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Monday, December 5, 2011

Inkling Review Followup

Recently, I posted a blog & video review for the Wacom Iinkling. The video was made after I've done a handful of quick sketches and tests. The result were pretty good, although not perfect. But after another week of use, the overall results are rather finicky and unpredictable.  
Inkling example on a good day.... these lines
were fairly accurate.

The product looks and feels really nice, but the technology is just not consistent enough. To test  and improve the accuracy, I've tested it on an normal sketchbook, and compared it to the inkling and the paper taped onto the table. Below are experiments to see if the paper and device movement is the problem for the inaccuracy. I drew the grid first, then filled each box with a circle, one row at a time from top to bottom. Then I added an triangle to each, then crossed the circles. Lastly I drew an X on the top of each triangle, roughly connecting the sides of the triangle. This is to see if accuracy is an issue coming back to a specific spot, after using on parts far from the previous spot. The results were the taped version was better, but still inconsistent and can be off. See bottom rows of each, and you can see that the further the worse the accuracy gets. These are roughly 8x5 papers.... any bigger than this, the lines will be pretty consistently bad.

used on a regular hard cover sketch book, and
used as intended - sitting on the couch just
drawing without moving the sketch book too
much. Results can be pretty off, not many
of the X's match up to the triangles. inaccuracies
gets worse, the further from the device,
see how bad it is on row 8.
Inkling and paper taped onto a table, to insure
that nothing moves. The inaccuracy is still
present, but not nearly as bad as using on a
sketchbook. See the inaccuracies on 5A, 6A, 8D etc.

If these inaccurate lines happens to be on the important parts of your drawing, such as face and eyes, that just sucks, as a millimeter off can change the expression completely. At $200 price tag, it's a bit hard to justify something that isn't working perfectly. The inkling was marketed to clip onto a sketch book, but it really is better when used on a non-moving surface. So it's not the portable device that it promises to be. When you're sketching on the sketchpad, you can see the inkling bouncing around, no wonder it's got accuracy issues. I started to use a clipboard with the inkling and sketchbook.... but this defeats the whole purpose of the inkling.

I was fairly happy after a handful of good drawing came out of the initial tests. But the next dozen drawing were so off, that not many were really worth salvaging. At this point, I can only hope that next version would be more reliable and can be something truly a portable digital/traditional device. What I think Wacom should have done, is to use their normal positioning technology, and just sell a clip board that you clip any paper to. The clipboard is just a normal Wacom tablet that tracks the pen's position, and records your ink lines like the inkling, but with the accuracy of Wacom's tablets. 

On a side note, if anyone is wondering about refills... I found these pen refills at Staples, they are a dollar or two a pop, and work well with the inkling. The ink and feel is about the same as the ones that ships with the Inkling. 
Inkling Refills


  1. That's too bad. I just bought the Bamboo stylus for my Ipad2. Haven't messed with it all that much, but it seems pretty cool. Color options seem limited. Of course you need an IPad to use it..and their Bamboo paper app. Best of luck ironing out the Inkling problems.

  2. I just got my inkling today and am having many of the same issues as you. I've got a couple of questions to ask you... What kind of settings do you use for the pen when you open the wpi file in SketchBook? I'm new to this program and can't seem to get it how I want it. Also when I open the WPI file in SketchBook it seems that if I have used layers they all open at different sizes.
    Awesome Blog. Cheers.

  3. @Jamie I would use the default pencil, and try playing with the high and low line thickness and opacity settings, it will take several tries to get it looking correctly (it all depends on your canvas size). About layers opening in different sizes, I have ran into that once, and it was on the PC, and I've only had it happen once. Never happened on the Mac, which I use it on most of the time. I assume that it looks right in the sketch manager, so probably sketchbook not reading it correctly. I'm not sure what to suggest, except to either merge the layers together in sketch manager, or resize each layer and move it to the right place in sketchbook. Either way it sucks... the hardware and software just feel rough.

  4. Thanks for the tips. Its pretty strange that Wacom have put something so rough into the wild. When i installed it on my mac it broke the drivers for my two Wacom tablets and I had to reinstall them both. Everything else they make is so good. I've had my first tablet for nearly 6 years and it still works like a dream. I'm going to give it a few more days, then it might find its way onto ebay. Thanks to your blog though I've started playing on sketchbook. I'd always used Corel Painter before. Its nice to try something different, its got a really great interface.
    Again, thanks for the advice.

  5. I'm really late to the game with this comment, but you mentioned that you thought they should have gone with a clipboard style design for the inkling... this guy looks like pretty much what you mentioned (if you already have an intuos 4/5 that is)...

    As long as you have something like sketchbook pro open on screen it should just mimic what your drawing. If they could make that with a standalone unit that records when the intuos isn't attached to a PC, then they'd be on to a winner.