How to fix a scratched old Cintiq 21UX

My Wacom Cintiq 21UX started showing scratches during the second year of use. By now it's so bad that I can't use the centre of the display because I simply can't see through the scratches.

But I am in luck because instead of the plexiglass display cover of the early 21UXs, my later model has an actual glass cover which has an anti-reflective gel on it. The scratches are in the gel, not in the glass. This is a well-known problem, and the solution is simple: peel away the scratched gel and reveal a pristine glass under it.

The result is actually much better than I anticipated – it is, without any exaggeration, just like having a brand new display. It's bright, clear, has better contrast and just looks amazing. It is more reflective than before, but it's actually quite similar to a new iMac screen. The drawing feel is very close to my Cintiq 27". As expected, it is a fingerprint and dust magnet but I use a glove anyway when drawing, so I don't mind. You do need the glove because your hand won't slide well on the bare glass.

So, how difficult was it?

The gel was never meant to be removed so this is not something to do lightly. You will absolutely void your warranty and risk damage to your device. You will also use chemicals, which are seriously toxic and dangerous to you and to your equipment. Read labels well, protect your hands, eyes and work surface. If this is not enough to deter you, here is how I did it.

What I used:
  • Leather gloves (plastic gloves are better, the glue remover won't eat through them)
  • Eye protectors
  • A hair dryer
  • Softcare glue remover

Step one: Peeling the gel (wear gloves)

After applying heat to a corner of the screen with the hair dryer to soften the glue, I worked my nail between the gel and the glass. It started to peel surprisingly easily. I did not wear gloves at this stage and after five minutes my hands were burning up. The glue Wacom uses to hold the gel in place is not your garden variety hobby glue. Wear gloves.
This stage takes time and a bit of force. Make sure to not pull away from the surface but parallel to it. You don't want to accidentally pull the glass off with the gel. Use the hair dryer with care, overheating is possible.
As you can see glue residue sticks to the display after peeling the gel. Using the hair dryer well definitely helps to reduce the amount of residue, but there is going to be some on the screen once you are finished. Mine had very little, as you can see.

I found it helpful to trim off excess gel with scissors periodically, but do what works for you. It's easiest to work the sides first and slowly make your way to the centre.

Step 2: Removing glue residue

Be aware that the glue remover is serious stuff. It will melt your eyes if it comes into contact so wear plastic gloves and eye protection. Also protect your work surface. My desk has permanent drip marks because I let a few drops reach its surface. Read the instructions and google the chemicals on the bottle.

That said, using it is very easy. Spray it on, let it work for a few seconds, and use a piece of plastic or cardboard to scratch the glue residue off. Wipe, rinse and repeat. Be sure to not get any of the stuff in the edge seams of the glass or in the button openings. When you're done, wipe the surface off with a damp cloth, repeat this a number of times.

Dry, polish and you're done! You are now the owner of a very shiny old Cintiq.

Collaboration with Napa Agency

From now on, Napa Agency will be my representative in illustration. Hiring me is as simple as sending an email to or calling Marjo (marjo at or Maria (maria at at Napa Agency and they will take care of all practical matters while we can concentrate on making the best illustration to suit your needs.

This is a great opportunity for me to really focus on creating better images and not spend so much time running a business!

"The Butcher" digital painting

"The Butcher"
I had a self portrait go slightly wrong and it spiralled into this exploration into darker subject matter.