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XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 review (2021):- A decent affordable pen display that covers your drawing needs

Artist Pro 16 Review In Few Words (Mini Review)

I received Artist Pro 16 from XP-Pen to review & give my opinion on, and I generally liked it. Aside from the elegant & uniform design. It gives you all the features you would just want a pen display to create artworks, like low parallax & hot keys, and at a good price. The smooth friction surface was nice to draw on. Having 8 hot keys, as well as a dial with two functionalities can make drawing convenient, I tend to like it when a pen display has those. The anti-glare screen makes it much easier to draw outdoor or in certain areas, as one of the most annoying things while drawing is having lights reflected on the screen while you draw.

I tried to take advantage with the USB-C on Artist Pro 16 & connect it to some of my computers using a single USB-C cable, but that didn’t work. Artist Pro 16 didn’t take advantage having a USB-C port. Some of XP-Pen’s higher-end pen displays, like XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, did that, and gave you various options to connect it to your computer.

I think Artist Pro 16 is aimed toward artists who want an affordable pen display that has all the features, and without many of the bells & whistles of the higher-end displays.

Check out & Buy Artist Pro 16 from XP-Pen Store:-

Pros Of Artist Pro 16

  • Elegant & uniform design
  • Affordable price.
  • The drawing surface has a smooth friction feel to it, which makes it easier to draw slowly, but doesn’t seem to wear the nibs down.
  • Has a dial with two functionalities. It makes certain functionalities like zooming in & resizing the brush easier.
  • Has a very low parallax around the center area of the screen.

Cons Of Artist Pro 16

  • Doesn’t take advantage of USB-C, so you can only connect it to your computer using the 3-in-1 cable that comes with it.
  • Viewing angles could be better, but they are not that noticeable while looking directly on the screen.

Technical Specifications

  • Model Number:- 160F-E
  • Dimensions:- 443.27 x 256.45 x 9mm
  • Display Area:- 340.99 x 191.81mm
  • Screen Resolution:- 1920 x 1080
  • Color Gamut (typical):- 99% Adobe RGB, 94% NTSC, 133% sRGB
  • Has a laminated screen
  • Has a Mechanical Wheel + Virtual Wheel for zooming, resizing the brush & rotating the canvas (The dial).
  • Hot Keys:- 8
  • Screen Contrast (typical):- 1000:1
  • Viewing Angle:- 178°
  • Screen Aspect Ratio:- 16:9
  • Comes with the stylus X3 Elite Plus
  • Pressure sensitivity levels:- 8192
  • Tilt sensitivity levels:- 60°
  • Resolution:- 5080 LPI
  • Reading Height:- 10mm
  • Report Rate (Typical):- 200RPS
  • Parallax:- ±0.5mm (around center), ±1mm (around the corners)
  • Has 1 USB-C ports
  • Compatibility (Windows):- Windows 7, 8, 10
  • Compatibility (Mac):- Mac OS X 10.10 or later
  • Compatible with Chrome OS 88 or later
  • Compatible with Linux

Unboxing & Setting Up

Once I unboxed my Artist Pro 16, my first impression was how lovely the design is. it’s so elegant with its uniform thickness. It looks like a regular tablet when turned off, kinda similar to XP-Pen’s Deco pro regular tablet.

 

I connect Artist Pro 16 to my computer using the 3-in-1 cable. The cable is thin & long & doesn’t get in the way. It makes it easier to move the screen around. Once I installed the driver Artist Pro 16 worked almost right away. There are some settings I had to change for an optimal experience, like disabling Windows Ink from the driver option or hiding the pop-ups that appears every time you press a pen button or a hot key (unless you like these). I tend to look for these options any time I set up a graphics tablet or pen display. The reason I disabled Windows Ink in the driver is because it doesn’t play nicely with pen displays on Windows 10. I pressed OK to save the settings. Now I am good to go~

The Screen

Before we get to see how drawing on Artist Pro 16 looks like, let’s take a quick look at the screen. It has a 15.4 inch screen, The screen looks much bigger than that thanks to the bezels & the hot keys area. The viewing angles are decent, but you can easily notice a slight shift in color when you look at it from a sharp angle. You won’t feel that much when you are actually drawing on it. The resolution is the standard 1920 X 1080 HD, which is more than enough for most artists.

