Posts in Category: Automotive Design Tools

This section contains my thoughts on some of the products that I use to create my car drawings.

Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus review

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy drawing on the iPad, but it’s not a totally perfect experience. The display is the main problem, in more ways than one. First, I find it to be a bit too small to draw from the shoulder. This forces me into laying down shorter strokes drawn with less speed, which translates to lines that aren’t as fluid and smooth as they are when I draw on my Wacom Tablet tethered to my desktop computer. Although annoying, it’s not a complete deal breaker. It would be nice if the drawing area were a bit larger, but I think the biggest problem for my particular drawing style is the fact that the screen isn’t pressure sensitive and it’s not easy to draw lines with varied line weight. I’ve tried lots of different techniques over the years to simulate the effect within the software (with less than ideal results), so I was pretty darn excited when Wacom announced the Intuos Creative Stylus.

In a nutshell, this stylus allows artists to draw on the iPad in a variety of existing applications (such as SketchBook Pro, Photoshop, and more) with full pressure sensitivity. The nib of the stylus is made of a soft capacitive rubber material that senses how much pressure you are applying as you draw, and transmits that data to the iPad via Bluetooth connectivity. The result is the ability to lay down strokes, lines, and airbrush fills with much more control compared to using a normal stylus or your finger.

wacom creative stylus protective case

Protective case for the Wacom Creative Stylus

wacom creative stylus case open

Close up of the open case

Disassembled Creative Stylus wacom

Disassembled Creative Stylus showing the required AAAA battery

I’ve been using the Creative Stylus on and off for the past year, and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good sense of what it can and cannot do well. It’s not the perfect drawing tool by any means, but it brings an entirely new drawing experience to the iPad that I had been craving since Apple released the first version back in 2010. Rather than type paragraphs of text describing each point, I’ll just cut right to the chase and list out the pros and cons of this device:


  • Pressure sensitive drawing on the iPad that really works!
  • Nice heft and weight – this is not a cheap plastic stylus, and it feels really good in my hands
  • Works with a wide variety of drawing apps


  • The nib is far too thick for precision drawing, and it still feels awkward even after a year of using it. Basically, it feels like drawing with a rounded-down Crayola crayon. Note: this applies to the first generation stylus only – the latest version (Creative Stylus 2) features a much smaller drawing tip which should help the experience tremendously.

So, looking back on this purchase, do I have any regrets? Not really. Despite the awkward (huge) tip, the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus has greatly elevated my enthusiasm for drawing on my iPad. It definitely isn’t good enough to be considered one of my go-to drawing tools when I am at home and have better options available (like my full size Wacom tablet connected to a desktop computer), but it does offer the best option for satisfying my craving for drawing while I am traveling or away from my desk. And it’s certainly good enough for me to want to try the second generation model, which I hope to get my hands on soon. Once I do, I’ll be sure to report my findings here.

Drawing cars on the iPad with SketchBook Ink

When the iPad was first introduced back in 2010, I couldn’t help but to think of how great it would be for digital drawing and sketching. Once I finally got my hands on one, my thoughts were confirmed – sort of. Yes the iPad has a really nice touch-screen, but it lacks one of the most important requirements for drawing and sketching: pressure sensitivity! So my excitement was short-lived and I haven’t been using my iPad for creating illustrations.

Until now. A couple days ago I stumbled across SketchBook Ink (from Autodesk) and I was pretty much blown away right from the very first moments of using it. It’s a very simple app with a limited set of tools, but the default brush set is top notch and most feature the ability to vary line weights without having to vary the input pressure on the screen. Another neat feature is that it’s a vector-based drawing app – which means that you can export your work in very high resolutions without any loss of quality. You cannot, however, export your drawings in vector format. That’s a huge bummer, but not really so important in my work flow since I’m not a vector illustrator anyway.

For drawing cars, SketchBook Ink is a pretty good tool. It’s a bit different than most other drawing apps because it was designed to create beautiful line work in a very simple way. That’s great for drawing cars – line acceleration is what makes an automotive sketch great, and it’s really easy to do with this app. Oh – and I highly recommend using a stylus instead of your finger. The accuracy and drawing realism will be much higher.

So now I’m pretty excited about using my iPad to doodle and sketch cars when I’m traveling or away from my desk. Just what I need in life…another distraction! Lol…

My thoughts on the Wacom Cintiq 21UX pen display

I was lucky enough this past week to be able to try out a Wacom Cintiq 21UX pen display at work. A coworker of mine has one, and he was generous enough to let me borrow it for a few days while he was out on vacation. Score!
My personal Wacom drawing tablet is an old Graphire 4 from 2005 (or 2006 – I can’t remember). It literally took me years to get used to drawing on that thing, because the drawing surface and display are separated – it’s really tough to draw on one object, and have the results display on your computer monitor! The mental disconnect is huge, and I struggled with that quite a bit in the beginning.

But this is where the Cintiq shines. You can draw directly on the display, so it’s a more natural experience. WYSWIG (what you see is what you get) at it’s finest! Within minutes of drawing on the 21UX, I was already starting to loathe my beat-up ‘ol Graphire. The Cintiq is light years beyond any other drawing tablet out there, and the “I gotta have it” factor” is huge. Here are some more specific pros and cons that I have thought of after a few days of using it:


  • The Cintiq offers the most natural digital drawing experience compared to any other pen tablet on the market. Drawing directly on the screen is very (very very) nice.
  • There are a plethora of user-customizable action buttons on each side of the drawing surface. You can set these up with your favorite short-keys for any software package. An added bonus is that these short-key setups can be specific for each program. For example, if I’m using Sketchbook Pro, the buttons are specific to that program. If I switch over to Photoshop, the buttons are smart enough to switch to my preset Photoshop short keys. Very convenient.
  • Pen pressure levels are really good – much better than my old Graphire. I’m a line-quality snob, so this is very important. Beautiful thick and thin strokes are easily doable on the Cintiq.
  • Did I mention how cool it is to draw directly on the screen??


  • The Cintiq 21UX is HEAVY. Portability is not really an option with this thing.
  • Strong cord-management skills will be required to organize the cables and cords running out of it.
  • I ran into an issue where my Graphire 4 tablet driver conflicted with the Cintiq driver – so I wasn’t able to get the pressure sensitivity working on the Cintiq without a lot of troubleshooting. So the best bet is to remove all your Wacom tablet drivers from your system before you install the Cintiq.
  • Cost: $2000. Really? My only hope is that technology will just keep getting better, which will drive down the prices of these things. The Cintiq line is so nice – but it’s hard to justify the cost if you aren’t a very serious artist or designer.

Conclusion: I want one. Bad.

By the way – that half-complete car rendering you see on the screen is a preview of my latest piece. I just finished it last night, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I’ll post up a full size version of it tomorrow.