Sunday, December 8, 2013

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Following Penny-Arcade's glowing review of the Microsoft Surface Pro for producing art on the go, I decided to buy one when it was time to upgrade my tablet.  It was a hard decision not to go with the new iPad, but the Surface is much better in terms of art resources.

I looked at the iPad and Wacom's Cintiq Companion when I was making my decision.  The Companion was nice, but it used last year's technology was too heavy (4 pounds!), too big (10 inches by 15 inches) and too expensive ($2000!).  The benefits were native Wacom digitizer technology and a slightly larger screen: 1 inch in height, and 2 in width.  There were too many down sides.  I wouldn't carry something that big and heavy around with me, and the added screen space wasn't enough to justify the extra expense and inconvenience.

I wanted to use the device like an iPad.  Carrying it around with me everywhere in my satchel bag, and being able to pull it out and do real production work.

So why not the new iPad?  Well, two things: First the painting programs are all really simplified.  procreate and Sketchbook pro are the closest, but they lack major features I use in the production of my art.  Second, the pen's all suck.  I tried the pogo something-or-other pen, and I just couldn't get the sensitivity out of it that I was used to on my regular desktop wacom tablet.  Also, drawing with something the size of an eraser just doesn't cut it.  There's no precision there.

The only real portable drawing tablet I could wrap my brain around was the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. It's definitely not perfect.  It doesn't have any hardware buttons to use with drawing, and I had no idea how much I relied on that until it was gone.  Second, the pen only had one button and the upgraded pen I found didn't have an eraser end.  So I went out and bought another pen, from Britain no less, because it was out of stock here in the States.  Having a second side button, and an eraser has been a huge help.

I have a cross-platform drawing app that I use: Manga Studio 5.  It's awesome, works on my Mac and the Surface, and is designed for tablet use.  Besides, it's really cheap ($50) and beats Photoshop ($600) hands down for drawing.

I'm still ironing out the kinks, but I really feel I'm on the right track for mobile drawing.

Questions about all this? Email me: jallen327 at yahoo com.

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