XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Gen) Review

XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) Budget Pen Display Monitor Review


Remember the light pens that let you draw right on your screen? Take a look at XP-Pen's updated digitizing pad version - Artist 12 (2nd Generation).

Digitizing pads are wonderful things, but we're at our best when we can look at what we're drawing as we draw it. Looking down at your pad and then up at your monitor to see what the computer "saw" may be a great way to strengthen your neck muscles, but it's a tiring way to draw.

Designed to work in a multi-monitor environment or to be your only monitor, this tablet's display screen shows you what you're drawing as you draw it.

This is a huge upgrade for me. I have gone from the lower end XP-Pen tablets (Star, Deco...) to this. I am not a die-hard serious artist, but I do commissions from time to time and overall want to improve my work and the speed of my workflow.

My goal is to work on compiling coloring books at some point, so I really wanted to get serious without completely breaking the bank. I read each review on this product several times before finally making the decision to buckle down and buy this Artist 12 (2nd Generation) Pen display monitor .

Since XP-Pen is the only brand of tablet I have used and essentially the only brand that I trust, I had no concerns at least giving this tablet a try. And let me say, I am so very glad that I did!


The XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) combines the advantages of a high quality IPS LCD monitor with XP-Pen's patented, professional X3-Smart-chip pen technology to form the perfect interactive companion for your Mac or PC.

Thin and light, the new Artist 12 (2nd Generation) gives you the flexibility to work directly on screen as you would on paper.

Easily rotate your display when working flat on your desktop to find the right position for your hand, or for grater comfort, recline the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) on the desktop.

Ergonomically designed for maximum comfort, it's even light enough for use on your laptop.

Any way you choose to use it, the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) gives you a natural pen-on-paper feel in a digital environment.

The XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) tablet is available in 4 beautiful colors: Black, blue, green, and pink.

There are four rubber feet on the tablet back to help it stay still on flat surfaces.

The bezel on the unit also sports 8 customizable keys. and the buttons are a productivity enhancing joy.

As well as being able to connect it to a Windows or Mac OS computer you can also use it with an Android device, like the Samsung Galaxy Smartphones.


The setup for the XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) is technically simple. Plug in some cables, install the XP-Pen drivers which you can download from XP-Pen official site: https://www.xp-pen.com/product/1069.html , restart your machine, and you're good to go.

Admittedly, the set-up is a little daunting with all the cords that come with it.

The XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) uses an all in one adapter that splits to 3 connectors for power, HDMI and USB.

The HDMI powers the display and the USB acts as an interface for the digitiser pen. The third cable ends in a jack, to which a cable to the power adapter connects.

you can also connect to any Mac or PC with a single USB-C cable (not included) to a USB-C port for both video and data.

I read over the instructions a couple of times before I started to ensure I had a good grasp on what I needed to do, and once I began plugging things in, it was a breeze.

Don't let the cords worry you too much. It is not pick-up-and-go portable, but not impossible to bring it with you on the go. Just set aside a little extra time for setting up everywhere you do go.

Driver Features and bundled drawing software

Like all XP-Pen tablets, the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) includes driver software that provides a variety of controls over the behavior of the tablet and individual pens.

This includes sensitivity adjustments for tip feel, and pressure sensitivity; button assignments for individual pens; and functions for the buttons on the tablet itself.

These settings can be made globally or assigned as custom settings for individual applications. This is useful, for example, when you want to set the button to scrub in Paint Tool SAI but zoom in Adobe Photoshop.

Like other XP-Pen Artists, the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) include a utility (built into the driver software) for calibrating the cursor with the position of the pen.

On the software side, it's also worth noting that the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) comes bundled with Artrage 6 , openCanvas, and Cartoon Animator 4 digital art software.

Color Accurate Screen

The Artist 12 (2nd Generation) sports a 11.6-inch IPS LCD display--a bit smaller than a Apple MacBook display. The screen has a resolution of FHD 1,920 x 1080 pixels and looks good at this size. so the images on screen appear sharp, crisp, and vibrant.

IPS display technology boasts bigger, better, and brighter colour contrast, visual and sound quality, and more robust viewing angles among other attributes than its predecessors (TN and VA monitors).

The viewing angle of this tablet is a whopping 178°, meaning that you are able to get the same crisp, colour saturated picture even when looking at the screen almost sideways.

The Artist 12 (2nd Generation) monitor have the capability of displaying a much wider range of colour of 94% Adobe RGB. What this all means in real world terms is the reproduction of much deeper more saturated, accurate and natural colours.

This enables better rendition of colour tones and better gradation in colour. For image processing and printing this is a key advantage and for photographers is critical to achieving the best possible results.

