Wacom Intuos Small vs Medium: Which is the Ideal Size?

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The Wacom Intuos is an excellent first drawing tablet, combining high build quality and pen accuracy with a low price, but how do you know if you should get the Wacom Intuos Small or Medium?

This article has a quick comparison between the Wacom Intuos Small vs Medium, along with a guide to help you decide on the ideal size for your personal situation.


The Wacom Intuos Small is for those who want a portable, budget tablet, and is particularly well-suited to photographers.

This is a drawing tablet with a high build quality and Bluetooth for a relatively low price, and is perfect for who work on small parts of an image, as its size means that it can’t cope with large brush strokes.

The Wacom Intuos Medium is for those who need a larger drawing tablet, particularly illustrators.

If you don’t mind sacrificing portability, you get a large drawing area, perfect for line artists, although photographers won’t benefit to the same degree.
Wacom Intuos Small vs Medium

Wacom Intuos Small vs Medium

The key benefits of the Wacom Intuos S vs M are shown below, with a comparison table of the two drawing tablets following this.

Fantastic Value for Money

  • Wacom’s signature high build quality, with the best performance of any cheap tablet
  • Smaller active area suits those who regularly focus on details in their images, and laptop users
  • Compact and easily portable, but can take knocks and bumps
  • Even cheaper version is available without Bluetooth
  • Excellent stylus with highest accuracy outside of pro tablets
  • Button position means you must reach over the tablet to use them
The Intuos has a much more premium feel than you would expect from the relatively low price, with greater pen accuracy, Bluetooth for an easy wireless connection, and excellent performance when compared to other tablets at its price point.
This will likely last you for years without breaking or needing replacement, which probably can’t be said for cheaper tablets, with the only real negative for beginners being that the button position means you must reach over your drawing hand to use them.
The small size of the active area makes this tablet better suited to those who focus on the details in their images, such as photographers, who are regularly making small strokes when zoomed into their photos.

Fantastic Value for Money

  • Same high build quality and lovely drawing surface
  • Larger active area is better suited to artists, and those who make longer strokes
  • More suitable for use with larger monitor
  • Bluetooth connection, so no cables to deal with
  • Same excellent stylus of the Small model
  • Button position means you must reach over the tablet to use them
The Intuos Medium hits many of the same plus points as the Small version, with the real key difference being a larger active area and a correspondingly higher price.
The medium sized active area is better for those who work on their images full size, making large strokes that they want to cover the screen, such as illustrators and painters.
The Medium also better suits larger, higher resolution monitors, and means that you can engage your shoulder more in your drawing, which is a more natural way to draw.

Comparison Between the Wacom Small vs Medium

Differences between the Wacom Intuos Small and Wacom Intuos Medium
Wacom Intuos Small
Wacom Intuos Medium
Active Area
  • 6.0 x 3.7 inch
  • 8.5 x 5.3 inch
Overall Size
  • 7.87 x 6.3 x 0.35 inches
  • 10.4 x 7.8 x 0.35 inches
Weight
  • 8.8 ounces
  • 14.5 Ounces
Drawing Surface
  • Micro textured surface that is far superior to competitor’s like XP-Pen, Huion and Gaomon
  • Micro textured surface
Replacement Nibs
  • 4 standard nibs included
  • 4 standard nibs included
Express Keys
  • 4 user programmable keys on the tablet
  • 4 user programmable keys on the tablet
Pen Buttons
  • 2 user programmable buttons
  • 2 user programmable buttons
Pen Tilt Support
  • No tilt support
  • No tilt support
Pen Pressure Sensitivity
  • 4096 levels
  • 4096 levels
Multi-Touch Support
  • Only accepts pen input
  • Only accepts pen input
Compatibility
  • Windows / Mac / Chromebook / Android
  • Windows / Mac / Chromebook / Android
Connectivity
  • Bluetooth & USB Wired
  • Bluetooth & USB Wired
Colors
  • Black & Pistachio
  • Black & Pistachio
Cost
  • Less expensive
  • More expensive

The Only Real Difference Between Wacom Intuos S vs M – Active Area Size

Other than price, you can see from the comparison table above that the only real difference between the Wacom Small vs Medium is the size of the active area.

Wacom Intuos S vs M Size Comparison
Credit: Wacom

The Small version has an active area of 6.0 x 3.7 inches, and is contained within a relatively small 7.9 x 6.9 inch tablet.

Wacom Intuos Small active area size
Wacom Intuos Small (Credit: Wacom)

The Medium Intuos offers a 8.5 x 5.3 inches active area, in a 10.4 x 7.8 inch tablet, which is much less portable.

