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View Full Version : Surface Pro Blues....


Duane Korslund
03-09-2015, 11:27 AM
I got to mess around with the Surface Pro 3 the other day and I was in love with the size and feel of the tablet immediately. I have a Surface Pro 1 and I love the thing, but of course using Photoshop with it is a bit...constrained. The UI display is tiny so you really have to squeeze your eyes to see the menus, and using a button software like Art Buttons Redux is almost a necessity. I can only imagine having a 12" display vs the 10" would help quite a bit with my issues there.
Problem is: The pen. The surface pro 1 and 2 have a wacom digitizer with (I believe) 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and the Pro 3 is using an N-Trig pen with only..like...256 levels. That's quite a difference. I'm a big wacom fan so this kind of puts me off on the Pro 3...even with the much desired display enlargement.
Any fellow digital artists have any experience with art and the Pro 3 vs the 1&2 (for art, the 1 and 2 aren't very different IMO). Emphasis on the different pens and if there's that big of a difference.

DaveyDouble
03-10-2015, 03:49 AM
This might not be any help to you at all, but Lenovo made a USB monitor using Wacom panels and pens that has the same 256 levels of pressure (as far as I can tell).

Check out the Lenovo LT1423p screens. Not exactly a tablet, but could be booked up to the Surface Pro to give you the bigger workspace for about 1/3 the cost of a Surface 3

B-McKinley
03-10-2015, 11:05 AM
This also might not help you, but Manga Studio 5 has a tablet-mode interface setting.

Photoshop has experimental features that can be enabled for UI scaling and touch gestures - but the UI scaling is supposed to be enabled by default on SP3.

Duane Korslund
03-10-2015, 11:46 AM
This also might not help you, but Manga Studio 5 has a tablet-mode interface setting.

Photoshop has experimental features that can be enabled for UI scaling and touch gestures - but the UI scaling is supposed to be enabled by default on SP3.

I have manga studio 5, I've been considering using it, but I'm just so used to Photoshop, its a hard habit to break.
I've been working with Photoshop Cs5 and the UI scaling that is provided in that is barely any help at all. I think the experiemental features starts in cs6 (right?) and there's a tablet mode and touch features in Creative Cloud, which I won't be paying for any time soon.
So...yeah...Manga Studio is a likely route to take.
Ive been researching 256 levels of pressure vs 2048...and it seems it becomes very important if I want to do any nice coloring/digital painting...which I would want to try...so...seems like its a bigger deal than I thought. If they had kept the wacom digitizer on the surface pro 3...this would be a no brainer...ah well.

Bishop
03-10-2015, 12:49 PM
I have used Phitoshop since version 2 or 3, but I determined to learn Manga Studio a few months ago for illustration. I've come to love it. It looks similar to PS, but feels and behaves very differently, so there is definitely a learning curve. I think it is far more suited for comic book design and illustration that PS, and that is by design.

The way MS handles layers, and automatically creates your folders and masks for individual panels in your page layout is brilliant.

I'm still learning the in's and out's of MS, but I don't regret the decision to use it. I will likely still use PS for coloring when I get to that point, but I may change my mind if I can get a good handle on now MS handles channels, etc.

L Jamal
03-10-2015, 03:56 PM
I have manga studio 5, I've been considering using it, but I'm just so used to Photoshop, its a hard habit to break.
I've been working with Photoshop Cs5 and the UI scaling that is provided in that is barely any help at all. I think the experiemental features starts in cs6 (right?) and there's a tablet mode and touch features in Creative Cloud, which I won't be paying for any time soon.
So...yeah...Manga Studio is a likely route to take.
Ive been researching 256 levels of pressure vs 2048...and it seems it becomes very important if I want to do any nice coloring/digital painting...which I would want to try...so...seems like its a bigger deal than I thought. If they had kept the wacom digitizer on the surface pro 3...this would be a no brainer...ah well.

Have you followed Mike from Penny Arcade's musings on the Surface Pro (1-3). He was skeptical about the pressure sensitive as well and that didn't turn out to be an issue at all. It was the position of the home button that bothered him.

