I’ve had a lot of folks ask me for an update on my Surface 3 impressions. I said at the time it came out that I could not really recommend it for artists. The new placement of the Home button caused some problems but it was moving from the Wacom digitizer to N-Trig that really made the device very frustrating to try and draw on in my opinion. Microsoft has been working on various ways of fixing some of those issues and since I wrote that post they have managed to fix a lot of them.
Just a couple weeks ago Microsoft released an app called the Surface Hub that allows you to customize your pressure sensitivity curve. Originally it felt like regardless of how hard or soft I pressed I was not able to get the difference in line thickness that I was after. All of my linework regardless of pressure ended up with a very uniform thickness. I was missing the very thin to very thick lines that I was used to on my Cintiq or even my Surface 2 for that matter. With the Surface Hub I was able to adjust those settings and the end result is much improved. Here’s a look at my linework on the Surface 3 after using the Hub app to adjust the pressure curve.
At PAX Prime this year I ended up leaving my Surface 3 at home and brought my old Surface 2 to the show in order to draw the strip. With the release of the Hub app I decided to bring the 3 to Australia and see if I could use it to create an entire comic strip. I’m happy to report that it worked great and I was really happy with the results. The home button is no longer an issue and I never once bounced myself back to the start screen because my hand brushed that button. The linework I was getting felt very natural and now I can actually appreciate things like the larger screen and the adjustable kickstand.
The Surface 3 still has “hover lag” which can be frustrating but I’ve sort of learned to ignore the cursor when drawing. Essentially when you lift the pen off the screen and move it the cursor sort of drags behind where the actual pen is. It’s not “real” lag though because as soon as you set the pen down the cursor is right there. I’m using Manga Studio 5 and I’m not seeing any actual drawing lag which is really the important thing. I have to say that I’m impressed MS took the time to fix some of these issues. I can’t imagine that artists make up a large number of the folks buying this device. They listened to the feedback though and the result is awesome. This weekend I feel like I finally got the real Surface 3 I was excited for.