Review: XP-PEN Artist 12 Pen Display

Big thanks again to XP-Pen for providing another pen display for review. This is one of the smaller ones in their Artist series of pen displays, some of which have been featured before on my blog, such as the Artist 10S, Artist 13.3, Artist 15.6 and Artist 16. The largest displays they have are 21.5-inches.

It seems like XP-PEN is trying to make a pen display for every price range. The Artist 13.3 is priced at US $299 on Amazon currently, and the Artist 12 is US $249.

Here's the specification:

  • Display area: 11.6-inch diagonal, 25.6 x 14.4cm
  • Display resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Shortcut keys: 6
  • Touch bar: 1
  • Response time: 14ms
  • Colour display: 16.7 million, 72% NTSC
  • Contrast: 700:1
  • Pressure levels: 8192
  • Report rate: 266RPS
  • Resolution: 5080LPI
  • Hover height: 7 - 12mm

That's the packaging box that's housed inside a big brown cardboard shipping box.

Build quality and design

This pen display is shipped with two pieces of protective plastic films. The first film covers the whole pen display and protects it during shipping. The second film protects the screen protector beneath. The screen protector this time is the glossy instead of matte like the one they used in the Artist 13.3. So drawing on this glossy protector is going to be more slippery.

Build quality is sturdy. Overall design looks good. It has a really flat profile, thinner than most laptops. The plastic parts are matte textured.

There are 6 physical shortcut buttons and a touch bar. The bezels around the screen are pretty thick though.

These are the various power plugs included. You may not need to use these plugs if your USB port has sufficient power to power the pen display.

The usual manual, warranty card, thank you card, micro fiber cleaning cloth and artist glove.

A mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor is included.

This is the 2-in-1 power and data cable. At one end, it connects to the pen display. On the other end, there are two USB ports and HDMI port that connect to the computer. The red coloured USB is for providing extra power to the pen display. If your USB port has sufficient power, the black USB alone is enough to power up the display and provide the data connection.

An USB extension cable should you need it.


The screen is a 12-inch IPS panel with good viewing angles. I personally find this screen to be a bit small but because of that, it's also cheaper. If you have an extra US $50, I do recommend the larger Artist 13.3. Drawing on a larger screen feels more comfortable.

Here's a size comparison with an A5 writing pad. The drawing area of the Artist 12 is wider, but its height is the same as the short end of the writing pad.

Colours on the screen look alright out of the box. You may not need to colour calibrate it but I always do so for the displays I use because I use and test a lot of different displays -- I need the colours to be consistent across different displays.

After I colour calibrated the display, I got the following measurements: 92% sRGB, 63% NTSC and 68% AdobeRGB. The 63% NTSC colour support is lower than the specified 72% that it's said to support. To double check, I calibrated the display again and got back the same results.

For some reason, after calibration, I wasn't able to get the display to look like my BenQ monitor even after colour calibration. My BenQ screen looks warmer and the Artist 12 looks cooler. I suspect the screen protector may have affected the colour calibration process. Since I've many colour profiles from other displays that I've tested, I managed to find one (from the Veikk 1560) that was able to replicate the BenQ colours more closely.

The Artist 12 driver has limited manual colour calibration controls so you may have to calibrate through your OS settings.

The physical buttons on the side only controls brightness.

XP-PEN does have an article on Artist 12 colour calibration on their website.

Overall, the colour reproduction is fine and good enough for creating digital art. Note how the cable comes out from the top left?


XP-Pen has also sent over a tablet stand for review. This is the XP-Pen AC18 (US $40). Whenever I talk about tablet stands from pen display makers, there will always be people who say that there are laptop stands that are cheaper. And that's true, cheap laptop stands are easy to find. The one advantage the AC18 stand has is it has adjustable angle.

This is the maximum angle.

This is when it's flat.

The stand has this little collapsible flap at the bottom that you can open to hold the display, or any tablet that you use.

The large pieces of rubber feet behind are effective at preventing the stand from sliding around.

The adjust the angle, you have to press and hold the button on the side while you move the metal support plate up and and down.

Pen and holder

The cylindrical pen holder provided is fantastic. Build quality is excellent. I love the matte surface surface texture.

It provides excellent protection for the pen. The two sides have large pieces of rubber so you can place the pen holder vertically on the table without it accidentally sliding.

Hidden behind the other end of the pen holder are 8 replacement nibs and the nib remover.

The pen has a nice weight to it, neither too heavy or light. The grip section is matte surface so it doesn't slip. Overall, it feels good when held in hand. The hexagonal design prevents it from rolling on the tablet. This pen does not require battery so it doesn't need to be charged. There's one side button and an eraser on the back.

The front of the pen is translucent so you can see the metal coils within. That's pretty cool. The pen supports up to 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. No tilt support though.


