The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro is a continuation of the Artist Pro series which previously only offered tablets larger than 15.6-inch. With the release of the Artist 12 Pro and Artist 13 Pro, the Artist Pro series now has all the common sizes ranging from 12-inch to 22-inch.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro specifically is meant to be a new and improved version of the previous Artist 12 with improvements made to many aspects of the tablet such as a better screen and more comfortable pen.
For this review, XP-Pen was kind enough to supply me with the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro. As usual, this review is based on my honest thoughts and opinions about the tablet and I will never agree to review a product if I am required to say only good things about it.
If you believe receiving a review product for free makes a review biased, now is a perfect time for you to stop reading.
Anyways, onto the review!
-I am not a Mac or Linux user!! I mainly only tested this tablet on Windows 10 version 1803.
-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.
-It is good practice to check multiple reviews to cross reference their information before you make a conclusion about a tablet.
Table of Contents
- How good is this tablet?
- Specifications at a glance
- What’s in the box?
- Screen quality
- Tablet drivers
- Drawing tests
- The drawing experience!
- Places to buy the tablet
How good is this tablet?
Design choices: Almost perfect!
-Nitpicks: Cable sticks straight out of tablet
Hardware quality: Very sturdy!
Screen quality: Very good!
Tablet drivers: Good design!
Drawing test results: Mostly good.
-Nitpicks: Quick tapers are not smooth, pen tilt is not particularly good
Actual drawing experience: Decent.
-Nitpicks: Bad cursor accuracy
Overall: A tablet with loads of potential, but brought down by its problems.
-If you are considering this tablet, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it how it currently is, but you can still take it into consideration.
The biggest issue is the bad cursor accuracy. With any tablet, you want the cursor to follow your pen exactly the way you move, but with the Artist 12 Pro you can actually move the pen around the cursor without moving the cursor itself. Also, the cursor will often move in 2 pixel increments rather than follow the pen to every single pixel on your screen.
This affects small detail work as you will have a hard time aiming at a specific point, and doing very small strokes becomes more difficult. I believe this is the biggest con of this tablet.
The other issue, the non-smooth pen tapering, is not as intrusive as the bad cursor accuracy and you can still draw quite well with it.
However, XP-Pen still hasn’t been able to fix it despite saying they would work on it from my Artist 15.6 Pro review (March 15, 2019), so I think you should keep it in mind as a quirk of all XP-Pen products.
XP-Pen gave me a promotion code to share, so if you’re interested in this tablet, make sure you use the code to save some money!
Specifications at a glance
Price: 249.99 USD (when this review was written)
Active Area: 10 x 5.7 inches, 11.6 inch diagonal
Resolution: FHD 1920 x 1080 (16:9 ratio)
Display Type: IPS, gamut = 72% NTSC on product page
Pen Type: Battery-free
Pen Buttons: 2 side buttons, no eraser
Pen Pressure: 8192
Pen Tilt Sensitivity: None
Shortcut Keys: 8 buttons, 1 red dial
Other features: Single angle tablet stand included.
What’s in the box?
The tablet comes in a white box with a front view image of tablet with a pretty drawing displayed on it.
The things that come in the box:
- XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro tablet
- XP-Pen PA2 battery-free pen
- Pen case
- Combined cable (USB type-C to USB type-A, HDMI, and USB type-A for power)
- USB type-A extension cable (for power)
- USB power adapter
- Outlet adapters for international power outlets
- HDMI to Mini-DisplayPort adapter
- Pen nib replacements x8
- Anti-fouling glove
- Screen cleaning cloth
- User manual
- Warranty policy and warranty card
- “Thank you” card
When you first take out the tablet, it will have a sticker on it instructing you to take off the protective layer which protects the actual screen protector beneath it. If you do not take this layer off, you will not get to experience the nice matte texture of the actual screen protector beneath it.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro is designed in the same way as the Artist 15.6 Pro, except with a smaller screen.
It has a screen surrounded by decently large bezels and physical shortcut keys along one side. The red dial on the side is really the only thing that is different form other similar tablets in terms of looks.
The tablet feels sturdy when performing a twist test, where I grab both sides of the tablet and try twisting the tablet a bit with just my hands.
