Wacom is the venerable maker of pressure sensitive tablets and styli that have been the standard for digital artists for many years. My understanding is that the name is a combination of “wa”, from a Japanese word meaning harmony, and “com” from computer, meaning a device that puts one in harmony with a computer.
They make several lines of products — their industry standard Intuos line of professional tablets, of which I have been a dedicated user in one form or another for over 15 years, their newer consumer oriented line of Bamboo tablets and touchpads and their high end Cintiq models. The latter incorporate computer displays in the tablet to allow for drawing directly on the screen.
To these lines (and their smaller items like the Bamboo stylus for iPad) they are adding a new product called Inkling, a “digital sketch pen”.
This is a ballpoint pen that incorporates some electronics and is accompanied by a small receiver box that clips onto the top of a sketchbook or drawing pad, allowing the user to draw with the familiar tool of ink on paper and simultaneously have that drawing stored electronically as a digital image for later download to a computer.
There have been other “digital pens” that perform a similar function, but this is the first to offer pressure sensitivity, that quality in traditional digital drawing tablets that allows artists to vary the line weight (and often other characteristics of a stroke) with the amount of pressure applied to the pen. It also provides the ability for artists to add “layers” to the digital file, so that different parts of the drawing can be easily separated out on the computer.
The digital image can be downloaded to a computer via USB and into the Wacom software provided. The included Sketch Manager software can transform the lines into vector paths or leave them as a bitmap. The files can then be exported into Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and other common applications used by digital artists.
This is obviously meant to accommodate quick sketches and rough drawings as opposed to the more finished work one would do directly on the computer with a tablet and graphics software, but it should be a welcome addition to the digital artist arsenal, and perhaps spread the appeal of digital drawing to those more comfortable with traditional drawing tools.
One of the barriers traditional artists face when starting to use a pressure sensitive tablet is getting used to drawing while looking at the screen instead of one’s hand, which takes a little getting used to. This is certainly a less expensive way around that than the deluxe Cintiq models.
The Inkling digital sketchpen retails for $199.00 U.S.D., and should be available in mid September.
(The product page link given is for the Americas; see the general Wacom site for links to other world regions.)