Wacom has finally let the cat out of the bag about it’s “mystery” product that it’s been teasing on its website for over a week now.  That mystery product is the “Inkling”, Wacom’s newest digital drawing capture device, using a physical pen-and-ink clipboard that captures, stores and then transfers your actual drawings to your computer as layered vector files you can use in Illustrator or Photoshop, among other software.

We all know using Wacom tablets for mograph is great after the initial adjustment period, but when having to draw or sketch on a tablet, drawing onto a plastic tablet and looking up into a computer monitor lacked the absolute control you’d want when drawing.  Inkling gives you that control of drawing with a real pen and paper because, well, you ARE drawing with a real pen and a physical piece of paper.  And at a fraction of the cost of a Cintiq tablet, where you physically draw on a computer monitor, the Inkling’s $199 price point makes it an attractive alternative.

So how does it work?   The Inkling is the size of a clip on an A4 clipboard that can attach onto any piece of paper, notebook, etc, and uses a pressure senative stylus (just like the Wacom tablet stylus) only this stylus is an actual pen with ink.  You draw on your paper clipped to the Inkling using the pen and the detachable sensor records all of your pen strokes.  Tapping a sensor on the Inkling creates a new layer allowing even more control to edit later in Photoshop or Illustrator.  Using the software that comes with the Inkling called the Wacom Sketch Manager, you can import your sketches via a USB port as vector-based drawings where you can then export out for use in Photoshop or Illustrator (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro & Sketchbook Designer is also supported) If you don’t want to do any editing, you can also export them out as un-layered JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF files.

It’ll be interesting to see how well the physical pen strokes convert to vector, I could see dealing with a mess of bezier handles while cleaning up your sketches.  But at the $199 price point, it’s less expensive and gives you more control than an iPad and a Cintiq.  Even replacing the ink is inexpensive, as it just takes standard Mini Ballpoint refill cartridges.  I don’t see why any designer would want to be without this.  I can think of many benefits when it comes to easy manipulating sketched out storyboards, logo creation and brainstorming.  One of the features I think HAS to be figured out is some way to be able to record your pen strokes for use in a video in, say, an After Effects motion graphics piece.  Using the Write-On effect with a Wacom is pretty messy, imagine having the same amount of control with a pen and paper making those same kind of animated pen strokes.

The Inkling arrives in stores in mid-September.  Here is the official video from Wacom: