Reviews: Photodon overlays, Cintweak keyboard trays, Intuos Pro overlay and Real bug

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I made a new video about improvements, modifications, and tweaks I made to my tablets: overlay sheet (Photodon), keyboard tray (Cintweak), a real bug issue under the glasses, and a too-grainy overlay surface for the Intuos Pro Large.


I had many interesting question on the Youtube channel, and while answering to them, I thought it would be good to also copy/paste the questions here, as they were good additional information:

So, why did you change to the Wacom? Was it just the bug, or what are the advantages and disadvantages of one over the other? Seems an important part of a review, really 😀
Good point.
I already prefered "non display tablet" over the last 20 years (I owned the Cintiq21UX, the Cintiq22HD, a Cintiq13HD and the XP-Pen 24 Artist Pro) and I always spent more time on the 'large' Intuos tablet (I had the Intuos 3 for a very long period, and also a Intuos 4 XL for long too), for context.
The thing I loved about the Intuos Large Pro, was something about its resolution and a sort of built-in micro path smoothing (I guess, might be placebo). The pressure curve length is also super long (too long, I have to use only the first 75%). And I like the immediate plug-n-play support with my GNU/Linux system.
It's full size active area is like 6cm width smaller than my previous custom area of comfort I set on all the too big active area of my ex - Intuos 4 XL. The thickness on the desk is really cool, it's like the thickness of a magazine and the bevel around is smooth and doesn't grab the hair of my arms. The black sort of aluminium feeling of the case remains always cold (and in September, with the high temperature here that was a relief), and the overall experience is in average easier compared to all the tweaks I was going on to get a better workflow with the XP-Pen 24 Artist Pro; or dealing with the thickness of the Intuos 4 XL and custom area calibration.
But as I said on the video: even with all these advantages, I still have the nostalgia of drawing on a screen tablet.

I am curious if you encounter any driver issues switching to the Wacom?
It was plug-and-play on my Fedora KDE 37, it was even recognised by the Plasma GUI with all feature. I decided to bypass it with a custom Xsetwacom script (I'm still on X11), to set the pressure curve, buttons, etc... I was probably lucky. libwacom does a good work at catching the new models, but it's often 3 to 6 month after their release on the market, and I was a bit afraid my model sent from Wacom America would be one of these "too new to work", fortunately, it was not.

Video transcript:


Hello, Bonjour,

In this video, I'll show you my experience with replacing the default overlay on a display tablet,

  • adding a keyboard tray,
  • a real bug I had
  • and things I learnt about the too grainy overlays.

This video is of course not sponsored by any brand, I just wanted to share with you the things I learnt.

1. The Photodon overlay

So, the first useful modification I made for my XP-Pen 24 Pro was to change the default overlay. The default felt too smooth to me, too glossy and started to get many scratches.

I noticed that even on the first week on my video review of the XP Pen Artist 24 Pro.

I made my final choice on an overlay sold at, it was after watching the video review of the artist Robert Marzullo and it was good recommendation.

Photodon has a model for the XP-Pen, and I selected their "M X H" overlay type. It's an overlay with a subtle texture, and not super glossy. I do not regret my choice.

I wouldn't say it was easy to install, but it was doable alone. I was super anxious about bubble of air and dust, So I did the modification in the Kitchen with the range fan set to the highest level.

The result turned out great, and the surface doesn't have any scratches anymore after many artworks. And the glossyness reduced slightly.

2. The Keyboard tray

My other issue with this tablet was about its ergonomic. I wanted to get access to my Keyboard on top to type my keyboard shortcuts.

Only one company does this type of Keybaord tray: Cintweak, but they had only models for the Wacom Cintiq. Anyway, I decided to write them an email with photos and measurements of my XP-Pen tablets.

Fortunately for me, they replied and studied my request: giving me extra measurements for my DIY adaption that wasn't information available not on their website.

I then bought their model for the Cintiq X 24 Pro, and they sent it to me with extra felt pad to help me to adapt it to my tablet, along with a little graphic to help me.

The modification was perfectly stable, and I used the tablet like this on the production of my webcomic.

Recently, they came back to me to propose me to try their new 'Universal sized model'. I received this one a week ago, and it is so cool!

You can adjust all the settings:

  • the thickness,
  • the distance to the edge of the screen,
  • and in result, the keyboard tray is even more stable and robust than the previous one.

I also love the concept: one single keyboard tray that has the possibility to adapt to all the future model of display tablet I'll own and for all the brands. A good investment.

3. The real life bug.

Unfortunately, bugs happens. And on my XP-Pen Artist Pro 24, I had one morning a "real life bug" who found their way under the glass of the screen.

To make the situation even worst, this tiny red spider who got trapped between the glass and the pixels decided to die in the middle of the screen.

I have no idea how it is possible that XP-Pen hasn't protected this area in a better way.

So, I decided to tear down the tablet, and beleive me: it was very complex. I would give this hardware an horrible repair-ability score, because I couldn't access the glasses and clean it manually!

I then mounted the device back but I was so depressed about drawing every day with the cadaver of this bug.

I had to wait two weeks of usage before the heat of the device probably dried the insect to not stick anymore to the inner part of the glass.

I tried various method to shack and remove it, but the best result I had was with an adhesive rubber band. Unfortunately, a little sticky part remains on the glass.

4. The Intuos 4 Pro

In September, Wacom contacted me to send me a gift. They were thankful for my reusing my Creative Commons illustration free of charge from my blog all these years and asked me what tablet I wanted in their catalog.

I decided to try their Intuos Pro Large, and since I received it I only use this tablet now.

The surface had too much grain at first for my taste, and I changed the nib of the stylus every 4 days at first.

