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Wacom Inkling Review

A Digital Sketch Pen

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Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen

Wacom Inkling in use.

Photo © Bruce King, used with permission.

The Inkling pen allows you to create digital sketches while working on standard paper or in a sketchbook. It's designed for the beginning stages of a creative project, when laying out new concepts. Sketches can later be transferred to your computer for refinement.

The pen has a pressure-sensitive ballpoint tip with a sensor that works with a wireless receiver. The receiver clips to the edge of your paper or sketchbook to capture a likeness of the sketch digitally, and can store hundreds of sketches before transferring them into your computer. The Inkling Sketch Manager software opens the files and saves them in JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG, and PDF formats. It can also manage layers and export files for editing in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, or Autodesk Sketchbook Designer. Inkling is kept in a compact carrying case that also recharges the pen and receiver. It's portability gives you the freedom to work digitally away from your computer; sketching out ideas on the go or creating a rough preliminary study in almost any location.

Pros

  • Inkling is portable and wireless, which allows you to sketch digitally away from your computer.
  • Ideal if you prefer to sketch on paper rather than use a graphics tablet or pen display.
  • Layers can be created while sketching.
  • Files can be saved in various file formats for use with other applications.
  • Files can be exported for editing in certain graphics programs, including the widely-used Adobe Photoshop.
  • Produces vector graphics which allows individual lines to be easily edited and entire drawings to be resizing without losing quality.

Cons

  • There is no way to erase while sketching.
  • Direct sunlight may interfere with the receiver's ability to capture a likeness of the strokes.
  • Strokes farther away from the center of the paper may not be fully accurate.
  • Strokes very far from the receiver or extremely close to it might not record.
  • Inkling will not record strokes if there is an obstruction between the pen tip with its sensor and the receiver.
  • Files can only be opened using the Inkling Sketch Manager software.
  • Mac users may find that the Sketch Manager software opens at login without an option otherwise.

Wacom Inkling Description

Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen

Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen

Photo © Bruce King, used with permission.
  • The easy-to-grip Ballpoint pen is comfortable to draw with.

  • Pen uses Wacom pressure-sensing technology, which detects how hard the pen is pressed onto the paper, and appears in the digital version of the drawing.

  • Comes with four standard mini ballpoint refills (1.0mm size) which can be purchased through Wacom or found in stationary stores that carry pen accessories.

  • Receiver can be positioned at the top, bottom, or sides of your paper or sketchbook, for left or right handed use.

  • Receiver stores hundreds of sketches before transferring them to the your PC (Windows operating system) or Mac (Intel-based).

  • The pen and the receiver can be stored and recharged in a compact carrying case. Charging time is three hours with a working time of eight hours.

  • A mini USB cable connects the receiver to your computer for transferring the digital files.

  • You can draw on standard paper or in a sketchbook with a maximum size of 8.27 inches by 11.69 inches.

  • The included Sketch Manager Software opens the files, allows you to manage layers, and save files in JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG, and PDF formats.

  • You can play back your drawing to show each of the strokes, step by step in the order that they occurred.

  • Files can be exported for editing in Adobe Photoshop CS3 or later, Adobe Illustrator CS3 or later, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2011 or later, or Autodesk Sketchbook Designer 2011 or later.

Working with Wacom Inkling

I'm a website designer who also creates graphics and illustrations, and I prefer to start my work on paper. With the Inkling I can avoid the scanning process which involves positioning the sketch, setting the correct exposure, removing dust specks… Not that the Inkling will eliminate my need of a scanner, since some projects call for it, and it won't replace my graphics tablet, which I like to use for editing digital files.

The compact carrying case is a nice size for portability. I can just place the receiver inside the case and the pen inside its hollow hinge, and take it anywhere.

I don't have to think about what to do to start a new file, I just clip the receiver onto a new piece of paper or sketchbook page and the Inkling recognizes the start of a new sketch and creates a new file. A green light on both the pen and the receiver indicates when the Inkling is ready for use.

Wacom Sketch Manager Software

Wacom Sketch Manager Software

Screen Shot © Sandra Trainor
It took me several sketches before I finally got the hang of it. I kept forgetting to keep my free hand from obstructing the path between the pen and the receiver, which caused missing strokes in my digital files. I suppose that if you tend to hold a pen near the tip you would have to be careful to not place your fingers over the sensor. I found the pen to be comfortable to use, and I like how creating layers while sketching is effortless, with a touch of a button on top of the receiver.

Inkling produces vector graphics, which are easy to edit. I was able to adjust individual strokes and scale entire sketches to a large size or small without losing quality. And, since the Inkling can save layered files, I was able to edit or delete individual layers that held the mistakes I made when sketching. I would prefer to have an eraser at the time of sketching, but editing layers in my computer also works.

My computer is a Mac, and with a Mac the Sketch Manager software opens at login without any other option. I could have gotten used to this small annoyance, but instead alleviated the problem by making a copy of the software, giving it a new name, and deleting the original.

It would be nice if I could open the files directly in my choice of graphics software, rather than having to first open the files in the Inkling Sketch Manager software. Not that it takes long to export the files, but that it feels like an unnecessary step since all my editing will most likely take place in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.

Overall, the Inkling is a product that I've come to enjoy. I'm not sure if it's for everyone, but I find it freeing. With it, I can be away from my computer and still sketch digitally; quickly getting my ideas on paper or making a preliminary sketch toward a final work, which is exactly what the Inkling is intended for.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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