Sunday Mailbag- iPad Pro?

January 17th, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: You mentioned the Wacom Cintiq in an earlier post. Have you had a chance to check out the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil accessory? I know it just launched in November, but it sounds like a very inspiring portable drawing tool for producing rough and quality finished art, and a natural for caricature art. Perhaps this is the beginning of a real transition to tablets from traditional PC’s for artists.

A: I have not tried the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. My pal, illustrator Ed Steckley, recently reviewed it for a tech website. His verdict appears to be “hardware good, software needs catching up”. I doubt I’ll be trying it out unless someone sends me the hardware to do something like what Ed did. That stuff is too expensive to pick up just to see if it will work well for one’s needs, and playing with it at the store isn’t enough time to assess it.

I actually have a Cintiq Companion 2, which I got from Wacom both in exchange for some promotional stuff I did for them and to review. Sadly I have not found the time to do a decent review of it, but the short version is I like it. Full studio functionality and using the actual latest version of desktop software (not the bunk iOs “lite” versions) in a truly portable format. I can (and have) taken this on the road and used it to work on an actual job, working on a full PhotoShop file and then opening that same file seamlessly back in the studio and resuming work. I cannot imagine the iPad Pro doing that without some extra hoop-jumping, or doing anything better than the Cintiq Companion 2 for that matter.

That said, the one advantage the iPad Pro would have over the Cintiq Companion 2 is weight. The CC2 weighs 3.75 lbs, the iPad Pro 1.57 lbs. That would make a huge difference to a live caricature artist doing a digital gig for 4 hours if they have to hold the thing rather than using a stand. The other advantage it has is price, but not by that much. The 128GB iPad Pro wi-fi only plus the Apple Pencil would be $1200, and the 128 GB CC2 is $1600. EDIT- actually as pointed out by my pal Rob in the comments that $1599 price is for the Android version of the CC2. The “Pro” version runs the full Windows OS and is $2000 for the 256GB model. So, the iPad Pro is just a little more than half the price of the CC2 I’m using for comparison. That is significant.

I’d love to try out the iPad Pro and give it a thorough test run, but Tim Cook doesn’t return my calls.

Thanks to Rich Linden for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. Robert Bauer says:

    I believe the $1600 version of the Cintiq Companion 2 is just the Hybrid Android Model. You have to spend around $2500 to get the full Windows version.

    • Tom Richmond says:

      Ah yes, you’re right. It’s actually $2000 for the 256 GB full Windows version. $2500 for the 512 model.

  2. Thanks for the f3edback. I have been trying to decide which direction to go myself.

  3. Valerie Fletcher says:

    Hey Tom! If your reader has a Mac, I’ve found with an app called Astropad, you can use the iPad as a remote desktop, which is pretty amazing. It’s not perfect, but it allows me to work on my couch, which is all I’ve ever wanted. If they don’t, the companion makes up for its cost and portability difference by being a computer. Since I’m storyboarding, I don’t need the same level of detail as someone who’s doing illustration, so I can’t speak to that, but an app like that could really change things. The feel of the Apple pencil actually beats the Wacom pen for me. It’s on its way to replacing every scrap of paper in my house, which is saying something.

  4. "El Chatto" says:

    Unfortunately the Android version has been discontinued, so you can only get the remaining limited stock (and Ebay). I reviewed it a few years ago here if anyone’s interested:

  5. Peter Davis says:

    I was skeptical, but I think the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil beats the Cintiq Companion 2 by a wide margin. I’m a long-time Wacom user, but for a portable sketch device, the Apple is lighter, quieter, more responsive, and had a better display. Software is still catching up, but it will get there.


Sketch o'the Week- Natalia Dyer! @strangerthingstv #strangerthings #nataliadyer @mad.magazine

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