ISKN slate 2 review
Illustration & Design, Pondering Creativity, Reviews

10 Things to Like & Dislike about ISKN Slate 2 – A Review

ISKN slate 2 reviewIt was being shipped from France!

And that little fact only, was enough to get me excited about the ISKN Slate 2!

Well, I have lived 5 precious days of my life in that gorgeous country, in Paris particularly, and ever since, the place has secured a soft spot in my heart, for like, Forever!

My personal nostalgia aside, let’s talk about the ISKN Slate 2 now! :)

As you probably know already, ISKN Slate 2, is a digitizing product, brought in market by a french start up company, it works like a graphics tablet but lets you draw on a real paper. And that is precisely why I decided to buy it – to ease & speed up the process of converting my illustrations to digital.

This device uses magnetic rings fitted onto a pen or pencil. The Slate tracks the ring’s movements with sensors to create a live, digital version of your drawing onto its native app, Imagink. This slate works for iPads, PCs, and Macs.

The ISKN Slate 2, The Magnetic Rings, The Clips, The Pen, & The Tip! All these things came packaged in nice & sturdy cardboard boxes. The packaging part, I quite liked it…it’s simple & chic!

iskn_packaging_lensdepictions

Now, here is my list of what is there to like and to dislike, about this interesting art tech:

Things to Like:

One_shade5_pcdYou can create, or learn to create art in the old-school (and perhaps more correct) way!

This one may seem obvious but it is the very basis of this product, the very USP, and so for this bullet point, I have taken the liberty to explain my point of view at somewhat length.

Drawing directly through a digital medium might have its own practical advantages but drawing on your own sketchbook where you can not only see your drawing, but also touch it, the charm of that process is unmatched. And perhaps will always be.

And with ISKN Slate, you get that. You don’t need to stare at any screen while you are drawing, and still, of course, you get a digital copy of your creation.

And when I say that you don’t have to stare at any screen, I quite literally mean it too. Because with 8 hours of battery life and 8 GB internal memory (around 800000 drawings pages), the ISKN Slate 2 provides you option to draw without connecting it to any device and transfer your drawings at your convenience.

Which essentially means, you can carry just the slate anywhere you go (no need to take iPad along with it) and whenever an inspiration strikes, you can quickly draw it on a paper (attached to the slate) just like you would do with your sketchbook, only this time, you have got a digital copy too! Sweet.

Some months ago, I had read an architect’s interview in a magazine.

He said that one of the most important things he had learned in the drawing classes was – to practice to draw without using eraser, the students were even made to use only pen to draw, and not a pencil, he said.

The purpose behind this was to 1) Get more control over your lines, & 2) To let your whole imagination come out on paper without modifying it in between every now & then with extensive use of eraser.

Now, in my opinion, a tool like ISKN Slate 2 would be slightly more unforgiving to the artist in you, than, let’s say a Graphic tablet where you draw purely digitally, and have the liberty to CTRL+Z until you get your lines right. Because, you see, even though the ISKN software has got a nice eraser to modify your lines in the digital version, with the paper version of your sketch, you have no choice but to either redraw it, or erase it with traditional eraser, or the best outcome of all, learn to get your right lines the very first time!

It’s very much similar to why some hard core photographers think that you should use film camera first to learn or hone your craft of photography before switching to digital cameras.

In this photo you can also see the sleeve -for storing and carrying around the Slate (not included in the main order, paid additional $29.90), also from ISKN. The sleeve is nice & functional.

iskn_sleeve_lensdepictions

Two_shade5_pcdSave Your Time – No Scanning or photographing & tracing your sketches!

When you create a lot of digital art – illustrations, vectors, graphics etc, it’s a such a relief to eliminate these many stages of your work!

ISKN Slate 2 lets you save your sketch not only as JPEG, PNG, Bitmap, or a PSD (Photoshop document), but also an SVG!

Yes, you heard it right, SVG! And if you are in the business of creating vectors, you know what I mean.

More often than not, a sketch made with simple lines forms the basis of a detailed vector illustration. And so, when you sketch on the ISKN Slate, no more tracing work is needed on InkScape, Illustrator, (Or any other software you might be using). Just grab your sketch as an SVG file and take your art further right from there! Handy, very handy.

Three_shade5_pcdYou can use your own favorite tools

Unlike other similar products in the market, like say a Wacom Bamboo Slate, you are not restricted to use any particular drawing tool. You can use practically any pencil, pen, etc of your choice and onto which you can insert the Magnetic rings provided by ISKN.

