My problem with “ink” on the iPad and other tablets

I’ve been making a point of trying to depend on paper less by relying on my iPad more. I purchased a Wacom Bamboo stylus to making inking/drawing easier, and using it with a few different apps.

The experiment has been instructive, but frustrating. I think the iPad’s overall utility is much higher as a result of Apple’s decision not to design around the use of a stylus, but one result is that the iPad is much worse for drawing/inking that one would hope. Apps deal imperfectly with my strong desire to rest my wrist on the screen, and, more frustratingly, the drawing precision is quite poor compared to my favorite fine-tipped pen on paper.

These issues had me considering whether a tablet with a high-precision radio-frequency drawing surface, like a Microsoft Surface tablet, or certain Android tablets would be a better paper substitute. I think they probably would be better, but I realize that they are unlikely to be sufficient. One of the best things about paper is that I can make a quick sketch on a sheet of paper and then refer to that sketch as I make a revision. That way of working isn’t going to be practical on a tablet, because the screen is too small to display the old sketch while creating a new one, and I can’t “tear-off” the screen.

Of course, it all comes down to tradeoffs. With a tablet, I have the ability to revise a sketch in-place without suffocating on eraser rubbings, but that’s not useful in every situation. A tablet makes it practical to have portable archive of old sketches that I can access from anywhere.

For now though, I think I’m best off with my pen and paper. I can always take a photo if I want a copy online.

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