Wacom Intuos Medium active area size
Wacom Intuos Medium (Credit: Wacom)

Should You Get the Small or Medium Wacom Intuos?

So, with the main difference between the Intuos S vs M being active area size, how do you determine which is the ideal size for you?

Choosing a size is more of an art than a science, but I have compiled the below points to keep in mind when you decide which out of the Intuos Small vs Medium will work for you.

Use Your Current Drawing Size

If you are currently making physical drawings, then you should first take a look at these drawings that you are doing. Are you drawing very large images, or using smaller pieces of paper?

You ideally want a tablet size that matches your current workflow, as the transition to digital drawing will be much easier.

Drawing Style

Wacom Intuos Small

While examining the paper size that you are currently using, also think about stroke length and your overall drawing style.

Longer drawing strokes will require a larger tablet if you want to maintain the behavior on your computer, while smaller strokes can benefit from a smaller tablet.

If you are a photographer, or someone who is already using a computer for your images, and are moving from a mouse to a drawing tablet, then think about the range of movements that you currently make with your mouse. Are you making long strokes or lots of small, detailed movements?

Making small, detailed movements is generally a faster way to work than making larger movements, as they use only your fingers and wrists.

Larger movements use your shoulder and full arm, which is a much more natural way to draw and should help to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and the like, long term.

Monitor Size

If you are using a large screen (> 27-inches) and / or a high resolution monitor (eg. 4K), then a larger tablet might be preferable.

Small drawing tablets are ideal for laptops and smaller screens, as you don’t lose any drawing precision – a small movement on the tablet equals a small movement on the screen.

But with a larger monitor, a small movement on the Intuos Small equals a relatively large movement on the screen, meaning that you can lose out on some drawing accuracy, unless zoomed in tight on your image.

So you might think a larger tablet would always be preferred, but actually a pen tablet that is too big for your screen feels slow, as you have to make large hand and arm movements to get your cursor across the screen.

Total Size & Portability

Intuos Small with Computer

If you are going to be using your drawing tablet on a desk full-time, then size, weight and portability are not really relevant.

But if you are going to carry your tablet around, especially with a laptop, then you need to pay attention to portability.

The Small Intuos is noticeably more suitable for being carried, at 7.87 x 6.3 x 0.35 inches and 8.8 ounces, while the Medium is 10.4 x 7.8 x 0.35 inches and 14.5 ounces.

It’s not a huge difference, but if you need a portable tablet, or only have a small desk, then a small drawing tablet would be better suited to you.

Future-Proofing

Wacom tablets are known to last for years (my Intuos Pro is still going strong eight years later), so make sure you have a tablet that can deal with your future needs.

Also, if you are worried about the price difference between the small and medium models, it might help to think about this length of time that the Wacom will last – if you think of the cost being spread over several years of use, then both versions are a very similar cost on a ‘per day’ basis.

Finally, know that you can always reduce the active area size on the medium, but can’t increase the active area of the small model, making the medium a better proposition for future-proofing.


Advantages of the Intuos Pro Over the Intuos

Wacom Intuos Pro compared to Wacom Intuos

Don’t forget that the next model of Wacom drawing tablet, the Wacom Intuos Pro offers many additional benefits over the Intuos, albeit at an increased price.

It’s worth considering the differences between the Intuos and Intuos Pro before deciding on an Intuos model. Read the linked article for more on this.


Final Thoughts on the Wacom Small vs Medium

Wacom Small

I can’t give you a definitive answer on whether you should get the Wacom Medium or Small, but hopefully you can use the information in this article to help you decide for yourself.

Just know that it is the general opinion that the more serious you are about your art, the larger the drawing tablet you should have, as larger tablets can let you work faster without getting in your way.

Detailed drawings on larger tablets tend to be more accurate because of the speed with which you can work, eliminating the jitter that you might see when trying to make small movements.

But, the extra space of the medium can be cumbersome and tiring for many hours of use, and many artists actually re-map their screens to 1/4 of the medium tablet’s active area to reduce the need to make large strokes.

I think that the best advice is that if you have a specific use-case in mind for a Wacom Intuos Small, then get that, otherwise go for the Wacom Intuos Medium, but know that whichever you go for, they are both excellent tablets that will dramatically increase the quality of your art.


Read More:

Compare the Wacom Intuos Pro vs Intuos

See the Wacom Cintiq vs Intuos Differences

How to Choose the Best Cheap Drawing Tablet Under $100

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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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