The magnetic ring allows you to use any pen, felt tip or pencil you want. All you need to do is slide the ring on the tool for it to detect its position, and tilt.

Four_shade5_pcdReplay your drawing process, watch, enjoy & share!

Now, you can’t “watch” yourself drawing something, particularly “over the shoulder”, can you?

ISKN lets you export your sketching process as a video file (MPEG/AVI).

I simply loved this feature, the ISKN software records your on screen drawing activity and lets you save it as a time-lapse video at a desired length of time (and thus control how fast or slow it will play)

This feature is particularly useful in today’s scenario when it’s all about sharing your work or knowledge with other people online.

Below is the video of my Turtle Sketch!

Five_shade5_pcdGreat for doodling, note-taking, digitizing handwriting, drawing small motifs & organic shapes!

While I don’t think I would use this slate to draw elaborate drawings, I would say that it is definitely great for creating small, organic shapes or motifs which can be parts of a larger illustration of pattern etc. And more so, if you want a purely hand-drawn feel to those shapes (as against typical clean looking ones created as vectors)

It is great for jotting down ideas, doodling or note-taking. Imagine yourself attending some conference or seminar where Mobile devices may not be allowed. As mentioned in point no.1, it works great for those moments when ideas occur unexpectedly. The slate saves your time because you have also created a digital draft of your idea there and then only.

Handwriting! Who doesn’t love to have a digital copy of their handwritten material, particularly, signature? See a signature’s digital copy created with ISKN Slate in action here! :)

Six_shade5_pcdCool rendering modes available in the software

Some might find the presence of these options on the Imagink App very basic these days, but I really like the different rendering modes available there. It’s not only fun but also very useful to be able to  have a different rendering on the screen just by picking, let’s say another color or tip.

And Airbrush is one of my favorite features of the App. Just like the way we use a real airbrush without touching the surface, with ISKN Slate 2, you hold your pen away from the paper and you can see your airbrushing action happening live on the screen, and that too exactly according to the distance between your stylus (pen/pencil with magnetic ring) and the paper!

Following simple illustration of mine is for the demo of the Airbrush & Chalk modes. The yellow blooms are created with Airbrush and the green ground is made with chalk!

Seven_shade5_pcdValue for money

Finally, I think ISKN Slate is priced reasonably.

The tools versatility (in terms what type of drawing tools & paper you can use), The internal storage memory, the compatibility with drawing applications, and the multiples uses, in all these terms, ISKN Slate 2 looks a great value for its price of $169, particularly when you compare all above parameters in rival products.

Things to Dislike:

Actually I don’t like to be too fussy and stress about limitations of any product, particularly something created with an ingenious idea like the ISKN Slate, but there are few practical things that need to be mentioned & which I am sure of being improved by ISKN in near future:

One_shade5_pcdNot 100 % Accurate 

Although I haven’t created more than 4-5 sketches with the slate yet, but I can safely conclude nevertheless, that the my sketch on the paper, and the digital reproduction don’t match 100%.

sketch-comparison1-lensdepictions

Here is a closer look for the comparison:

sketch-comparison2-lensdepictions

This sketch, I have created with ISKN Pen, and with the best effort to concentrate and not to shake my hand or to let the Slate fickle. With a pencil, the inaccuracy is more.

With sketch like this, where shading is more, and the shapes within the turtle’s shell is supposed to look more or less “natural”, it might work, but in drawings where the lines actually define the shapes, this inaccuracies look obvious to the eyes.

This is probably due the fact that the Slate relies on magnets…you even get unwanted stray marks recorded all over the image if the pencil or pen is too close to the paper.

Due to the fact that magnets drive the drawing process on this device, sometimes some unnoticed interference end up affecting the performance. And that is why ISKN has to warn you to keep magnetic objects away from the Slate while it is starting up and also during use. All this is understable and so, if your desk is made of metal by any chance, well, switch to wood!

So, basically, you cannot expect something you have drawn using ISKN Slate to have the flawless curves and lines you get when you draw directly on a vector program like Inkscape or Illustrator. At least some amount of tweaking or adjustments in nodes will always be required for your drawing to look neat.

As on Feb 22, 2017, there is an important feature update from ISKN as a work around for the magnetic disturbance problem!

The Magnetic Indicator!

Watch this video to know how it helps:

Two_shade5_pcdNo Pressure Sensitivity

ISKN Slate 2 cannot detect pressure in your stroke that you apply with your pen or paper. For some artists, this feature might be the most important for an intuitive drawing process.

While the french startup says they are working on this feature, probably you can make use of the speed sensitivity the Slate offers currently.

