The kind people at Wacom have leant us their new Pro Pen 3D along with a Intuos Pro Paper Edition to test drive the 3D focused pen for a week.
I’ve been using Wacoms over mice for motion design work since 2007, but found myself drifting back to a mouse. As I spend more time in 3D applications, I was getting frustrated with the myriad of driver issues that have plagued Wacom tablets recently. So I was intrigued as to whether the Pro Pen may solve some issues.
The Pro Pen comes packaged in a metal cigar type carrying case, with a smaller array of spare nibs tucked in the tip.The pen itself smaller than previous iterations with a metallic finish. The build quality feels fantastic and it looks great. Its standout feature is a third, larger button on the pen itself. I would have liked the box to include a desk stand for the pen, but that is a minor gripe.
Wacom claims the Pro Pen is designed with 3D creativity in mind. So by default the buttons are set to pan, right click and tumble. This third button is the justification for Wacom calling it a Pro Pen 3D, and charging AU$149.00.
During daily use I found the pen worked better than my older model. I was able to click and navigate google apps in Chrome, something that has been broken recently. Right clicking using the default setup was patchy at best.
Navigating windows was smooth and right click worked there perfectly. The new default layout of buttons was going against 10 years of muscle memory, with the right click now the furthest up the pen, rather than the closest to the nib. However the button bindings are all customisable through the settings app.
Jumping into Cinema 4D, the buttons worked as advertised. Tumble tumbled and pan panned. It saves you from having to hold down “alt/option”. My left hand still sat resting on the keyboard anyway so I’m not sure how much of a workflow enhancer this functionality really is. Switching over to 3D coat the navigation buttons got mixed up, tumble became pan and pan just did nothing. The weird thing is that the alt + mouse bindings are identical between the two apps. Sculpting in either was an identical experience to using an older Wacom. Zipping around a model is maybe 3% faster.
Working in Premiere and After Effects (2018) was good. Gone is the annoying habit my old Wacom had of drawing a selection marquee instead of dragging a layer. Along with a few other bugs and glitches. The larger tumble button becomes the “hand” tool and pan zooms in. The zooming is touch sensitive so best left alone.
Touching on the new model of Intuos Pro, like the new pens, has a metallic case, and a smaller footprint than previous versions, with the same “active” area size. Its looks great and feels exceptionally well made.
To round up the pen: it’s not a bad product, it is just unnecessary. It’s well made and functions mostly as advertised. It just doesn’t really fill a need. I’m not sure what I had in mind when I heard “3D Pen” but it was a little more exciting than an extra button.
It is currently bundled for free with new Pro Intuos purchases online, and a spare Wacom pen is always a good thing. If you’re in need of a new Wacom, I highly recommend this generation of tablet.
But when the pen is only available at full price and you’re serious about improving your 3D navigation, maybe get one of those dedicated 3D space mice for the same money.
TL:DNR – Superfluous, save your money.
Edited by Rhiannon Poley