Wacom Intuos Draw Review

Warning:
This review is now well over 1 year old and may contain outdated information.
I suggest looking for a newer review if possible.


You may notice that I often speak ill of Wacom’s cheapest beginner tablet, the Intuos Draw, and whenever I do, I often wonder if I really have any right to judge it when I haven’t actually drawn on it myself.
So I found a friend who conveniently owned 2 Intuos Draws and traded him my old Intuos Pro (PTH-651) + broken pen for his Intuos Draw (CTL490DW) + Intuos Pen (CTL-480).

I will be as honest and objective about this tablet as I can in this review, so without further ado, here it is!

Please note!
-I am not a Mac or Linux user!! I only tested this tablet on Windows 8 and Windows 10
-Prices may have changed since I wrote this review.
-Check when a review was written. Some aspects may improve or change over time, so it is in your best interest to concentrate on reviews which are less than 1 year old.



Table of contents



How good is this tablet?

Design and build quality: Good tablet. Cheap pen.
Tablet drivers: Very good!
Drawing experience: Satisfactory.

Overall: An almost decent tablet. It’s probably not worth 80 USD when compared to other options.

My verdict:
-If you are considering this as your first graphic tablet, I would recommend that you look away from Wacom and consider the alternatives instead. I think it would be much more beneficial for a first-timer to get a tablet with a bigger active area for the same price, especially if you don’t care for the bundled program which Wacom makes you pay for when buying the Intuos.
-If you are experienced with tablets, you won’t want to buy this tablet unless you’re already used to Wacom’s small size (6 x 3.7 inches) and absolutely don’t want to get/try a bigger tablet.


Important specifications

Price: 79.95 USD (when this review was written) Amazon.com
Active Area: 6.0 x 3.7 inches
Pen Type: Battery-free
Pen Buttons: 2 side buttons, no eraser
Pen Pressure: 1024
Pen Tilt Sensitivity: None
Expresskeys: 4 buttons
Multi-touch: No
Special features: Comes with ArtRage Lite software. Radial menu and on-screen shortcuts in driver.


What’s in the box?

The Wacom Intuos Draw comes in a nice looking white cover box with a sketch of a girl printed on the front. The inner box is a simple black box with Intuos printed on it. The box is simple to open.

3-Contents

The things that come in the box:

  • Tablet
  • Pen
  • Tablet cable (Micro-USB to USB Type-A)
  • Pen nib replacements x3
  • Driver installation CD
  • Quick start guide
  • Packaged software key

3-Contents2

The software key is in the key shaped sticker on the corner of the box. I whited it out but there is a string of letters and numbers there.

4-Tablet overall

This tablet has a very small form factor which allows it to be used even in the most cramped of desk setups. This also makes it extremely portable and should be easy to fit in any bag to carry around with you. It’s also fairly hard and doesn’t flex too much when bending and twisting it.

Wacom put away the professional look for this tablet and instead opted for a more toy-like look with the coloured matte plastic used for the majority of the tablet, probably catering to the younger artists who will most likely consider Wacom products when looking to start digital art.

The texture on this tablet is the most paper-like of any graphic tablet out there and it feels very nice and smooth. Often when tablet companies try to add texture to their tablets, it ends up just becoming rough and non-paper-like, but this tablet has a texture very close to that of paper.
However, once you rub off the texture through continued use, the paper texture fades and becomes more of a smooth rubbery texture. This is something that in fairly common in textured tablets so it is expected, but basically, the texture gives a good experience at the start, but the experience drops and becomes like any other tablet once the texture is worn off.

6-Tablet edge

The edge of the tablet is rounded to prevent digging into your wrist too hard.

The input of the cord is located at the top left of the tablet. This would keep the cord out of the way if the input wasn’t made to release the cable in the direction of your hand rather than toward the middle of the table. You can avoid having the cord go under your wrist as long as you bend it out of the way though.
That’s probably the main reason why many people end up breaking their cords.