But the surface became finally smooth after a month of daily usage. It took probably 8 nibs until reaching this point. I had to buy another pack of nibs on the way to reach this point. But now, I have the same nib on the tip of my stylus since the last 2 months. So, I wanted to let you know about this effect.


I still regret the XP-Pen 24 Pro precision for drawing. But my workspace size is too limited to get and the Wacom Intuos Pro and the XP-Pen 24 Pro together. To the day I'm writing this line, I'm still trying to figure how I could get advantage of both connected to a single PC. I'll keep you informed about it.

Thank you for watching.


link Curieux  


C'est rassurrant pour les mines de la wacom, je croyais que j'appuyais comme un bourrin!^^
Serait-il possible de connaître votre reglage de la courbe de sensibilité de l'Intuos Pro L ? S.V.P.
C'est toujours un plaisir de bénéficier de votre (vos) expérience(s). Merci.

link David Revoy Author,

Pas de soucis; ça donne un peu ça:
Mais j'ai aussi fait mes dernières brush pour pouvoir utiliser la diagonal par défaut de pression avec cette tablette, donc avec mes pinceaux, je suis de retour au setting par defaut.

link Curieux  

J'avais fini avec les mêmes reglages que votre png finalement, plus de nuances à faible pression et atteindre le max sans trop forcer. Mais étant débutant, le doute subsistait.
Merci pour (l'info quant au reglage de pression de) vos nouvelles brush. Vous nous gâtez.^^

link Waiting  

Betcha the supplied overlay is something like PET plastic, and the Photodion MXH is something like chemically-hardened glass (I'm guessing not sapphire, at that size).

I've thought of a non-destructive test for guessing the scratch resistance. Point a handheld Raman spectrometer at the working surface and identify the material, then look up the likely hardness of the material. Reference curves for chemically-strengthened glass might be a bit odd, I don't know. But you could reliably say that the surface on product X is just like the one on old product Y and will probably scratch just as badly. The other disadvantage is that the Raman spec may cost in the triple figures, new, so you might want to borrow it.

Trying to actually scratch the surface, and seeing what materials can scratch it, is simpler. But that scratches the surface.

I like the idea of applying overlays on the clean kitchen counter in filtered air. That's clever. I'll try that.

link David Revoy Author,

> I like the idea of applying overlays on the clean kitchen counter in filtered air. That's clever. I'll try that.

Thanks! I put it to max power a big hour before. Also, latex gloves helped a lot.

> Point a handheld Raman spectrometer [...] may cost in the triple figures, new, so you might want to borrow it.

Yes... Waaaaay too expensive for my budget and my usage. And no one I know uses this type of device around me (to borrow it).
Maybe this is the kind of information the Photodon website should give anyway, not a webcomic artist ;-)

> Trying to actually scratch the surface, and seeing what materials can scratch it, is simpler. But that scratches the surface.

Yes, maybe I could test something like that on the tiny sample you see in the video (a mini card-size sample given by Photodon before installing the big one). It could have been nice to see how small rocks and metals interact with it.

link David Revoy Author,

Merci !

link SamWang  

I didn't comment on your marvelous work for a long time but seeing that dead bug on your tablet, in the photo, OMG, I couldn't resist, I have to testify (I know that kind of situation) : that's what happens when you let your own cat walking around. I'm sure it's a real dead bug on your tablet and I'm sure your cat is the culprit.

Be very carefull, he/she could have developped magical tricks by watching pictures of Pepper every day, and he/she could have crushed the bug from far away with some magic wand. You never know ! Don't let him develop too much power ! When you feel it's too much, draw Pepper as being scolding Carrot, he will surely understand, be in confidence !


link Waiting  

Yeah, it really seems saner for manufacturers to just say what material it is and how easily it scratches. I mean, they must know. :) It'd be nice if artists could stick to commenting on the artistic qualities.

A spider mite in the screen is not an artistic quality, either, and I wish you'd had no need to comment on that. If it happens again, maybe turning off the backlight, covering the screen, and shining a light in through the edge would make it crawl towards the light and get out? A lot of bugs have positive or negative phototrophy.

Oh, I'd missed the Peertube video! Gloves would also be reassuring, but applying an overlay that large still looks nerve-wracking.

I really don't expect you to test the old or new overlays unless it serves your own purposes. Since you know the old one was bad and the new one is good, it doesn't seem like it would be useful to you to test.

For anyone else reading this and interested, handheld Ramans are used by customs officers and some scientists and engineers. Any university will have some. Or try a border guard on a slow day, they get very very bored. But if overlay manufacturers will send samples, scratching the sample is a lot easier and better than taking a spectrum! So my Raman idea is absurd and useless for aftermarket overlays, as well as impractical.

Quartz dust is ubiquitous and a dust mote will get under the stylus nib sooner or later (later in filtered air). A bit of pressure will embed the dust mote into the soft plastic tip of a stylus. Now the stylus has a tiny quartz tip. It will scratch a soft overlay. Ancient Egyptians bored holes in stone by dipping a damp stick in sand and using the sandy stick as a drill bit (like modern commercial drill bits made from steel coated with diamond dust).

Most sand is also quartz. So a useful test object would be a lump of sandstone, or a bit of wood or plastic or paper with sand stuck onto it or embedded into it. If the sandy thing scratches the sample really easily, the overlay is too soft; if it scratches with difficulty, that's okay; and if it won't scratch, that's great.

Commercial sandpaper may have corundum (sapphire), which is a lot harder than quartz and will scratch even good overlays. Concrete and dirt really can have anything them, but probably contain quartz and might be worth trying if sand is hard to get. Sandbox sand is usually slightly rusty but otherwise pure quartz.

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