On the left side of the screen, there are two buttons on the side for adjusting the brightness, as well the power button.

It’s worth noting that Artist Pro 16’s screen has the following color gamuts:-

    • 99% Adobe RGB
    • 94% NTSC
    • 133% sRGB

There are some aspects about the screens I left for the next sections, as they are more related to drawing experience. Let’s get into that:-

Drawing Experience With Artist Pro 16

When it comes to standard specifications, Artist Pro 16 supports 8192 pressure sensitivity levels, which allows you to draw thinner or thicker lines depending on how much you press the pen against the drawing surface. You can control other things using pressure, like the brush opacity, but that boils down to the features of your drawing program. If you liked to know more, I talked about pressure sensitivity in details in a dedicated article. It also features a 60° tilt sensitivity, which allows you to tilt the pen & control the shape of the strokes, similar to what you could do with traditional brushes & pencils. That’s useful in case the brush doesn’t have a uniform shape. It’s a much less used function than pressure, but it’s there in case you ever needed it.

Drawing Surface & Friction

Artist Pro 16’s drawing surface have this smooth friction feeling to it. It feels in-between the slippery glassy & textured surfaces you tend to see in pen displays. It doesn’t seem like the kind of surface that wears down the nibs too much, and it still makes it easier to draw slowly & more accurately. As someone who likes both kinds of surfaces (with preference for glassy surface), I like the drawing surface, as it gives you the best of all worlds.

Parallax

Artist Pro 16 has a laminated screen, which can help reduce parallax while drawing. Let me explain that quickly, parallax is the issue where there’s a distance between the pen tip & the brush strokes that appear on the screen. The thicker the screen, the more parallax is likely going to happen, which some artists tend to dislike (although you could easily get used to it after some time). Laminated screen aims to lower the parallax & make it easier to draw more naturally. They do that by having the screen glass & digitizers all in one piece. I tested parallax on Artist Pro 16 after calibrating the pen from the driver options, and the brush tip was so close to the pen tip that it was barely noticeable. As I expected, the parallax was more noticeable around the screen corners.

To know more about parallax, read my dedicated article about it.

Anti-Glare Display

Artist Pro 16 has an anti-glare display, so if light is shed on it, it won’t reflect much of it & turn into a mirror while you’re drawing. That means you won’t need to avoid drawing in certain spots where sunlight or even artificial light is directed at the screen. I consider that an advantage over pen displays with glassy screens.

The X3 Chip & Initial Activation Force (IAF)

Let’s take a look at the X3 chip inside the pen. Most of the graphics tablets & pen displays requires you to apply a little force on the drawing surface in order for strokes to appear. This amount of called Initial Activation Force, or IAF in short. Usually, the pen has a spring mechanism that detects the press. From the X3 chip page on XP-Pen’s website. the chip aims to offer an alternative method to lower the IAF as much as possible. I sincerely don’t have a way to access the chip itself, but I can test it out & compare it to what I know.

I tested out the IAF on the X3 Elite Plus pen, and it turned out you still needed to apply a little tiny bit of force with the pen for strokes to appear. It’s a low IAF, and it allows you draw some thin lines with it, but it’s not the lowest I have seen to be fair. It’s not at the point where we could make strokes appear with almost zero-pressure, but hopefully we will get there with future iterations. While you don’t need a super low IAF to be able to create great artworks at all, having the capability is always nice. Artist Pro 16 is the first XP-Pen product with the X3 chip inside the pen, so maybe we will see more improvements in that area in the future.

No Touch Functionality

Artist Pro 16 doesn’t have any touch functionality. Meaning it’s aimed for those who want an affordable pen display to draw directly on instead of a regular tablet, as well as artists who don’t like touch or tend to disable it right away.