The tablet comes with a pre-applied screen protector which has a nice matte anti-glare texture. The texture is on the smoother side, but it has enough texture to not feel too slippery to draw on, and it also does not compromise screen clarity at all.
The advantage of a pre-applied screen protector (over textured glass) is that you will be able to replace it in the future if it becomes worn down from lots of use. It also saves ou from the hassle of having to go buy and apply your own screen protector.
I believe this screen protector will last you quite a while considering mine has absolutely no scratches from my month of testing.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro is thin like its 15.6-inch sibling, so it is very portable, especially with its smaller screen. It should have no problems fitting in any standard sized bag.
On the back of the tablet, there are 2 large rubber feet spanning the width of the tablet. There is also the information sticker with the S/N number on it.
There are no VESA screw holes on the back of this tablet, so you will need to get a bit creative or use an adapter if you want to use it on a monitor arm.
Along the side of the tablet, there are 8 physical shortcut buttons and a red dial. All of the buttons feel fantastic to use and require very little strength to press while also making very satisfying clicks as feedback.
These shortcut keys also have anti-ghosting capabilities, meaning you can press multiple buttons at once and have them all work, the same way pressing multiple keys on a keyboard activates all of them at once. This also applies to the pen buttons, so you can use combinations of shortcut keys and pen buttons if you need to. This feature may seem like a given, but not every tablet company does this.
The red dial is a function wheel which spins extremely smoothly and is an absolute pleasure to use. It clicks quietly as feedback and clicks 24 times in a full rotation, meaning your assigned function will activate 24 times in one spin. Since there are so many activation points, you can control very precisely whether you want to go fast or slow with the red dial.
For some reason, many small drawing monitors have less shortcut buttons than their larger brethren, but that is not the case with the Artist 12 Pro. It has the full 8 buttons plus red dial that the Artist 15.6 Pro does, and this makes it completely possible to draw on the Artist 12 Pro while mainly using the shortcut buttons.
I used the shortcut keys for a while and they were very enjoyable to use, especially because there are actually enough shortcut keys on this tablet for most of my functions.
However, I am simply more used to using my keyboard, so I did most of my drawing with keyboard anyways.
This tablet has 3 buttons along the right side of the tablet (in right-handed mode) which are for power, brightness up, and brightness down. The tablet itself does not have a dedicated OSD settings button, and you instead need to change screen colours through the XP-Pen driver software.
The power button will glow a dark blue to indicate that the tablet is powered on.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro has a USB type-C port on it to connect to the combined USB/HDMI/power cable. I praised the choice of a USB type-C cable on the Huion Kamvas Pro 13, but the way it was implemented on the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro really throws away the advantage that using USB type-C offers in the first place.
The advantage of using USB type-C on a tablet is mainly to make the cable flippable for use in left-handed mode. On the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro, the cable is just a straight cable, not an L-shaped cable, meaning that it doesn’t take advantage of the multi-direction feature of USB type-C.
To give credit where credit is due, it is good that they created a tunnel in front of the port to better support the cable weight and prevent it from breaking the port over time, and the cable fits fairly snugly into that tunnel. However, making the cable L-shaped would have improved cable life (because people wouldn’t need to bend the cable out of the way like I did), and also would have made the cable much harder to break in general (because you wouldn’t be able to accidentally snag it on things).
The straight cable is such an easy way to accidentally break the tablet because it juts straight out of the tablet, whereas an L-shaped cable would be much harder to accidentally snag and subsequently break the port/tablet.
XP-Pen told me they didn’t use the L-shaped cable because it would cover the OSD buttons, but there’s absolutely enough distance between the port and the OSD buttons that you should be able to push the cable slightly out of the way to access the OSD buttons.
The included cable is a combined cable which goes from USB type-C on the tablet to USB type-A and HDMI on the computer. The tablet can be powered solely by the computer if your USB port can provide enough power, but if it can’t, the extra red USB type-A connector will need to be connected to another USB port on your computer, or a power outlet using the included power outlet to USB adapter.
I was using the tablet without connecting it to a power adapter for most of my review. As far as I could see, there were no noticeable differences between having it powered by a single USB port, or a power outlet, but this will be different based on how much power your USB port can supply.
The HDMI portion of the cable is where all the cables come together, so I will give measurements of the cable length from there.
-The HDMI to USB type-C is ~170cm.
-The HDMI to USB type-A is ~58cm.
