I saw the video below of the Wacom Inkling early this morning, so at first I wasn’t sure whether it was real or a dream. But lo, the product page remains even after a couple of coffees, so Wacom’s newest digital drawing capture device must really be a genuine pen-and-ink clipboard that captures, stores and then transfers your real-life drawings to your computer as layered vector files.
If you’ve ever used a tablet before, you’ll know that the Inkling is a pretty amazing prospect. Wacom’s drawing tablets have always tried to mimic the experience of drawing on paper, but the majority of the time you’re applying a pen to a blank plastic surface and then looking up at a screen to see what you’re drawing; it’s not anywhere near the same as sketching on paper, and it comes with a significant adjustment period. Even using the expensive Cintiq line, which lets you draw directly on a display built-in to a drawing tablet, doesn’t really feel like drawing on paper.
With the Inkling, digital drawing feels like traditional drawing because it is. The Inkling is basically an A4-sized clipboard that works with any old piece of paper you have lying around, complete with a pressure-sensitive drawing stylus that’s actually a pen. You draw on your paper clipped to the Inkling using the pen, and a detachable sensor records your strokes so that you can later upload them to your computer via USB. Tapping the sensor also creates new layers, so that you have a more flexible file to work with after import. The Inkling is wire-free and rechargeable with an estimated 8-hour battery life, so you can use it wherever you want, and the pen takes standard Mini Ballpoint refill cartridges, so there’s nothing expensive or specialized to replace.
Using Wacom Sketch Manager software that ships with the Inkling, you import your images as vector-based drawings that you can then manipulate in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, as well as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro or Sketchbook Designer. You can also save files as plain old unlayered JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF files if you’d rather not do much advanced editing to them after upload.
If the Inkling still doesn’t impress based on my description, check out the official video from Wacom below. It pretty much guarantees, along with the relatively inexpensive $199 price tag, that I’ll be ponying up for one of these when it arrives mid-September.