Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stylus - or the search for the right iPad pen - part 2

Here is part two of my iPad pen thoughts/reviews


6) Now I want to talk about a quite different kind of stylus. The NomadBrush. As you see this one looks like a brush and that's exactly what it is. Of course it's a brush for the iPad, so don't dipp it into paint of any kind. The NomadBrush feels exactly like a brush when you use it. This is maybe not ideal for fine line drawing, but really great for coloring your drawings or directly paint on the iPad in an oil or watercolor style. If you are doing iPad art like this and have a background in classic painting, you should try this. It is beautiful made in a kind of japanese style with a piece of engraved wallnut wood on it. What you see on the picture is the version with the long bristles. By now there's als a version with short bristles available for those who prefer this.

 7) And here is my favourite tool from the last month.
It is called the Sensu brush. It started its life as a Kickstarter project and I backed this one. This is really a wonderfull tool that is made with high quality. It combines the classic rubber-tipped stylus with a brush for the iPad. As you can see on the picture it is a two piece kit. When closed, you have a stylus with a very good rubber tip with a shiny metal handle and if you drag the brush part out and place it into the handle you'll get a beautifull made and well balanced iPad brush with fine bristles.Because the bristle tip is thinner than the one of the NomadBrush you can work with more detail while using the brush. It feels like a fine waterbrush and for me it's the perfect tool for coloring "inked" iPad drawings. If you are looking for a well made universal stylus, get this one. I really highly recommend it not only for its beauty but also for its usefulness. The only reason, why I don't use the Sensu Brush for all my drawings is the fact that the size of the rubber tip is larger than the one of the Bamboo. If a newer version of the Sensu Brush would come with a smaller rubber tip, I wouldn't wait a second to buy another one (or another two ones as I did with the first version).

8) This stylus is a special one. It's the Jot Pro from Adonit. This stylus also started its live on Kickstarter and again I was a backer. The Jot didn't have a rubber or foam tip, but a tip that ends in a small metal ball with a little movable transparent plastic disc stuck on it. This combination makes the Jot the
most precise iPad Stylus that I know at the moment. While the metal ball is very small and the plastic disc transparent, you can see exactly where you are drawing. This is really great. There's also a sdk around for creators of drawing apps to optimise their apps for using it with the Jot. If I remember right, the app Procreate made use of it. So actually this stylus should be the best one for drawing.

Unfortunately I can't get used to the feeling of draging this plastic disc over the iPad screen. It feels too hard to give me a good drawing feeling. Beside this there's also another problem I discovered. Sometimes the disc didn't move evenly on the iPad. This happens if you have some fingerprints on the iPad. If you move over an area with a fingerprint, it get stuck a little bit. But it might be a case of personal taste, so maybe you should try it on your own because without any doubt it's a good product and as I said before, the most precise stylus at the moment.

9) Looking again on Kickstarter to find some new stuff, I discovered a new upcoming iPad stylus lately, the HAND STYLUS. It quickly caught my interest because it has the smallest rubber tip from all stylus I've seen so far. Beside that it has a retractable tip like a quality ball point pen, is beautifull made from a hexagonal piece of aluminum and has also a (removable) clip.
Replacement tips are available in packs of six and the pen comes in a nice tin box. Over all this one looks very promissing and I became a backer for this project at once. By the time I'm writing these lines, the project will only run for a few more days untill it's funded. After receiving my Hand Stylus I will write a special review about this pen, but the reviews by the beta-testers who already got the chance to get their hands on it are already very prommissing.

THE FUTURE (maybe)

As I said before, there are some other kind of iPad pens on the rise lately that have a competely different aproach than the capacitive stylus. They use a kind of ultrasonic technology and look more like the pens for the Wacom tablets than an iPad stylus. What is similar to all these new pens is the receiver dongle that comes with the pen and that has to be connected to the dock connector of the iPad. This receiver detects the exact position of the pens tip on the iPad screen and forward it to the drawing app that's running on the iPad. At least that's the theory.

10) I first saw this kind of iPad input device on Kickstarter (yes, again :-)) when the so called iPen was announced that uses this technology. It was a little hype around this iPen project, as it prommised that the pen will be supported by a lot of notetaking and (more important to me) drawing and painting apps for the iPad. Even the very good app Procreate was listed as to be supported by the iPen. What it looks like in the beginning was that my iPad-pen-dream (see above) will come true.

In fact the final product could not nearly please the expactations. The input of the device isn't half as precise as promised and the calibrating process is a nightmare that has to be repeated again and again. To give it a vote it was at its best "interesting" but not usable for serious drawing on the iPad. So over all the iPen was a quite frustrating experience. Even the makers of the Procreate painting app decided that the quality of this product was too low to be supported by their app. So the app Procreate didn't support the iPen finally. If you want to know more about that you'll find all information on the iPen Kickstarter site especially in the comments. So because of my experience with the iPen I'm quite sceptical about this technology.

11) That said, I finally want to point out another project that runs on Kickstarter at the moment: COLLUSIONCollusion uses a pen/receiver with the ultrasonic technology and combines it
with a special app and a kind of cloud service. So the collusion is made to be used only by the collusion app and will not work with other drawing or painting apps. The cloud service will make it possible for several people to work on the same sketch at the same time even if they are far away from each other. Because I'm always looking for the perfect iPad drawing pen, I asked them about the use as a drawing tool. They answered very nicely that Collosion is more thought to be a collaborate productivity tool than a pure artist tool. They directly said it's not the Cintiq for the iPad. But they also said that alreday some designers tried the sketching function and are very happy with that. I've got a very good feeling from this feedback because it was direct and didn't try to make something out of collision that it isn't. I also read that they solved some issues that were connected with the used technology that made the iPen such a bad experience. So in regards of what I've read about it on Kickstarter and in the beta reviews it might also be a drawing tool for me, even it is not ment for the typical iPad artist on first sight. So I guess, I will become also a backer for this project and tell more about it when I received the Collision pen.

So these are my thoughts about a pen for the iPad, at least for this time. Oh man, it was longer that I'd expected in the beginning. I hope I haven't bored all my readers to death with it :-).

I wrote this blog post on the iPad using the very fine writing app called "iA Writer"

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