-The HDMI to USb type-A power is ~200cm (this includes the USB extension cable).
Many people complain that a combined cable like this is bad because if one part of it breaks, then you have to buy a whole new cable. These people say that they would much rather have separate cables.
However, from what I have seen, just as many people complain about having multiple separate cables coming out of a tablet, saying it looks messy. These people say that they would much rather have a combined cable.
Personally, I think a combined cable is better, especially because the replacement cable only costs ~25 USD on XP-Pen’s store.
Whether you have separate cables or one combined cable, when one cable breaks, you have to replace it. If it only costs ~25 USD, a combined cable seems like the better choice because it’s a cleaner one cable solution.
Of course, this is under the assumption that XP-Pen’s cables don’t die every month or something stupid like that. Has the cable broken for me yet after one month of usage? Nope. I really doubt it’s going to break frequently enough that paying ~25 USD for another one is going to be a problem. Make sure you use the 1 year warranty (18 months if you bought it off the official XP-Pen site) if yours breaks within the first year.
This is the new XP-Pen AC42 stand which comes included with the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro.
It is a simple all-plastic one angle stand which gives you a pretty low angle of around 20 degrees. With the legs snapped into place, it is very sturdy and there is no fear of it collapsing under normal pressure.
As there is no rubber on the bottom lip of the stand, if you lean very heavily on the top half of the tablet, the bottom part of the tablet will dislodge itself causing the tablet to slide off the stand. However, this has never happened to me without purposefully leaning really heavily on the top edge of the tablet, so I believe this is a non-issue for this stand in particular.
This stand is quite a low angle so you may want to consider buying a different stand for a more comfortable experience as it certainly hurt my neck trying to draw for long periods at that angle. With that said, it’s better than having no stand and it will do in a pinch by propping it up with other things like textbooks to get a better angle.
This tablet uses the newest XP-Pen PA2 battery-free pen. It has a rubber grip with a plastic top, and has a nice shape with a bulge near the bottom to allow for an easy and comfortable grip on the pen.
The pen buttons are surrounded by a little plastic “island” which you can feel very clearly when trying to find it in your hand. The buttons themselves protrude slightly from the surrounding plastic and are quite easy to press. They also give a nice tactile click when pressed.
The top of the pen does not have anything.
There is almost no visible difference between the PA2 pen and the previous P05R pen. However, if you look closer you will notice that the pen nib is a little bit thinner.
The PA2 is made differently so that it uses longer and thinner nibs which has two main benefits.
The first benefit is increasing the stability of the pen nib in the pen, so the pen now makes less noise when drawing strokes and the pen nib wiggles less in the holder.
The second benefit is blocking slightly less of your screen so that you can see your cursor better when using smaller brushes.
Overall, it’s a great new pen design and I really like how it feels to use.
The tablet comes with a pen case which I like very much. The lid becomes a pen stand, and all the pen nibs are stored on the opposite side. The pen case also helps with carrying around the pen safely with your tablet if you take it out with you.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro comes with fairly nice colours out of the box which are just slightly brighter than they should be.
Honestly, the default settings are decent enough to be used as is, however, if you have a colorimeter, you will notice that the colours are slightly off from sRGB.
To access the colour settings, you will need to install the XP-Pen drivers, then click the ‘Display Setting’ button in the bottom right. In the screen that pops up, you will be able to adjust the colours, brightness, and contrast. You can also rotate the display from this window.
Above are my settings which are roughly sRGB. You can use those settings to roughly calibrate your XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro if you get one, but I am not sure how similar the colours are between my device and others, so be warned that it might not be the right settings for all XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro devices.
*It should be noted that you should leave the Contrast as is if yours is different. I did not change my contrast from default, so if your default is different from mine, you should most likely leave it as is.
The IPS display on this tablet is very good and you can view the colours from basically all angles without any noticeable changes in the colours. The textured anti-glare screen protector does dim what you can see from the sides a bit, but there are absolutely no problems with colours when viewing the screen from any “normal” angle.
XP-Pen advertises this tablet as a 72% NTSC (roughly 100% sRGB) monitor, and from my measurements, it appears to be slightly less than that. From what I could see with my eyes, I think it was lacking in the cyan/blue colour saturations and that is probably why I measured 90% sRGB instead of 100% sRGB.
