Concept Design Equipment Shoot-out: Part 4

Welcome to the fourth installation of the Concept Equipment Shoot-out between the Sketchbook, Drawing Table and Tablet PC! I do apologise as it’s been almost 1.5 months since Part 3, but I needed some time to really get into all the equipment to give you an accurate review. Before we go on, do take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 first.

Ease of Use

In this category we consider how easy it is to navigate around the equipment, and the comfort level of using the tools to do sketching or painting work.
Sketchbook + Drawing Pen: 8/10
I don’t supposed much needs to be said here. Take out sketchbook, open it, and draw in it. I don’t think it gets any simpler as that! As mentioned in Part 3, it does not get full points as if you like to sketch in color, you will have to still carry around all the extra pens and markers.
Wacom Intuos 3 Drawing Tablet: 6.5/10
The Intous 3 is pretty easy to use and set up. It has a USB plug so its a no brainer there. Plug it in and install the drivers. After that its tweaking the pressure sensitivity of the tablet and you are up and running.
The drawing surface is really great and almost paper like. But if you like a little more “grit”, you can tape a piece of paper on to the drawing surface. The drawing stylus is also comfortable and sightly heavier than a real pen. Also there is no need to swap pens if you want to make your drawing “pop” by getting that increased line thickness.
The big problem I have is how your draw on it. Firstly is the disassociation between where you draw and the appearance of the drawn line. However the digital line is very responsive and appears immediately on the screen. You just need to get use to it, I have found that after awhile it actually becomes intuitive.
The other problem I have is something that most people leave out in tablet reviews and advice given. This takes a lot longer to change as it’s a habit ingrained in you when you first pick up a pencil. I tend to draw with my piece of paper at about a 30 degree angle, whats worst is I’m left handed and this paper tilt is important to me.
The drawing tablet tilted is pretty difficult to navigate especially if its big like mine. Furthermore if you like to twist and angle your paper as you draw then this becomes a big issue. In the end I just leave my tablet at a 180 degree and I either rotate my drawing canvas or twist my entire shoulder to compensate. This is pretty uncomfortable.
Depending on the program, you can actually rotate the drawing canvas but this often crops part of your canvas. You can also zoom in and out but I hate this as you lose all sense of perspective. Therefore my end result is my sketches often tends to be skewed at an odd angle. My circles become oval and my lines seem to be slide down or curl at the ends when i draw a horizontal line from left to right.
Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC: 6.5/10
The tablet PC is pretty easy to set up and use. Furthermore if you run a program like Alias sketchbook pro or Art rage 2, getting to the drawing process is pretty smooth.
A few things that I like are, you get to draw tilt all you want, and have access to all the different types of drawing media there is. Another good thing is you are drawing on the surface where the concept will appear, so there is no need to disassociate your mind.
However there are some of the problems. For starters the screen is too smooth and in this case its not possible to stick a piece of paper for “grit”. Another problem is the stylus is very flimsy. Some people have recommended to upgrade to a Cross pen stylus that has more weight.
I know I did say in Part 2:

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.

However, I’ve changed my mind on this. This sight lag from where your stylus touches the screen and when the line appears is annoying. Especially if you are like me that sketches very quick. The thing is when you draw, your mind makes mental corrections adjusting the line work of the sketch as you eye sees the sketch develop line by line. With this lag it becomes pretty jarring to the flow of my thinking. I find it does slightly effect my ability to be creative. The drawing tablet is much more responsive in this case just that my drawings come out all crooked.
Finally after you take away the screen borders and the trim around the screen, the size of the drawing area is smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Personally I find this a problem as I like to draw fairly big and thus I end up drawing one sketch per digital page. The problem of then having to stop, save, and open a new file, is again bad for the creative process.
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Its getting late so I better stop here. Please do stay tuned for the final installation of this series, it should be up in the next day or so!
Part 5 is now up!

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