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Colin Smith
December 12, 2018


Digital Sketching 2018 Retrospective

It hasn’t been too long ago since the days when creating digital artwork was prohibitive due to the cost of peripheral devices. We’ve come a long way since then. This has been another year demonstrating the pervasiveness of pen-enabled hardware as the industry rolls out more products that appeal to creative endeavors. This bodes well for all of you who are compelled to draw anywhere and everywhere as we continue to see significant quality improvements, greater choice in form factor, and more affordable options.
Here’a a recap of just a few highlights from 2018 that reinforce how great these times are for digital sketching.

Apple Pencil 2

Along with the Apple’s  latest round of announcement last October, the Pencil 2 is was upgraded along with the iPad Pro.  Though the improvements are geared towards user experience – featuring magnetic charging (in place of the prior, unfriendly, charging method), a flat edge to prevent Pencil from rolling off  surface, and gesture controls – this is another positive step from the early days of  finger-painting on iOS devices.

Dell Canvas

Originally announced at CES in 2017 (and recognized as an Innovation Award honoree), this is Dell’s first foray at hardware explicitly targeting artists and designers.  The 27” Dell Canvas sits flat on a desk and pairs with any Windows 10 hardware. The pen features 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity while the screen supports 20 points of touch recognition.

Microsoft Surface

Since demonstrating their commitment in 2015 by acquiring pen technology, they have continued to evolve and expand their Surface product line.  Last October, they revealed the 2nd generation Surface Studio.  The 28” all-in-one PC boasts a new display with a brighter and higher contrast display, more powerful graphics, and supporting pen-tilt functionality.

Google’s Pixel Slate


Announced in October, Google’s Pixel Slate is a detachable 2-in-1 that runs Chrome OS.  In addition to the full-fledged web browser, the Slate works with Android Apps and with Pixel Pen, making it an affordable and capable creative device.


Wacom is the company that pioneered the digital pen and graphic tablet for the creative market.  This year, they celebrated their 35 year anniversary and even though the field of competitors has grown since their early years, Wacom has expanded their product line and footprint through partnerships.

Samsung Galaxy Note9

If you are looking for a smartphone with an ‘artistic-grade’ pen-experience, Samsung has been committed to delivering that since their first introduction of the S Pen in 2011.  Powered by Wacom pen technology, the phone will have a familiar feel for those who have graphic tablet experience.   The Galaxy Note9 was launched last August.
Let us know in the comments below which new device you are most eager to get your creative hands on!

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Colin Smith

Colin is a Sr. Product Manager on the Automotive and Conceptual Design Team at Autodesk. During his 25-year career in the CAD industry he has worked in customer support, training, consulting and as a product manager for Alias and Fusion 360. Currently, he works on SketchBook Pro and Create VR and is based in Toronto, Canada.