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What is parallax? And is it really bad in a pen display like Cintiq or Kamvas?

Let’s Take A Closer Look At Parallax

parallax is one of the issues new artists worry about more than they should. While it’s undesirable to have it on a drawing device by many artists, it’s not that big of hindrance as you may imagine.

In this post, we will take a closer look at parallax on pen displays (like Wacom Cintiq), and whether you should try to avoid it like a plague, or just accept it as a fact.

What Is Parallax?

Parallax is an offset between the tip of the pen & the mouse cursor where the lines you draw actually appears. It usually looks like this:-

Notice how the cursor in the picture above doesn’t match where the tip of the pen is, that’s what parallax is.

Parallax is usually caused by the distance between the pen tip and the digitizer under the screen’s glass. The less this distance is, the less parallax you will get in your pen display.

Parallax appears is usually discussed when talking about pen displays like Wacom Cintiq or Huion Kamvas. It’s not relevant when it comes to the regular graphics tablets, like the Intuos Pro

Calibrating the screen can help you get the lowest amount of parallax from your pen device, but that doesn’t totally eliminate it.

Also, parallax is affected by the angle you view the screen from, so it’s often recommended to recalibrate your device every time you adjust the angle you draw on (unless you’re fine with an extra parallax).

More often than not, parallax appears more around the edges of the screen. Fortunately, you will be drawing at the middle most of the time.

Laminated Displays And Parallax

Laminated screen is the screen made by having the screen glass, digitizer, and the display are made as one piece. This makes the screen thinner, and so it reduces the distance between the pen tip and the digitizer, thus reduces the parallax. Many of the modern pen displays, like the Cintiq Pro 24 & Huion Kamvas Pro 22, have laminated displays.

It’s worth noting that the parallax in such displays can exist, but it’s less noticeable.

Having a laminated display have some other advantages. It prevent dust to come below the screen glass, which happens at times in pen displays, it makes the screen thinner & more beautiful too.

Is Parallax A Bad Thing?

The short answer is:- Kinda, it’s usually frowned about. One of the reasons one would opt to get a pen display is to be able to draw more naturally & closer to drawing on paper, compared to regular graphics tablets, which requires you to learn how to draw with. Parallax takes us a step away from that, but doesn’t take that completely from us.

Parallax can be annoying at first, especially if you came from traditional art background, it will make you wonder if you will be able to draw with such an issue, but you will get used to it after some time. As you will learn to look at where the cursor is, rather than the tip of the pen.

Despite it being a flaw, it has one advantage:- It allows you to see what you’re drawing much more easily. I quite like that aspect of it personally. Even with parallax around, drawing on a pen display is much better than any regular graphics tablet out there.

So, to sum it up:- even if you ended up buying a pen display with some parallax, it won’t prevent you from creating good artworks. Of course, if you could but a device with minimal parallax, then go for it. ^^

So, Is There A Device With No Parallax?

Apple Pencil

As far as I know, there’s no device with absolutely no parallax. Just ones with very low amount that’s barely noticeable. if you’re buying a device, be it a tablet for drawing. Don’t make it your only goal to eliminate parallax, especially if you’re used to drawing digitally. Devices like the Surface Pro & iPad Pro tend to have less parallax, but you may not like the other drawing aspects of them, like how the Surface Pro digitizer works, or the drawing apps on the iPad Pro.

Devices like the Cintiq Pro 24 & Huion Kamvas PRO 22 (2019) have laminted displays, and offer some of the best drawing experience on Windows & Mac, so you may want to check them out too.

And Finally

Parallax is one of the few things that makes drawing on a Cintiq or pen display less natural than drawing on paper. It can prevent some traditional artists from moving to digital (those should try the iPad Pro), but it’s not a big issue as new artists tend to think us. Just being aware of it, and taking it into account when purchasing a device can make a huge difference.

For that reason, I hope this post has helped you learn more about parallax, and see you again with another post. If you liked this post, 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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