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Is this the best hardware to create manga?

We take a look at the Intuos Manga and find out if budding manga artists should invest in Wacom’s new-look graphics tablet.

Is this the best hardware to make manga?

Stanley Lau's distinctive manga art adorns the packaging of Wacom's latest tablet

The Wacom Intuos Manga is part of a new, simplified graphics tablet range that sees the old Wacom Bamboo tablet replaced with three entry-level Intuos models, costing £89.

As well as a slick new name, Wacom has given the tablet a new look, featuring a smart brushed-metal work area and a slick black finish for the express keys. This replaces the slightly cheap plastic of the old Bamboo.

With its new minimalist design the Intuos looks great on your desk and is perfect for carrying around when on the go. However, this look and portability affects the device's usability.

Is this the best hardware to make manga?

Wacom's entry-level Intuos range features a hard-wearing aluminium surface with slick matt black plastic Expression keys

The active working area is just 152x95mm and is subtly marked out with grey spots, which can be difficult to see in certain lights.

You're often left to rely on instinct and guesswork for the edge of your canvas. The same is true of the four Express Keys, which are tucked away in the black area at the top and are only noticeable by a slightly elevated button.

Although they have a satisfying click when used, Wacom's desire to make its tablets ambidextrous means you only really use two.

Is this the best hardware to make manga?

The stylus feels good to hold, and using the rubber end activates the Erase tool in Manga Studio Debut 4

The brushed metal surface gives the Intuos an industrial feel, with the stylus making firm contact with the surface. The downside is that this can come across as quite 'scratchy' compared to the plastic of the Bamboo and doesn't always feel like a natural drawing surface.

The Wacom stylus that's included in this pack features the same levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt control as before, but is thinner and sleeker, which in turn makes it easier to draw with. Better still, it's also less bulbous and feels more like a traditional pen.

This Manga package features the Pen and Touch model, which means it includes multi-touch gesturing, which can be toggled via a switch on the top.

Is this the best hardware to make manga?

Should you want to work wirelessly, you’ll have to shell out £35 for the required hardware.

It comes with a full version of Manga Studio Debut 4 (perfect for anyone looking to learn how to draw manga), but will also work with other painting programs. Using Manga Studio's customisable brushes and pen tools with the Intuos proves a rewarding experience.

The brushes themselves are responsive – especially with features such as the stylus’s eraser on the end that selects the Erase tool.

With its relatively small surface area for working on, the Wacom Intuos does give you limited scope for your painting sessions: there's not much room for wide, sweeping gestures, for example. However, at just £89 it's certainly competitively priced for the consumer market.

If you're looking to use this as anything more than a hobbyist tablet though, it's worth spending the extra money on something that sits further up the Wacom product line.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 107.

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