The above results are from my calibration using my X-Rite ColorMunki Display with DisplayCAL, and I measured that the tablet has a 96% sRGB volume and 90% sRGB coverage. (Quite honestly, I still don’t understand the difference between volume and coverage. I think I read that only coverage matters though.)
Despite seeming like a disappointing result, the colours on the Artist 12 Pro are leagues better than the colours on the previous Artist 12. It could have been better, but these colours should be more than satisfactory for the general art hobbyist.
The above are my results from using the Spyder colour accuracy checker available on DisplayCAL. This shows the colour accuracy of the screen before calibration. (Smaller Delta-E’s means better.)
The above are my results from using the Spyder colour accuracy checker after calibrating to sRGB.
As you can see, the monitor is capable of displaying fairly accurate colours for non-cyan colours. As I mentioned before, the cyan/blue colours are noticeably less saturated to the naked eye. It’s not horribly off, but you can still see it if you put it side by side with a true 100% sRGB monitor.
A Blurb About Colorimeters
If you are an aspiring digital creative working with colours, I wholeheartedly recommend investing in a colorimeter. Factory calibration can only last so long before the monitor colours start to drift and become less and less accurate, so it is extremely beneficial in the long run if you invest in a colorimeter. Even Wacom’s factory calibrated tablet monitors are no exception to this and their colours will drift over time because colour drift is an unavoidable aspect of monitors as they age.
Having a colorimeter to calibrate your monitor every month or so is vital if you want to have complete confidence in your colours at all times.
My recommendation for the best cheapest option is the Datacolor Spyder5 Express paired with the free software DisplayCAL. I do not recommend the cheaper X-Rite ColorMunki Smile because it is an old type of colorimeter which loses its reliability very quickly, whereas the Spyder5 Express and pricier models will work for many years to come.
You can read great reviews of these colorimeters at this site:
And here’s a really simple guide on how to calibrate with DisplayCAL:
As well as how to get the Spyder5 colorimeter to be detected by DisplayCAL:
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro uses a fully-laminated display, which is the screen technology that other brands such as Wacom, Microsoft, Apple, etc have used to reduce parallax (the distance between the pen tip and the screen).
As you can see in the picture above, the pen tip is really close to the cursor, with big reductions made to the thickness of the glass using the fully-laminated display. However, the glass is not thin enough to be completely unnoticeable.
Just like many other fully-laminated displays, due to the thinness of the glass, you can cause ripples on the screen to appear when pressing hard. These ripples only happen when you press around 100% pen pressure or harder, and are only slightly noticeable on a very dark colour background. I believe this is not a problem as you will most likely never notice it and it will not affect your drawing.
The easiest way to see light bleed is by full-screening a black image. As you can see, there are a few spots of light bleed around the edges of my tablet. It may seem like a lot, but it has no noticeable effect on non-black colours being displayed there.
If your tablet has much more noticeable light bleed (especially if it is noticeable on all colours, not just pure black), you may want to contact XP-Pen support to get it replaced.
The XP-Pen tablet driver are extremely easy to install. Just go download the latest version directly from XP-Pen’s site and remove all other tablet drivers you have on your computer before installing it.
Once you’ve installed the driver and plugged in your tablet, the XP-Pen driver icon should appear in the system tray in the bottom right. You can access the tablet settings by clicking on that. The installer will also create a shortcut on your desktop for opening the settings.
If the installer doesn’t prompt you to restart your computer after it finishes, I wholeheartedly suggest restarting your computer anyways to allow Windows to properly update the files necessary for the driver to run smoothly.
The XP-Pen driver is a simple one page driver with all the important settings in one window. Here you can set the pen buttons and pen pressure, and choose which monitor the tablet maps to.
You may need to check the Windows Ink checkbox if you use programs such as Photoshop which require Windows Ink to be turned on for pen pressure to work.
The Barrel Button Settings section lets you choose the function assigned to the pen buttons.
You can set basically all keyboard or mouse shortcuts that you can think of using the function key option, but you unfortunately cannot combine mouse clicks with keyboard keys in the same function. This is one of the few small cons of the XP-Pen driver which has been around for a fairly long time now.
The Click Sensitivity section allows you to manipulate the pen pressure curve directly. For this pen, I didn’t find the need to change anything as the pen pressure was decent at default, but the pen pressure graph is extremely useful for making subtle changes to your overall pen pressure.
