When it comes to illustration on the computer, artists have had few choices: Scanning, which requires touch-up work (and, if necessary, vector traces); drawing with a mouse or trackpad; or, the most-appealing so far, working on a tablet or pressure-sensitive display. Wacom’s Inkling, announced Wednesday, hopes to eliminate these intermediary steps and bring artists back to their roots: Drawing on pen and paper.
The Inkling is a digital sketch pen and receiver; sketch, and your lines will be translated into an illustration on your computer. You don’t need special paper to record your drawings; you can attach the Inkling’s receiver to any paper surface and scribble away. The receiver will record all pen movements made on an A4 paper area, though you can mount it to a larger piece of paper. Wacom’s pen has the company’s signature 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity built-in, so that all your line widths transfer accordingly.
If that weren’t enough, you can create multiple ‘layers’ while you sketch by tapping the Layer button on the receiver; when you import your sketches, these will translate into layered files in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If you forget to add a layer during the drawing process, you can use Wacom’s Sketch Manager software to scrub to a certain point in your drawing and separate that section. Once you’ve imported your drawing, you can also play back any drawing you’ve made, stroke-by-stroke (perhaps cribbing a move from one of my favorite iPad sketching apps, Brushes).
If you’d prefer not to use Adobe’s suite or Sketchbook Pro, you can open drawings on your computer in a variety of flattened formats – JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG, and PDF—for reference or for use in another image application.
The new Inkling sketch pen is priced at $219 (including GST) and will be available from mid-October 2011 onwards. To export drawings, you’ll need a Mac running OS X 10.4 or later, or a PC running Windows XP SP3, Vista, or Windows 7. And if you can’t wait to get your hands on Inkling, you can amuse yourself by watching these lovely step-by-step tutorials that Wacom has made about the product.