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What Cintiq (or pen display) size to get? Is small, medium or large size is better

Let Me Help You Decide On The Right Cintiq Or Pen Display Size To Get

Just like Picking the right graphics tablet size can be confusing, specially for a first-time buyers. Picking the right Cintiq size can be the same. Specially givng the many factors that go into that.

In this post, I will talk about the various factors that can help you pick the right pen display size more easily. Think of me as your friend who’s tryring to organize your thoughts to help you in your purchase.

While I explicitly mentioned Wacom Cintiq in the title, the tips in this post also apply on other pen display brands, like Huion, XP-Pen & the others. For that reaosn, I will be using the term “Pen Displays” in this post to refer to these devices from now on.

Just like the case with regular Graphics Tablet, the medium-sized displays, like 15-inch or 16-inch, are the sweet spot that offers some of all. It’s kinda portable, and offer a good enough screen space for most tasks. For that reason, I advice you to go for that size in case you couldn’t decide on the right size based on the tips here.

You can check out the available Cintiq & Pen displays in the following Amazon & eBay links:-

Do You Draw With Your Arm Or With Your Wrist?

If you are the kind of artists that draws with their arm, either on a regular graphics tablet or on a large paper, then you will appreciate the additional drawing space the larger pen displays offer. In that case, getting the 13-inches or below won’t do, even the 15-16 displays may feel small for some.

If you don’t know if you draw with your arm, you can try drawing on large paper, to see how it goes. It can make a large difference on how you draw~

Picking Larger Screen Than Your Needs Is Better Than Smaller

If you are hesitant between two display sizes, then pick the larger one if you can afford it. If you picked a larger pen display than you actually need, it won’t hurt your drawing experince that much. As you will just end up using a portion of the screen. It can be a waste, but it’s much better than ending up a very small drawing space. So don’t worry about a screen size being too big for you (unless you are eyeing a very large one, like the Cintiq Pro 32).

You can check out the available Cintiq & Pen displays in the following Amazon & eBay links:-

Larger Pen Displays Weight Much More

One of the aspects that’s rarely discussed when it comes to picking the right pen display model is how much it weights, as most people place their Cintiq or pen display on their desk and forget about it.

If you plan on placing the device on your lap while drawing, then getting a smaller size may be a good option for you, as larger sizes can be heavy, and hurt your legs if you placed them there for hours at a time. I still remember how my Huion Kamvas GT-191 felt, I quite liked drawing it. The drawing surface was quite a joy to draw on. It offered a large enough surface to draw on. But since it weighted a bit too much (13.05 lb, or ~5.9 KG), it started to hurt my legs over time. Apparently, weight wasn’t an issue when I used to own a Cintiq Pro 16, which weighted around 3.3 lb (~1.5 KG).

Eventually, I had to replace my GT-191 with something lighter. That’s where the Huion Kamvas GT-156HD came to rescue. Which weights almost the same as the Cintiq Pro 16, and is the one I use place on my lap while drawing. I still have the GT-191 for when I draw on my desk, where its weight isn’t much of an issue.

Also, pen display weight can greatly affect shipping costs, which is something to take into account if you live in a 3rd-world country and want to order one from abroad.

If Your Desk Is Small, It Dictates The Size Of Your Pen Display

Not to point the obvious, but larger pen displays require more desk space. You also need to make sure there’s enough space for your keyboard, mouse, and any other monitors you may be using alongside it.

The good news is, if you have a relatively small desk, but still need to have a larger pen display, you can have and mount it on a monitor arm. Not only that makes it easier to place a larger pen display on your desk. But it makes it much nicer to draw, since you can rotate it and adjust it while you’re drawing. Monitor arm also makes it easier to move your device away when you’re not using it.

Bear in mind that the smaller pen displays(16 inch and below) usually have no mount of any kind. So the only way to mount them is to buy some VESA brackets.

It’s worth noting that the The Cintiq Pro 24 use non-standard mount, which means you would need to buy a separate adapter in order to mount it to the standard VESA mount.