A cool thing to note is that the only other tablet drivers with this custom pen pressure graph is Wacom’s Intuos Pro and Cintiq drivers. Wacom’s low-end Intuos tablets do not offer you the pen pressure graph, and none of the Wacom alternatives aside from XP-Pen offer it either!
The Working Area Setting section controls which monitor your tablet is mapped to, and what area of your tablet is used.
If you noticed earlier, there was a function called Switch Monitor among the functions you could assign to your shortcut keys. That function cycles through all the available monitors in the drop-down list at the top of the Current Screen section when used, so you can use that to quickly switch which monitor your pen input goes to.
If you click the Express Keys button in the bottom right, a new window will open up with the options for changing the functions assigned to the shortcut keys.
You can click the Dial tab to change the functions assigned to the red dial as well.
All the buttons can be assigned mouse clicks, keyboard functions, or the extra functions, just like the pen buttons.
The bar along the top of this window allows you to make program specific profiles which will only be active when the program you assigned is your current active window. It is a useful feature for people who want different functions for different programs.
Unfortunately, if you intend to assign multiple functions to the red dial, you will need to assign one of the shortcut buttons to the KL/KR Switch Function to allow you to toggle between the multiple functions assigned to the touch bar. This means that you effectively have 7 shortcut keys to work with instead of 8. In this case, 7 shortcut keys plus the red dial was enough for all of my functions though, unlike on the XP-Pen Deco 03 where I effectively only had 5 buttons to work with.
The “hints” also only show up on your main screen, not the screen assigned to your tablet, so they don’t help you figure out what function your red dial is on at all since you can’t see the hints on the right screen anyways.
The Display Setting button pulls up the colour settings, and you can also rotate the display for left-handed use here.
The Calibrate button brings up the pen calibration which is a 5-point calibration using the 4 corners and the middle. You can click Esc on your keyboard to cancel and exit the calibration.
Also, make sure to export all your settings before doing the calibration as there is no way to reset only the pen calibration. You can export your settings with the export configuration button in the bottom left of the main driver screen.
To reset the calibration, you need to click the Default button in the bottom right of the XP-Pen drivers which resets everything, not just the calibration.
In the very first driver, the calibrate function was broken and was unable to cope with multi-screen setups. However, XP-Pen quickly fixed that issue and released a new driver with that issue fixed. If you have seen a review speaking about how the calibration does not work, it has been fixed already with the newer drivers.
These pen tests are all done with the same settings for both the canvas and the pens. These tests are only done in Clip Studio Paint as that is the only program where I totally understand how to remove all unwanted variables.
If you are worried about whether this tablet will work with your art program, don’t be afraid to contact support to ask them directly.
-The canvas will always be a 3000x3000px 300dpi page (the above test page is a 3000x6000px 300dpi page, so just two pages stuck together).
-The test pens are mostly all 100px linear pressure curve pens. Pen pressure for size and/or opacity is enabled based on the test.
-The slow ruler line test uses a 10px no pen pressure pen to clearly show wobble and jitter. I also use a 50px pen pressure enabled pen to see the visibility of wobble/jitter with pen pressure is enabled.
-The IAF (Initial Activation Force) test uses a 300px linear pressure pen to show the thinnest lines possible, as well as demonstrate the IAF of the tablet.
1) Scribble Test – Grade: Pass
Test pen 1 – 100px – pen pressure: size
Test pen 2 – 100px – pen pressure: size+opacity
For my pen tests, I always start out with a few pen pressure scribbles to see if I can do some nice squiggly lines with increasing pen pressure. I also do some back and forth shading and some spirals with increasing pen pressure.
With the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro, I had no problems doing my little scribbles going from thin to thick. I didn’t have any problems controlling my strokes and making both thin and thick lines was relatively easy. This tablet gets an easy pass here.
2) Slow Ruler Line Test – Grade: Pass
Test pen 1 – 10px – pen pressure: none
Test pen 2 – 50px – pen pressure: size
The slow ruler line tests done with a no pen pressure pen were quite good at all angles, but you can clearly see some wobble when tilting the pen completely over.
However, this amount of wobble at max tilt is small enough that it shouldn’t be counted as a problem when drawing. It can be improved, certainly, but it is more than acceptable.
