Sony CintiqThis is a most amazing tool! Have you ever traced a picture with a pencil? Have ever done a paint-by-number? Well if you have, then you've got a little idea of the creative power of the Cintiq (pronounced sin teek). This little known tool for the digital darkroom is a must IMHO. Just what is it?

Well, it's a monitor you draw on to put it simply. The Cintiq, either the Cintiq 15X or Cintiq 18SX are a second monitor (so you need a graphic card that can support 2 monitors) that you use with Photoshop. The unique Grip Pen enables you to write right on the Cintiq. You're not actually writing but rather using a Brush, Lasso or other Photoshop tool that you normally would drive with your mouse. What advantage is this?

Oh wow, the advantage is HUGE! Making use of Adjustment Layers for example, you can use the Grip Pen (I call it a Pixel Saber) to carefully and selectively use the Brush to make subtle but dramatic changes to your image. Have you ever been working an image in Photoshop using your mouse and you've just got done doing a delicate job like selecting some detail like feathers when the mouse it's something on the mouse pad and all your work goes down the drain? That won't happen with the Cintiq!

An important aspect and power of Photoshop is the combination of Threshold and Adjustment Layer >Curves. This can be a challenge with a mouse but the Cintiq makes it a snap! Do you stitch panos together or use the History Brush to combine images? Ever had a heck of a time getting things to line up? You won't have that problem with the Cintiq. I could list action after feature after technique that the Cintiq makes a snap of vastly improving your workflow and end product, but I think you get the point.

The Pixel Saber has a toggle button that replaces the left and right buttons on your mouse. Those functions are obvious. But the Pixel Saber also works with special brushes that come with the Cintiq and extra ones you can obtain from the Wacom Website. My favorite company, Nik Software, makes Pen Pallet which is a set of nik filters you can access right from the Pixel Saber and apply as per your needs. This greatly speed up workflow and accuracy!

I personally have the 15x. Why, well the biggest reason is a travel and teach with it. Yeah, I travel with it! I'm just back from Alaska where I took it and worked with it. The 15x is the smaller of the two and has a resolution 1024x768. The 18SX has a resolution of 1280 x 1024 and the screen actually rotates a full 360 degrees.

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