Here's the Artisul Pencil Sketchpad review that I've postponed for a long time. I actually received two tablets from Artisul 4 months ago in December. The reason why I took so long is because I wanted to wait and see if there are going to be driver updates to solve the issues that you'll read about later. I've waited too long and decided to finally just put out this review and move on.
Artisul is a company from Taiwan. If you don't already know, I've reviewed two other products from them, the Artisul D10 and Artisul D13 pen digitizer displays. The D10 and D13 are good products. So when Artisul asked if I'm interested to check out their new Artisul Pencil Sketchpad, I said sure.
Unfortunately, the Artisul Pencil isn't as good as I expected.
The packaging is cute. It's a see-through packaging box that allows you to see the product inside. The stylus is actually designed to look like a yellow hexagonal pencil. The target market perhaps is not the same as those looking at the Wacom Intuos Pro.
The build quality doesn't impress me. The drawing surface is a one thick matte surface plastic board pasted onto foam. For some reason, it reminds me instantly of beer coasters. The huge piece of foam does a good job preventing the tablet from slipping.
My first instinct when holding the tablet was to try to bend it to see how durable it is. That was when I saw a sticker behind that says you should not bend or fold the "sketchpad". I didn't bend it of course. It would damage the electronics hidden between the foam.
The bottom line is this tablet feels cheap. I guess the upside is, it's much lighter compared to other tablets so if you need to bring this around, you probably won't even feel its weight when it's in your bag. It so light you can use it like a hand fan.
Since the small tablet has the USB port at the top, I have to put my keyboard by the side so that the cable doesn't get in the way.
The medium tablet with the USB port by the side, so I can either put the keyboard by the side or at the top. However because the shortcut buttons are actually protruding out, I find myself pressing the top left button frequently by accident.
The light strip in the middle of the shortcut buttons that would pulse with blue lighting. When the pen hovers over, it turns blue.
The pen is designed like a hexagonal pencil and feels good to hold. It is made of hard plastic and comes with two buttons on the side and an eraser at the back. It is not battery powered so it does not require charging.
The size and weight is just right. It supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The driver allows you to assign shortcuts to the pen's buttons, and change pressure sensitivity.
You can also customize keyboard shortcuts to the physical shortcut buttons.
The connection is via a micro-USB to USB cable. The tablet also comes with some replaceable nibs and a nib remover.
I've tested the tablet with Windows and Mac and it's a mixed bag for me.
I like the feeling of the pen tip on the drawing area. It has a very tactile feel to it. It has even more texture compared to the Wacom or Huion tablets. It's not textured to the extent that I think it would wear off the tip fast.
The tablet is responsive and has no lag.
Where the problems start is when you actually use the tablet. Let me start with Windows first.
I'm using Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 by the way.
With Photoshop CS5, it is difficult to get a stroke with consistent width. In the screenshot above, look out for the variations in thickness for the strokes on the left. It is as if the pressure is change ever so slightly all the time when I was drawing. I do not have this problem with other brands of tablets. Even with Lazy Nezumi Pro plugin turned on, I wasn't able to get the slight variations in thickness. And I wasn't able to get the strokes to taper to a sharp point as I lift the pen.
Performance with Photoshop CC 2017 is much better. I no longer have the problem with varying pressure sensitivity, and was able to taper the stroke sharply. And strokes overall are smoother.
Adobe Illustrator, Mischief, Medibang Paint Pro and Krita all work perfectly. There are no issues with the strokes.
The biggest problem I've faced is the pen would just stop working after a period of time. I'm not sure of the exact amount of time because I do not keep track. If you can complete your work before it stops working, great. If not, the only way I know of to get it to work again is to restart the computer. It's very likely to be a driver problem.
Plugging the USB cable in and out will disable the tablet. To get it working again, you have to restart the computer, again.
I'm using Windows 7 and there's a problem with dragging and dropping. I can click and hold a file, drag it to another folder, and the cursor will freeze before it reaches the destination folder. It's very irritating so the work around is Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V.
Here are the issues on Mac at a glance:
Photoshop CS5: Inconsistency with the pressure
Illustrator CS5: Pressure
Affinity Photo: Inconsistency with the pressure
Medibang Paint Pro: Works fine
Krita: Wobbly diagonal lines
Tayasui Sketches Pro: Works fine
Mischief: Inconsistency with the pressure
Medibang Paint Pro works fine.
Mischief seems to have some issues with the pressure sensitivity. It's the same problem I face with Photoshop CS5 on Windows.
Another issue is when I tried drawing diagonal lines with a ruler, the lines aren't perfectly straight. The diagonal lines wobbles slightly. This is the type of wobble commonly seen in screen display tablets so I'm really surprised to see the problem here.
So I did not have a good experience using the Artisul Pencil tablets.
If you're using the latest version of Adobe software, there probably isn't going to be much issues. The potential deal breaker for me is, with Windows, the pen would stop working after a period of time, and there's no obvious way to get it working again short of rebooting the system.
The accuracy of the tablet is also questionable.
I probably won't recommend this to digital artists who are serious with their work. If you just need a tablet for clicking instead of drawing, then maybe you can consider this but even so at the same price, you can get other brands that perform better, unless you really need the tablet to be really lightweight in which case this is unbeatable.
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