Surface Pro and Windows tablet PC users have an amazing array of great software at their disposal and most of it costs only a fraction of what you will pay for a license from Adobe or Corel.

UPDATE: Additional testing of the Flip has surfaced a much more serious issue than pen pressure or fan noise. I must recommend that you avoid the device until the issue is corrected. See this post for more information: http://surfaceproartist.com/blog/2013/11/14/the-real-dealbreaker-for-sony-vaio-flip-15a-frequent-loss-of-pen-touch-control 

And in case you're interested, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 6.0.4 runs well and with pressure sensitivity.

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ORIGINAL POST

I had the chance to install two additional applications on the Sony VAIO Flip 15 A this afternoon and I'm sorry to report that neither program runs perfectly.

Paint Tool SAI

Each stroke was created with a different pressure level, to no avail. The SAI UI is crowded and targets are not touch friendly.

It doesn't really surprise me that pen pressure in Systemax's Paint Tool SAI v1.1 doesn't work. This version was released in 2008.

I must thanks Twitter follower Dave Barrack (@grrlpowercomic) who explained that pressure sensitivity in SAI is set on a per brush basis under Advanced Settings, Hard <-> Soft.

Unfortunately, no value from 0 to 200 yields a pressure sensitive brush stroke.

The program doesn't have multi-touch support either, so it's not possible to pan or zoom with one's fingers. Though palm rejection works for the most part, it's still possible to create stray marks with one's pinky or knuckle even though the pen is also in the screen's proximity.

There supposedly are more recent beta versions of SAI available for download, but I was unable to find them.

The SAI interface is also not ideal for a tablet. Even on the Flip's ample 15.5 inch screen, touch targets are very small and need to be selected with the pen tip.

UPDATE: Thanks to Twitter follower Yenny (@Nashoki44), I found the latest beta download for SAI 1.2b5. Unfortunately, that version did not correct the lack of pen pressure.

ArtRage 4.0.6

Pressure sensitivity works well in ArtRage 4.0.6, as does multitouch. Unfortunately, it's still possible for taps to leave stray marks.

Although the latest update of Ambient Design's ArtRage 4 recognizes pressure and supports multi-touch with the N-Trig digitizer, I was disappointed to learn that it's still possible to create errant marks as you draw.

If you need proof positive that pc manufacturers haven't a clue, look no further than Sony's decision to bundle ArtRage 3.5.5 Studio with each Flip sold in the U.S.

I'm sure that retailers display that program when potential buyers ask about paint capability and I'm equally certain that savvy buyers will quickly cross the Flip off their lists based on its buggy performance. Any finger gesture may result in unwanted drawing and sometimes in the middle of a two finger zoom or even a pen drawing, unwanted lines will start shooting across the screen.

ArtRage 4 has been out at least since the beginning of this year and it has far fewer issues. Why Sony chose to package the older version baffles me.

If you can keep your pinky or knuckle from tapping on the screen as you draw, you'll be very happy with the results. Otherwise, you'll need to stay vigilant and frequently use Undo.

 

  

Like most of you, I've tended to dismiss tablets and convertibles that feature N-Trig digitizers that are limited to only 256 levels of pressure. However, I'm also first to admit that it's nearly impossible to distinguish more than a few pressure levels while drawing on the Surface Pro.  

The price and performance of Sony's Vaio tablets and convertibles is definitely appealing, especially with screen sizes ranging from 11 to 15 inches. 

I came across this video produced by Sony Vaio Duo 13 owner Scott Harris, which demonstrates Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7, ArtRage 4.0.5 and Sketchbook Pro 6.0.1 running very well at high resolutions. 

N-Trig drivers for Photoshop are still in beta, but if you don't require that functionality, I'd say the Sonys are definitely worth considering.

 

Excuse my horrible quick sketches. I got a chance to test the Sony VAIO Duo 13, and made this video to show how awesome it's digitiser works for digital art. Check out my stuff on http://artofscottharris.deviantart.com Check out the ArtSketch.org review of this model here: http://www.artsketch.org/digital-art-revolution-the-sony-vaio-duo-13/ My personal verdict: Perfect for Art, especially with Clip Studio Paint.

NOTE: I stopped updating this post in October, 2013. However, much of what runs on the Surface Pro 2 should also work with the original Surface Pro. Applications that have had compatibility issues with display drivers such as Autodesk Mudbox will likely break if you attempt to update the SP1.

One of the principal objectives of this blog is to help take the guesswork out of making your purchasing decision. I'm taking the time to install and determine whether these creative applications run so you won't have to. 

Here's what I've installed and tested so far: 

Adobe

 

ArtRage 4 - runs, recommended

Autodesk 

  •  3DS Max 2014, 2013 - runs
  • Maya 2014, 2013  - runs
  • Maya LT 2014 - runs
  • Mudbox 2014, 2013  - incompatible, requires discrete graphics
  • Mudbox 2010 x64 - runs
  • Sketchbook Designer 2014, 2103  - runs, pressure sensitivity corrected with Wacom Feel driver update
  • Sketchbook Pro 6.2.3  - runs, recommended
  • Softimage 2014, 2013  - runs

Blender  2.68 - runs, not recommended: interface tool small, not scaleable, scaling reacts to pen movement

Celsys

  • Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7 - runs, recommended (Japanese language)
  • Clip Studio Modeler Beta 0.9.0 - runs (Japanese language)

Corel

  • Corel Draw x6 - runs
  • Corel Painter x3 -runs

 

Gimp 2.8.6 - runs 

Lumion Keyshot 4.1.35 - runs

 

 

Luxology/Foundry Modo 701601 SP5 - runs, set input device to tablet 

Maxon Cinema 4D Studio R14 - TBD

Newtek Lightwave 11.5 - runs, with pen control issues

Pilgway 3D-Coat 4.0.03 - runs  

Pixologic

 

61 Solutions Mischief 1.08 - runs

Smith Micro

  • Anime Studio Pro 9.5 - runs
  • Manga Studio 5, 5 EX - runs, recommended (update to 5.0.3)
  • Motion Artist 1.1 - runs
  • Poser Pro 2010 - runs

 

 

 

Speedy Painter 3.0.7 - runs

TeamUP (Lagoa) MultiOptics - runs, Chrome only

Toonboom Animate Pro 3 - runs

Trimble Sketchup 2013 - runs 

Triple Squid Software Design Moments of Inspiration 2.0 (Moi3D) - runs  

Unity Pro 4.3.0b5 - runs, touch response unreliable. Works with mouse, capacitive stylus.

Would you like me to test any other programs? Please leave a comment below.