Concept Design Equipment Shoot-out: Part 2

The Usual Suspects!
Ok here are my tools and a short description about it and how I intent to use them.
Sketchbook + Drafting Pen
I’ll start off with the classic. I ‘m currently using a brand new Paperchase Paperbound sketch book. Paperbound because I cant stand the spiral wire spine. This is especially after some time the wire ends come undone and basically start to rip your bag apart! The paper is pretty good. Its a bond type paper they always advice you to use in rendering class. Its smooth with good tooth, and bleed resistant.For my drawing tool, I’ll use my trusty Staedtler Mars Professional Drafting Pen 0.3. That I picked up in, of all places, Korea’s Incheon International Airport.

Its has a pretty smooth ink flow and pretty comfortable to hold in the hand based on the ergonomic designed grip.
Wacom Intuos 3 Drawing Tablet

Wow is all I can say. Ignoring everything else, the Industrial Design of this product is just beautiful. The large one piece clear plastic top is a manufacturing marvel.
I bought the 9″X12″ size or A4 sized version as I tend to sketch from my shoulder. Though in thumbnail sketches I also use a lot of wrist movement. In this situation, I actually reduce the active area on the tablet to an 6″X8″ or A5 size equalivant.
The other thing is that I use the 9″X12″ both at home and in my office. At work I have a 19″ LCD monitor and the full 9″X12″ sizing actually works pretty well as the mapping is almost 1:1. Athome on my 14″ laptop, the 9″x12″ is just too big as the active area is bigger than my actual laptop screen. Thus at home I use the reduced 6″X8″ size mapping to get a closer match to my 14″ laptop screen size.
In both cases, work or home, there is no lag between stylus and drawn line with the fast USB 2.0 connection the tablet uses. Software wise, I use Photoshop 9 at work, and at home I use either Artrage 2 Trial or Sketchbook Pro Trial.
Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC

I wont go too much into the review of this Tablet PC as a Latop PC as there are tons of reviews on it on the internet. Here are some if the better ones if you are interested:
Notebook Reviews
Tablet PC Buzz Review
In this blog I’ll focus on the more important aspects to designers, the act of sketching and painting.
The specs of my loaned machine are a Pentium M 1.5 Ghz, 1GB RAM, and a 32MB NVidia Video Card. The system runs pretty smooth in most aspects.
I have also installed the latest Wacom Tablet PC drivers. This gives a lot better sensitivity control, than the standard Microsoft ones, making the Tablet PC a lot more of a drawing tool. The pressure sensitivity, however, is not as good as the Intuos 3, but its fairly decent.
Another thing to note is that when you drawing on the M200 Tablet PC the drawn line appears on the screen to lag about 5mm behind the stylus. Its not that noticeable during drawing as the line forms up behind the stylus smoothly and is not jagged. I not sure why this happens, but my guess is that its a hardware digitizer problem.
For sketching and illustration on the Tablet PC, I am using Paint shop pro, Painter and a trial version of Sketchbook pro. All the programs run and load fairly quick, but will as part of this blog go thru some intensive graphic exercises at a later time. It is important to use Painter or Sketchbook pro as this programs allow you to use the pressure sensitive drivers. Took me awhile to set every thing up the way I like it, but its finally good to go.
As an side note, I ran my copy of Rhino3D on the M200 with a large 50″ TV 3D file and it operated the Nurbs modeling aspects pretty well. Shading and possibly rendering, however, is as expected a little slow.
What’s Next
In the following days, I will be splitting this analysis into a few more parts and they are:

  1. Portability: I will be accessing all the 3 tools in a pick up and go situation.
  2. Ease of use: Actually navigating the system and using the tools to do sketching or painting work.
  3. Design workflow: Incorporating the tools into the design process and in the work environment.
  4. Final considerations: Last parting thoughts.

Now on to Part 3!

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