New Tool Test Drive: A Week with Adobe Ink & Slide

We’re constantly pushing ourselves to try out new things. Just check out Shutterstock Labs to see some of the fun, experimental ways we’ve dreamed up to search for images in our collection. Walking around the office, you can also catch us playing with the newest gadgets and toys; a few weeks ago, we posted our first few experiments with Pixelstick, a new piece of light painting technology.

So consider us very excited the day we got the new Adobe Ink & Slide, a custom stylus and shape tool used in conjunction with an iPad. Adobe also has two iPad apps that work with both tools, Adobe Line and Adobe Sketch. To give these tools a test drive, we asked 5 Shutterstock staffers to spend some time each day with the Ink & Slide and write about their experiences. Here’s what they created and what they had to say.

Chris Becker
Chris Becker
Chris Becker
Chris Becker

Chris Becker, Tech Lead | Customer Experience

“As an artist, the primary medium I usually work with is graphite on paper, and while I’ve dabbled in paint and spent a good deal of time with other digital tools (Photoshop, 3D software, etc), this was the first time I used a stylus and touchscreen to create something. The thing I liked most about Ink & Slide was that it really is a major step toward making the interface for digital art closer to the experience of traditional art. You have the advantage of tools you can maneuver naturally on a surface that reacts to them, plus the advantages that computers afford, like the ability to undo your work to a previous point in time and change the behavior of your tools to create different effects.

There were a few quirks that Adobe could improve though. There’s a little bit of lag between when you move the pen and when the line is drawn on the tablet (I sketch fast, so it was pretty noticeable for me). Also, the point of the pen was difficult to align precisely on the screen; usually, it was off by a couple of millimeters in one direction. Lastly, the feature that’s supposed to ignore your wrist dragging along the screen as you draw isn’t perfect yet, and occasionally triggered things accidentally.”

Deanna Paquette
Deanna Paquette

Deanna Paquette, Digital Designer

“For a Fine Arts major with a concentration in Drawing turned graphic designer, I have done an excellent job of avoiding all sorts of digital tablets and pens (save one weak moment with a Wacom Bamboo set that is smaller than most phones these days). I am definitely not averse to new technology, but I am a brutal drawer who needs the texture of paper to grab my pen and throw it back at me. Surprisingly, I didn’t break the iPad screen when attempting to dig through layers of media using Adobe’s new Sketch App. I found the brush tools a bit less than intuitive, but the standout feature for me was the photo import tool that grabbed the color palette of the image. The color mixer option just added to the experience. I only had an hour to experiment, but I am definitely intrigued by the possibilities.”

Erin McCue
Erin McCue

Erin McCue, User Experience Designer

“I thought the Ink & Slide were really fun to play with. I like doing really fine line work and building up through a lot of layers, which is usually challenging on a tablet. I started with the same problems using the Ink; I never knew precisely where the line was going to begin relative to where I put the stylus. Once I discovered the zoom functionality, though, everything changed (for the better!). I found the Slide much harder to use for anything other than a straight edge, but I liked it for that. Being able to make a crisp line just adds a really nice level of polish.”

Jordan Roland, Program: Adobe Line
Jordan Roland, Program: Adobe Line
Jordan Roland
Jordan Roland

Jordan Roland, Graphic Designer

“I’ve been following this product since I tried a demo of it at the HOW Design Live conference. For me, the love of actually drawing on paper with an assortment of media was always one of the most fun things I could do. One big issue I’ve had, however, is coming up with a funny drawing or idea on the fly and not having my sketchbook.

Having spent a few days with this, it’s been a really fun experience always having it on hand. I’ve been able to sketch on the fly a few times, and the slickness of the iPad compliments my rapid sketch movements. There is a bit of lag with the stylus, and I really don’t care for the Slide ruler — especially after I learned how to bring up my guides and rules without it — but jumping between Adobe Sketch and Line has been great. The ability to adjust the line thickness and opacity of the strokes as you draw is wonderful, and the image-tracing feature is super fun.

With more practice, maybe I’d use this for final pieces of art, but for now it’s a wonderful tool for sketching out ideas and layouts, and for prepping to draw either on my desktop or by hand on paper.”

Odes Roberts
Odes Roberts

Odes Roberts, Email UX Designer

Our Guardians of the Galaxy-obsessed designer has become a man of few words. After a few days using Ink & Slide, he’s still only able to say, ” I AM GROOT.” It’s hard to argue with that.

What do you think of Adobe’s new tools? Have you had a chance to try them out yet? If not, are you hoping to? Let us know in the comments!

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