You can take a look at the various VESA arms here on Amazon & eBay:-

How Much Space Does Your Drawing Program Interface Takes?

While you may be taking into account the drawing space you need. You have to keep in mind how much your drawing program takes for the various user interface elements, like the toolbars & various elements.

If your drawing programs takes quite a lot of screen space for these elements, or if you are the kind that likes to have many stuff on the screen, then you’re going to have less space to draw on, which may require you to have a larger display.

On the other hands, if the drawing prgrams have a minimal interface, or that you don’t need many stuff on the screen, it gives you more drawing area, even on a smaller pen display.

You can take a quick look on how the user interface of some of the common drawing programs. All the interfaces below can be customized to suit your workflow:-

Photoshop CC:-

Clip Studio Paint:-


Paint Tool Sai

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro:-

The more minimal the user interface you use is, the more you will be able to go with a smaller pen display. Minimal interfaces is the reason I was able to draw on the smaller 9.7-inch iPad pro monitor, despite it being smaller than any pen display I ever used.

Are You Fine With Drawing On A4 Paper?

Before moving to traditional art, many of us learned to draw on A4 paper. Which isn’t the largest drawing area out there. Specially compared to the larger sketchbooks & canvas available in traditional art.

If you are fine with the drawing area of A4 paper, then you will be fine with a pen display that’s slightly larger than that.

Here are some size comparisons between A4 paper and some of the pen displays out there in the market (The numbers below are approximate, and are all in inch):-

Width Height
A4 Paper 8.27 11.69
Cinitq Pro 13 11.6 x 6.5 6.5
Wacom Cintiq 16 13.6 7.6
Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 13.6 7.6
Kamvas GT-133 11.565 6.5
Kamvas GT-156HD V2 13.55 7.62
Kamvas GT-191 17.12 9.37
Kamvas GT-191 V2 17.12 9.37
Kamvas GT-221 PRO 18.7653543 10.56
XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro 13.54 7.62

Don’t forget that the actual drawing area will be even smaller, since the user interface of your art program will take some of it. Depending on your setup, the task bar or dock may end up taking some space too.

Note:- The same trick can be used if you draw on a traditional canvas. Since it gives you a reference on how much drawing space you are used to.

Is Portability Important To You?

Portability can be a deciding factor when it comes to picking a pen display size. Since you certainly can’t carry the larger sizes around, at least not that easily.

I consider 11 & 13 inch models to be the portable sizes that can be easily be placed in any backpack. The 15 & 16 inch models are portable to some degree, but you need a large enough bag for carrying them. Even then, they are not that much convenient to carry.

Plan To Carry Your Cintiq Or Pen Display Around? Make Sure The Screen Coating Is Right For That

This may be a bit outside the scope of this post. But if you plan on taking your pen display around, you may need to check whether the device you get has a glossy screen or anti-glare coating. When using a glossy screen outdoor, glare can happen. That can be quite annoying, as it can turn your device into a mirror, which makes it harder to work on.

See It In Action

Here’s an approximate diagram I made that showcases the size differences between the various screen sizes, it makes it easier to see how much space you will gain or loss based on your choice. Notice how the 32-inches is about 9 times the 13.3-inches one, for example:-


And Finally

The best way to know the ideal pen display size for you is by trying out various sizes, exactly how you go and try the various drawing tools out there. The issue with this approach is that it costs quite a lot to do so, specially giving how much pen displays cost. For that reason, I hope my tips have helped you pick the best pen display for you much more easily.

Larger pen displays are quite nice if you can take advantage of them, but they require space. They are also harder to take around or place on your lap. Making them less than ideal choice for some artists. Smaller ones can offer much less drawing area, and in many cases, they don’t offer high resolution. So you have to compare between all these aspects to pick the one that’s right for you.

You can check out the available Cintiq & Pen displays in the following Amazon & eBay links:-

I hope you liked my post has helped you pick the right cintiq or pen display size for you. Please subscribe to my mailing list for more updates & promotions~

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I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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