Monday, January 5, 2015

Pros of Using a Surface Pro 3 for Illustration

For years now, I've dreamed of being able to work remotely without having to lug around my laptop and Cintiq.

For a while, I'd been eyeing what seemed to be the top three options for a portable digital work station: the Cintiq Hybrid, the Cintiq Companion and the Surface Pro 3. Getting to try out one of the Wacom options proved to be impossible--I couldn't find one near me to test out. So one day I went to my local Best Buy to see if they had any Surface Pros on display. Luckily they did and I was very impressed! After a few days, my husband surprised me with one for my birthday and I was off to the races.

Now that I've had it for a good four months, it's safe to say I love it!

Specs:
  • Surface Pro 3 Intel i7, 1.7 GHz with 256 GB
  • Screen Resolution: 2160x1440
  • Uploaded Software: Manga Studio 5

Favorite Features:
  1. Compatibility Manga Studio 5 (my illustration preference) is perfectly compatible with this machine. It's interface is made for touchscreen units with the ability to rotate/scroll/pan with your fingertip (see video below). I have seamlessly worked back and forth between the Surface Pro 3 and my iMac/Cintiq using Dropbox to share my files. Also, the line quality and pen pressure in Manga Studio for my Surface Pro 3 is very close to what I get on the Cintiq. After some fooling around, I got the pen pressure on the Surface Pro 3 to match my desktop's Manga Studio pen pressure settings.
  2. Convenience It is super light and the battery lasts a good 6 hour work session without being plugged in. The plug itself is petite and not cumbersome at all. Plugging into an outlet at Starbucks is hassle-free.
  3. Ease of Use Being that I am an Apple person, the Microsoft interface was foreign, but only took a bit of exploring to get used to. Finding apps, saving documents and locating files is pretty straight forward.
  4. PALM REJECTION! I have had no hiccups with the Surface Pro 3 rejecting the palm of my hand when I'm working. No stutters at all. This makes drawing on the Surface Pro 3 about a million times better than my experiences with trying to draw on an iPad.
  5. The Kickstand The kickstand on my Cintiq 12 only locks in to one angle which at times feels too low. The kickstand on the Surface Pro 3 is firm at any angle you want to set it and will not give in to pressure from my arm while drawing. 
  6. The Screen The screen is WAY brighter and clearer than my Wacom Cintiq. The colors also match my desktop WAY better then my Cintiq ever has.
  7. Multitasking I can have one app open on the left hand of the screen and another open on the right simultaneously. It's nice to be able to see the manuscript I'm working on and Manga Studio open on the screen at the same time!
Yes, like any other art tool, it will take a few hours to get used to. But overall, for me, the Surface Pro 3 is the perfect machine for working on the go for final illustrations and/or for sketching. It is snappy and may be faster and stronger than my Macbook pro (which is a few years old now). I've taken it everywhere and (knock on wood) it has been flawless.

Brightness of my working screens: iMac (top), Cintiq 12 (middle), Surface Pro 3 (bottom). The SP3 wins!

 Any lag between stylus and screen? If so, it is teeny tiny.


Rotating, panning, zooming using fingertip control.






3 comments:

  1. Very cool, I'm going to check one out the next time I'm near Best Buy. I'm launching an art tutorial site - do you have any interest in creating MS-specific tuts?

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  2. I've just gotten a Surface Book - and I am finding it really awkward to "undo" while drawing in tablet mode. I assumed I'd be able to macro a keyboard shortcut (ctrl+z) to one of the pen buttons, but apparently they can't be reprogrammed. :( I was wondering how you were managing...?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you for reading this article! Unfortunately, there isn't a way to customize the pen buttons. What I've done is purchase a small bluetooth keyboard and program my shortcuts on there. If I don't have my keyboard with me while I'm working remotely I just use the undo buttons on the screen. Are you using Manga Studio or Photoshop? Do you have the undo arrows located on your menu bar like I have it set up in the first photo above? It is a bit different to get used to at first, but after using the tablet for a while you to begin to get used to it. I hope they come out with a customizable pen soon!
      Best of luck!
      ~christina

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