This tablet gets a pass here.
3) Quick Hatching Test – Grade: Pass
Test pen 1 – 100px – pen pressure: size
The quick hatching test is to check whether the tablet keeps up with pen inputs. Usually, the only way to fail this section is if the pen is noticeably laggy and causes unwanted inputs like fishhooks at the beginning or end of the line.
As you can see, this tablet appears to have no problems with fishhooks. I also never noticed the cursor lagging so far behind the pen that it was a problem, so it gets a pass here.
4) Short Release Taper Test – Grade: Fail
Test pen 1 – 100px – pen pressure: size
This test is meant to see the smoothness of the pen pressure taper when going from max to min pressure quickly. Basically, you press your pen down hard then flick to the side to see how smoothly the stroke tapers.
With the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro, these tapers are not smooth and you can clearly see this. This issue applies to all very quick tapers that start from max pressure. In other words, it can also happen on longer strokes as well if you are drawing them very quickly.
Fortunately, this is not an issue that you often notice while drawing on the tablet, and most of the time you are not moving fast enough to cause this issue to appear in your longer strokes.
However, this tablet fails this section even if that is the case.
It appears that this is an issue with all of XP-Pen’s current tablets which use the newer drivers (Deco 03, Artist 12, Artist 15.6 Pro, etc). This issue did not occur on any of XP-Pen’s older tablets which used the old drivers (Star03 V1, Artist 22HD, etc).
I have notified XP-Pen about this and they told me they will work on fixing it, but there has been no update regarding a fix since March 15, 2019. I think it’s almost safe to assume that they won’t be fixing this.
5) Pen Pressure Control/Transition Test – Grade: Pass
Test pen 1 – 100px – pen pressure: size+opacity
This section is to test the smoothness of the transitions in pen pressure.
-The circles at the top are one of Youtuber Brad Colbow’s tests. It is used to check if you can properly control the pen pressure all the way around a circle. If there is a pressure jump, some circles will feel impossible to control due to that jump.
-The lines at the bottom are slow strokes done with smooth increases or decreases to pen pressure in mind. The arrow points in the direction which the stroke was done, and the smoothness of the gradients show how smooth the pen pressure transitions.
In terms of the pen pressure control circles, I had no problems doing all the different circles smoothly. They showed no signs of pen pressure jumping and it was very easy to do all the different line weights.
I will give this tablet a pass here since there don’t appear to be any noticeable issues in the pen pressure transitions either.
6) Initial Activation Force & Lightest Pen Pressure Test – Grade: Pass-ish
Test pen 1 – 300px – pen pressure: size
This test tries to demonstrate the IAF of the tablet, and also shows the lowest possible pen pressure the tablet is capable of producing consistently.
IAF is the amount of force necessary to cause the pen to output a line. Ideally, your tablet will have an extremely low IAF where the pen will output a line with the least amount of force possible.
A high IAF causes issues such as light pen taps not registering as clicks, and the inability to sketch very lightly, both of which become quite annoying the more you experience it.
For this test page, the squiggly lines should begin right on the start line.
-If the line begins right on the start line, this indicates that the IAF is extremely low (low IAF is best) and the line just appears naturally without effort.
-On the other hand, if the line does not begin on the start line and instead begins further along the stroke, this means that the IAF is high so I needed to search for the IAF by increasing my force little by little until I finally started outputting a line.
An example of the ideal test page is the Huion New 1060 Plus (2048) IAF test page which I included above for comparison. Almost all the lines begin right on the start line meaning it has extremely low IAF, and the lines are almost transparent showing that the tablet is capable of drawing extremely light pen pressures.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro has a slightly higher than ideal IAF. As you can see, I was not able to get the lines to start on the start line consistently, but I was able to start them fairly close to it most of the time.
Basically, the IAF is low enough that I didn’t really consider it an issue, but I most certainly noticed a few times when my light tap didn’t select something properly. I never noticed it when sketching lightly though.
In terms of the lightest pen pressure, I could get somewhat thin lines with the 300px IAF test pen, but when using a 300px. The thin lines on this tablet obviously pale in comparison to the Huion New 1060 Plus (2048) IAF test page which is the ideal, but this thinness is usable and is borderline acceptable.
Overall, the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro has decently low IAF and is able to draw acceptably thin lines consistently. This tablet gets a pass-ish here.
