On styli... a sonnet of love to screens and scribble sticks.

More often than not, when I'm drawing on a train, a bus or a tube, I'm asked which stylus I'm using...

I'm also occasionally asked which app I'm using and I'm always fine with either question... If you see an orange haired human drawing on a screen on a method of public transport in the South of England then it's possibly me and by all means please do ask away...

Magnus on Fresh Paint.

But the question intrigues me for two reasons.

One: Steve said "if you see a stylus they blew it". He was right at the time (touch screen computers were hamstrung with cludgey interfaces which were - unfairly - symbolised by styli) but in the longer term? Who knows, things chage. I think I've sold a lot of screen scribble sticks - or at least people have often taken details, notes and suggestions - and I suspect they like the result. And, like many others, I'm impatient to see if there will be an iPad pro with stylus (and from an inside game point of view who will build the stylus if it comes with one...)

Point Two: I'm a Brit. We don't talk to NO-ONE on the tube. And yet people do, to me. Maybe I look more friendly than the average bear? Maybe the touch screen breaks borders and barriers.

Like I said. Fascinating (to me at least).

Pogo Connect and Sketch Pro on Autodesk Sketchbook.

Anyhow. I often tell people that one day I'll write a big blog post to do with my favourite apps and styli, and most importantly: why. My favoured stylus might be your worst nightmare... But that's fine. Each is as personal as a pair of shoes, each has its own character and feel.... So when I'm asked which is the best stylus I always start with a few questions... Are you precise or enthusiastic? With real world materials are you thin brush or thick marker? Sound sensitive or able to zone out? Long hair brush or short hair?

Dagi, Stylus Sock, Nomad Compose, Jot Script, New Trent, Cosmonaut and Sketch Pro on ArtRage.

To be honest this Slate is not that blog post. It's just gone 7 am and I've been awake since 5, my students get their exam results at 10 and I'm as nervous as any of them... I'll edit this post I think, but for the moment it's all about the pics and the sticks.

Nomadic Sketchbook.

Almost all of these images (if not all, I can't say for certain) were created using their counterpart on a range of apps and tablets. I do so to capture a feeling of the stylus itself and the image reminds me of what I was drawing... (Hey, I'm kinaesthetic. What can you do...?) If I had more time or were prepared to draw the inevitable bar chart I'd say which styli work best with which machine. Some styli don't work at all with some tablets. It's a roller coaster.

Nomad, Ink, FineLine on ArtRage.
Adonis Jot Script on ArtRage.

Depending on the app I capture a video of the image I've made. The below link being one of them...

Stylus T Frog and the dream of a new stylus. Adobe Illuatrator Draw app.

Sometimes I back a stylus on Kickstarter. Occasionally this works out well... And I REALLY hope the Scriba lives up to its promise... But infrequently it doesn't (cough-eStlyo-cough). The Scriba looks VERY interesting though. Intriguing.

Squeeze me. Procreate app.
Frog and Bone. Drawn on a mates HTC using Didlr and Sketchbook.
The freebies. Loved the Intel one especially. Sketchbook.

As a brief aside I have another reason for using styli. RSI. A tablet artist uses more aspects of a tablet more than anyone else I suspect and, after one particular painting, OH BOY could I prove that fact. My hand was screaming and it was then that I swore* to switch from finger painter to stylus wielder :) I think, now as much as then, it was a smart move.

* that painful.

Jot Script on Didlr app.
A range of BT styli, each drawn with the respective scribble stick. Photoshop Touch.

...and then there's the Bluetooth pressure sensitive styli. A rare beast? Hardly. I can name 18 of them and own 14. With two on pre-order. As addictions go it's not the worst I could chase but not the best either... The above image was a folly: drawn on a discontinued non-pressure -sensitive-pen-friendly app with each stylus according to the picture. Now you can see why I don't live a life of artistic output distracted leisure. Sigh.

Of the 14 do I have a favourite...? Read on, Macduff.

Big crystal on Adobe Sketch.
Adobe Ink on Sketch.
Range on Adobe Ideas.
Gold Peacock drawn in Pencil by 53 app. 
Wacom Intuos 1 and 2 on Sketchbook.

A Wacom tryptich. I actually own seven different Wacom touch screen pens. The most by any one company? Hmmm. Maybe. I own a few different Dagi pens (6) and a few by Adonit (5), Nomad (6) and Pogo (4). Wacom have, at the very least, pedigree in such things.

Nomad Play on ArtRage.
The Styluminati painted in Fresh Paint.

But like I say, I've sold a LOT of styli. Not good ones, I admit, but a concept more than the best. When I do an event with my students (did I mention I'm a teacher? We go and demo tablet art events on a fairly regular basis and as we do so we sell cheap eBay styli for donations to our supported charity (Disability Challengers). I've sold hundreds of styli, but I'm honest enough to say that they aren't the best ones money can buy. I hope that people get the bug and buy others, better ones, at a later date.

Stylus T Frog on Fresh Paint.
Stylus T Frog and the ibiopen. iPad Mini 2, ArtRage and (on the right) Lightroom.

I'll come back to this Slate off and on. Styli don't stand still and Slate is a fab app. When I woke up way too early my first thought (well, after grrrrr why am I awake at 5) was that I fancied loading it up and having a play on the stylus subject* so, if you've managed to adventure this far, thanks for reading, hope you like. Sling me a question at @kercal on Twitter if you want me to cover a specific thing in an update to this post.

But.... Most importantly, the question I'm asked the most, is 'what is the best stylus?' In answer to that can I ask a counter question? 'What is the best shoe?' I don't know. I love Nomad and Pogo, Stylus Sock and Dagi, NTrig and some Wacom. I love the Adobe Ink but have a less than fully confident relationship with Adonit. I nearly always carry a Stylus Sock, Nomad Play, Jot Script, Ibiopen, Waco, FineLine, New Trent Limir and Dagi ... 501?... on me. At all times. Weird I know. But then again I am,a little. But I'm a nice weird, I think.

If I had to choose one of the styli nestled in my bag or pocket? Hah. Can't. Won't. Touch screen art is an art. And art requires a range of tools to implement. How do you make your art? When I know that THEN I'll suggest the best stylus. For you. Because you're different. We all are.

Thanks for reading.

*hahahahahahhaa see what I did there? Yeah. Yeah I suppose you did. Sigh.

** yes. I know. I said a brief blog. I've written 9 books, probably 120,000 words each average? This is brief. Ish.

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