Fixing Surface Pen Pressure in Windows 10

Hey you, digital-painter-illustrator-artist!

Did you buy a Microsoft Surface Book 2 and the new Surface Pen with support for pen pressure and pen tilt? Did the pen not perform as expected and are you experiencing a little buyer’s remorse?

Well that’s exactly how I felt the first few hours with my new power laptop… but since I don’t like to dwell on problems, I’d be the go-getter and searched for a solution and in this post I’m sharing it with you.

Pen settings (Surface App)

If you changed the pen settings I recommend setting them back to their default value of 7 before going through the other settings. If needed, come back and adjust it after you get it working in all applications.

I made the mistake of adjusting the curve based on my experience with Wacom tablets (Intuos Pro and Cintiq). I don’t like the pen to be too sensitive when applying a light touch so I usually set the output curve to something that Wacom describes as firm. Because of this adjustment I had to press the Surface Pen so hard, I was afraid I would damage the screen.

To test if the default value is right for you, apply a light, medium and heavy stroke in the test area and check the percentage graph on the right to make sure you are taking advantage of the full range of pressure values. Adjust the slider value to fit your needs. For me the default value worked just fine.

note: At this point your Surface Pen should perform as advertised in pre-installed applications like Sketchpad and Screen Sketch. Photoshop and or any other third party app might still not respond well to pen pressure.

Disable “Press and Hold”

“Press and Hold” is embedded in the Pen and Touch control panel.

note: Some suggest to turn off “Flicks” (also part of the Pen and Touch control panel) but in my case that was not necessary.

Search for “Flicks” with the home search widget to open the Pen and Touch control panel window on the “Flicks” tab. Here you have the option to deactivate “Flick” if you want.

The real problem maker is the “Press and Hold for right-clicking”. When I disabled this option Photoshop was able to register pen pressure.

To change the Press and Hold behaviour go to the Pen Options tab and double click Press and Hold in the list of Pen actions.

In the Press and Hold settings you can uncheck “Enable press and hold for right-clicking” option.

Click OK, Apply and OK.

Wintab driver

At this point I still had two third party apps (Krita and Mischief) that did not take advantage of the pen pressure output of my new Surface Pen.

Installing the Wintab driver is what solved that problem for both Krita and Mischief.

note: Krita is set to use the WinTab driver by default (even when it’s not installed) but selecting the Windows Ink option also worked for getting pen pressure in Krita

The Wintab driver can be downloaded from microsoft.com.

Click the download button to open the download list. Here you can select the Wintab driver of your choice for download.

I hope the information in this post will solve your Pen Pressure issues with the new Surface Pen and Surface Book 2.

Cheers!
Patrick

Share your own tips in the comments below for others to read.

4 thoughts on “Fixing Surface Pen Pressure in Windows 10

  1. Daphne says:

    thank you very much, i was looking for a solution for my right click problem. (when i pressed onto the screen with my pen it turned my colour picker on. ) but i found it!

  2. carl says:

    Hey patrick have you tried to use an actual wacom tablet as well hooked up to a suface 2 ? Can you use both at the same time and still have pen pressure work with the surface screen? or is it one or the other?

    I have wintab installed and works great, but when i installed wacom drivers they seem to have taken over wintab and lost pressure sensitivity….

    • Patrick Deen says:

      Hi Carl,

      Sorry for the late reply. I am able to use my Wacom tablet with my Service Book Pro (2). It was a bit of a hit and mis situation. I’ve had to re-install the Wacom drivers after each Windows update. My Cintiq is always a problem but that seems to be a screen resolution/scaling problem.

      Cheers,
      Patrick

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