7) Pen Tilt Test – Pass-ish
Test pen 1 – 100px – pen tilt: opacity
Test pen 2 – 100px – flat pen – pen tilt: direction
This test shows the smoothness of the pen tilt by gradually tilting the pen while slowly moving the pen to the side. This section also includes scribbles using the pen direction determined by pen tilt.
As you can see in the smoothness test, the pen tilt transitions on the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro are clearly not smooth. You can see all the steps in the gradient and you can basically count how many levels of pen tilt there are.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), XP-Pen doesn’t specify the number of pen tilt levels they have on the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro’s product page, so they aren’t lying about “having” pen tilt, but you can clearly tell it’s not on the same level as Wacom and Huion’s +-60 levels of pen tilt.
This tablet will get a pass-ish here since they have pen tilt, but it’s not very high quality.
So all in all, the drawing test results are:
1) Scribble Test – Pass
2) Slow Ruler Line Test – Pass
3) Quick Hatching Test – Pass
4) Short Release Taper Test – Fail
5) Pen Pressure Control/Transition Test – Pass
6) Initial Activation Force & Lightest Pen Pressure Test – Pass-ish
Non-Vital Drawing Tests:
7) Pen Tilt Test – Pass-ish
Ideally, all the above tests should have at least a “Pass-ish” for their grades because the most vital function of a drawing tablet is to draw properly and predictably. Failing any of these tests means that it doesn’t do that.
The drawing experience!
The actual drawing experience on the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro was decently enjoyable, but there was one issue which I hated having to deal with, and that is the cursor accuracy.
With any tablet, you want the cursor to follow your pen exactly the way you move, but with the Artist 12 Pro you can actually move the pen around the cursor without moving the cursor itself.
Also, the cursor will often move in 2 pixel increments rather than follow the pen to every single pixel on your screen.
This affects small detail work as you will have a hard time aiming at a specific point, and doing very small strokes becomes more difficult.
(Here is a video where I demonstrate how I move my pen around and the cursor doesn’t follow it exactly: https://youtu.be/ALixMTJ5x6I)
This was not an issue on the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro, so it seems that XP-Pen changed something on the Artist 12 Pro which made its pen less accurate.
With this bad accuracy issue, the Artist 12 Pro felt quite cumbersome to use for detail work and I believe this is an issue which absolutely needs to be fixed if XP-Pen wants this tablet to be considered a “Pro” tablet as its name would imply.
Aside from that, the Artist 12 Pro passed most of the drawing tests well, although it did seem to have a somewhat high IAF and wasn’t able to draw spectacularly light pen pressures.
I don’t really emphasize how the pen tilt is so bad because it’s still a “side” feature which isn’t necessary to draw in digital. Quite frankly, with how bad it is, they probably shouldn’t even advertise it yet though.
Another issue I always note about XP-Pen’s tablets is that the pen tapering is a bit uneven when doing very quick strokes from 100% to 0% pen pressure.
As you saw in the Drawing tests section, there are some fairly clear bumps in the taper which make it not as perfect as it could be.
For the most part, this uneven tapering is not so bad that it affects the drawing process as I did not have a problem doing my review drawing with it, and it should be noted that the pen pressure is perfect in every other situation.
The worst it did was make me undo a few extra times during my shading process which involves using quick long tapers in some places, but it was not a massive problem with regards to the overall drawing experience.
The XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro is a respectable tablet which is held back by its bad cursor accuracy. If XP-Pen can find a way to make the cursor follow the pen perfectly, I could recommend the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro to basically anyone who wants a really good cheap drawing monitor, but as it is right now, I can only really suggest that you consider it if there are no other options.
Even with the bad cursor accuracy, I was still able to finish a full drawing on the Artist 12 Pro. This is meant to show that it’s certainly a noticeable issue, but the tablet is still usable and should not be counted out completely.
If you’re looking for an entry-level drawing monitor for around 250 USD with mostly good specs all around, then keep this tablet in the back of your mind.
Places to buy the tablet
XP-Pen gave me a promotion code to share, so if you’re interested in this tablet, make sure you use the code to save some money!
People living in other regions should check their regions Amazon or see if the XP-Pen Store ships to them.
If you have any questions about the tablet, feel free to ask me!