Cintiq Companion Tablet Unleashes Comic Artist Cameron Stewart

By Ken Kaplan, iQ Managing Editor @kenekaplan November 8, 2013

There is a growing variety of tablets available each month, but award-winning comic artist Cameron Stewart knew he needed one that could meet his often out-of-this world needs.

Like many of his digital designing brethren, Stewart had been using a Wacom drawing tablet tethered to his desktop in his studio for years. For the uninitiated, Wacom tablets allow artists to draw digitally and precisely on the surface of a screen as if doodling in a sketchbook. Traditionally however the drawing tablet was not a stand-alone but rather more of an input device, akin to a mouse that was hooked up to a computer.

This changed recently with the release of the Cintiq Companion, which put all the drawing power of the Wacom technology in the portable body of a Windows 8 tablet. No ordinary tablet, the Companion comes with a Pro Pen featuring the industry leading 2048 levels of sensitivity for drawing, and the multi-touch you would expect from a state of the art tablet. The net result is the creation of a digital portable studio completely on par with one in a fixed location.

Berlin based comic book artist Cameron Stewart

Formerly a resident of Canada Stewart now calls Berlin his home. He has worked with a who’s who of comic book writers, including Grant Morrison (Batman & Robin) and Ed Brubaker (Catwoman). For the more video-game obsessives, Stewart also wrote and drew the comic-book adaptation of  the wildly popular game ‘Assassin’s Creed’.

We caught up with Stewart during his multi-naitonal tour to promote the hardcover release of Sin Titulo, which won him an Eisner Award, the highest possible award in comic-dom for “Best Digital Comic” in 2010.

iQ : What do you do Cameron Stewart?

 I’m a comic book writer and artist. I’ve been working professionally since about 2000. Working exclusively digitally over the last three to four years.

A series of panels from Stewart’s award winning ‘Sin Titulo’

 iQ: Tell me what led to your latest tablet purchase?

Last summer I had moved to Berlin and I got a pretty heavy job – with a serious deadline. I ended up sitting in my studio working. I missed the entire summer because I had to be in my studio with my drawing tablet, my laptop and my monitor. I thought that I really wouldn’t want that to happen again.

I’ve got two other drawing tablets from Wacom and had bought an Asus EP 121 Slate (a Windows 7 drawing tablet) as I’m always looking for stuff that will make me more mobile but it didn’t have the sensitivity I needed for drawing, to do the kind of fine line work that I like to do. I’ve been dying to get an actual Wacom portable when it was finally announced I knew I would get it.

Normally I have to travel with both my Macbook and the Wacom 12WX 12-Inch drawing tablet. For the tour I made an appointment with the store to buy the Cintiq and be forced to use it and only it on the road.

I saw from your Instagram that you posted from a plane, in fact you referred to it as ‘life-changing!’

Yeah. I can now work wherever I want and not worry that the work is living up to its full potential. I can go to the pub, the park, as you saw, work on a plane. It’s totally up to the same standards as it would be in my studio.

iQ: Tell us about your experience with the tablet? 

So far it’s pretty excellent. The sensitivity is exactly what I want. Back at home my two other Wacom drawing tablets are 21” and 12” and I like the size of the Cintiq (It is 13.3″). With the screen being slightly larger  I like that. Working with it is surprisingly intuitive. I like to work very small. With the Cintiq I’m able to draw and with the same hand zoom with touch. With my other drawing tablets I used a touchstrip on the side, or the magnifying glass that is a part of the software. Now I can do everything with the same hand — draw, zoom, magnify  then erase and make the line work tighter if need be.

A recent drawing done completely on the Cintiq Companion

iQ: What kind of software do you use and how is it performing?

 I run the full version of Photoshop and it’s been working fine. I primarily work in a program called Manga Studio and it is working great.

iQ : In addition to being able to work wherever you want, are there any other benefits to having this portable studio that you can take with you?

If I had a client job I could bring the tablet the to the jobsite and then make changes on the fly there with the client. Previously I could maybe take some notes, then go home, then make the changes then send them to the client. Now I can just make changes right there on the spot.

iQ : Is there anything you’d like to do on the Cintiq but you haven’t yet?

Back in the studio I like to watch Netflix on one monitor while I draw on the tablet. I haven’t had a chance to see if I can do both at the same time on the Cintiq. I’m curious if it will work.

You can see more of Cameron’s work on his Tumblr and follow his travels and adventures on twitter @cameronMstewart and Instagram @cameronmstewart.