Quick Tip: Your strokes are thinner on your screen when you draw faster on your sheet of paper.

Three_shade5_pcdSmall Drawing Surface 

The ISKN Slate 2 comes in just one size, with the drawing surface for an A5 format paper. While this size makes the slate perfect for use on the go, it’s almost impossible to draw bigger, elaborate illustrations or drawings that requires bigger drawing surface for let’s say perspective requirements for example.

Nevertheless, as you can see, the things to like have far outnumbered the things to dislike… :)

This little art tech is a brilliant idea without a doubt…it might not be quite there yet, but it soon should be!

What is your experience with ISKN Slate 2? I am really curious to know…Please drop your remarks in the comments section below!

My Overall Rating for ISKN Slate 2 would be 7.5/10!

ISKN Slate 2 review

Images, Art Videos & Article Copyright ©2017 Gyaneshwari Dave


P.S: Something from my exclusive designs for you… :)

FeelingFlowers_SubscribersInsentiveGraphic4

 

39 thoughts on “10 Things to Like & Dislike about ISKN Slate 2 – A Review”

    1. Hi Nora!

      Well, since comic page illustrations generally have this raw, hand-drawn sort of casual feel to those organic shapes and figures, one should be able to work fairly well with ISKN Slate.

      But then again, it depends upon what types of comic pages you are working on and how much finished look and details they need.

      Thanks for posting your interesting question here! :)

  1. My slate + was faulty and they replaced it… that went Good! But it took a while.
    New pad still doesnt work with my android Samsung 6+ phone… its connects then immediately disconnects.
    Only real issue I have is it doesnt have its own charger…and tells you not to use a charger, but connect to a computer or phone. Looking into buying another vehicle to use with it.

  2. I’m glad I found your blog as it has answered some questions for my new Slate. Have you tried pairing your Slate through Bluetooth to a Surface? My challenge is that the Windows utility keeps asking me for a PIN, but the Slate obviously has no means to display a PIN if Windows is sending one to it. Also, when using the Slate as a stand alone “sketchpad”, how do you save a completed drawing before moving on to a new one? I want to take it with me to a figure drawing group and would rather not lug along my tablet and connect by usb.

    1. Hey Gary! I am happy this blog-post could help you so much!

      Well, no I haven’t tried with Surface, I don’t use one. However, I have tried to connect my Slate with iPad. What I did was – I turned the Bluetooth ON (The Blue Light), on the Slate and then when I started the ISKN’s App on iPad, it detected the Slate automatically and connected it directly, no PIN/Password was needed there.

      In my opinion, you should look for ISKN’s App for the Surface. If ISKN has compatibility with Surface, there must be an App. If not, then it’s simply not compatible for the Surface.

      About creating two different drawings on screen-less mode, well, how I move on from one drawing to another is, simply switching the Slate’s mode from the “Screen-less(Green light)” to “Normal (While light) mode” then back to the “Screen-less(Green light)”.
      Essentially, restart the “Screen-less(Green light) mode before starting your new drawing. And it will be saved as another file.

      Hope this helps! Good luck! :)

  3. Hi there, just wanted to say thanks for your review, and links. The review together with other people’s comments have been so helpful in deciding whether or not to get one :)

  4. Hi Lensdepictions – many thanks for your very thorough review of your pros and cons.

    I have been looking at the Slate2 ever since it came available at the MOMA Design Store. After doing a bit of checking, I find it somewhat disturbing that there is absolutely no way of contacting the manufacturer that I can see. The only thing they post on their website is their address in France. There’s no email address or phone number or any of the normal ways of getting in touch or asking a question.

    In addition, they have stated, in FAQs, that the battery cannot be replaced but they don’t give any approximation of the expected life of the battery. What this means is that, when the battery goes, you can throw the device away.

    Was wondering if any of this was an issue for you?

    Thanks, in advance.
    Naomi

    1. Hello Naomi!

      I am glad you found my article thorough and useful…

      Well, I have not had any bad experience as far as the battery is concerned.

      About contacting the manufacturer, need was not arisen so did not face that challenge as well. I think you can follow them on Instagram, Facebook etc and maybe message them there if you have any queries…

      Hope this helps!

      Good luck with your endeavors! :)

  5. Hello!
    I just got the iskn slate 2 as a present. I´m a graphic designer specializing in branding and wanted to work in a more “natural” way. I already have a Wacon tablet. But I got a little bit disappointed with this device. The drawings are not accurate and most of them lost some part of it on the screen. And get a lot of unwanted elements in my design because of the sensitivity of the magnets.
    So I think I will ask for a refund because I can do small things in my Wacom. I heard a lot of good stuff about the iPad pro so maybe I just will go for it.

