modbook '09 update


Axiotron has
made the software available to owners of older modbooks as a free download.
Axiotron has implemented some changes in the new version of their ModBook. A few of the changes address minor problems with features I don't use, like GPS and Bluetooth. A few do address some problems that I had, and it would be interesting (though far from necessary) to see the new hardware. Axiotron has increased screen contrast for outdoor sketching; I thought outdoor contrast was a real problem—sketching in anything other than deep shade is next to impossible. Also in the new modbooks, the cursor isn't so far below the surface, sitting up closer to the pen tip so parallax is decreased.

Since I have a modbook, I won't be trying the new hardware. The new modbooks come with a new pre-installed software package from Autodesk called Sketchbook Express and Axiotron has made the software available to owners of older modbooks as a free download; and that, I am trying.

View a larger version.Sketchbook Express boldly says that it's "for drawing, period" and "It's not a photo editor". They're obviously letting you know that it isn't Photoshop. You shouldn't expect Photoshop's complexity or, they say, difficulty; although for me, Photoshop feels a lot more like home. The Autodesk group is right-Sketchbook Express seems at first to be a slightly enhanced whiteboard with some clever interface advances. I opened it and tried a quick 'thinking thumbnail' for the BiSci illustrations I need to finish. Starting was pretty straight forward, but I needed to check the directions to figure out if I could change the brush size or if I had more than the eight colors on the tiny wheel. You can change brush sizes, and you do it in a way that's pretty useful- click on a small palette then drag anywhere on the screen and see your brush head expand or contract. It fits right in to a "direct, on screen" work flow.

There are other features too, but everything at this point seems pretty well hidden. It wasn't till I was trying to save the chromatids that I realized the dimensions of the document were finite. It was then that I saw I had layers, too. Darn. Guess I'll have to drive it farther than just around the parking lot.

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