Local Engineer’s cool Pen

A couple of months ago I was given a PressurePen by Chuck N, from the local Triangle Mac Users Group. The idea was to play with it and write up a blog entry. I had been running iOS7 most of the summer, and the app didn’t seem to work with iOS 7 on either my iPad or my iPhone. So It’s taken me a while to write up this post. Having said that, I’ve now had some fun playing with this pen, enabled via a Kickstarter.

Let’s begin with the device itself, it is a set of open source designs that allows you to print our a shell for a pressure pen. A pressure pen is used by artists to behave much more like a real pen or brush. Applications sense the amount of pressure being applied to the pen and translate that into things like the width of the stroke, the amount of “paint” being applied, and how fast the “paint” is used up from the brush. The goal is to make the process of creating digital art, more like traditional art.

I’ve tested the pen on three different devices and two different apps. Due to the iOS7 problems, Charles Mangin (the creator) suggested I test on my Android tablet (a Samsung Tab 2) with Infinite Painter app or if I wanted to test on iOS that I use an app called Pen & Paper. Both of these apps worked fine. My artistic skills are bad, so I won’t post any pictures of any of my “art”. If you want to use the Pressure Pen app on iOS7, it currently does not recognize the pressure off the pen. Charles does not have an iOS device, so there may be a delay on support. I have offered to test it for him, if there are others who would test, comment on this post and perhaps we can help Charles update this app.

So how does the PressurePen work? The pen is battery powered, so don’t forget to turn it on. The novel idea is the Pen plugs into your audio jack on your device and uses that to send the pressure levels to the tablet. Pretty simple. To that end I found the pressure to be a little less response than I expected, however, as I am not a digital artist, it may be that I’ve not yet trained myself to understand the limitations of this medium over pen and paper.

Overall, I think this is a very cool idea and I wish more apps supported this type of pressure pen. I find it would make a great addition to a photo manipulation application. What do you think? Go pick one up, it’s designs are open source and most of the parts a very inexpensive (there’s a kit available for $35 at the Pressure Pen website – http://pressurepen.net) or you can get a preassembled Pen for $65.