As a display designed specifically for visual artists, its quality is far superior to that of any notebook display I've seen. Colors, brightness, and contrast are even across the face of the screen. And the device calibrates up nicely using a colorimeter.

Above that, Artist 12 (2nd Generation) tablet has a laminated display, something that reduces parallax. This means there is no air gap between layers, thus there is no light refraction or light interference, making the screen clear and vibrant.

Many of the non-laminated display drawing tablets suffer from a common issue called parallax. In use there is a slight gap between the tip and the pen and the display when you draw, which allows for parallax error.

The tablet screen does not have a etched glass surface, but is covered with a matte film. As you'd expect from a matte screen protector, it does reduce glare considerably and it cuts down on fingerprints too.

X3 smart chip powered Stylus

As for the pen which comes with the X3 smart chip. The initial activation force is lower than other XP-Pen stylus which is a huge plus.

X3 Elite Stylus requires as little as 3 gram-force and probably less which is about equal to simply resting the pen tip on the digitizer. It can even start writing and drawing without exerting force and only relying on the gravity of the pen itself.

As usual XP-PEN Stylus works without batteries and is lightweight, so there's no need to charge it at all.

It has 8,192 pressure sensitivity levels, placing it among the best styluses on the market.

Pressure sensitivity determines how much you can vary the width of the lines you paint. This is done by applying different pressure on the tablet surface.

When it comes to that. Pressure sensitivity helps you draw like you do with traditional media. Like pencils & brushes.

The 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity will provide you with ultimate precision and control with every art and illustration that you are doing.

This stylus also supports a tilt function of up to 60 degrees. It means that when you use the appropriate brushes in Photoshop, the line on the drawing file will change from what angle the pencil holds to the screen.

Using the XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation)

Couple this with a laptop or, say, a Mac mini, and you have yourself an excellent, compact, portable setup for visual arts. Or combine it with a higher-end workstation and additional displays, and it makes a great companion tool that can also be taken on the road when needed.

The XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) is compatible with any drawing software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Paint Tool SAI, Sketchbook, Clip Studio Paint, Gimp, Krita.... and etc. It works transparently and, it's completely plug-and-play.

The screen is the perfect size for the type of work that I do, so I have absolutely no complaints about that in the least. I was initially concerned that the size would be to small, but it is great!

However, if you are more serious about your art or currently seeking to become a professional, it probably wouldn't hurt if you got a larger size.

Others have commented that they were scared about the stylus not being able to go all the way to the edge of the screen, but I do not have this problem at all. I am able to easily click, write or draw at the very edges with no concerns.

The pen is great. It is not too large or bulky and when I am drawing, it feels just like I am using a pen on paper. The cursor goes exactly where I intend for it to go with no lag or jumping. I like that I do not feel disconnected from my picture as I did in the past with my previous screenless tablets.

I could not believe how comfortable and natural it felt, the fact you can make strokes directly on the screen and see the result right beneath provided greater control and comfort.

The buttons to the side are an excellent addition. I love being able to zoom in and out freely while I am working on my lineart or coloring. Eliminating the need to stop drawing, look for the magnifying glass to zoom in/out, then returning to drawing saves me a lot of time.

The tablet is only senstivity to the pen input. So I have no issues with where my hand lays on the XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation), as I can always see what I'm drawing without any problems.

The XP-Pen Artist 12 (2nd Generation) a joy to use for photographic and retouching work. Display your image on the main monitor, then use the Artist 12 (2nd Generation) and its HotKeys to touch up the details, while keeping an eye on what effect your changes are having on the overall image.


For the price of $250 USD this is a terrific device that I have used this every day since I got it. and It had really streamlined my work and gave everything a boost in quality because it is just natural to use a pen and draw right on the display.

Taking it on the road is not much of a hassle, and it truly allows me to be able to do the same type of work in the same way, and in the same amount of time, as I can from the comfort of my studio.

If you are looking for a portable pen display experience solution, or can't afford the larger units but still want a drawing monitor for your work, this is the ticket.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this product on the XP-Pen Artist line, despite a few minor concerns. If you are interested in designing anything, this is the way to go for way cheaper than its big brother the 21.5 inch model - XP-Pen Artist 22 (2nd Generation) .

For the professional designer the pay off period is very short and the question of whether to purchase is a no brainer. For the student it is a good investment for the future and will certainly prove its worth.

That is really everything that I can think of, but if anyone has a question I will be more than happy to do my best to answer it. I am sure I have forgotten something!

XP-Pen US official Store: https://www.storexppen.com/buy/artist-12-2nd.html