Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Product review #1: Wacom Inkling

The Wacom Inkling kit unpacked - Inkling case, Inkling pen, Inkling receiver, USB lead, 4 pen cartridges
I've not yet seen a Wacom Inkling - however I have seen the tutorial videos on YouTube and wanted to research it so this week I'm sharing what I've found.

In the future I'll be summarising the verdicts of those who have seen and used it - with particular reference to those who are artists and illustrators and not just technical journalists.

It appears as if the Wacom is being launched mid September in the USA but there's no date for launch elsewhere that I've yet been able to identify.

This post comes in three parts

  • First the official videos by Wacom - which is probably as blatant an example of using YouTube to market a product as I've ever seen!  Note the Wacom videos are available on the USA site but not the Europe channel of Wacom YouTube.
  • Second, a technical summary.  This includes a summary of the pros and cons as identified to date
  • Third - the links to reviews of the Wacom Inkling - for a future post as it turns out as I can't find any to date!
Last - I'd like to hear what you think of the Wacom Inkling.  My initial reaction was that I liked the idea but I'd want to wait until they brought out a "fine nib" as the current one looks a bit too "medium" for me.

What is a Wacom Inkling?

Here are the Wacom videos.  The ones after the first one were only published last week  I'd like to emphasise that all the descriptions are quotes which come straight from Wacom.
Wacom introduces Inkling, a new digital sketch pen that captures a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper.
Replacing Inkling Pen Cartridge:  This video demonstrates how to replace an Inkling ink cartridge in the tip of the pen.
Charging Inkling: This video demonstrates how to charge Inkling using the carrying case and a standard USB port.
 Using Inkling:  This video gives you some specific tips for using Inking by Wacom.
Transferring Sketches from Inkling: This video demonstrates how to transfer your sketches from Inkling to Sketch Manager, where you can prepare your files for distribution or further development in other creative software applications, like Adobe Photoshop 
Installing Inkling Sketch Manager (Mac):  This video shows you how to install the Sketch Manager software on a Mac. Sketch Manager is a simple software that comes with your Inkling and is designed to help you prepare your files for distribution or further development in other creative software applications, like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook Designer.

OK - so that's the product demo - but what are the technical features?

Digital Product:  Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen
Owner/Distributor: Wacom
Summary of Technical Details:
This is a brand NEW digital sketch pen.  What's new is that can capture a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper(In other words you do not need a special tablet to sketch on).
This is the link to the Technical Specifications

  • Inkling Digital pen:
    • Dimensions: 153 x 17 mm
    • Weight: 21 grams
    • working time - up to 15 hours
    • charging time - up to 3 hours
  • Inkling Digital Receiver:
    • Dimensions: width 71mm / depth 32 mm / height 16mm
    • Weight: 38 grams (making total weight of 59 grams)
  • Inkling Sketch Manager
What you buy: Inkling digital pen, Inkling receiver, Inkling charging case, batteries, USB cable, 4 spare ink cartridges, Inkling Sketch Manager application, quick start guide, online user′s manual
Release date: due mid-September 2011 (USA) no date identified as yet for other locations in Europe
Retail Price: $199.99 / €169.90 / £?
Summary: It's a digital pen which has been designed for rough concepting and creative brainstorming.  I take this to mean they've not yet worked out how to introduce the control required to achieve fine mark-making.
Target Audience: people who like digital tools for creative picture-making
  • artists, 
  • illustrators
  • storyboarders 
  • people sharing ideas in real time with clients (as a digital file)
  • anyone who likes convenience, speed and spontaneity when loosely sketching their ideas on paper 
Suitable for: Those who use pen and ink and are interested in how to digitise the process - but aren't particularly keen on carrying a tablet around with them.
Unsuitable for:  
  • Die-hard pen and ink brigade who have no interest in digital products
  • people who like a lot of control over the products they use to create marks
  • those who like conventional ink pens with a variety of widths possible due to nib chosen
Technical Features
  • "like" sketching with a ball pen - nibs are standard ball points and there are no plans for any other sort of nibs
  • can be used on ordinary paper - no special tablet required
  • scope to use A7 to A4 paper size (portrait/landscape) 
  • receiver is clipped to edge of paper pad to record and connected to computer by USB to transmit (and you can't draw within 0.8" of it)
  • hundreds of sketches can be stored on the receiver prior to infra-red / ultrasonic transmission to PC or Mac
  • uses Wacom's pressure sensing technology - providing 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity for natural pen strokes
  • possible to create layered, digital vector files 
  • sketch files can be saved in Inkling Sketch Manager in the following formats: JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF formats
  • Export sketches with layers directly from the Inkling Sketch Manager software into 
    • Adobe® Photoshop®, 
    • Illustrator® (CS3+), 
    • Autodesk® Sketchbook® Pro (2011+) or 
    • Autodesk® Sketchbook® Designer.
  • no need to carry a tablet around to create digital sketches - you get to carry a compact case with pen and receiver instead!
  • good range of different file formats possible
  • good range of pressure sensing capabilities - will be familiar to users of existing Wacom products
  • storage capacity seems reasonable in principle
  • useful YouTube videos for demos while you're in "interested" mode given the absence of competent product advice from merchandisers
  • videos appear to demonstrate the product claims
Think Again?
  • the issue with a lot of digital sketching products isn't the fact it can be done, it's how much control the user has over HOW it can be done.
  • unclear how much the replacement ink cartridges are going to cost (this of course is where those who sell printers make all their money)
  • files likely to need refining using a computer - which means you'll still need a digital tool that works the way you like to do this
  • some interested users want to see an eraser 
    • point made that erasure can be done when file is transferred to computer 
    • however it does underline the fact that erasure is NOT possible while the pen is in use
    • the YouTube commentator who suggested lines should be made in pencil first has rather lost the plot!
Suppliers: Available from


What do people think about the Wacom Inkling?

That's the question!

I'm still looking for reviews by people who have seen this and used it and are artists not techies or technical journalists!

My initial thinking is that I like a fine line, lots of control and am not a fan of drawing with a ball point.  It's also rather expensive and I don't like the fact we don't know how much replacement cartridges will cost.  On that basis, I don't think I can currently make a case for trying this out.

However I might be persuaded when the proper user reviews start filtering through


Sarah Wimperis said...

Wow, I have wanted something like this for ages, now I can do my roughs for illustration anywhere, I shall be getting one as soon as the latest batch of illo jobs pay up. I will report back!,

vivien said...

I'd love one!

bishart said...

$200.00 is VERY reasonable for something like this. most of what ive read, people seem to agree as well.

and the replacement inks can be bought at any place pen ink is bought, staples walmart, target, cvs. those wont be expensive at all.

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