The Artist 12 is supported on both Mac and Windows.

Pressure sensitivity can be adjusted using the pressure curve.

By default, the display is mapped to the whole desktop, of course.

If you're a left handed user, this is where you can change the rotation. If you have any parallax or offset with the pen tip and cursor, you can calibrate the pen using the 5-point calibration here. Anyway, there's very little parallax because the gap between the glass surface and the actual screen is minimal.

You can assign pre-defined functions or specific keyboard shortcuts to the expresskeys. The touch bar can be configured to scroll or increase brush size.

Drawing performance

Overall drawing performance is great. The lines come out just the way I want them.

Pressure sensitivity works well with Photoshop (Mac). The thin and thick line transition is smooth. Curves are smooth. Lines taper smoothly. The pen is very sensitive.

Krita (Mac) works well with pressure sensitivity.

Affinity Photo (Mac) has pressure sensitivity but there are issues with dots. Tapping on the screen produces large dots when small dots are expected.

Affinity Designer (Mac) works well with pressure sensitivity.

Clip Studio Paint (Mac) works well with pressure sensitivity.

Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) works well with pressure sensitivity.

Here's a drawing that I drew with Medibang Paint Pro (Mac). Overall drawing experience is fantastic. I did not encounter any bugs with the Mac drawing apps that I've used.


Pros and cons at a glance

+ Good build quality and design
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen is sensitive
+ 8 replacement tips included
+ 6 shortcut buttons are useful
+ 1080P resolution on the screen this size is sharp enough
+ Colour reproduction is good but could be better
+ Does not heat up significantly. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Drawing performance is good
+ Lines have little to no wobble and jitter
+ Display can be powered from a single powered USB port
+ HDMI-miniDisplay port adaptor included
+ Price is very competitive for a screen of this size
- Glossy screen protector is more slippery compared to matte screen protector
- No stand included for the display


The XP-Pen Artist 12 pen display is available via the direct product links below:

XP-Pen online store | | | | | | | |

Check out other drawing tablet reviews at



I am looking at a graphic

I am looking at a graphic tablet for my 14yr old daughter who loves to draw. In finding your videos and reviews, I am deciding between the Artist 12 or the 13.3. I guess I am concerned about the difference in the screens (glossy vs. matte) and the pen pressure. Since it is not a huge price difference, is it worth the extra for the larger tablet? She will be running it on Windows 10, so I believe in your review, you mentioned that the 13 does a bit better on Widows than on Mac. And she is also a leftie, if that makes any difference. And looking at a few other videos, it looks like the erasing feature on the 13.3 was a little "cleaner" and easier than on the 12. Thanks for your help!

As typical of the beginning

As typical of the beginning artist, I don't have a lot of money to sink into an expensive (or larger) graphics tablet. Would I be able to create comics using this size? Or would the size limitations be too much? I was interested in this particular model because it is dirt cheap and I simply can't draw on a slate while looking at a different screen.



I am looking for pen display wacom alternative

And I hesitate to choose between these devices

Xp-pen Artist 16
Huion KAMVAS Pro 13

Huion KAMVAS GT-156HD V2

Xp-pen Artist 15.6

Which one you will chose for your work?

Could you pls advise and guide me pls?

Teoh Yi Chie

I just started learning to

I just started learning to draw and was hoping to get a starter graphic screen to learn.
And to some extent, I am hoping to use the graphic monitor to help me practise some drawing like tracing some "forms" of lines to get used to it so a normal drawing pad wouldn't help much from imaging i guess.

I am currently looking at both the Artist12 and Artist 15.6 and I am not sure which to go:
15.6 being bigger have the slight problem of wobble that many people say but i am not sure how much it will affect me, Artist12 seems better with the lines but the size and also whether if it works with the Clip Studio Paint as well.

Do you think you can advise me on this?

Hello, my 13 year just got

Hello, my 13 year just got her first drawing tablet, the XP Pen Artist 12. I’ve been watching lots of tutorials to make sure I set it up correctly, but I am concerned about whether or not a lab top or computer is needed or not...? Is the computer only needed to set it up, or is the computer needed at all times to use the tablet?

Hi quick question,

Hi quick question,

Does the artist 12 come with a plastic screen protector already stuck on to the screen to protect it from scratches or do i need to pick one up and attach it like you would on to a mobile phone.


I have a question about

I have a question about drawing tablets. I need a drawing tablet to draw on it without the help of a computer or a laptop so I can get it with at school, can you give an example of a tablet like that with a budget of about $200-$300?

Newly bought XP pen through

Newly bought XP pen through online. But it flickers more often. The cables and plugs are okay. It is well taken cared of. But now, we can't use it as it should be. Money wasted because we can't find a repair shop for XP pen in the Philippines.

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