The underside of the tablet has 4 rubber feet and the slide off section to access the wireless setup area, but you need to buy the wireless accessory kit separately for 40 USD to use wireless.

9-Tablet replacement nibs compartment

Your 3 replacement nibs are clipped into place right in the middle of the back. You can take out the nib from your pen by using the little metal ring built into the tablet under the replacement nib holder.
The one mystery about this tablet is that these replacement nibs are really really hard to pull out without something like a small minus screwdriver to stick under and pop out the replacement nibs. There isn’t enough space for me to wedge my fingers in and pop the nibs out. Well, at least they’re held securely I guess.

The expresskeys are the 4 buttons located on the top left and top right of the tablet. They are decent to use, being fairly easy to click and having good feedback, but the loudness of their clicks is really something I do not appreciate at all.
A decent question to ask is why 2 expresskeys are on the left, and 2 expresskeys are on the right. I suppose you could argue that they’re trying to cater to both left and right-handed people, but in reality the weird placement of these buttons makes them harder to use either way.
There’s also the fact that most people think these are just cosmetic additions to the tablet, partially because of their uncommon placement (I thought they were cosmetics too until I started researching tablet specs).

The expresskeys on the predecessor tablet, the Intuos Pen, were much quieter and much more likeable than the toy-like buttons on the Intuos Draw.

11-Pen

The pen is made of a full matte plastic which is completely straight except for at the tip where it bulges to catch your fingers. This pen seems a little too short, and because of that it also feels much too light.

12-Pen grip

Holding the pen is a moderately disappointing experience. Because of how light and short it is, it actually doesn’t feel very great to hold. It feels rather unbalanced when I’m holding it.
The pen buttons are also not very satisfying. They do not give a very good tactile response when rolling your finger over them to activate them.

People often say that you shouldn’t buy alternatives and go with Wacom because Wacom has higher quality than the alternatives, however, in the case of the pen, the current Wacom Intuos series has the worst pen out of all the battery-free pens I’ve drawn with (comparison photo near the end of this review).

13-Pen top

The top of the pen is just rounded plastic and has nothing there.

You usually won’t have any problems with the pen rolling off your tablet despite the lack of a pen stand because the pen buttons somewhat get in the way of rolling, but if it’s rolling fast enough, it can keep rolling for quite a distance.


Tablet drivers

14-Drivers

The tablet drivers are easy to install. You go to the Wacom website and download the latest drivers (which conveniently encompasses basically all of their recent tablets), and you install them. Just like that, you should be prompted to restart your computer and you’ll be all set to go once you finish restarting.
Like with any other tablet, make sure you’ve uninstalled all other tablet drivers from your computer and restarted before trying to install the Wacom driver. Wacom is not exempt from this basic rule of thumb.

Once you’ve installed the driver, you should be able to access the Wacom tablet driver from your control panel where there should be an icon called “Wacom Tablet Properties”.

15-Driver tabs

In the driver you should have access to 4 tabs: Tablet, Pen, Mapping, and On-Screen Controls.

16-Driver expresskeys tab

In the Tablet tab, you can customize the functions mapped to the expresskeys on your tablet. Any function you can think of can be mapped to the expresskeys because of how customizable Wacom’s drivers are made to be.

In the Pen tab, you can control the settings and configurations of the pen. The tip feel can be adjusted in both directions to be harder or softer, and the pen buttons can be configured to anything you can think of.

18-Driver mapping tab

In the Mapping tab, you control which monitor your tablet is mapped to. I suggest using the Force Proportions checkbox to make sure you get the right screen to active area ratio for a proper drawing experience.

In the On-Screen Controls tab, you are able to customize the on-screen controls which are a major advantage of the Wacom drivers.
They are a bit complicated for beginners and there are no explanations in the included quick start book on how to use them. Perhaps if you go through the included drawing lessons, you’ll be taught how to use them, but basically, you assign functions to them and then set an expresskey or pen button to open the on-screen control. By doing so, it allows you to access way more functions than just the 4 included expresskeys would.

