Monday, January 2, 2012

Wacom Inkling Review

A few months ago I posted up a video of the Wacom Inkling which had yet to be released. I've been having a lot of trouble finding an Australian seller, but a friend lent me hers to have a play with. So, to help those of you who didn't get one for Christmas and are contemplating buying one, I've done a review for you.

Here's a basic overview of the Inkling's features:
  • Captures your pen and paper sketches in vector format, so you can upload straight to the computer.
  • Pressure sensitive for different stroke weights.
  • Stores hundreds of sketches between uploads to your computer.
  • Works with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Autodesk, and Sketchbook Pro.
  • Can be used on paper A7 to A4 in size. 
To start using the Inkling, clip the receiver to your sketchbook. Turn on the receiver and wait until the pen shows a green light. Start drawing.
You can click a button on the receiver to signal the start of a new layer. For example, I drew my little abstract bunny on one layer, then colored it in on a new layer, then added the grass and flower on a third layer.
This is what it looked like once I had uploaded it to Illustrator. You can see the layers toggled on and off.

You can also use the Inkling to trace over a sketch or image that you've already created, if you just want the outline digitized. Here's an example where I used a thin piece of bond paper to trace the outline of a watercolor I painted last year.
 Here's the finished tracing, just before I uploaded it to Illustrator.
As you can see, this one didn't come out as well. There are some missed lines where I obviously didn't press down hard enough, and there is also some movement where I must have shifted the paper slightly while I was working. I assume this would mostly be avoided if you use a sturdy sketchbook rather than loose sheets of paper.

Overall the Inkling performed as I expected it to. I think there are some kinks that need to be ironed out, and given the quality of the uploaded image I'm not sure how useful it is in terms of cutting down workflow. You would still have to do a lot of tidy up on the computer, which makes me wonder if it is any easier than scanning or photographing your original image and tracing it in Illustrator. It is definitely a fun gadget though. Now if only it came with a felt tip or pencil adapter...

If you've used the Inkling leave me a comment and let me know what you think of it.

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