Wacom Inkling

Wacom's Inkling is a pen that draws both on paper and on-screen, tracking the artist's linework with 1024 levels of sensitivity. At $200, it's barely even expensive! The Inkling will be in stores by mid-September.

Inkling [Wacom]


  1. The only negative I can see so far is that the pen itself might not be terrific for sketching. Otherwise this sounds like something fantastic.

    I do worry about replacing the pens however. I can see those being very expensive.

    1. The pens take “Standard Mini Ballpoint ink refill (1 mm ball size)”, though I’m not sure if that’s what you were referring to.

  2. As something of an artist, this is a very interesting concept. I do worry about a couple of things though.
    I like drawing with pencils, not pens. It’s not as natural.
    I don’t see any eraser option here.
    The images appear to be relative to the receiver unit. I don’t see how it’s secured in place. If it gets knocked or moved even slightly while drawing, the resulting image will be skewed. Even pushing the button could shift it enough to damage a detailed drawing.
    And while 1024 pressure levels is very nice, I wonder what the resolution of the drawing area will be. I find it hard to think of any way the accuracy won’t be reduced the further you draw from the base unit.
    Other vids say you can’t block line of sight to the pen either, so it might be an optical positioning system. Will that get interference from anything? Or get obstructed easily?

    Could be cool, could be a gimmick. To tell, we’ll need to see;
    Any choice in drawing tool
    Resolution and reliability/accuracy of rendering
    Battery life
    Ease of use

    Would have more faith in it if the video, with product apparently just two weeks or so from release, wasn’t entirely CGI with no real thing shown.

    1. Hi Peter, I took a look and a lot of your questions are answered on the tech specs page. Just follow the link to the Inkling page and click the green link on the left.

    2. “I like drawing with pencils, not pens. It’s not as natural.”

      To a non-artist, that sounds really snooty, but I’m sure there’s a good
      reason you think it’s true.  Me, I prefer drawing with sticks in the
      mud.  Pencils aren’t as natural.

      More importantly, this looks pretty neat, and a million times better than those digital pens that need special paper.

      1. Snooty? I’m not an artists, but I simply take it as a given that artists would prefer a pencil over a pen for the simple fact that it responds to pressure much more naturally.

        Myself, I tend to do any writing-based activity with pencils because I make so many mistakes. >.<

        However, now that I think of it, given the fact that there is no obvious 'eraser' function, maybe Wacom wanted to mentally remind people of that fact by having them write in indelible ink?

        1. natural?  Pencils weren’t mass produced until the 19th century.  As a drawing tool, it’s almost a new-comer.  For centuries the “natural” way to draw was with pen and ink.  or with sticks of burnt vine.  or chalk.  or silverpoint..  or mud and your finger.

          once you get past the initial discomfort, its just another tool.

          Oh, and ballpoint pens are a pleasure to draw with.  no eraser needed.

      2. Pens and pencils work differently. You have tried using each of those in your lifetime, haven’t you? How is it a stretch to figure out different artists like different mediums? Snooty indeed. Your little stick in the mud comment would fall under the snooty definition, I think. 

  3. The title of this article seems misleading. The pen uses an ink cartridge and paper, and then memory recorded from the device is transferred to your computer. Once there, you’d be using a wacom tablet to edit.

    Because this is a small, portable device, and functions using pressure sensitivity, it may be worth the money. After all, I take plenty of meetings with clients where I sketch thumbs as a start for a design. Being able to directly enter those as layered graphics (without intermediate scan loss) will provide additional back up for later edits. Only real cost could lie in new ink cartridges. 

  4. Import to AutoCad = Take my fucking money!!!!*

    *The giving of said money will depend entirely on baseless reviews more to do about just how cool the thing really is. 

  5. Looks like a fun toy, it might even be useful. Too bad it’s also just another reminder about how the industry is jerking me around by refusing to sell a decent tablet computer that can use a pressure-sensitive stylus. (Yes, they are jerking around with me PERSONALLY.)

  6. One more bit, the “sketch manager software” apparently lets you manipulate portions of sketches both by “scrubbing” which lets you isolate parts of a drawing (probably like rubbing a eraser across), and creating and combining layers. So it looks like you’re able to do minor editing on a computer solely with the provided software.

  7. its cool and all, but unless you are doing really large format, what are
    the advantages over scanning?

    and how easily do you “edit” those vectors?

