Ink Thing – Inkling!

I just love to scribble and draw (most of the time with the simplest blue roller pens and my sizeable collection of felt pens with an occasional tempera or aquarello thrown in for good measure), yet I’ve never quite come to grips with digital drawing/ painting. It is hugely unsatisfying as despite whatever program you are using, there never seems a good way of getting the subtlety and variety you get when drawing on paper or other mediums. It also tempts one into either a very sloppy drawing methodology because you can of course erase, undo and rearrange layers or, on the other hand, leads to an overly extensive use of detailing techniques based on patterns, shape strokes or the use of filters and effects. Oddly enough there is something rather soothing and sane about working with real world materials – if you screw up, then you really screw up and have to start over instead of trying to doctor things up as you would with a digital painting and just as well the inherently limited nature of some painting techniques in turn helps your creative side by forcing you to make the best of it and refine your skills. Still, even the best analog drawing is useless, if it’s a logo design, a graphical concept or a storyboard for a client, so what do we do? Yepp, we scan our beautiful drawings and then still spend hours or days manipulating or re-creating them digitally. This is not just inefficient but also rather dull, so wouldn’t it be nice if we got the best of both worlds in one shot? It seems we are getting a bit closer to that with Wacom‘s new Inkling pen. While it’s true that conceptually it’s not necessarily something new – pens with built-in stroke recording and even OCR capabilities have existed for a while – none of those are exactly artist’s tools and that’s what makes the difference here. Of course there are still limitations like having to use a halfway hard backing to get an even, flat drawing surface and carrying around some auxiliary equipment to make it work, but until the day someone really produces an all out "digital paper" which can function both as a display and an input surface while being thin as a sheet of foil, this is probably the coolest thing you will find for a while. Being able to immediately get working digital files from a brainstorming session could speed things up considerably and you still get the paper version as some sort of backup or can keep refining it further. Can’t wait to try this out when it hits the stores, though if the street price is really going to be 169 Euros, I’m not optimistic I’ll ever buy one…

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