Tag Archives: Styli

More screen sharing… (HP, Sony and MS Surface).

Sometimes, often times in fact, I like to head down to PC World in Guildford (which is about 15 minutes walk away from where I work) and draw on a screen or two. The nice thing about being in tablet art is that not only can I draw on the screens I have at my disposal but I can also have a play with screens in a number of shops on demo and display. I’ve yet to come up with a name for the process that I like (having gone through Doodle bombing, Screen sharing and Share Screening off and on) but it’s something that I like to do for an hour or so. Generally each picture tends to clock in at some internal body clock at fifteen to twenty minutes and then it’s on to the next screen and device to test drive. It amuses me to think that on a good fifty or so machines (minimum) there’s a picture of a frog or a snail or so on, untilthe machine is wiped

 The other day I popped in and drew on an HP All in One:

…followed by a Sony Xperia Z:

…and then I finished the session off on a Surface Pro 2 (which I wasn’t going to but was asked nicely enough by one of the staff to think ‘oh OK, one more picture then…’).


As always, for the most part, I had no idea what I was going to draw. I keep meaning to have a plan for such times but they tend to happen without warning and mostly on whim so, for the most part, the planning happens as I’m walking through the doors to see which machines are available or new…

 Did I have a favourite machine? It’s what I’m often asked either as I’m drawing or when people see that I chop and change devices so much. Nope, not really… I have a couple of machines/machine makers which I don’t like – because of muted colours or rough Matte finish screens (which in a way is a complete about face as I can remember when I traded up from my Matte screen polycarb Macbook to a MBP with glossy screen and oh boy did I moan like mad…) Some machines take to more styli than others – often with no rhyme or reason. The HP All in One likes the Nomad Flex over the Nomad Compose for example, but that’s fine. In the same way that some apps suit some styli more than others so do some screens. It’s not a dealbreaker for me (to this date the only machine – tablet or otherwise – which has worked with all styli I use is the HTC One M8. Nothing works with everything).

Which stylus is my favourite? Often asked that and my answer – always – is ‘I can only pick one?’ There are styli that I don’t like – mainly for mechanical or ergonomic reasons  – but oftentimes I chat to an artist who likes one I don’t like and, again, that’s fine J Roz Hall loves his Alupen, personally I tend not to like rubberised tips on styli. Susan Murtaugh likes the Jot Touch PixelPoint and I REALLY don’t get along with that one (despite having tried my hardest to learn to like it). Each to their own.

I tend to like these ones here, sort of:

(Styli painted in ArtRage app).

I painted it for a tablet art class I’m running in London to illustrate a good range of styli which might suit that participants. The Cosmonaut is one I don’t use that much but feel would suit people with less fine ability to grip a smaller stylus and as the class age runs from 10 – 80 I tried to cover all bases. Similarly the Nomad Long Hair is a fabulous stylus but I prefer the short hair one. All in all though it’s a good group of styli which meets a whole range of needs.

 Regardless: the opportunity to draw on screens is always much appreciated. Hope you like the pics.

App meet stylus.

Sometimes an app (or screen) just fits a stylus perfectly.

On my Galaxy Tab 8.9 I prefer the Pogo Sketch Pro and Nomad Compose, for example. The other day, drawing on PC World machines, I thoroughly enjoyed the HP and Nomad Flex paintbrush. On the Note 2 I seem to remember liking the Wacom Feel and Dagi 501 and on the Surface RT 1 the Dagi was also my favourite.

And so on. The Jot Script goes with most things 🙂

Occasionally someone asks me why I don’t just stick with one. I’m minded to ask if they’d ask a classical painter to stick with one brush or a driver to just stick to one car… A chef to stick to one pan only, etc. I like holding a variety of styli and using the one which makes sense for the part of the picture I’m making, whether that’s outlines, colours, shading etc. I use, and love using, the Jot Script, the Nomad Compose and Flex and Mini 2, the Stylus Sock, the Pogo Connect and Sketch Pro, the Wacom Intuos, the Dagi 501 (and other flavours of Dagi too) and a good few more. There are few styli I hate and, to be honest, life’s too short for hate so I don’t bother to talk about them really. Someone else might love that stylus and that’s entirely fine.

Anyhow I drew this on the way home from work (ahem, stopping to sit for forty minutes to do so). I used Adobe Ideas – an app which I like a lot – and the Pogo Connect, which I also like a lot. It was a beautiful combination – some apps meld perfectly into the chosen stylus and though, often, I’d chop and change between the range of scribble sticks I have to hand this picture was only the Pogo Connect and I wasn’t unhappy with that choice.

