Intrigued by a recent product from Wacom, that is not a tablet, but something that can be utilized by the artist-on-the-go, I had to take a closer look. What I am talking about here is Wacom's latest creative device, Inkling, which only requires paper...yes, that's right...paper. In a nutshell, you draw on paper and port your creations digitally, without having to scan. But, there is a bit more to it, which I will get into.
Feeling that this would be an excellent device to have on hand when inspiration strikes, I gave it a test drive myself. And, while I am certainly not an excellent sketch artist, I found Inkling to be a wonderful tool that is sure to get a lot of use.
Cleverly designed for take-anywhere portability, not to mention the intelligent technology Wacom is known for in their devices, Inkling is just plain cool. What you get is a pen, a small receiver unit, USB cord, and even 4 extra ink refills, which all fit perfectly in a well-designed and portable case. All parts are fairly sturdy, as well.
But, the real question, does it work as well as it looks? Yes, I found it does quite well. But, like most things, it can take some getting used to.
Set-up is very simple. First, you have to charge the Inkling, which is done by using the included USB cord. Both the pen and the receiver charge while inside the case and takes about 3 hours. The required software is included in the receiver unit, so once you plug it in, you'll be able to install the Sketch Manager software (for accessing your creations) and the User Manual.
Inkling allows you to use any standard paper. The receiver clips to the top of your paper and is ready to go at the touch of the power button. The receiver tracks the movement of the pen (and pen pressure, at 1024 levels!) via ultrasonic and infrared technologies.
The pen itself is a bit big, but I found it comfortable to hold. The only thing is that you have to be aware of the tip of the pen and not obstruct it with your fingers, or the receiver can't track it and you'll end up with missing parts of your work.
The best part about working with Inkling, though, is being able to create layers as you draw. Aside from the power button, there is another button on the receiver, which you can tap at any time to create a separate layer of your work-in-progress. Later, when you import a sketch file, all your layers will be included. And, when you change your paper, just opening the receiver clip will start a whole new sketch file.
The receiver is capable of holding hundreds of sketches, and, on full charge, you can get 15 hours of work out of the pen and 8 hours out of the receiver. This is great if you're looking at long periods of use away from your PC.
Now, looking at the Sketch Manager software (which you need to access your sketch files), it doesn't have the best of UI designs, but it is straightforward enough to view your sketches and export your work. I'll pretty much leave it at that. However, I did find it cool to be able to play back my drawings, which perhaps some might find a useful feature.
Inkling allows you to export your layered files to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, or to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro or SketchBook Designer. Depending on what programs you have installed, you'll see the related export icons in Sketch Manager (as pictured above).
You can also export your work in a variety of formats, such as JPG, TIFF, PNG, SVG and others.
If you're used to, or prefer to start work with pen on paper, Inkling is ideal, especially since it saves you from having to scan in your work, and not to mention the added bonus of creating separate layers while you work. Of course, it would be cool to see a selection of different pen tips included, but possibly we'll see this down the road.
In any case, to have this readily available while you're out and about and inspiration strikes...well, I think this is an invaluable tool to have on hand. I highly recommend giving the Inkling some serious consideration.
Each Package Includes:
Inkling Specifications (short list) Full specs can be seen here.
For more information on Inkling, please visit the Wacom Website.
I also found the video adverts and tutorials on the Wacom website very well done. If you're interested, you can read how these videos were made with C4D and After Effects, here.
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