Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wacom Bamboo Stylus for the iPad (my impressions)

Yesterday my Wacom Bamboo Stylus for the iPad came in the mail. The first thing I learned about using it was I am inclined to drag my hand around on the screen when I draw. I think left handed people are particularly predisposed toward this behavior. The remedy for now was to throw on a cycling glove. Eventually I'll find some thin cotton gloves and cut the fingers off, probably leaving the little finger intact. You still want your finger tips free for menu navigation, gestures, some drawing and because you want to feel the stylus.

Other observations:

  • I have long fingers I find the Bamboo to be somewhat short. I think it could use another inch or so. I already heard the joke in my head so forget it.
  • It requires a bit of pressure and since the tip is a rubber nib, ball-like and squishy hollow at the tip, you get a certain amount of drag from that but I think you get some drag from charcoal pencils too so what do I know. Keep in mind I'm a hobbyist when it comes to drawing. I am, in fact, drawing mostly to support other creative digital workflows and secondarily because I would like to learn to draw better.
  • Back to squishy, the tip housing unscrews so the nib can be replaced. If I already had at least one additional nib I'd try packing it with something to see if I can find a better feel. If you're reading this trying to decide on a Bamboo or some other stylus and you're wondering how to order additional nibs Wacom has that hidden away on their site for some reason (I guess there's a reason?!?) Here's the link. Out of stock and no add to cart right now, so no backorders. I could kick myself on that one but I was waiting for the stylus to arrive. Anyway, I'll probably try something like a latex caulk in a nib once I can get some extras.
  • The nib is also a little rubber dust magnet, I suggest going over your iPad with a microfiber cloth before drawing. It's not as clean as you think it is.
  • The price: You'll see this everywhere, the price sucks! I paid $25.43 on Amazon with free shipping. The Griffin stylus is under $11 + shipping or get your order over $25 on Amazon and it'll ship for free. I got the Wacom for the name and it seemed to get the best reviews but for what it is the price is ridiculous.
Overall impression so far, it's a lot better than me trying to draw with the tips of my fingers. I am simply not good at that plus I think once I get into a vector drawing program on the iPad the benefits of a stylus will be even more pronounced. It also has me finally learning Sketchbook Pro for the iPad, the 1st app I ever bought for the iPad2. BTW, I recently bumped into the user manual for Sketchbook Pro for the iPad here. This link will download the PDF. I don't believe Autodesk makes this documnet obvious in anyway, especially considering the name of the document is, file_48931.pdf. I have a sort of long bitter-sweet relationship with AutoDesk I won't get into. That aside, I had made a New Year's resolution to draw more with pen/pencil and paper and a 1/2 hour later I ordered the stylus but I think the main thing for me is to draw in a manner more conventional to analog drawing with more frequency and a $1,000 Wacom Cintiq is out of the picture (my old Wacom has seen better days.) I also like the idea of being able to sit in a recliner, a waiting room, parked in a car, etc. and being able to draw. I'll work on the finger thing as I go.

January 20, 2012 Update

After numerous periodic check-ins on the Wacom site I was finally able to order the 3-pack of extra nibs today. Talk about your ripoffs. The $4.95 for 3 little pieces of rubber is bad enough but they add on $5 for shipping. The use the UPS service that drops it off with the USPS somewhere along the way. They also quote, "Allow 12-15 business days for delivery after order processing." Come on, put them in a bubble pack and throw them in the mail!

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