Digital vs Analog
Recently, I purchased an iPad with the intention of replacing my sketchbook and paper. I wanted to use a tablet as a way to digitally record my sketches and drawings that would streamline my process. After testing the iPad with both the Wacom Bamboo stylus and the Adonit Jot Flip stylus, I decided that this set of tools does not compare to traditional pen and paper. Watch the video to see them in action and read on for more details on why I came to this conclusion.
[youtube width=”800″ height=”600″]http://youtu.be/kfvt2npebqw[/youtube]
While the iPad/stylus combo is great for a few things like digitally recording drawings and allowing for quick, gestural drawings and concept sketches, I found it to be lacking in terms of speed, accuracy and detail. While zooming in on the image is possible, I found the movement to be cumbersome and time consuming during the creation of the drawing. A slip of the finger would make a mark which would have to be erased or undone, and with a lack of preset buttons on the stylus itself, it means several extra steps of icon tapping. No doubt there is a slight learning curve with all technology, but overall I found the stylus to be clumsy when compared to pen on paper. In general, even the more precise Adonit stylus missed fine point-to-point connections which are crucial to detailed line drawings.
To justify the iPad purchase as a business expense, it needed to perform in specific ways for me. Unfortunately, it fell short and I returned all of the products. I typically make a very rough SketchUp mass model of my house designs and then use tracing paper to add details and come up with ideas of how the exterior of the house will look. I can quickly make drawings in about 10 minutes, and then spend about 30-45 minutes on sketches that have high levels of detail. The iPad could not achieve the same level of detail and took almost twice as long as my hand sketched drawings. To achieve the level of detail I wanted, I had to zoom in. The draw back of zooming in for artists is that you lose your frame of reference as to where you are in relationship to other elements of the drawing and where you are on the page. Several times I zoomed in to achieve detail only to zoom out and find I was going to run off the ‘page’ because I started the drawing too high or low. (Yes, the digital paper stops!) The other drawback when zoomed in was that I would try to draw an element that is parallel in perspective, but upon zooming out, I would see that the line’s angle was slightly off in relationship to the lines around it – meaning I had to start that portion over. For many artists, the ability to see the entire page at once is crucial to avoiding mistakes and keeping a steady pace of execution.
In conclusion, I found paper and pen to be the best solution for detailed line drawings, in terms of both accuracy and speed. The added bonus of sticking with analog is that while the roll of tracing paper can be heavy or cumbersome to carry around, you can overlay it on top of anything your client puts in front of you. You can do quick drawings in front of them using their own materials without having to scan it, photograph it or otherwise load it onto your digital device. I think there is still something to be said for tactile, traditional media, and in the end you’ll save a ton of money. Between the cost of the device ($500+), accessories ($30-100 each for sleeves, keyboards, stylus) and applications ($5+), you can easily spend up to $1000 for a decent set up. Compare that to a roll of tracing paper every few months at $10 each and you could easily go through 100 rolls before reaching the cost of the digital tools. I still love the idea of a digital sketchbook, but until the technology can keep up with me, I’ll stick with pen and paper.
Written by: Brinn Miracle