Life drawing with a Surface Pro 4 with Clip Studio

Digital Life Drawing 02

Digital life drawing

Digital Life Drawing 03

I’ve been using Clip Studio and a Surface Pro 4 to do life drawing sketches for about half a year now. I really like the combination. I thought I it was time to share my thoughts on both the tablet and the software with a mini review on each.

Clip Studio Review
I really like the ability to sketch in vector mode. This means you can scale the lines to any size and they’ll still be sharp. Even more impressive is the ability to go back in and adjust the shape and the thickness of the line after I’ve drawn it. Great for doing very precise line work.The software did a good job of creating vectors that represented what I was drawing but there are still some limitations to be aware of. It was usually when erasing ¬†that I noticed this. A continuous line would get broken into a bunch of smaller lines. At the ends of these lines you’d occasionally get artifacts that were difficult to get rid of. Drawing in raster mode did not have this problem.

I still haven’t gotten used to the paint brushes, I haven’t quite figured out a way of producing a nice organic painterly effect. The pencil is great though. Just the right amount of texture, it does an excellent job of imitating the real thing.

When a marquee selection is made, a mini toolbar pops up with a bunch of options relating to that selection. This is a great feature as it meant I didn’t have to use the keyboard or go digging through menus to access those tools. In fact, Clip Studio is really easy to use without a keyboard. This is really handy for sketching because I really don’t want to have both the tablet and the keyboard on my lap at the same time.

Some other nice features for tablets are it’s stability control, the ability to adjust the pressure response, pinch zoom and two finger canvas rotate.

I think it’s a pretty great product and perfect for a Windows based tablet like the Surface Pro 4. What’s even better is it’s only fifty bucks! It doesn’t have all the features that Photoshop has but the difference in features is nowhere near as big as the difference in price would have you believe.

Go get it here: http://www.clipstudio.net/en

Surface Pro 4 Review
The model in question is the Surface Pro 4, i7 processor, 16GB RAM.

The pen feels solid, high quality, and a lot closer to a normal pen than the chunky Wacom stylus. Even though it’s missing the nice rubber pen grip, I haven’t noticed any discomfort after using it for long periods of time.

The pen glides easily on the smooth surface of the tablet. It’s pleasant to use although I think I would probably prefer the feel of a matte surface.

The high resolution screen makes sketching feel really smooth and organic. I can’t see the pixels unless I’m looking really closely.

Accuracy is almost spot on when holding the pen with a normal, writing grip. Accuracy drops when I turn my hand around and draw from different angles. I think this is because the part of the pen that sends the signal to the tablet is located inside the barrel, quite a few millimeters away from the tip. This means that the calibration can only be accurate for when the pen is held at the angle it was calibrated with. For me, it’s not much of a problem because I rarely change the angle of the pen.

There is a right click button on the pen but to use it you have to press and hold the pen button and then touch the pen to the screen. It’s a really finicky way of doing it and I much prefer the two side buttons of the Wacom pens. The back button does function as an eraser but it doesn’t have any pressure sensitivity.

Pressure sensitivity is excellent, the only minor annoyance is that there is a minimum pressure that is required for the pen to make a mark. This was noticeable when trying to do really light strokes because sometimes I didn’t get any stroke at all.

Lag is there but pretty much unnoticeable for me unless I’m using large brushes.

Despite my complaints, the tablet really is a joy to use. The pen is responsive. The tablet is light enough to use on my lap for extended periods of time during life drawing sessions but powerful enough to run proper Windows programs with high resolution canvases and many layers.

 

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