Review: Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) – Make a Mark in the World

Doodlers, Drawers, Sketchers and Painters Unite!

Reviewing the Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is particularly pertinent for me. As a professional graphic designer, I have always taken pride in my natural ability to draw and paint. That was until I had a life-changing stroke many years ago which robbed me of this talent. Ever since then, I’ve avoided traditional drawing and painting as I’ve struggled to grasp a pencil or brush for any length of time. For years, I have aimed to rekindle my creative passion. Now it seems technology has facilitated the fruition of this desire in the form of this 15.8-inch screen and its multi-function, battery-free pen.

I’ve dabbled with digital drawing screens over the years but owning one seemed like a distant fantasy. I recently reviewed the Kamvas Slate 10, an Android tablet with a touch screen. The Kamvas 16 (2021) is the next level though. When correctly configured, this screen can act identically to or as an extension of your computer screen. Drawing naturally on a laptop can be extremely frustrating as you’re constantly aware that the touchpad won’t allow the freedom to draw or paint across the full width of your digital canvas. Also, the multi-function pen which comes with Kamvas can handle over 8000 levels of pressure sensitivity which touchpads don’t. The computer or laptop screen can also get cluttered with the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Depending on which software you’re using, the numerous pallets can obscure your view of the canvas which is never helpful.

As the Kamvas 16 behaves similarly to a real canvas or drawing surface, one can use the laptop screen or monitor to nest the application pallets exclusively, giving you the entire Kamvas screen for your mark-making or masterpiece.

What’s in the box?

The box contains the Kamvas 16 (15.8-inch) screen, Battery-Free Pen featuring Pen Tech 3.0, Pen stand containing a set of extra pen nibs and nib removal clip, a foldable screen stand, Power adaptor with country-specific plug extension, a Kamvas 16 “Quick Start” Guide, a Palm Rejection Artist Glove, Cleaning Cloth and a selection of cables; 3-in-1 cable, USB A-C cable, USB C-Ccable, USB A-A cable. It’s not immediately clear why there are so many cables especially as the 3-in-1 cable has USB-C, 2x USB-A and an HDMI connector as well!

How to get started

Naturally, staring at a bewildering array of cables, I turned to the Quick Start Guide for help. Fortunately, the guide has a numbered layout with step-by-step instructions on the setup process.

According to the Quick Start Guide, the 3-in-1 cable is used to connect to the mains power socket via the USB-A connector. The USB-A or HDMI connector is used to connect to the laptop while the USB-C connector is used to connect to the screen. I accidentally learned that the screen can get its power through the USB port on my laptop negating the use of so many cables but it’s nice to know that I won’t be short of cables if the need ever arises.

The Driver drove me crazy!

Once you’ve established a connection, the guide prompts you to download the appropriate driver from Huion’s website along with firmware updates if any. The driver is the gateway to establishing how you intend to use the screen. Being left-handed, I was keen to find out if this would present a stumbling block but it appeared that Huion had pre-empted this (how considerate!) The driver instructs you to set the full parameters of the device. As I mentioned earlier, you can get the screen to duplicate the display of the laptop screen or effectively extend the size of the laptop screen by linking it to any of the laptop screen edges. I struggled with this setting so I settled for the duplicate method.

Then I wanted to make use of the left-hand optimisation setting. There are no clear instructions on how to do this so I had to use my intuition. The screen could be rotated at pre-configured angles which meant that the physical short-cut buttons that are naturally along the left edge of the screen would now be on the right edge for me. Once again, I struggled with this as the screen display didn’t rotate as expected so I eventually settled to plough on with the right-handed method. One of the Driver settings allows you to recalibrate the screen with the use of the battery-free pen. Some crosses appear on the screen which I was asked to tap on to establish the positioning of the cursor with the contact point of the pen on the screen. There’s no point in putting your pen on the screen and the cursor being a distant away. That would be a Parallax nightmare!

We have success. Finally!

Although all of this configuring and setting up was tedious, it was necessary and when I finally felt content with myself, I began the experimenting. Being a long-time Photoshop user, I was keen to create marks using natural-feeling mediums like oil paint, charcoal, pastels, ink etc… I downloaded a free app called FireAlpaca that I had Googled. Just like a five-year-old, I went about scrawling marks on my Kamvas screen and watched how they were being interpreted on the screen. It was so much fun using spray paint, glitter, markers etc. The amazing thing was that it was all clean! I was never keen on getting paint under my fingernails or getting grubby fingers and hands when I painted in the past. Using the Kamvas 16 (2021) and the right software, I could virtually make a mess on the screen and retain my OCD-like level of cleanliness.

Back to reality

After I had finished “Jackson Pollocking”, I began to self-inquire what kind of review to write about Kamvas 16 (2021). I honestly do feel that it is a great tool for any aspiring or professional artist/ designer to have in their arsenal. Whether you’re a student or professional, if you can muster the patience to go through the setup process, it could be a very rewarding purchase. Don’t let the fact that it is the 2021 edition put you off. Whether you have a penchant for traditional art or if you are a proponent of commercial art, embrace the future, make your mark and enjoy blurring the lines between art & technology. Check out the Official Huion Website for additional information and to purchase your own Kamvas.

About Author
Chetan is a London-based designer by profession. He is passionate about the role design plays in everyday life whether it's graphic, digital, fashion, product or environmental design. Motivated by aesthetic design, function and the User Experience of emerging and new technologies, products and platforms, he is ever keen to learn, discover and innovate. Although he doesn't consider himself a nerd or a geek, he is a big movie fan and lists Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Shawshank Redemption and… Brewsters Millions among his favourites! Chetan is also an aspiring author and is currently working on his first novel.