I’ve recently purchased a new drawing tablet. This tablet is not your typical “I’m drawing with an imaginary pen and paper and it’s magically appearing on my screen!” kind of tablet. With the Slate, made by iskn, you are actually drawing with a real pen (or pencil) and paper! Having a background in illustration and fine art I always found it difficult using traditional tablets. Not being able to physically see or feel strokes on paper bothered me. So the Slate seemed like a dream come true.
So, how does it work?
There is a magnetized ring that slides on to your favorite pen or pencil (you can also use their pen that has a built in ring). The ring is detected by the tablet surface where you would place the paper on. The tablet contains sensors that track the position, orientation and tilt angle of the ring in 3D space. Drawings then appear on your mobile or desktop device via USB or Bluetooth through the provided Imagink application. With Imagink you can export different file types such as psd, png, jpeg, svg and video options that will show the progression of a drawing.
Another great feature of the Slate 2 is the ability to draw without being connected to a device. The Slate will record and save drawings digitally allowing you to open drawings when connected to devices at a later time. It also has the ability to work as a traditional drawing tablet with a stylist in other applications such as Adobe Photoshop.
Here’s a video of one my first drawings using the Slate…
First impressions, it’s intuitive and fun as long as you can stay focused on the actual drawing and not fixed to what is happening on the screen. It is difficult to trust that the technology is mimicking your actions. Setting up your drawing tool of choice with the ring is key. There seems to be a slight issue with the Slate reading when the pen is touching the surface. When using the ring on your own utensils its easy to adjust the ring to compensate for the error. Imagink is relatively basic. A handful of standard tools with limited options but the ability to use layers is nice. Hopefully there are plans to develop the app further in the future. I did have issues when playing back the video, where the app crashed and would not reopen the file (this actually happened on a few different drawings). I’ve come to realize the issue may have to do with not having enough memory on my device to handle the drawing. There were several layers and many lines over the course of the 2+ hour drawing.
I am looking forward to using it more and imagine over time I will become more comfortable using it.
*I also made the background music to the video. I dabble in music production and sound design in my free time but that may be for a future blog post.
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