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Surface Pro VS iPad pro

chasis comparison

The iPad Pro and the Surface Pro are very different devices with one major thing in common: they each have a pressure-sensitive stylus, meaning these are more than just tablets… they are digital canvases with all of the advantages of the “copy, paste, transform, rotate, undo, save” digital medium, while maintaining the natural feel of a pen/pencil/brush on paper.

Digital art requires a big investment up-front, and so it’s important to know your needs and weigh the pros and cons of the Surface and the iPad pro against each other.  COST is a big one, so let’s get that out of the way first.

With $1175, if you go the surface route, you can get:

Surface pro 3 (12 inch, 3:2 ratio, i5, 128 gigs… middle-of-the-line) running Windows 10
Surface Pen
Type Cover (keyboard, trackpad, screen cover, all in one!)
Microsoft Office (included in my costco bundle)
Manga Studio (GREAT drawing application)
Anime Studio (GREAT animating application)

With $1125, if you go the apple route, you can get:

iPad Pro (9.7 inch, 4:3 ratio, 32 gigs) running iOS
Apple Pencil
Smart Cover
Autodesk Sketchbook (most full-featured drawing app)
Procreate
Adobe Ideas (long abandoned, but still my favourite)
Adobe Sketch
iMovie
Animation HD

The first thing you’ll notice is, going the iPad route, you don’t get the Smart Keyboard, or the larger size screen, if you want to keep it cheap.  The larger screen and the keyboard are cheaper if you go the Surface route.

Stylus Comparison

The styluses each have their pros:
The Apple Pencil charges very quickly, lasts for a long time, feels like a pencil and is simple and well built.  It works well with the iPad to cancel out your palm when its resting on the screen, and it has a pretty manageable pressure curve.
The Surface Pen is powered by one AAAA battery, which I’ve never had to replace in the couple years (ish) that I’ve had it.  The Pen really does feel like an expensive pen, very sturdy.  The Pen also has function buttons right on the pen, which saves a LOT of time.  The pressure curve is also manageable.

Each also has its cons:
The Apple Pencil isn’t fully compatible (pressure and tilt) with a lot of great iOS drawing apps (yet, anyways).  It is quite large compared to the Pen, and the weight is balanced sort of funny, so I end up holding it unlike any writing utensil I’ve ever used (choked up about half way).  The Pencil also tends to “cut out” during long lines, or quick lines, which breaks lines mid-way.  This can be pretty annoying at times.
The Surface Pen, on the other hand, has pretty inadequate palm detection.  My low-tech work around is to wear a stretchy glove with the fingers cut off.

Styluses:

Art Comparison

Both work pretty well.  The surface Pen is set to give me more consistant line width, and the Apple Pencil is set to give me more variety in width.  Both work great.

One thing the Pen does better than the Pencil is dots.  Dots!  of all things.  The pencil can’t really do dots, especially dots of varying pressure.  The Surface Pen has no problem with this… SO if pointillism is your thing, that decides it right there.

Operating System

The iPad has iOS, with it’s app ecosystem, iCloud integration, and it’s amazingly intuitive touch and gesture based tablet experience.  Surface has a full desktop version of windows 10, meaning you can run ACTUAL software.  Photoshop, indesign, all the full versions, all run without any problems (i just so happen to prefer manga studio).

Each has its downside, of course.  With the iPad, you aren’t going to find one app that does it all.  functionality will always be split across apps, and sometimes, they don’t play nice with eachother.  Thankfully, iCloud seems to solve many of these file-sharing problems.  Windows 10 on the surface runs great with a keyboard and mouse, but the “tablet mode” interface leaves MUCH to be desired and is slow and awkward and clunky.

Other things to note about hardware:

The iPad charger is tiny (usb to lightning), the iPad itself is very light and thin.  It’s got a great camera, great battery life, and feels very solid.  With the smart cover, it lays back at a good drawing angle.  The surface pro screen is a great size for drawing, it has a USB 3 port, expandable storage, built-in adjustable stand, as well as a video output for dual-monitor set ups.

The downside to the iPad pro (or at least this model) really is that the screen feels a bit too small, but intuitive pinch-zooming makes the smaller screen manageable.  The surface’s charger is really big and gets really hot, and is a huge pain to roll up and put away.  The surface’s battery doesn’t seem as adequate as the iPad’s.

I’ll sum it up like this:  When it comes to the general feel of the devices, I use the surface at a desk or on the table. The surface just doesn’t feel comfortable to use anyhwere else, but I use the iPad on the couch, lying on the bed, as I walk around my church/office and only occasionally at the table.

