If you’ve been paying attention to my blog and/or my weekly email in the last month or two, you’ve probably noticed all the hand-drawn illustrations. I can’t say I had really planned on doing this, at first, but once I started I couldn’t stop. I love drawing these little stick figures and scenes to visualize some aspect of what I’m writing. I enjoy the creative process of drawing, and the simplicity of the results (as well as the crudely drawn, yet expressive style that I have been developing). More importantly, I think it ads a unique and personal touch to the things i’m writing. Instead of some stock art or random photograph found from around the internet somewhere, I’m offering a little bit more of me – another aspect of the way I think and create, in the process of writing and illustrating the posts.
To make the drawings, I’m using the Paper app for iPad. Once I’m done, I transfer them to my computer (via iCloud photo sync) and do some light editing (image size, file size, creating the brightly white skin color on the stick figure heads) via the Acorn app on my Mac. But the Mac touch up side of things is the least important in the process, in my opinion. What really makes these images fun for me to draw and gives them a lot of the style that I enjoy so much, is the combination of the Paper app for iPad and the stylus that I am using to do the drawings.
Fancy Stylus vs Fancy Stylus
I started with a Pogo Connect about a year ago. It’s been an amazing stylus. Recently, though, I picked up a Pencil by 53 – the same company that makes the Paper app. I wanted to see what the real difference between these two stylus is, to see if the Pencil really is as great as everyone says it is. Or were people only saying such great things in comparison to a cheap stylus that did not offer any real features?
The Pogo Connect
The design of the Pogo Connect is fairly simple. It’s round, sleek and has a very standard cylindrical shape with a cone for a tip. It’s light weight and comfortable to hold, being slightly larger than most cheap stylus that you would find. I do find that the button on the Connect gets in the way of comfort now and then, but that is easily remedied by turning the Connect in my hand. I tend to turn pencils and pens in my hand anyways, so this was never really a big issue; just something I notice now and then.
The real advantage that I found in the Connect, though, came from it’s advanced features, facilitated by a low energy bluetooth connection. With the Connect app installed and integration in to the Paper app, I suddenly had pressure sensitivity in my stylus. I was able to draw much more naturally using the tools in Paper, because of the integration that the app has with the Connect. Thin lines became easy, lightly colored areas were as natural as using a real pencil on real paper. I started drawing more, finding that the Pogo Connect allowed me more freedom in expression.
The button on the Connect serves multiple purposes. It allows you to connect the stylus to your iPad but it also provides features in apps that support the Connect. In the case of the Paper app, you can use the button as an undo command. Normally, you have to swipe two fingers counter-clockwise in Paper, to undo things. With the button on the Connect, though, undo is just a click away.
I have 2 over-all frustrations with the Connect: It can be tricky to get it connected to the iPad, and the button gets accidentally clicked a lot. The connection issue is usually resolved by turning bluetooth off / on, on the iPad. The button issue is resolved by turning off the “undo” feature of the button, in the Paper app. It’s mildly frustrating that I need to turn this off in order to keep from accidentally undoing work, though. I wish it were easier to avoid accidental clicks of the button.
Over-all, I really like the Connect. The pressure sensitivity is a great feature, it’s comfortable and I found myself wanting to draw when I had it, more than before I had it.
The Pencil, by 53
I’ve only had the Pencil for a little more than a month at this point, but I’ve been using it pretty regularly. Like the Pogo Connect, I immediately found that it was easier to use the Pencil than using my finger or a cheap style. It made drawing easier than using a standard stylus. I initially had some trouble getting the lines to go where I wanted them, due to the elongated touch area of the Pencil. I quickly got over this, though, and found myself as adept at using the Pencil as I was at using the Connect.
The design of the Pencil reminds me of a carpenter’s pencil, which I am very familiar with from my childhood and teenager days, thanks to my dad. It was a comfortable and familiar grip with quite a bit more weight.
I opted for the black, aluminum Pencil instead of the brown, real wood Pencil for a couple of reasons:
- it was $20 cheaper than the wood version, and
- I don’t need a magnet to stick it to my iPad
In addition to the tip that you draw with, the Pencil also has a rubberized touch area on the back of it. You can use this as an eraser, replacing the actual eraser tool in the Paper app, when the Pencil is connected via bluetooth.
Like the Pogo Connect, the Pencil has bluetooth connectivity. In the case of the Pencil, though, there is no button on the stylus to make the connection happen. You hold down a button in the Paper app and it makes the connection for you. Once connected, though, you have a couple of distinct advantages in using the Pencil: the eraser I previously mentioned, and a “blur” feature.
With the Pencil connected via bluetooth, you can hold the stylus up off of the iPad slightly and use your finger to create a blur in the Paper app. This is a unique feature in the app, available when the Pencil is connected. I really like this feature and have used it a number of times to create a smooth transition and background effect. In the above image, in fact, i used the blur feature of the Pencil to get the “shiny” highlight on the Pogo Connect drawing. You do need to be a bit careful with this, though. If you are not pressing the Pencil down on the iPad enough, you can accidentally blur instead of drawing a mark like you expected.
I have 1 major complaint and one minor frustration with the Pencil at this point. It does not support pressure sensitivity like the Connect, and it can be slightly less comfortable to hold some times.
The lack of pressure sensitivity was initially surprising and very frustrating. I had become used to this in the Pogo Connect and was sad that it was not available in the Pencil. Supposedly the elongated touch area of the Pencil is going to allow the same effect once iOS 8 is released, though. So we’ll have to wait and see about that.
The comfort of the Pencil is less of an issue than I originally thought. Having used it for over a month now, I find that I am no longer noticing the design of the Pencil when holding it. I have become accustomed to it, and find it comfortable at this point.
Some Notes On The Above Drawing
The drawing at the top of this post was done with both the Pogo Connect and the Pencil. In fact, I draw the other stylus with the one I had in had. The Pogo Connect drawing was made with my Pencil, and the Pencil drawing was made with the Connect. But you want to know what really makes that odd? I don’t think the results of either drawing would have been correct, if I had not done it this way.
When drawing the Connect, I used the Pencil’s blur feature to get the “shiny” aluminum to look right. Without the blur feature, it was looking ok but it did not really look like an aluminum tube, the way the Connect really looks.
When drawing the Pencil on the other hand, I would have not have been able to get the brushed aluminum style to look right without the pressure sensitivity of the Connect. I needed the ability to vary the intensity of the sketch marks, and create thin vs thick lines, to get the Pencil to look correct.
It’s an odd thing when I need the features of one stylus to draw the other.
The Verdict: Pogo Connect or Pencil?
At roughly the same price on Amazon.com, both the Pogo Connect and Pencil are tools that I would highly recommend for anyone that is even halfway engaged in drawing with the Paper app, on an iPad. If you want pressure sensitivity right now, go with the Connect (vs waiting for iOS 8). If you want the blur feature and quick connectivity, go with the Pencil. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Both of these tools are top notch, high quality and a pleasure to work with.
That being said, I find myself grabbing my Pencil more often than my Pogo Connect. I believe there are 3 reasons for this:
- There is no accidental button click (though there are accidental blurs)
- The added blur effect in the Paper app
- The ease of which the Pencil connects to the Paper app
It’s that third reason that really draws me back to the Pencil right away. I find it significantly easier to get the Pencil connected to the Paper app, using the in-app icon that I hold down. Whereas the Connect requires me to exit the current drawing, go in to the settings for the Paper app and fiddle with things at times. It’s just easier to get the Pencil connected, and start using it’s features.
Whatever your final decision is, though, both of these stylus have a lot to offer anyone that wants to get more out of their iPad and it’s many available drawing and painting applications.