turn the device off constantly whenever you pick it up. Another odd choice by Wacom was putting the webcam top of the device when it is in portrait display as opposed to landscape display which really to me is quite short-sighted. I don’t know who they assumed it was going to be drawing in portrait mode all the time I’m but I guess they clearly thought people would prefer it that way. In the companion 2 they moved it to the landscape View. So I guess they realized their mistake and fixed it.

Storyboard Pro works perfectly well on the Companion but the menus are small and I did miss the screen real estate compared to my 22HD but that said it’s definitely still usable. Plus you can connect an external monitor to it to add to that real estate. Harmony worked well too and I even managed to animate a little scene without much issue, although I never finished it.

Autodesk Maya also works perfectly with the Cintiq Companion and my only gripe was the tiny menus which was fixable with a small hack (more on that later). I have built multiple models with many parts using and it handled each model like a champion and did not lag when rotating the models I built. I built this kitchen using the companion and it rotates with ease.

Granted the kitchen I built does not have a lot of textures so there is that to consider about its performance but I don’t really spend much time texturing 3D models so for me it works perfectly.

Another example is this shelving area which I also built using the Cintiq Companion and Maya and the companion performed admirably when rotating this model around as well despite there being many small parts to the scene. It has yet to be sluggish in anything I have thrown at it!

When using the Companion, it’s performance seems exactly like using a much larger Cintiq only smaller. The strokes work just as quickly and it feels very responsive when trying to draw quickly as opposed to other devices like the Surface Pro which I have found to lag behind when I draw. One of my biggest tests is using Adobe Animate to see if a device’s Graphics chip can keep up with rapid drawing because it is the processor-intensive application and many people post frustrations when trying to use it with a tablet PC because of its lag of underpowered hardware. The Cintiq Companion however, chews it up and spits it out with ease and I have not seen any delay whatsoever while using it. I’ve tried a lot of Tablet PCs over the years and really it is the only one that is able to handle Adobe Animate.

A small piece I animated using Adobe Animate on the Cintiq Companion

All this said there are a few small things that you need to do to make the Cintiq Companion 1 usable when you take it out of the box. Particularly so because of the high-resolution screen if your eyesight is not fantastic as it’s high resolution screen causes most applications to display extremely tiny menus. Adobe’s applications are notorious for this issue and I have read many times people returned the device rather than finding a solution but sine there are ways to hack the system to fix it, I feel that to return the device is silly for something so fixable. Now granted you might be saying, “Gee I know nothing about hacking and I don’t want to ruin my expensive device.” and I’m with you there but it’s really not a huge issue as this is fairly simple to do and can be done with a simple piece of code which I posted about last year during my review of the Surface Pro 2.

One exception that I found using it however was with Maya whereby regardless of hacking the system to display larger fonts and menus Maya would not actually display them larger regardless. But again thanks to google, I found a hack for fixing Maya’s tiny menus as well and was able to increase the fonts the size that I could see far more easily. That’s said I think you are willing to make a few small tweaks to it it is an extremely powerful and useful machine. In fact I would say that it is the only Tablet PC that I have found that is able Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro capably

To sum it all up I feel the Cintiq Companion 1  is a  hardy device and I think both hobbyists and professionals alike  we’ll enjoy it regardless of it being an older  device. The added plus is that now that it is an older device it’s cheaper and more likely to be  attainable for an artist.  There are things about the companion to that I have read make it  a better device  but it’s also more expensive because it’s newer and if you don’t have the money the Companion 1 will work very well in your workflow and be a great addition to your arsenal.

I did not see any units available for sale as of this writing on eBay or through Google’s Shopping search but they pop up now and again and you just have to look for them! If you decide to get one based on this review or already have one let’s us know in the comments below!

Cintiq Alternative- The Artisul D13


Here’s an interesting new tablet on the market, or at least new to me and my friends… The Artisul D13 which is essentially a 13″ Cintiq type device. you draw directly on the screen and connect it to your laptop or desktop. No word on whether it has Wacom drivers or is N-trig but it seems to be a neat little device and if you read the story behind it, it was designed BY an artist so you know that they’re catering to our community. In the box are the tablet with stylus, Pen Case (10 tips + Pen and inbuilt tip remover), Pen stand HDMI & USB cable, Universal Power Adaptor and 12 Month Warranty. The Artisul D13 sells for $599 and the stand is an extra $60.



with MAC and Windows

Advanced Precision

2048 pen pressure for easy control along with 10 pen tips

HD Display & Connections

13.3″ screen size, wide degree viewing angle, USB and HDMI cable


right or left-handed adaptability

Hot Keys

for shortcuts and increased productivity


Can be powered by two 3.0USB

Here’s a short video of Roberto Blake using the device. He seems to like it and can clearly draw on it. Still no word on those damn drivers though!