Hot Keys & The Dial Functionalities

Artist Pro 16 has 8 hot keys, along with a dial at the middle. The two hot keys near the dial are bigger than the rest, which makes pressing them easier. Even though I believe using that keyboard instead of hot keys is generally better, I like it when I see a pen display having these. Sometimes when you’re doing a simple task like sketching, you don’t need many keys, and hot keys come in handy in these cases. They are also nice if you sit on a sofa or recliner to draw, something I do often. A small wireless keyboard can still compete with that, but I like having the option. If you plan on buying Artist Pro 16 as your first tablet or pen display, then it’s a good opportunity to test hot keys out & form your own opinion on them.

The arrangement of the hot keys in two groups makes them harder to use all the keys at once with one hand, an issue I face with hot keys on all devices, but you could program 4 of them to do the common tasks you use often, and the other 4 for other things you use occasionally.

The dial itself gives you two functionalities. You could rotate the outer silver part to zoom in & out, or rotate touch the black part in the middle to rotate the canvas. You could customize both functions from the Roller/Touch tab in the XP-Pen driver.

There are 3 common uses for the dials, which are resizing the brush, zooming in & out of the canvas, as well as rotating it. I tested the 3 functions in various drawing programs. Like Photoshop, Krita, GIMP & Paint Tool Sai. Resizing the brush worked perfectly in all of them.

Zooming using the dial worked smoothly in Photoshop. It also worked in Krita and was similar to repetitively pressing the Plus or Minus buttons on the keyboard, but didn’t work on Paint Tool Sai or GIMP 2.0. I was able to get around that by programming the dial to do the appropriate keys for zooming, which are CTRL+Plus & CTRL+Minus in case of Sai, and Minus & Plus in case of GIMP (Shift+Plus also works). The fact that the driver allows you to create separate settings for each application helped with that. Rotating the canvas with the inner ring only worked on Photoshop. I don’t know of any similar solution for rotating the canvas on the other program with the dial, as the hot keys in these programs require you to drag the cursor. As an alternative, you could program one of the hot keys to do the appropriate shortcut (like Shift+Space in Krita) to enter rotating mode, then drag the canvas with the pen.

As I mentioned earlier, the two dials functionalities aren’t limited to the three functions I discussed here. You could customize them to do any other one if it has an appropriate shortcut, like increasing & decreasing brush opacity. In case you think both dials could stand in your way, you could disable them altogether.

Check out & Buy Artist Pro 16 from XP-Pen Store:-

The X3 Elite Plus Pen

The X3 pen is similar to other digital styluses. It has two button on the side, which you could customize in the driver program. It comes in an elegant case, with 9 spare nibs inside, as well as the small ring for removing the nibs when needed. The pen is battery-free, so it doesn’t require any battery or charging.

There’s an eraser on the back of the pen, which works like the eraser in traditional pencils. It gives you a similar feeling to traditional drawing media, and like the side buttons, you can customize that as well. With the eraser, I can say the X3 pen has all the standard features you would want from a digital pen.

You can buy more nibs from XP-Pen’s store, which come in a pack of 100. Making them much cheaper than the other brands. That’s nice if you’re the type that press hard on the drawing surface, which can wears nibs down faster.

Connecting Artist Pro 16 To Your Computer

To connect Artist Pro 16 to your computer, you need to use the 3-in-1 cable that comes with it. You need one HDMI & one USB port on your computer for that, which most modern computers have, or can have them using a hub or adapter. The 3rd USB port, which is colored in red, needs to connect to the power supply. You also get a USB extension cable in case the power plug is a bit far from where you are sitting.

Since Artist Pro 16 has a USB-C port, I tried to connect it to some of my computers using a single USB-C cable. Similar to what I did with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP (reviewed here). The USB-C port on the computer I tested is able to supply power, display signal & data all from the same port. and it didn’t work. Apparently, the 3-in-1 cable is the only way you can connect Artist Pro 16 to your computer. As I mentioned earlier, the cable is long & thin, and gives you some flexibility to move it around. These cables can be convenient, but I always prefer to have alternative options in case you needed them.

And Finally

In case you’re looking for an affordable pen display to draw on, and particularly if you use a regular graphics tablet. Then I can recommend Artist Pro 16 as a solid option. Assuming you don’t mind any of the cons I mentioned in this Artist Pro 16 review.

Check out & Buy Artist Pro 16 from XP-Pen Store:-

See Also

External Links

SweetMonia
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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