I was super excited when today, I finally received my Wacom Inkling as a belated birthday present (my birthday was on September 30th, which was the date on which the Inkling was supposed to ship)! The Wacom Inkling is a device that lets you draw onto paper with actual pen, but also records a digital version of the drawing for you. Here is my first impression.
First, when I opened the box in which the Inkling was shipped, I was greeted by a letter, which appeared to have been sent by no one other than my very own Inkling. It apologised to me profoundly for taking so long and then told me of a little gift to make up for it. And there I found a disk with tutorials by Wacom professionals, about design, but also about digital painting! I’m really excited to take a look at it, and will no doubt learn something new.
Anyway, onward. The box that contained the Inkling was, as usual, beautifully designed, and small. Opening it up, I was not overwhelmed by pieces and cables and tie-rips, there were only two parts: the Inkling (case), and the manual. Perfect, Wacom!
The manual is super easy – Ikea style – to understand, so instead of having to look up pages, you can just read it from front to back because it isn’t that big.
The Inkling casing actually really reminds me of those tiny portable toolkits full of screwdrivers. Funny, if you think about it, because in a way, the Inkling and it’s pen are the artist’s tools. I opened it up. The Inkling is tiny! And I was already impressed by how portable the box seemed. The cable to connect the Inkling to PC or Mac can be neatly tucked into the box (though never as neatly as Wacom does it). It’s short. Bit of a downer if you have a pc that is suspended in the air and you have nothing to put the Inkling on.
Tiny battery to put into the seemingly ordinary ballpoint pen (which clicks into the case, too). Of course, you have to wait three hours for the damn batteries (in pen and Inkling) to charge. Charging happens when you link the kit to the computer. So computer must be on. Not very handy.
But, as an artist should, I waited. When it was done charging, I jumped up and down once or twice for dramatic effect and got out the Inkling, turned it on, clipped it to paper (which starts a file), and started drawing. I traced a cat that I’d drawn first, but that failed miserably. I’m a digital artist, and I have trouble getting smooth lines on actual paper. No difference here. Movement with the pen is pretty rough, like some ballpoints get. But maybe it takes some getting used to. Making new layers works really well and easy, because all you have to do is press the button on the Inkling.
Soon found out that just drawing instead of tracing is much easier for me. So I doodled, poorly and connected the Inkling to my computer when I was done, quickly installing the software and then loading my doodle bits into the viewer. The lines themselves do not look very impressive and kind of, I don’t know, thin? But the potential is definitely there. Especially the layering is great and the ability to turn the lines into vectors (in Illustrator), seems awesome. I have yet to understand how to do that when I export the file to Illustrator though (Why not Flash, Wacom?). It also exports to Photoshop, which I use for almost everything, so that is a good thing.
What I also really like is the viewer software, because it lets you see your steps in drawing by playing it line by line like a video. You can stop at any time, I think, and take frames from that point. Really nice touch.
I know that it’s going to take a lot of practice for me to learn how to do this. But it will definitely encourage me to make more traditional art again. The Inkling is a gadget, but a smart one, and a must have for any (travelling) artist.