Duane Korslund
03-10-2015, 04:02 PM
Have you followed Mike from Penny Arcade's musings on the Surface Pro (1-3). He was skeptical about the pressure sensitive as well and that didn't turn out to be an issue at all. It was the position of the home button that bothered him.

I have not...I need to...I'd like to see what other artist have to say about the pro 3...from what I gathered the real distinction in pressure sensitivity really comes into play when getting into the prettier digital painting...basic pencilling/inking/flatting makes very little difference...or so I've read so far.

Bishop
03-10-2015, 04:49 PM
The Surface Pro 3 would be better with a Wacom digitizer, but, in practice, I didnít find the Ntrig to be a terrible detriment. Its inclusion is not reason alone to dismiss the Surface.

Taken from:
http://frenden.com/post/90779846937/microsofts-surface-pro-3-vs-wacoms-cintiq

This is pretty good too:
http://thecomicstarter.com/2014/11/10/surface-pro-3-vs-wacom-companion-review-and-comparison/

DaveyDouble
03-10-2015, 07:35 PM
Guys, I'm going to have to ask someone to clarify how 2048 levels of pressure is of benefit.
And I mean an actual explaination rather than just More=Better.

As I understand it, each additional level of pressure would increase the brush size by 1 pixel in all directions.
Now, I've found that in Sketchbook Pro (software I use) one of my brushes has a maximum size of 512. As far as I understand it, my pen has twice that many pressure levels, meaning every other level is ignored, or only translates to a change at every other level.

If you have 2048 levels available, you would need a brush that is 0-2048 pixels in size and unless you're working at 600dpi, thats about 1/3 of a standard 11x17 page. Which isn't a very useful brush.

Is there some relative scaling engine at work I dont know about? The brushes have to be based on pixel measurements because brushes are based on raster/bitmap images, and the finest scale they can increase on is singular pixels.
Now I'm assuming brushes scale equally in all directions, because I can't get my head around a process by which they wouldn't.
I'm also assuming working at 300dpi as I'm not sure (at 11x17 and scaled down in post) theres any point working at a higher pixel density (given that 300dpi is also a known limit of human vision, and scaled down you still come in around 400ish DPI for print).

What I'm saying is: 2048 levels seems like an unnecessary innovation and a waste of money, unless someone has some information to correct that impression.

B-McKinley
03-11-2015, 09:00 PM
Pen pressure doesn't have to be just about brush size. Depending on the program, there are a lot of different brush variables that can be controlled by pressure.

The reason I like a higher number of levels in a digital tool is to hit all the levels in a smoother transition. With 128 or 256 I have to press pretty hard to get all the way to the maximum, and that puts more strain and wear and tear on my technology and on my body. With 1024 or 2048 I have plenty of room in the tool's response to get a full range of marks without pressing as hard. And it feels more like a traditional tool.

Stewart Vernon
03-12-2015, 05:18 AM
I always figured that was the advantage... the more pressure settings, the less you had to press to get a greater variance. So, wear and tear on your tablet and hand muscles with the more-capable devices.

DaveyDouble
03-12-2015, 08:23 AM
Pen pressure doesn't have to be just about brush size. Depending on the program, there are a lot of different brush variables that can be controlled by pressure.

The reason I like a higher number of levels in a digital tool is to hit all the levels in a smoother transition. With 128 or 256 I have to press pretty hard to get all the way to the maximum, and that puts more strain and wear and tear on my technology and on my body. With 1024 or 2048 I have plenty of room in the tool's response to get a full range of marks without pressing as hard. And it feels more like a traditional tool.

But you can also do that by setting up a custom pressure curve.

If you're only using a brush that is 60px in size, you have a 256 level pen and you want to front load the pressure curve so it ramps up sooner, you can do that in software.

I know SBP allows you to define max and min size based on pressure, and it's response is then distributed across the curve depending on the settings you've established with the drivers. But the brush is still only responsive in incriments of 1.

I could be wrong. There could be some crazy dithering going on. SBP gives brush sizes in decimal points so I've no idea how they make that work or what it's reference point is.
But again. Those are brush engine settings.