Disclaimer: The Author, Thirdkoopa (Lucas Guimaraes), received a free copy of the tablet, XP-Pen Artist 22R Pro, from the manufacturers, XP-Pen, for review purposes.
We have covered a variety of game developers and artists in the Smash Bros. community, but what about shedding some light on the tools they use? Any digital artist has a main tool: A drawing tablet made specifically for creating art on a computer. Many digital drawings are created with the use of a screen tablet. We are here to review one today.
The XP-Pen Artist 22R Pro features a 1080p display screen at 22 inches wide with 8192 levels of Pressure Sensitivity, and an sRGB (color) of 120%. The tablet has a touch screen that allows users to draw on the screen with the included pen. Like most drawing tablets, it only responds to a drawing pen made for use with a drawing tablet. There are also 20 configurable hotkeys and 2 wheels. The two wheels can be used to change parameters up and down, like zooming in and out, or making your brush smaller and larger.
The tablet, similar to drawing on real paper, will respond to how hard the pen is pressed for all features compatible with pressure sensitivity - The pressure sensitivity features 8192 levels. How much pressure for when these levels appear can be adjusted too. Pressure sensitivity can be used to make the brush bigger or smaller, darker or lighter, and any other settings that are able to be linked to pressure sensitivity.
The pen works around as fluidly as drawing on a pencil. Initially, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t feel as fluid as the iPad Pro or a Cintiq – while there was an adjustment period, the nib (tip of the pencil) feels very strong and sturdy. I was able to test this for hours on end drawing, and almost all of my time with this tablet has been free of error.
Picture of one side of the tablet: Half of the configurable hotkeys and wheels are displayed
While the screen doesn’t quite produce a ‘paperlike feel’, for artists used to traditional, the XP-Pen screen is well protected to take all sorts of strokes, ranging from very heavy to the lightest of strokes. In the many hours logged using this, not once did I feel like I made a dent on the tablet. It should be noted that this was with the screen protector removed. The screen is also surprisingly nice when needed for any alternative utility, offering most of the functionality of a regular HDMI monitor. Why just most? It doesn’t come with built-in speakers, nor does it have a way to output audio on its own, so you will need to find a different audio source.
The tablet can be used vertically by tilting and standing it up 90 or 270 degrees and setting the monitor mode for the tablet to “Landscape”. I did not try a 90 degrees rotation, nor does it come with a stand to allow that. To set it up that way, one would need either an additional stand, or something to hold the tablet up on.
The hot keys and other tablet settings can be changed in pen tablet application. At the beginning, the software was resetting a bit but it can be chalked up to a Windows driver issue. Eventually, it stopped being a problem.
Screenshot of the Pentablet application
How it feels to actually draw
Hardly any complaints. There were minor ‘ghost lines’ towards the beginning that I couldn’t ascribe to any one particular issue. What this means is that, sometimes, the tablet would give a stroke only by me having my pen above it. How often I saw this issue was 1 in 100,000 strokes. The XP-Pen Pro 22R all but exceeded my expectations.
Using it as a TV
I was able to try out the tablet with Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Unfortunately, I was not able to test Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. While I unfortunately have no technical data to go with these tests, I can say that all games worked well on a casual level. Even festivities like 8-player Smash and plugging in an old Nintendo 64 still managed to work well.
It should be noted that playing Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl on an XP-Pen device, or any HDMI-only screen, will require an adapter sold separately.
Note: To use audio, you will need a separator to give the HDMI a separate audio source from the video
Video for more information
For any curious at how the Tablet works in more detail, they can watch a video from XP-Pen's official YouTube channel
The XP-Pen Artist 22R Pro is responsive to drawing, affordable compared to its competitors, a strong build, easy to set up, a wonderful array of colors and a completely battery-free pen. The only significant downside that I was able to find was using my hand.
The XP-Pen Artist 22R Pro is normally available at $599.99, and currently it is on sale till September 16th for only $419.99. For those on a tighter budget, The Artist 22E Pro and 22 Pro are normally available at $399.99 and $369.99 respectively, while currently they are on sale till September 16th for $379.99 and $351.49 respectively. The 22E does allow hotkeys, while the 22 Pro does not come with any. If you're interested you can check out the store pages for the XP-Pen Artist 22R Pro, XP-Pen Artist 22E Pro, and the XP-Pen Artist 22 Pro.
Who we think would like it: Any aspiring artists who want to work on games or improve their own art skills. It also, surprisingly, doubles well as a monitor for leisure gaming as long as it is coupled with an extra audio source and an adapter to split the audio source from the HDMI.