| iPad Stylus Review
Finger Painting or Stylus?
For well over a year now I have been using my iPad as a mobile digital art studio for sketching, painting and even animating while away from my studio. And I love it. But I have to admit, my initial reaction to the iPad as a creative tool was one of disappointment. As a long time user of Wacom graphics tablets and Adobe Photoshop on my Mac, I was hoping for something that would offer all of this and more. Instead I would have to learn to draw with my finger. Which, in the end didn’t turn out too bad for me.
My first attempt at drawing on the iPad was a 15 minute doodle of Iron Man, which I did on a friends iPad during a lunch break. The resulting doodle was good enough to make me curious about what else I could do given a bit of time and practice. So I bought myself an iPad, produced a few paintings and the rest is history.
In the year that followed, I deliberately avoided the various stylus solutions that emerged because I had persevered enough with my finger to the point where it was a natural way of working. Then in January 2011 while at Macworld in San Francisco, Macworld staff editor - Serenity Caldwell - introduced me to a truly incredible stylus solution - the Nomad Brush. A seemingly normal looking paint brush with conductive bristles that allows you to ‘paint’ onto the iPad screen. The inventor of the brush, Don Lee was kind enough to send me a test brush and I love it.
I still mainly use my finger for sketching and painting on the iPad, but I have been sent a few other cool stylus solutions that I thought I would share in this post.
As I mentioned before, the NomadBrush was the first iPad stylus that I had the opportunity to try. It is a great product that solves one of the biggest problems presented when painting with your finger - friction. The soft bristles allow you to paint across the iPad’s glass screen effortlessly. Not only does this allow you to work quicker, but in my experience makes you work in a much looser and more expressive way.
The Nomad Brush is by far the most consistently responsive iPad stylus that I have used. Having said that, It can take a few minutes to get used to because of how soft the feel of brush tip is when tapping on the screen. There are a range of different Nomad Brushes available on their website, Including the Nomad Compose with short and long tips and the Nomad Play for kids.
The Jot Pro by Adonit is another stylus that grabbed my attention for its unique design. It essentially solves the problem of painting with a finger sized stylus by using a transparent disk on the end of a fine nibbed metal stylus. The result is a very precise drawing tool that is just like a pen to hold. It is beautifully manufactured with a protective cap and comes in a range of different colours.
The Jot Pro is the most precise stylus that I have used but it can be awkward to use at times. In my experience if you are drawing long lines, shading or colouring large areas, the Jot Pro performs brilliantly. But if you are continually sketching small lines and details it can be a challenge to get the nib to respond every time that you make contact with the screen. For example; At a talk recently I struggled using the Jot Pro to quickly scribble down notes on my iPad. When writing fast it would often miss parts of letters out. Because of this I only use my Jot Pro for drawing precise outlines on more finished illustrations.
The e Stylo by Plai, is a wooden stylus with an angled nib that looks and feels just like a pencil. It is comfortable to hold and use and a really well made product. Unfortunately though, the e Stylo has the same problem as the Jot Pro with regards to the consistency of the contact with the display. I found that you have to be quite careful about the angle that you hold the stylus or the iPad to ensure good contact.
Since I tested the e Stylo, a second version (1.1) has been released with a magnetic nib. This in my opinion should solve the issues I have had with this stylus.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test many other styluses, but I would like to highlight a few solutions that have captured my attention recently.
Wacom Bamboo Stylus
This is the stylus that I am really excited about testing. Made by the leaders in digital tablets, I am sure Wacom’s Bamboo stylus will be well worth a look.
RYG Thumb Slip/Swipe
The guys at RYG contacted me recently about using their products - the Thumb Slip and the Thumb Swipe - for sketching. I personally thought that their products are better suited to gaming, but if you do a lot of smudging in your artwork, the Thumb Slip might be something to check out.
Macworld Stylus Review
A number of other stylus options have been reviewed over at Macworld.com with a great video of Serenity Caldwell demonstrating each one. Well worth checking out.
If you have tried any of the stylus options I have mentioned above and would like to voice your opinion or if you have any other styluses that you prefer using, then please leave a comment below.