UPDATE: If you'd like to try the latest beta of Toolbar Creator 2.2, the developer has just released it publicly. http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/toolbar-creator-v-2-1.63014/page-12#post-415712
Keyboard shortcuts are an absolute must for artists who are in the "zone." But sadly, docked keyboards and tablet pcs don't play well together in comfortable drawing positions. I strongly recommend that everyone who draws on a Windows tablet invests in a compact bluetooth keyboard, but even they can be poor substitutes for easy-to-reach Expresskeys or on-screen buttons.
The latter was possible on the Surface Pro 1 and 2 thanks to ArtDock: artist-customizable sets of on-screen shortcuts powered by a clever utility called AutoHotkey. Microsoft's switch to N-Trig with the Surface Pro 3 meant that handy utility was no longer compatible. And for a while, it looked like no one in the art community could figure out how to make Autohotkey scripts work with anything other than Wacom devices.
But in recent weeks, I've been experimenting with a handful of AHK-based solutions that show a lot of promise for users of any touch-capable tablet pc.
First up is Toolbar Creator by lblb, a teacher and researcher in organic chemistry at a liberal arts college who prefers to remain otherwise anonymous.
Rather than post his own ArtDock or toolbar, lblb set out to harness the power of Autohotkey and make it accessible to anyone. The screenshots below are from version 2.2 of the software, which is currently in beta.
While the number of options may seem overwhelming, Toolbar Creator is very logically designed and should be easy for any digital artist to understand, regardless of technical knowledge.
Despite claiming to be busy with his day job, the author is very active on the TabletPCReview forums where the software is maintained and he promptly responds to questions and suggestions from users.
lblb may want to remain somewhat anonymous, but his Herculean effort here deserves at least a little bit of Internet fame. Check out Toolbar Creator for yourself over at TabletPCReviews and stop back here to show us what you're able to create with his toolkit.
As soon as Alex Cheparev comes up with his Mudbox and ZBrush toolbars, we will post them here.
Next up, we'll be looking at a new utility that brings the Wacom radial menu to N-Trig pens. Stay tuned!