A pen tablet improves your editing and retouching workflow. Here's an affordable option.
For many photographers, the work of creating an appealing and compelling image does not stop with the camera. While the photographer’s vision, execution of the shot, and overall workflow preference dictate how crucial post-processing is, it is without a doubt an essential skill for visual artists especially professional photographers to know and be able to refine a photograph to best represent their artistic vision.
Graphic tablets are great tools for making precise adjustments to your photographs. This can be as simple as removing unwanted marks on portraits, removing sensor dust, or cloning clutter out from the frame. Pen tablets give the photographer a more convenient and ergonomic way of making inputs on the image and allow the user to skip having to go back and forth on the keyboard and/or mouse. Over the years, pen tablets have made it a norm to have customizable shortcut buttons that can be assigned to the user’s most required hotkeys and shortcuts depending on what software they use. In this article, we take a look at a renewed version of a graphic tablet from Huion, the H610X.
Build, Design, and Inclusions
The Huion H610X is a medium-sized tablet with an overall size of 12.78 x 8.09 inches. The first noticeable attribute that anyone would notice is the significantly thin width of just 0.3 inches and the light and sleek form, weighing just 1.14 lbs, which makes it more portable than older variants. Within this is a 10 x 6.25 inch working area with a 5,080 LPI resolution for significant precision, along with eight customizable shortcut buttons. A single USB-C port can be found on one of the shorter sides adjacent to the programmable buttons. When positioned with the buttons on the left-hand side, the USB-C port will be on the top-left corner, and when rotated, the configuration might require a different way to arrange the cable. It would be extra convenient if an alternative port was placed on the other side for better cable management and at the same time offer an extra (extension) USB-C port for other external devices.
Included in the box is a pen, a pen stand that contains the extra nibs, an L-type USB-C to USB-A cable with included USB-C and micro-USB adapter, along with some manuals and warranty information. The package does not include any gloves, cleaning cloth, or carrying wrap, but those are available separately.The Huion H610X is not the smallest tablet available. Both Huion and other notable brands such as Wacom have variants that are about half the size of this tablet. While the bigger size does take away some points from portability, the right configurations can also make the device more flexible to conditions of user preference.
The included pen requires no batteries to operate. While significantly lightweight, there is significant bulk towards the parts proximal to the tip which provides better comfort and grip for multiple pen-holding styles. The said portion is also coated in rubber which provides additional friction; however, it does seem to be quite a lint magnet, which means you might need to clean the pen more often than you would want.The tablet offers eight programmable buttons in addition to the two buttons on the pen. This provides a good number of options, especially for workflows that make use of more software tools. Perhaps to give the user more options, it would have been great to add one or two thin dials or knobs for functions such as brush size or opacity; however, that might be reserved for a product of a higher price point and possibly make the tablet thicker than it is. It's also notable that this device is compatible with Android devices in addition to Windows and Mac computers.
Setup and CustomizationGetting the tablet to work on your computer is pretty straightforward however of course downloadable software is necessary to be able to assign functions to the custom buttons as well as configure the physical working area and the corresponding portion of the display window. Each of the eight shortcut buttons can be programmed to a specific keyboard key (or combination of keys), a mouse key, a shortcut for switching screens, brushes or modes, a shortcut to run a specific program or application, navigate around the image, open a quick menu, or even control media playback. In addition to these eight buttons are the two buttons that can be found on the pen. In application, at least for my workflow, the tablet and pen give a good number of custom options for a more seamless editing and retouching workflow. I use the buttons as shortcuts for spot healing, clone stamp, selection tools, zooming in and out into the frame, navigation tools, and a non-negotiable “undo” shortcut. The working area can be selected and reconfigured to select singular or multiple areas when multiple displays are being used. At the same time, the working area on the tablet surface can be reduced to a fraction of the available area for easier hand reach and comfort for less precision-intensive inputs. The working area can also be rotated 90, 180, and 270 degrees, which makes it more flexible for left-hand dominant users, as well as those who would like to use the tablet vertically.
Pressure SensitivityThe Huion H610X offers a sensitivity range of 8,192 pressure levels. This means that the effect on the input varies depending on how hard you press the pen onto the tablet which is a great feature necessary for digital artists and illustrators who create images by hand. Realistically, most editing and retouching workflows would not require much pressure sensitivity; however, the fact that the tablet offers such would give the user the ability to make finer adjustments without necessarily having to change brush or effect sizes altogether. This would also be quite handy for photo-manipulation workflows that include manual blending, especially on highly detailed images.
Looking at the market price of this tablet should put everything into context. The Huion H610X offers good input resolution for precise editing and retouching and at the same time offers a wide range of customization options and shortcuts. Even without the above-mentioned points for improvement, this medium-sized pen tablet tool is fairly priced at $69. Considering its size and the functions offered, it can be a worthy purchase for photographers of any skill level.
What I Liked
- Slim and sleek design
- 10 customizable buttons
- USB-C connectivity and battery-free pen operation
- 10 x 6.25-inch working area with 5,080 LPI
- Affordable price considering size and functions
What Can Be Improved
- No tilt options
- No customizable dial/knob
- Single (one side) USB-C port