iDraw: replacing pen and paper with stylus and tablet

Tablets can do a lot of cool things: they can let you surf the web with your fingers, they can play movies, and they can even provide a great gaming experience. But did you know you can also use a tablet for drawing?

You’re probably aware of the stylus, the pen-based tool that for years has let us write and draw on touchscreens. But for people who fancy themselves more artistic, there are other options.

From left to right: Nomad Play, Nomad Brush, Nomad Compose, Pogo Sketch Pro, Architect Stylus.

Designed by an artist for use by other artists, the Nomad Brush is a paint brush for use with touchscreens. Built differently from a regular paint brush, the Nomad is made of a combination of natural and synthetic fibres, allowing the capacitive touchscreens of today’s devices to pickup on motions made by the brush.

Using a brush on a screen is obviously a different experience than that of one on canvas or cardboard, but people who are more comfortable with a brush than painting with a finger – an otherwise unnatural way to draw – will find themselves at ease here.

Several versions of the Nomad exist, including the dual-tipped Nomad Compose, an aluminium model that can equip two tips at once, different to the original Nomad made of wood that has a single tip like a regular paint brush.

"Painting" on a Galaxy Tab 7.7 with the Nomad Brush.

Kids can even get in on the fun with Nomad’s “Play”, a fat stubby version of the brush with carvings of rocket ships and stars aimed at the younger artists.

We tested a few of the models here and found the dual-tip Nomad Compose to be the best, allowing both a medium sized brush for a more “painterly” feel, and an ultra-short angled tip that not only provides a different texture to work with, but also gives you more control.

Pens are also available for tablets, offering a more precise way of drawing that design students may prefer. These are actually the more common type of stylus, using a soft rubberised end-point that works with the tablet’s capacitive screen.

This stylus is actually the most common type, but not all are created equal. Those with an eye for design or who prefer balanced pens may find themselves looking for angled styluses such as Pogo’s Sketch Pro or the heavy Architect Stylus.

The fatter child-friendly version of the Nomad, seen here digitally painting an ice cream cone.