    1. jkg,  scanning is actually pretty tedious – scanning in even a pen drawing requires a huge amount of cleanup before it’s usable as a digital file for coloring etc.  I’ve been wanting a tool like this for ages… I mean it turns it into VECTORS… OMG WANT!

    2. I don’t know about you, but my personal workflow for editing scans is REALLY tedious, once you count all of the time spent cleaning them up. To be able upload drawings without any tedium, alone, would make this device worth it. Think of the difference it makes to be able to upload photos from your camera/phone and having to clumsily scan in physical copies, including removing imperfections in the scanning process, to achieve the same result. Now imagine that you have dozens of drawings to scan, and you’ll see really quickly where the advantage lies. I have a giant pile that has been untouched for months for this exact reason. Less time interfacing with files means more time drawing…

      It’s not like I don’t have my own misgivings about the device, though. It seems like the device isn’t really living up to the potential of a pen that can interface with a computer .

      First off, I am curious as to how a ball point pen works with pressure sensitivity? I also wonder if it would be possible to use custom ink colors, and then lay down another layer? What’s the point of having layers if you can’t tell the difference between layer a’s marks and layer b’s? Similarly, can you refill the ink cartridges, use some cheap standard variety, or do you have to shell out for new ones through Wacom? If I have to regularly buy some overpriced proprietary hunk of plastic just to deliver the india ink onto paper, this could be a dealbreaker for me.

      Thinking about it, I don’t really see why they didn’t design the head of the device to work like a technical pen, letting me choose what kind of ink to use, and of what color. If they want to sell me additional heads, for the quick swapping of colors without dilution, this would be fine with me. They could even let you program them to layers, so that swapping out heads a and b corresponds with drawing on layers a and b, and so forth. Oh well, maybe V.2?

  8. So no one thinks I’m a complete git – When I first opened this article I was curious if the pen also came with a receiver that could be mounted to the side of the screen and a second tip that was just a stylus. It wouldn’t be good for your screen, but it could happen…

  9. (reply to jkg) I can give one example, you’re at a meeting with a client and draw several images that they like – but you’re in their office working with your materials. This lets you sketch naturally at a conference table, then import directly to your laptop so you can edit several images on the fly, including adding notes and making changes to multiple copies of an original. Carrying just the pen and case and importing directly is not only faster, you’ll get better data.

  10. Alvis: Yeah, he’s right though. Art is my bread and butter and tools make all the difference in the world – I go through pencils like most people go through tissue and toothpaste. 

    A few thoughts as a Wacom user of over 10 years:

    How well will the vectors cleanup? Will is use internal soft or will it just use Adobe’s crap-ass Live-Trace?

    I thought this would be a real time drawing tool, not a “sketch anywhere and bring it back later”… but I can still think of a million uses for this. I lug that tablet of mine everywhere and it’s heavy as fuck when combined with my other luggage (No car, I use a bike to get around town) so this would be good for all those “inspirational moments” out and about instead of just having to write shit down in “Evernote.”

    Pens: I don’t find Wacoms pens too unwieldy – that’s probably the least of my worries personally.

    Calibration – if you’re a Wacom user you know – there are different strokes for different folks. Undoubtedly, there will probably be some toothing there as well.

  11. I’ll wait for reviews, but it looks pretty promising, actually. I’m sure it will take some getting used to, but like benher said, I can think of a million ways to use this. And every one of them equals easier workflow if it performs at all like described in the videos. (There are multiple videos there…)

  12. I’m biased, as I used to work at Livescribe, but the Pulse and Echo pens (which use special paper, but no “base station” for positioning) seem to do all of this already…  And are cheaper…

    1. I got a LiveScribe pen a few weeks ago.  They are VERY cool!

      The editors/reporters at boingboing should looks into them: a voice recorder that will record an interview while you’re taking notes and sketches.  The audio will match up to the writing on the paper.  Brilliant!  Plus you can load up software on the pen!  F-ing brilliant!

      The microphone on the pen does pick up the scritch-scratch on the paper.  I got a TouchMic Handsfree Lapel Microphone & Adapter – $14. (Good audio, and so cheap, I ordered two: one white, one black.)

      I wish that Livescribe hadn’t decided to discontinue the SDK.  Sigh. Still, at under $100 in Canada…

      1. Forgot to add: using an app, the Livescribe pens can be used as input devices for your computer.

  13. It doesn’t transfer in real time, and I can’t see how the “1024 levels of pressure” is much use when the only feedback you get is via a ballpoint pen. That being said, it looks convenient and portable for transferring drawings made on the fly, especially if the vector transfer process works as well as it should. If it worked in realtime and with a brush or pencil it would be great; as it is, “meh”.