Tom Ruegger

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Name:  Tom Ruegger.   Current occupation:  various animation jobs.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I ran the film society at my school.  I worked for Twyman Films, a company that rented movies to colleges.  And I worked for my brother Jim Ruegger at Hillside Construction Company where I painted houses — interiors and exteriors — and did roofing.   After I fell off the roof a couple of times –  my mind was busy with cartoon scenarios –  my constructions career came to an end.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m proud of most of the shows I’ve worked on, especially “Animaniacs,”  “Tiny Toons,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Histeria,” “Freakazoid,” “Road Rovers,” “A Pup Named Scooby Doo,” and individual episodes of lots of other shows.

How did you become interested in animation?
I loved cartoons ever since I saw them for the first time.  As a little kid, I drew my versions of the cartoon characters I saw on TV –  Yogi, Fred, Popeye, Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Mickey, Donald — – and my interest in Continue reading

Barry Ward

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Barry Ward – Owner of Bardel Entertainment Inc. (23 yrs.)- Inker and painter, color stylist, I&P supervisor, production coordinator and production manager (17 yrs)

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
As I started in animation when I was 17 the only other jobs I had were picking fruit in the Okanagan and working in a manufacturing company in Montreal sand-blasting mermaids and sailfish on shower doors.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I started my career in 1971 in Montreal at Potterton Productions and I worked on a ton of cool projects there, I also worked in Toronto, Ottawa and vancouver. A couple of my personal favorites were the first Heavy Metal Movie and festival shorts lik

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Joe Apel

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Joe Apel, Flash Animator at Cartoon Network Studios

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked a variety of jobs before I finally got my break in animation. I worked at a Comic Book store at the age of 13 organizing comics. At the age of 15-17, I worked as a camera man for the school district’s cable access station. I washed dishes for a catering service. I worked at a movie theater for 10 years and worked my way up from usher, to projectionist, to Assistant Manager, to Promotions Manager.One job that I thought I would love but ended up hating was working at the Warner Bros. Studio Store in a local mall. I worked in the “gallery” area of the store mostly. I was there to inform people on what the artwork was and sell them cels, maquettes, and limited edition art. I made commission if I sold artwork and they even had a payment plan. I was terrible at the job, I loved the Warner Bros. cartoons so much and I felt it was morally wrong to persuade people into buying animation art when they only intended to come to the mall to buy a pair of jeans. I believe I only worked there for about a month.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I storyboarded on the PBS series, WordGirl, which I find to be an educational and funny show. I created character designs for the pilot of Allen Gregory, which will premiere this fall on Fox. It was inspiring to…. Continue reading

Anne Walker

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Anne Walker, lead character layout artist at Six Point Harness

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Working at a party supply store with a (possibly psychotic) owner, bookkeeper at Staples, smoothie wench at the Laguna Beach Jamba Juice. Also I taught piano.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Random Cartoons!!! Also, the The Mr. Men Show, and Good Vibes, my current project at 6PH, which is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever worked on.

How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved cartoons, but I really fell in love with telling animated stories in high school.  Mixing storytelling and art made me feel more alive and at home than anything else in my life at the time – including being with my family in my actual home.  I drew more than I listened in class.  I spent prom night working on my epic (read: TERRIBLE) science fiction anime screenplay in my parents’ office.  I was That Sort.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I originally came down to southern CA from the Bay Area to go to art school. The first two years at school were a blast; my third year was miserable. One of the high points of that miserable third year was an internship at Cartoon Network studios, where I met (stalked) a number of artists who were generous enough to share their time and wisdom with me. I learned that many of them had never graduated college, or in some cases had never even gone to school, period, and it occurred to me that I could break into the industry without suffering through another expensive year of art school. So, the summer before my senior year I

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