Overall, the Wacom drivers are super customizable and are the best tablet drivers around due to the on-screen controls feature which no other company has tackled.

One thing to note however, is that someone has created a free on-screen controls program here: http://radialmenu.weebly.com/
This means that if you use the free radial menu program with an alternative tablet which has full customization like the Huion Inspiroy Q11K, Wacom’s drivers really have no advantage.


The drawing experience!

This tablet gave me a decent drawing experience, which is to be expected from a tablet which costs 80 USD for only the small size. The drawing surface is probably the best part about this tablet because of how close it comes to an actual paper texture, but I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much once the texture is rubbed off completely from continuous use.

I only test my tablets on Clip Studio Paint because that’s all I use.
All major drawing programs should work with the Wacom Intuos Draw. If they don’t, then you should be contacting Wacom support straight away because that is most likely a problem with either your OS or your computer.
Disclaimer: The Wacom Intuos Draw is actually smaller than depicted in my drawing!

The tablet has a decent overall drawing experience, only truly hindered by the cheapness, lightness, and shortness of the pen which made it feel very unbalanced when holding. I personally felt cramped drawing on this tablet, probably because I’ve become so used to drawing on bigger tablets, but it could also be that this tablet could be too small for people with larger hands.
However, if you use a certain size long enough, you should be able to get used to it!

One problem with this tablet is that the lines have quite a bit of wiggle when doing slow diagonal lines. In the testing page, you can see that the lines I did with a real life ruler have a lot of wiggle.
People seem to point out the wiggle problem on alternatives, but fail to do so for Wacom even though Wacom’s wiggle problem can be just as bad.


A problem with the current Intuos tablets

I figured this out after doing all my testing, but my Intuos Draw pen is actually broken. It cannot give me the lightest pen pressures, so tapered lines actually do not taper very well.

21-Tablet comparison

The thing is, this Intuos Draw was owned by my friend for a month before he stopped using it. Only a month and the pen is already broken! Do you also remember how I mentioned he had two Intuos Draws at the beginning of this review? He’s already had to replace his pen for his other Intuos Draw too because it apparently broke as well!
On the other hand, the 2 year old Intuos Pen (CTL-480) tablet that he sent me (you can see the wear and tear from his usage) works completely fine, and the pen has perfect sensitivity even after all this time! Talk about a complete difference in quality.

What I am trying to say with the above is that the current Intuos series uses cheap plastic pens which will break easily. People cry out that Wacom’s quality is the best all the time, but the tablet pen for the Intuos says otherwise.

23-Pen comparison

The above is a side-by-side comparison of the passive pens included with these tablets:
Wacom Intuos Pen CTL-480 (80 USD), Wacom Intuos Draw CTL-490DW (80 USD), XP-Pen Star03 (53 USD), and Parblo Island A609 (52 USD), lined up in that order starting from the top.
As you can see, the Wacom Intuos Pen has a premium pen with a rubber grip while the Wacom Intuos Draw has a pen which looks (and feels) just as cheap as the pens included with the budget tablets the XP-Pen Star03 and the Parblo A609.


Conclusion

The tablet itself is quite satisfactory, but the pen is absolutely not. And a whole tablet experience has to take into account both the tablet AND the pen. This means that this tablet is absolutely not worth the luxurious 80 USD it’s priced at.

I would recommend that you don’t consider this tablet at all. If you dislike online shopping, then you’ll probably have no other choices as physical stores only sell Wacoms. But for anyone who can online shop, this is not the best option available for you. This applies to both beginners and experienced digital artists.


Places to buy the tablet

Wacom Store | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
People living in other regions should check their regions Amazon or contact Wacom directly to see if they will ship to them.

If you have any questions about the tablet, feel free to ask me!

Author: Nikage

I am a hobbyist artist. Ever since I bought my first Wacom alternative tablet, I've become interested in finding out what other alternative tablets are good, and trying to guide people to see that there's more than just Wacom on the market.

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