  14. Oh, *want*, at least if it works as promised.  I note from the tech specs it takes “Standard Mini Ballpoint ink refill (1 mm ball size)” ie the standard ‘D1’ refill size, of which there are hundreds of varieties. I wonder if anyone makes a mechanical pencil to fit that refill size though?

    1. That cartridge cant be too big, plus it has to push against the internal sensor for pressure sensitivity. Not likely to be able to do a mechanical pencil.

      Someone could probably hack one with shortened lead from a clutch pencil but it can’t be too soft or will break.

  15. This is really clever. I’d imagine the vector component is a technically trivial one–just convert each stroke on the fly. However, putting all that tech together is really cool.

  16. So they shrunk the Virtual Ink Mimeo line of whiteboard recorders. Others had done that before too, but I can’t remember any of the product names.

  17. *Sigh*… looks like a dream come true — if only, if only. As usual, the Linux users are ignored. When will The Industry finally start to take us serious? On the other hand, at least they support SVG, albeit not with layers, apparently.

  18. @boingboing-08f87f31320e3e079a9e8c257d1e3e44:disqus One advantage I see is that when you use a scanner, you also scan the paper texture along with dust and other “noise” you probably don’t want to scan. Here you only record the strokes, so it’s (probably) a lot cleaner.

    On the other hand, drawing with a pen is a huge disadvantage to me (I’d rather use a pencil *by far*).

    1. So use your pencil for your quick sketches, then lay a sheet of onionskin over it or use a light table and use this to do the inks.

      Yeah, it looks neat.  I want, but I want to see some reviews and check one out in a store before I’ll buy.

      Hmmmm, now that I think about it though, I wonder if if will be possible to hack an electrostatic stylus tip onto one of the pen inserts?  This, plus iPad = portable digital sketchbook, with (sort of) pressure sensitivity…

  19. For us mere mortals… can we use this to just, you know, write stuff and put on our computer? Like meetings, classes, stuff like that?

    1. I know someone who’s had a modbook for a few years now and I’m super jealous. (One of modbook’s first featured artists, actually.) But I just can’t justify the 2000 dollar purchase considering that Apple is likely to introduce pressure sensitivity for the next generation of iPads. 

    2. Mildly related…anybody here used a Modbook?

      I played around with a demo model once a few years ago. Unfortunately, as you might expect, an OS designed for desktops isn’t really much fun on a tablet. I also remember it being hot and heavy, but not in a sexy way.

  20. The only thing about this that will be interesting for artists and not just designers/cartoonists (who will have many real uses for it) will come in figuring out how to brake it and hack it.

  21. I recently went to a Mr. Sketchy event. This would have been perfect for that.

    And, I guess I could put some vellum over my old sketches and retrace them using this.

  22. This is a sonic pen, similar to the Tablo PC-to-tablet conversion device. I hope it’s an improvement; the Tablo has serious issues with calibration, and receives interference in noisy places.

  23. I’m wondering if claw handed Lefties will have a problem with the LOS issues. I suppose we could just put the receiver on the side.
    Wrt vector manipulation, I’m guessing the people asking the question haven’t used Sketchbook Designer from Autodesk. It’s great.

    1. The site actually mentions that it’s designed for use by both right and left-handed operators. As a lefty, that was a selling point for me. It looks (based on pen design, I didn’t see info on it) like the light receivers are near the tip of the pen and are spaced evenly around it.

  24. SVG will feed into Inkscape (the opensource vector package) and Rotring do D1 refills.  Barring bad reviews and leftytraum when it gets into people’s hands, I am *so* in.

    Anyone found a pencil D1 refill? 

  25. I often sketch with pens, and I’ve wanted something like this for a long time. I wish it were available right now. 

    Oh, and scanning is a pain in the rear. If the quality on this is reliable at all (and I think Wacom releases quality items) it will be way more convenient than scanning. 

  26. I’m not even really too great at drawing, and have no real-world need for anything like this, but still my brain immediately went into full extreme *WANT* mode when I saw this video.

  27. So this is what they were developing when they could have been engineering some actual improvements into the Cintiq refresh. Yay.

Comments are closed.