Bonus Round: The Camera

I bought my surface pro 3 about a year and a half ago, maybe even longer… before the iPad pro was announced, for sure.  I bought it personally.  I bought it for drawing.
The iPad pro that i get to play with, was purchased for it’s 4k camera and on-board INCREDIBLY SIMPLE video editing capabilities.  It wasn’t purchased so that i can draw on it, that’s just a happy extra.  Just for fun, here’s a comparison of the Surface pro 3 and the iPad pro Cameras:

Camera Comparison

The iPad pro’s camera is superior in EVERY single way.

CONCLUSION

The surface pro gives you more bang for your buck if you’re on a budget…  But the iPad pro is a better tablet, and fun to draw on.

I have a lot of fun drawing on the iPad, it feels intuitive.  In its simplicity, it gets out of the way and just lets you enjoy creating… but i’m glad i didn’t buy it for drawing.  But I am WAY MORE productive on the Surface pro.  It’s very powerful.  In its functionality, it makes sure I have the tools to produce anything I can imagine.

The iPad inspires imagination, but lacks the practicality to help you follow through that vision to completion (unless your version of completion is “post it on my tumblr”, which is fine, but not what I need).  The Surface really lacks imagination, but it is so powerful that if you bring imagination to it, it’s the only device you’ll ever need.

If you can only afford one, and you want to produce as well as create, get the Surface pro.  Since I got my pro 3, they’ve come out with a smaller “regular” surface (closer to the original surface pro and the pro2), as well as the Surface pro 4.  For me, the pro 3 works great, and i feel no need to upgrade.  Also, the Pro 3 runs CIRCLES around the iPad pro.  For example: this entire blog post, with all the text input/editing, photo re-sizing, writing over pictures, getting the drawings off the iPad/pictures off my phone/etc and putting them together and uploading them to wordpress… was all done on the Surface, because it’s an ACTUAL COMPUTER.  It just works better for that stuff.  The way the iPad functions, it assumes you already have a macbook pro or another computer to do the real heavy lifting… The surface aims to replace all of your computers AND tablets, and does it very well.

But if you already have a real computer and all you really want to do is draw, use the internet, and have access to an insane amount of cheap apps, OR (like me) need a powerful, portable video creating studio, the iPad pro is the way to go.

You can draw on both, though, so that’s good.

 

 

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Space Chuck Web #7

Spacechuck web 7And so the saga continues!  The last story I made (slow day) i made daily, three panels at a time.  This update had 27 panels… monday’s update had 25 panels.  So!  i’ve gone from drawing 15 panels a week to drawing 52 panels a week.  What was I thinking!?

Well, actually, I was thinking, “this story will take YEARS to tell if I only update 15 panels a week.”  Truth be told, I don’t have years to tell this story!  Patience is a good thing, but i don’t think i could take it.

So, I’m sick as a dog!  Time for me to sleep and sleep and sleep and get healthy again.

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timely advice from an apathetic friend

2014-9-9-sigh-  well, if something’s gotta give, it might as well be “complaining”.

I’m always trying to refine the process of making these comics to be faster, more intuitive, with a higher-quality output.  In the history of this comic, there have been a few major advancements…

1)  Moving from a tiny, old Wacom Bamboo tablet to a Tiny, newer Wacom Bamboo tablet that was more accurate and intuitive
2)  Moving from the tiny new Bamboo to a large Wacom Intuos 5 tablet, enabling broad strokes instead of tiny little “sketching” (which marked the end of my drawing hand/wrist feeling like i was getting carpal-tunnel)
2.5)  Moving from drawing on a computer to drawing on my iPad (so I could save time and draw whenever)
3)  Moving back to the computer from the iPad and switching from Photoshop to Manga Studio… the tools look and feel so much better.
4)  Moving from my mac to my Surface Pro
5)  Moving from my Intuos to the screen on my surface Pro, basically enabling me to have a cheap cintiq!  (I would prefer a larger screen, like on the Surface Pro 3, but the surface works well for now!)

The latest little adjustment in my comic-creation process has been my Note III… It doesn’t really work for finishing comics, but it works great for sketching out the first layer.  I usually make a sketch layer first and then “ink” over it with the finished product, and with my phone, I can sketch pretty much whenever and have lines that accurately reflect how I would draw on paper.

For me, technology and my art have become very interconnected… Although, this is really more of an issue of time than it is of preference.  I fear art and technology are becoming inseparable, and it would be nice to be able to continue drawing comics if there were a zombie apocalypse and technology was gone…  But the last time I tried pinch-zooming a piece of paper, I kind of realized It might be too late for me.

Anyway, I have the whole drawing process down to about a half-an-hour, depending on the complexity of what i’m trying to draw…  but the WRITING process!  OH MAN.

I need to find a way to get faster at writing.  Sometimes it’s super easy, but lately, it’s like pulling teeth.

Have a great tuesday everyone!