Home > Features > Product Review: SketchBook Pro 2

Sketching Differences

Sketching on a pen-tablet takes some getting use to. At first it can be very difficult. Tablet-PCs will undoubtedly be easier because you are actually drawing on the screen. For those Mac users who might be using a Wacom tablet, the fact that your eye is not focused on the pen at the end of your hand can be very challenging.

While the artist will already know how to draw, we would like to see Autodesk provide better hints and helpful suggestions about how to get more comfortable with tablet-based drawing and painting. It is possible that some artists who try SketchBook Pro don’t stick it out because of the transition challenges. A Wacom tablet user is going to have to come to grips that it is almost impossible to draw as accurately as you would on paper -- at least initially. This is only because your eye cannot focus on two places at the same time (ie: screen and pen tip). A more loose style can be instantly more gratifying. (see image 07)

07 - Sketch of Saab 9-5 interior

Industrial and product design can be well served with a product like SketchBook Pro 2. Because the product has layers one can sketch up ideas quickly and then add shades or colors over them on separate layers.

Architectural Sketching

As a tool for architects, Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2 offers some interesting possibilities. I was curious to discover if the tool could work as a "digital equivalent" to good old pen and trace paper. What I discovered was it could but with limited results.

If you have never drawn with a pen tablet before than going from paper to a tablet can be disconcerting at first. Drawing on a pen tablet is akin to signing your signature on UPS man's digital clip-board. In other words, it feels weird!

Sketching with SketchBook Pro 2 takes practice and getting use to. No doubt it may frustrate you at first. But the wonder if this tool is that once you get the hang of it and can produce results -- even if as rough as mine -- you have the wonderful ability to paint your sketches with color. In my sketch, of an imaginary new science building on some imaginary collage campus, I was able to produce rough building forms rather easily. (see image 08).

08 - Architectural Sketch

The tough part -- and this is where your expectations initially need to be tempered -- is that controlling the flow of the digital pen is the real challenge. A sketch like this wants to be made up of entirely free form lines. Therefore, I didn’t want to use the Shift key to constrain my verticals or horizontals. When I did that I got a jarring juxtaposition between my goosey lines and the precision lines. Not only that, it was difficult to pick up again on the exact end points of precise lines.

Don’t let those negatives discourage you from a tool like this. Part of this process is getting familiar with the feel of a digital tablet (mine was Wacom's but they all are similar in that they tend to be slippery surfaces) and that simply takes time. (see review on Wacom Graphire4 640 tablet)

If you like my sketch, bear in mind that I got to that level within about 45 minutes of using the program for the first time. Imagine where I might end up after using the tool for weeks.

Sketching in Layers

New in SketchBook Pro 2 is the ability to sketch in layers. The program supports unlimited layers which you can add, hide, lock, clear, name, move and of course, delete. But another useful feature of the layers capability is adjustable transparency. (see image 09) I found this feature useful for adding color washes to my sketches. In the image below I toned down my color wash by adjusting the layer opacity to 31%.

09 - Layer Transparency


Another interesting feature of the layers palette is that you can hand write your layer names. This is nice because when you are working with a pen tool you don't have to put the pen down in order to deal with text input.

Next page: Screen Capture & Annotation


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Home > Features > Product Review: SketchBook Pro 2




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