I received my XP-Pen Artist Display 15.6 Pro as a gift from my husband for our anniversary.
I had been getting a little irritated with my Wacom Intuos because of the disconnect I was having between drawing right under my hand and looking up at a screen while my fingers were doing something else. I’d waffled quite a bit over this graphics tablet, a Wacom Cintiq 16 and an iPad Pro, but it finally came down to choosing this tablet for two reasons. I needed to be able to use Photoshop, and the iPad doesn’t support that (yet) and the price.
So, after he hassled me into making a decision with my Amazon wishlist sitting on his screen, I eagerly awaited my shiny new XP-Pen. And I can’t honestly say they disappointed me. Keep reading to find out why I fell in love with the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro, and maybe you’ll fall in love too.
As a note to my readers, I’ve warned artists about tablet reviews before: I am not sponsored for this review.
Dimensions: 17.52 W X 11.22 H X 0.43 in
Working Area: 15.6 in
Weight: 3.3 lbs
Connections: USB & HDMI
Stylus: 8192 pressure levels, 60 degrees of tilt
What Comes in the Box
And what a box it is. I should really listen to my husband when he tells me I have no sense of size or spatial awareness. I was honestly shocked as I hauled the large box in from my porch and started tearing through the packing tape. I even began to worry if I had room to fit it on my desk while still having use of a keyboard and mouse. After deciding, I could worry about that when I put it on my desk, I began to open the packaging.
I will give XP-Pen props. Their packaging is on par with Wacom for making you feel like you’re opening something exclusive and expensive. Sometimes that experience is incredible. But! On to what’s in the box!
Quite obviously, the largest item in the box is the tablet itself. But beneath that, there is also the three in one cable, additional cables for extensions and Macs, various power adapters to suit world wide usage, the tablet stand, the pen, 8 replacement nibs, a glove, a microfiber cloth, and a folder containing all your paperwork.
Yeah. It’s a lot.
I spent a good 15 minutes, just going through the box to make sure I understood what everything was and where it was. I’d already been pre-warned by watching other reviews about the massive barrel that was the pen and pen holder, but I’m going to pass that warning on to you. That big rounded barrel? Your pen is inside it. Don’t freak out if you don’t see a pen immediately.
After staring at my desk and visually trying to figure out where to put this beast of a tablet, I decided to get started.
I’ll admit, the installation process is a little hazy for me. Probably because it went so smoothly. The quick start guide outlines it pretty clearly. The only catch is that you want to have your PC or Mac OFF when you plug in the HDMI cable, but for us techies, that tends to be standard procedure anyways. Download the drivers from the website, go through the quick calibration process, and you’re off.
I mentioned it in another post, but if you are coming to a display tablet of any kind from a non-display tablet, there is an adjustment phase. You will get cranky because your hand is in the way! At least, I did. It’s very quick to adjust, though. Faster than going from a traditional medium to a non-display tablet.
I spent some time poking around in the driver settings and setting up the Express Keys. I will say that I’m not a fan of curve graphs for my pressure sensitivity settings, but I think I finally ironed out what I needed to do.
I will warn you – you will likely not even notice all eight thousand some-odd pressure levels. And you aim to try to draw fairly lightly, so keep that in mind when setting your pressure levels!
Overall, though, I was super excited. The colors are beautiful, and I didn’t need to adjust anything. The screen is massive. The pen feels nice to hold, and having that little holder to put it in, so my cat doesn’t knock it on the floor? Even better.
The Drawing Experience
I will preface this by saying I am still adjusting from time to time on drawing on the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro. It’s less that it’s not amazing to draw on, but my own time constraints and misgivings with my own art. I very quickly took to drawing on this, just like I was drawing on paper.
There’s little to no parallax after you’ve done your calibrations and the anti-glare screen doubles as a tiny bit of resistance to make using this feel like you’re putting a 2B pencil to paper.
The lines are relatively smooth and I barely, if ever, experience lag when painting even on larger canvas sizes.
Overall, the drawing experience on the Artist 15.6 Pro is wonderful.
There are so many reasons why I love this tablet, but I’ll focus on a few in particular.
XP-Pen really cornered the market on one thing on these tablet models: The Red Dial. The Red Dial sits right in the middle of your express keys and can be used for up to three different settings of your choice. I have it set for two right now, Zoom In/Out and Brush Size. It speeds up my workflow so much. Well that, and the rest of the Express Keys, if I ever remember which ones are which.
The price isn’t anything to scoff at. For what you get in the box, plus the size of the tablet itself, 399.99 US dollars is more than a fair price. It’s a lot more competitive than Wacom’s Cintiq 16 which… doesn’t have any express keys at all.
The pen nibs seem to last forever. I’ve had my 15.6 Pro for about a month now. In that time with my Wacom Intuos, I had already gone through at least one nib. I’ve yet to see any wear upon the nib for the XP-Pen but if there is… there are eight additional nibs.
Additionally, the colors seem fairly great on the tablet itself, and it is light enough that if you have a laptop, you can probably use this beast on the couch.
There are a few downsides to this tablet, in my experience at least.
XP-Pen has a little warning in their Getting Started Guide: Press lightly when using the pen. They’re not kidding. Used to the pressure settings of my Wacom, I ended up pressing too hard in places, and I already have rainbow-like streaks on my anti-glare screen. Supposedly, this is removable and replaceable. I have yet to find a way to remove the factory-installed anti-glare screen. (If anyone could point me in the right direction, I’d be thankful!)
The stand that comes with the 15.6 feels rather flimsy, but it’s actually relatively stable. For my personal preferences, however, I wasn’t fond of the angle it was at. I ended up, within a couple of days of setting it up, purchasing a different stand for the tablet that’s more adjustable. The stand that comes with it only allows for one angle.
At some point, my computer did an update to Windows 10, and it lost all my express key settings. Worse, it seemed to have done something to my combination of the 15.6 Pro and Photoshop. When I first started using the tablet, I could hit the pre-set button on the pen to switch from brush to eraser, even if I was using another tool such as the lasso tool. Now, for whatever reason, I have to manually select the brush tool if I’m on a different tool. Perhaps it’s Photoshop, but as it seemed to have wiped out my XP-Pen driver settings, I want to say it was a combination of an update to Windows Ink and the driver.
If you’re a digital artist and you’re looking for a display tablet to hook up to your computer, I absolutely recommend the XP-Pen 15.6 Artist Pro. You really can’t beat the price, the size, and the ease of use. You may find yourself needing to re-arrange your desk, or having to make small adjustments to your workflow (like remembering to use the express keys), but I believe it’s worth it.
Do you believe your artist friends should take a look at this tablet in their upgrade or first purchase considerations? Hit that share button below!