Thursday, June 11, 2015

New toy!

I bought a tablet PC, and it can do this! 


It's not exactly a Wacom Cintiq, but it has a 12-inch 2160x1440 display, a pressure sensitive pen, and a complete Windows operating system (No Android riff-raff!). It also has the performance chops to run the same drawing software I use on my big PC. It's light, it's portable, it's a tablet! I can do drawing anywhere now! Halleluja technology.

It is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I got a good deal on it, and I had always figured I wouldn't be doing my notetaking at the university with actual pen and paper anyway. A study pal is what it's supposed to be for me. But it's capable as a regular laptop, decent but a bit unwieldy as a tablet, and pretty good for drawing. I think I'll be having a lot of fun with this little thing.

I always dreamed of having a Wacom Cintiq. In simple terms, they're similar to the Surface tablet I've got. But they're professional tools, and come with professional features and a very professional price tag. A Cintiq is a large digital drawing tablet, like my old one, but it has a display, so you just put your pen down wherever you want to draw. They're not tablets in the Ipad sense. A Cintiq needs to be plugged into a PC, and doesn't operate on it's own (Except for the newest models. I don't know if they're still called Cintiq:s, but they are tablets in both the digital drawing and Ipad sense.).

A regular digital drawing tablet wouldn't come with a screen, and that's what I've been using so far. It's just a black rectangular pad with a pen, and what you draw in the rectangle appears on your PC monitor. It's a little bit strange, because of the visual disconnect. You can't see your hand. You get used to it, but you still always feel kind of disconnected. A Cintiq, or a MS Surface with a pen, is different, because the pen touching the screen. It doesn't make me forget I'm drawing on a PC, no, it doesn't feel anything like drawing with a pencil on paper. But it's pretty sweet.

I gave the tablet a quick run today using OpenCanvas, my go-to drawing software. At 1500x1500 resolution with default brushes, it did well. It was quick, responsive, and the pen felt quite intuitive. I haven't messed about with any pressure settings yet, but I'm guessing there should be a fair bit of improvement to be seen in terms of sensitivity.

So I know it's good for digital sketching. It's the mid-range model, and it has a relatively beefed up processor, so it should do just fine on a bit higher resolution too. Photoshop has a more demanding brush engine, and I suspect there might be some delay when drawing. But that doesn't really bother me, because, well, I don't use Photoshop. And I don't think this will replace my old drawing tablet for more serious digital art, anyway. Let's not forget that in truth, the pen is just a neat feature on this tablet. This is not a tablet designed for drawing and making artsy stuff happen on, and it's just never going to be as good as the swathe of gadgets made for just that.

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