I do have a clanging headache though so have taken a headache pill as well as a medicinal hot drink of ginger, lemongrass and whisky.

Three more emails to do then lights out for the night. Night 🙂


A matter of styl(i).

Yesterday, over twitter, I was asked which stylus I used to make my Creative Week images.

It’s a good question, a valid question, and an incorrect question and it strikes at the heart of how some people see iPad art. The other day I responded to a different tweet (from a technology magazine) about the 7 inch iPad and I said that I was looking forward to it and thought it would do well in the education world. “Why, don’t the deserve a real iPad?” came the reply. I’ve often been asked if I do ‘proper’ art as well as draw on iDevices.

This is the problem. To me the iPad is the most interesting creative tool that I have come across. The screen lends itself to drawing and painting and creating and collaborating. Styli help with that effort (but you can draw without them). But this new realm of artistry didn’t begin with the iPad (nor did it begin with the iPhone) but it was the New Yorker, Jorge Colombo and the Brushes app that popularised it to the extent that I and millions of other sat up and took notice. So was the iPhone a toy? Certainly not. So why would the 7 inch version be a plaything? For primary school children with smaller hands the smaller version will be perfect. The price will help, it’s an interesting proposition (as is the Nexus 7 but the app store doesn’t support the hardware anywhere near as well as the iDevices and their access to more tools that you could ever imaging utilising). I like the idea of a 7″ iPad (or iReader as Kyle Swager thinks it will be called – and I wouldn’t bet against him).

Would you tell an oil painter to use one paintbrush? A sculpter to use only a hammer or chisel? So why are people surprised when I say I use a handful of styli? Because it’s unexpected. And that’s part of the magic. For the majority of users an iDevice is understood as a content consumption tool. Draw Something challenged that stereotype for a brief, beautiful moment, but people still look over my shoulder when I’m painting, especially when I do so on a train or a bus. I’m always happy to answer questions about what I’m doing and what stylus I’m using – what surprises me is that so many people ask, especially on the tube.

So, onto the styli:

(Click for larger image. Drawn using Adobe Ideas on an iPad 2).

I’ve more but these are the ones I could find, having been asked to submit an image on the subject at pretty short notice. All of them I like, all for different reasons. A stylus is as personal as a paintbrush and most artists I know have a good few brushes that they move between, often stored upright in a paint stained jam jar (although I always preferred a Marmite jar myself 🙂 ). Me, I keep my styli in a Stylus frog, to make sure they don’t roll away when I’m not looking or the bus turns a corner.

In addition to these I also have a cheap eBay knock off of the Alupen (not at all responsive), a cheap eBay rip off of the Dagi, surprisingly good but not transparent, a couple of eBay styli with thick, chiselled rubber tips (horrible, slow and laggy), a Samsung stylus (which I loved but died after a few months of concerted work) and a cheap eBay stylus with a biro pen on the other end which was fab but I’ve since lost… 🙁

The styli I want to use are: the Redpen, the Aponyo, the Collusion, the oStylus, the new Dagi, the o-tool and, like many mobile device artists around the world; the Blue Tiger prototype from Ten One Design. Which looks very, very interesting indeed. (the only problem is a: cost and b: the fact that at the moment I’m a part time teacher with an occasional freelance funding stream for such things and small matters like replacing a roof at short notice tend to take priority over fripperies like another stylus for my collection. Sadly).

Do I have a favourite stylus? Often. But not the same one all of the time and not the same one for all of the apps. It’s a mood thing and, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so, I always encourage people to try a stylus before they buy a stylus. I’ve done a few events over the past year (World Skills Fest, London International Tech Show, 2 x Pechakucha’s and a few other things here and there) and, at each one, I’ve taken my well fed Stylus Frog with me for people to try and find the one that works for them best. I’m in the process of being booked for two events in October and, if you can join me you’d be most welcome to test drive a stylus or two.

So, what did I use at the Adobe session on Tuesday? Does that signify a favourite or two? I used the Stylus Sock and two Nomad paintbrushes (short and long hair). Why them? Well, I do love them both, but the main thing was that they were silent and I had a camera perched on my shoulder 🙂 You see? Different styli, different uses. All amazing.

(Drew this to test out the Cosmonaut… If i get a new app or a new stylus I try and draw something, often my frog, just to see how they work…)

(and, ahem, I also named my iPad art book after him, so he’s that important to me 🙂 )