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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Apple Pencil Drawing and Thoughts

I just received my Apple Pencil after waiting about a month for it to be shipped. My first impression of it after doing one drawing (using Procreate) is that it's a major step up from the Wacom pen I was using with my iPad previously. There are some minor crummy things too, but I wouldn't say it's enough not to give it a solid recommendation.

Putting it through a bit of a typical drawing test, I just fell back on my traditional roots and "drew" in the Warner Bros. style I'm most accustomed to.

Yeah - this little bear in pajamas does look like an Ewok - but we are in the heat of Star Wars mania, so it makes sense where my head was at (but yeah - regardless I like to draw Star Wars a lot). Here are my thoughts in a stream on consciousness order:
  1. First off, the Pen is super smooth feeling on the iPad. This is kind of a plus from the Wacom Creative Stylus (version 1) that I was using before, which tended to feel sticky against the iPad glass on occasion. That rubber would also smudge up the screen something awful. 
  2. This smoothness is a bit of a minus as well. If you like a tactile feel - you might want to stick with your traditional pencil or your Cintiq. There are no nibs to exchange out for different feels.
  3. Speaking of Nibs, this one has a replacement (1) and in the instructions, they say it will wear down and "may" damage the iPad glass over time. I wonder how long this will take, and how I'll know it needs replacement - I assume it's much like the Cintiq in terms of wear and tear. We shall see.
  4. The Apple nib seems sturdier than anything Wacom has. It's a big chunk of plastic - not a tiny nib or a rubber cover (in the case of the Creative Stylus), Appears to be built to last a while.
  5. The accuracy on the iPad - above all else - is the reason to get an Apple Pencil. For the first time, I felt like I could work a line - not perfectly, and not like traditional medium or a Cintiq, but much better than previous. 
  6. Unfortunately, the Pencil only works with the iPad Pro. I will still hang on to the Creative Stylus for use with the iPad Air. 
  7. The Apple pencil does not come with a case or anything to "protect" it. The Wacom Creative stylus came in a nice place case that held batteries and extra nibs. The Pencil comes with only the box it's packaged in, which can work as a case if you like, I haven't decided if I'll store it there. Otherwise, it's very prone to rolling off of things.
  8. The Pencil does come with an adapter to power it up via USB. Very small - keep an eye on it if you need to unplug it from the cord to power your iPad or phone. You can also power it by plugging the back end directly into the iPad, but it seems so prone to snapping the back end off if you're not careful, so I'm glad it has an alternate powerup option. 
  9. The pencil is a little heavy. Didn't bother me much, but my wife said it was bugging her when she was drawing with it.
  10. The pencil makes a bit of a "clackety" sound when lifting up the pen and placing it on the glass. If you are doing a stipple technique or something, that might bug you. By comparison, the Creative Stylus is whisper quiet because of it's rubber nib. 
  11. The Pencil supports having your hand lean on the screen without screwing up your drawing. This is a huge perk. I got so used to keeping my hand lifted, I need to remind myself that it's OK to lean. 
  12. I've only tried it with the Procreate app. It may feel better or worse depending on your personal preference of iPad app (check for support first). 
So, I'm happy and excited with this stylus overall. As much as preserving the iPad and the Pencil are legitimate concerns, we know there will be a new one in a year or two that will make this one seem like a hunk of junk! Truthfully, I need to test it further and play with the angled shading and all that - but thumbs up for now.

Here are the pens in "best to worst" order, with my vintage R2 for size comparison. Nothing beats the full Cintiq for feel and accuracy. Apple Pencil is the way to go with an iPad Pro for drawing wherever you want (which for me, is the biggest perk). I can be in any room of the house or out in the world - Freedom! The Wacom Creative Stylus is now last - but heck, I drew a lot with it and I appreciate the flexibility it did offer me. Sure it has a rubber nib the size of R2-D2's head, but if you can look past that, it's a fine option for those with iPad Air models.

Thanks for reading and feel free to shoot me any questions!