Is this the next step in the evolution of the personal computer? Merging of the laptop with the tablet?
Last time I was browsing in PC World, the idea of a laptop-cum-tablet really tempted me. Before I knew it I was making for home with a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 in the bag.
Mind you, even before unboxing I realised this tablet was a lump. 2 pounds. Not too bad for a laptop, but tiring to hold for a tablet.
Another disadvantage reared up soon after. At first I was attracted by those Microsoft desktop panels with their simple, no-nonsense squares. It didn’t last. Several years ago I switched to Mac from Windows, and I soon discovered I didn’t take kindly to going back.
Alas, my elegant Surface Pro is Ebay bound pretty shortly.
One thing I shall really miss. Even in the few days I have had the Surface Pro, I have come to love the painting with the Fresh Paint app.
The Fresh Paint app for Surface comes with the tablet. During its evolution, the Fresh Paint app was developed in the materials lab at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was tried by some 60,000 people at the museum in over a year.
The Fresh Paint app has wonderful oil and watercolour brushes. I used them together with the blender tool for the autumn leaf above.
Fresh Paint app even works with my marvellous Wacom Bamboo Feel stylus, though the tablet does come with a stylus of its own.
I’ve been taking a break from painting on mobile tablets and phablets. Must say I’m enjoying the pressure sensitivity of my Wacom stylus. Working on the desktop in applications like Corel Painter, the hand that holds the brush may be a step removed from the canvas. That is, you are not drawing directly on the screen as you are on a tablet or phone. You’re using your pen like a mouse, at the side of your computer. There’s compensation for this dissociation – for the moment at least – in the responsiveness of your stylus on the desktop. It’s possible the touch screens of up-to-the-minute tablets and phones may just not be up to so much pressure sensitivity. Sorry to say so, but even the Wacom powered S Pen on my Galaxy Note 2 still fails to cut the mustard. The S Pen may have a lovely pointed pen-like nib and no battery, but however loudly it boasts of 128 or even 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, I’ve yet to achieve more than 4 or 5 in any app. Mobile digital artists, don’t despair. I’ve heard whispers on the web that Wacom – or is it Samsung? Never mind. Samsung have bought part of Wacom. Whichever, I have heard that they are working night and day to devise a new screen that may yet provide the wonderful pressure sensitivity of their side-of-the-desktop tablets. I do hope I’m right.
I started to count the drawing and painting apps I’ve tried for iPad and iPhone. Even put them on a spreadsheet to compare them. In the end I gave up. There were just too many.
In danger of going down with a bad case of App Overload, I cut down to just a few of the very best. Brushes, Sketchbook, Art Rage and Drawing Pad made the grade. Later on I added Procreate.
Today Procreate is top of the list. This painting app is lightning fast at very high resolution, and has a wondrous array of brushes.
In Procreate you can even make your own brushes. The mountains and cypress trees in the background above were my first try at DIY Procreate brushes. I didn’t get them quite right, but they did turn out to be easier than I expected.