  6. I am considering buying the Slate 2. But what drawing tablet would you recommend for a beginner on a budget. In terms of accuracy, size, and features, including pressure sensitivity?

    1. Hi Brejenn,

      The one with the smallest of budget and still fairly good, that I have heard of, is Wacom Intuos Draw. I have never used it myself, but you can look it up on internet for reviews and can decide for yourself.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  7. Just discovered your blog. Thank you for your honest review. I will be having a look around, but I’m having trouble deciding on wether to purchase a drawing tablet or upgrading my iPad. I currently only have an iPad so can not connect to a PC. Most of my drawing is personal use, but I’m starting to get a few requests, and want my work to be professional. AND, my eyes are starting to fail me and need a larger screen. (That doesn’t cost an arm)
    What would you suggest?

    Cheers from Aus 🇦🇺
    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Well in my view, if you are determined and all set to start drawing professionally, you will need a larger screen for better perspective, ability to connect seamlessly with your PC, and compatibility for all the drawing applications out there (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and so on). A dedicated graphic tablet can make your life easier as an artist and will also empower your working process.

      BUT, if you are still exploring things…iPad Pro is actually a better option – in terms of value for money. I have personally never used it but I have heard from users that the drawing process is very comfortable with it, and for starters, it should not be that bad an investment. Following is a nice comparison between a graphic tablet and an iPad pro for drawing:

      https://youtu.be/g8xZedh_hUQ

      Hope this helps…Good luck! :)

  8. In your videos you show the slate attached to a computer yet there is no mention of this item in any of your publicity documentations. So is this supplied with the “Slate” or is an expensive add on? I assume this is compatible with the Microsoft Windows 10 64bit programme.
    Please be up front with all of the information, and not let it happen to be a nasty expensive surprise after the initial purchase of the product.

    1. Hi A.Ogilvie,

      Kindly know that I just happen to be an ISKN buyer/user and this post was simply written for sharing my personal review about the product. I neither represent, nor am I affiliated with the company in any way.

      Thanks for commenting anyways! :)

      1. it connect with a usb cable to a computer or bluetooth to an apple device. Andorid app coming in late 2017. kind of looking forward for it.

  9. I refunded mine because my sketches from the paper did not appear how it’s supposed to be on the computer.

  10. one thing I’m not liking is the inability to use it in screenless mode. At first I just got nothing- 0 files on slate. Made sure light was pink when pen was in contact with paper in screenless, and when I went to download it, I got a small view of my drawing on the “collect” page. Try to download, and blank page again. Oddly enough, when I play the blank drawing I downloaded, I get flashes of lines, but when it’s done there is still nothing on the page. Frustrating, since I really liked this for the ability to not have to be tethered to my computer.

    1. I have had Wacom Intuos Pro Paper large for about 6 weeks, and so far think it’s a great tool for easily digitizing drawings, in addition to being a standard graphics tablet for use with a desktop or laptop. I use it primarily for line drawings that I then export as SVG to flesh out in Illustrator. The Wacom Inkspace app UI is pretty basic but functional. So far, there’s only a Wacom-branded gel pen that works with the tablet, but hopefully there will be other options in the future. I also bought a Wacom Bamboo Slate to digitize line drawings for the same use, and it is smaller, more portable, and because it was about 120 USD, I am less precious with it so I use it more / take it with me every day.

  11. Just bought the iskn, drew about 3 sketches. Now I’ve only used the pencil + ring, but it feels like you have to draw with the pencil nearly vertical for the drawing to be accurate. I.E. any change in position of pencil will distort the virtual drawing. Secondly, and this may be a feature I missed, the virtual paper and physical paper do not match up. The virtual paper cuts off about 1 inch lower than the physical, meaning I have about 3in x 5in to draw. The PC application does not seem entirely optimized — I can’t find the magnetic sensor, for example. It’s a cool concept, but I’m starting to wonder whether or not this was worth it.

    1. Hi Luke!

      Yes, you are spot on about all three points you have made here, and my conclusion is also the same – the product surely has more room to evolve and improvise.

      I love illustrating but at the same time, I have background in science and applied physics, and so, as you rightly said, the coolness of the concept/idea behind the ISKN Slate becomes a bit hard to ignore. I anticipate and wish that they rectify all these shortcomings that are limiting an otherwise brilliant product from being 100% useful to Artists in creating digital versions of their creations in a seamless fashion.

      Thank you for your very insightful comment, really appreciate it! :)

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