I updated my GIMP Beginner to Advanced course with a section on using my $399 Wacom medium tablet to draw using the GIMP — but must admit the section was half-hearted because I could never get the hang of drawing on a tablet while looking at the screen. Wacom options that would allow me to see what I was drawing on what I was drawing on were prohibitively expensive:

Wacom Cintiq: $800 (requires a PC connection)
Wacom Mobile Studio: $1700 (runs Windows 10 so it’s mobile)

And these are the low-end 13″ products.

Then I began to investigate the Microsoft Surface Pro product line. They were still out of my price range ($1500) but then I read that the low-end product actually had enough “umph” to work as a tablet.

Recently, I purchased an Intel M3 based Surface Pro 4 (4GB, 128GB):

$499.99

I bought it on eBay. No tax and free shipping.

This device is a dream when it comes to digital drawing:

  • Runs Windows 10
  • Completely mobile (10 hr battery life)
  • You see what you’re drawing on what your drawing on
  • Runs your favorite Windows application on the device
  • 1024 levels of pen pressure sensitivity (as opposed to 8,196 for Wacoms)
  • Though the low-end product, I can draw beautifully with absolutely no pen lag.

So far I’ve only used the device with my favorite drawing program, Clip Studio Paint (free 2nd device license).

I plan to soon load the GIMP on to this device along with my screen recording software (Camtasia) and plug my Blue Yeti mic into the device (you get 1 USB 3 port) so that I can start recording GIMP drawing lectures.

As you may have read, I’m still getting my act together after a California wildfire evacuation, but once I’m ready I hope to provide recorded demonstrations. I was just so excited by this tablet option that I couldn’t help letting you know.

So, if you’re looking for the ultimate drawing experience, consider the lowest end Microsoft Surface Pro 4 you can find. It provides more than enough power to run your favorite Windows 10 applications (I read that Photoshop even runs well) rather than paying premium dollars for a Wacom.

Note that this is a great option for a portable drawing tablet but not for a general purpose Windows 10 computer (that would probably be at least an i5 based, 8G computer at $1500).

More to follow,

—Brian