How to make a decent drawing tablet

This is a nice idea: drawing straight onto a portable computer display, with the intuitiveness of pencil on paper, but with helpful computer features like Undo and Save-as and Transform.*
Seems like the ipad isn’t too far away, so let’s have a look at what they need to add:


The Pretty Good model

  • fine-tipped pressure sensitive stylus
  • pixel-level stylus position recognition
  • high ppi screen
  • thinnest possible gap between tablet surface and actual pixels (esp. if there is no on-screen cursor, so with thick glass you end up drawing in a slightly different position than you meant to)

The Best model

  • no distance between tablet surface and pixels (like Kindle e-ink screen)
  • really really high ppi screen
  • can somehow reproduce the feel of lots of different drawing surfaces and implements. The hardness of the implement, the tip shape and the resistance of the surface all influence visual style. (E.g. drawing on a glass Cintiq with a hard plastic stylus feels too smooth and thus imprecise.)**
  • tablet is large and light (and cheap!)
Alright Steve Jobs, let’s get on with it. I’m wasting precious years of my artistic life using sub-optimal equipment.

*The Wacom Cintiq is the closest device currently, but it is expensive, unwieldy, too lo-res, and the glass is thick. However I will be surprised if Wacom updates it. It will probably puddle along, secure as market leader, until a tablet-computer-with-proper-stylus comes along and makes it obsolete.

**Kim told me that someone told her that writing on a banana skin with ballpoint pen feels great. They were right. That should definitely be a setting on the Best model.


Update: Hmm, this Windows slate is getting closer. Doesn’t have the specs for making artwork yet but perhaps in a version or two?