Drawing with the Pixelbook
I’ve been using the Pixelbook for a few months now, and wanted to share some of my thoughts — From the drawing Apps I use the most to overall thoughts about the device.
My first impression on opening the box was that the Pixelbook (and pen) are both thoughtfully designed, as evidenced by the small but important details, like both having a brushed aluminum section and a soft white section.
The details on the packaging match the devices, and because of the Google ecosystem, the prompts and animations feel instantly recognizable, friendly and helpful.
It was easy to setup and start using, it’s light weight, great for travel and it’s the first digital tool I’ve ever used as much as my sketchbook. Because drawing was my main motivation for using the Pixelbook, I’ll start with…
Drawing / Illustration:
I’ve been creating illustrations / drawings using the Infinite Painter app,
which I really like and found intuitive to use. Recording video was easy, as was exporting / sharing to social media. Customizing things like color palettes, brush settings and preferred canvas size were straight forward and didn’t take long to set up. If you follow me on Instagram, any digital art there was all done in Infinite Painter.
The Pixelbook screen is bigger than the tablets I’ve had, which allows for more room to draw and create. I’ve used a lot of digital illustration tools in the past (various hardware + software combinations) but I would always go back to my sketchbook because I ended up feeling more comfortable with traditional tools. With the Pixelbook, I found myself drawing digitally more than traditionally, which is unusual for me, but I ENJOYED using it.
I prefer the Pixelbook Pen to other digital drawing tools for a few reasons. The replaceable battery pen is much easier to deal with, as opposed to…awkward charging methods.( When I got the pen, I ordered a pack of batteries online and keep them at my desk, although I’ve been using this pen for months and haven’t had to replace them!)
I also like the width of the Pixelbook pen in combination with the brushed aluminum — I find it’s easier and more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time when I’m working, compared to other digital drawing tools I’ve used. I’ve had pens cause my hand to cramp and I never use them again — I can’t draw like that and it renders the tool useless to me.
Also worth mentioning is the “Google Assistant” — you can push + hold the button on the pen and circle something on the screen to get more information. I haven’t used this feature a lot but I like that it’s easily available. (There is also a dedicated “Assistant” button on the Pixelbook keyboard as well).
The Pen Part 2: Low Latency:
One thing that really frustrated me with other devices was latency. For example, on an older set up I had, the drawing tool would have a serious lag, which made drawing REALLY difficult (Draw a line, wait for the line to show up. The line is wrong. Erase the line. Rinse, Repeat.) The first day using the Pixelbook, the low-latency actually threw me off for a minute, as I was used to drawing with a lag.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to meet a deadline and having a piece of technology cause you frustration (I’m SURE I don’t need to explain this to you, dear reader) — but this situation was the number one cause of me returning to a sketchbook “Forget it, I can do this faster by hand”. I have not said that ever while using the Pixelbook.
The actual device:
When I opened the Pixelbook box and held the device for the first time, it felt thoughtfully designed. I like that the computer and the pen “match” by both having a brushed aluminum section and a soft white section. I liked the packaging of the box and how it felt like it belonged with the device. I still feel this way when I use it, and it adds to the affection I have for this computer.
I had no issues setting it up. All I had to do was sign in and start using it — thank you, Google! I was able to install apps and start drawing in no time. The Pixelbook is also lightweight and easy to travel with — typically I take a pack of pens / paint / sketchbook everywhere, which can get messy and bulky. I was surprised to find I would grab the Pixelbook to take with me, rather than a sketchbook. As someone who travels frequently, it’s ideal. You’ve got entertainment (Netflix, etc) Productivity (Google Docs, email, etc) and the fun stuff for Art and Social Media (Infinite Painter, Adobe Illustrator Draw, etc). I like that I can flip the screen around and use it as either a proper computer with a keyboard, or just the screen as a drawing tool.
Every other digital illustration tool / device I had felt like an addition. In other words, for various reasons, I ONLY used those devices for digital illustration — which is OK, until you think about having to carry an extra device for travel that only performs one function, or having to export images to a different device, or having something use a different OS, etc. The Pixelbook isn’t JUST one thing for me — I can use it for art, I can use it for work, I can use it for fun. (I realize this list is subjective to my use cases, but it was still a source of frustration to me that existed until I had this device). I ENJOY using it and I look forward to creating things with it.
- If I don’t enjoy using a device, I don’t use it — I really do enjoy the Pixelbook, and I’ve had enough folks ask me about it that I wanted to gather all my thoughts in one place.
- People ask me what apps I use, and the links are listed above, but I would like to add: What works for me might not work for you, and that’s OK! Try a few things and see what feels the most comfortable to your style and workflow. There’s no right answer.
- I didn’t think I would like the Pixelbook this much — I wasn’t wild about using another computer, and I wasn’t sure what the drawing experience would be like, but I’m happy to report it exceeded my expectations.