Sony VAIO Duo 13 for Digital Art and Illustration

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by ArtofScottHarris, Oct 26, 2013.

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  1. ArtofScottHarris

    ArtofScottHarris Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi there!

    My name is Scott, I'm a digital artist and illustrator, and I wanted to make this post on these forums to help any and all others interested in using the Sony VAIO Duo 13 for art. I have put things in a question and answer format for easy reading.

    You can take a look at my art on ArtofScottHarris (Scott Harris) on deviantART. Please note that the below reflect my personal use, opinions and experiences with the Sony Vaio Duo 13.


    Can you create professional digital art on the Sony Duo 13?

    Absolutely! You can use this tablet in effectively the exact same way one might use a Cintiq Companion or T902.

    Wait, wait, wait... I heard the N-trig pen doesn't work on Adobe Photoshop! What art apps does it work with?

    First off, it would be more correct to say that it doesn't work on Photoshop... yet! Sony have officially stated that they are working with Adobe to have full N-Trig digitizer support in Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC in an upcoming update.

    The apps it does work with currently include:

    ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Freshpaint and Clip Studio Paint to name a few. As an artist I should add that Clip Studio Paint is a mind-blowingly amazing piece of software - it is effectively a "Photoshop for Illustrators and Artists", is just $50, and it's stroke technology will blow your mind. Take a look at CLIP STUDIO PAINT | CLIP STUDIO.NET. I highly, highly recommend it - not just for the Duo 13, but any tablet PC with a stylus.


    What about Corel Painter, does the N-Trig stylus work in that?

    Not yet, but I have strong reasons to believe it will work in Painter very soon. If you're an artist like me, then know that I understand the importance of Photoshop and Painter working effectively with the N-Trig stylus. That said, I mainly use Photoshop, and Clip Studio Paint is just too awesome for wrds as a Photoshop replacement (for an illustrator). It's not like I can't use all of Photoshops other features without the pressure sensitivity (for now), so it works great!

    Hey! I heard that the N-Trig stylus is inferior to competitors? What say you?

    Absolutely, completely not! Many agree that N-Trig has made leaps and bounds of improvement in their new stylus technology - Duo Sense 2. I can say as a person who has used multiple Intuos and Cintiq tablets that the DuoSense 2 Stylus and Digitizer system is on par with that technology, and in some instances it's better (particularly in terms of accuracy at screen edges.) The N-Trig and Cintiq stylus tech does indeed deal with pressure slightly differently, but in real-world use, you're unlikely to notice much difference when you're drawing and painting. On top of that, the ergonomics of the N-trig pen are great.

    Whaoh this is awesome!

    I'm just as surprised as you. I never thought I would see the day drawing on a PC was possible without wacom tech.

    So, back to the tablet, is it good?

    As a tablet PC in general, I'd advise you to check out on line reviews (there are plenty), but in terms of art, I couldn't be more pleased. It's a Windows 8 tablet, a full PC, a media consumption and creation device, and on top of that it's basically a "Portable Cintiq", is light, has a keyboard built in and is less expensive that a companion, with ridiculous battery life (I've managed more than 8 hours without power). Just so you know, I am using the Core i5 model with 4GB RAM, and this thing flies speedily in art apps.

    Ok, so I just want to check one more time. Can I really use this thing to create professional digital drawings and paintings, like concept art for films, games and other media?

    My definitive answer? Absolutely yes. Your days of saving for a Cintiq are over.

    The tablet PC market is about to explode, and personally I am waiting to buy a Sony VAIO flip 15, as my main portable drawing tablet and PC.

    I know I might get a lot of flack from Wacom lovers (or people who just bought a Companion) but times are changing, support for the Microsoft INK API is on a fast and steady increase, and frankly, it's about time.

    If you have questions, please do ask away.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
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  2. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I like your positive attitude, -and I hope I can share in it with continued product development from Sony and a working PS.

    I had a chance to use the Vaio 13 a couple of weeks back running Manga Studio 5. It did offer full pressure sensitivity, etc., but. . .

    There was this weird 10th of a second lag at the start of every brush stroke, which resulted in both an annoying, juddery feel as well as inaccurately registered lines when using quick strokes.

    It wasn't my machine to tinker with, so I wasn't in a position to check, but I thought and hoped that perhaps this was just a result of poorly tuned drivers which could maybe be fixed through tinkering with user settings and resolving possible driver conflicts.

    Can you tell us something about that? Do you experience the same odd lag I described, and if not, how did you get it to not be there?

    'Cuz, if that can be fixed, then I'd seriously consider one of those gorgeous 15" Flips when they come out!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  3. ArtofScottHarris

    ArtofScottHarris Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hey there,

    So, I know exactly what lag you are talking about - I am not 100% certain on this, but I believe it is more perceived than actually being there. The circular brush cursor tends to hang back for about 300 milliseconds, so what I did was change the cursor (File>Preferences>Cursor>Pen Cursor>) to the "Cross" cursor, or the "Dot" cursor and boom, no more issues! As I said I believe it's perceived drag based on the cursor icon, not the actual stroke.

    Additionally, I actually only noticed it when I was sketching the angles of an eye, and so I changed the cursor. Corel Painter sometimes has a similar issue with Wacom tablets and the cursor icon being the round one.
     
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  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    That's very encouraging!

    I just ran a test on my Wacom Tecra M4, with both Photoshop and MangaStudio5 with brush stabilization turned down to the lowest level. I was doing very quick curved strokes, and found that both programs had the same initial lag issue resulting in incorrectly registered line beginnings.

    It's not quite as noticeable in Photoshop, but it's there. As it happens, I've never really noticed it before in PS until just now, so obviously it's not that big an issue for me.

    I definitely noticed it a lot more on the N-Trig 2 Viao 13 system in my MS5 tests a couple of weeks back, but it seems that it's not exclusive to N-Trig. The Sony machine really did seem slower on the uptake, so I think those few milliseconds can make a big difference to the user experience.

    MangaStudio-linesample.jpg

    And. . .

    Photoshopcs4-linesample.jpg

    When I turned on brush stabilization in MS5 in these tests, the problem was much less noticeable, almost non-existent.

    Now I really want another crack at a Sony N-Trig system to see! Maybe you can post some similar tests to compare.
     
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  5. klachowski

    klachowski Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the thorough review Scott! Man, I really REALLY want the Sony VAIO flip 15 to be a viable option for me. I need find someone in the Ohio area willing to let me try out art programs on their Sony Vaio Duo 13... you don't happen to live any where near here do you Scott? ;) Art tools and process are just such a personal and subjective thing it is so hard to take a leap without trying it first and unfortunately even if I find one of these tablets in a store to try they never have any of the software I'd intend to use on it. :/
     
  6. ArtofScottHarris

    ArtofScottHarris Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hey guys,

    @thatcomicsguy: Thanks for posting the images and your feedback regarding the brush lag we noticed. Admittedly I am using Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7 (not sure if there is a big difference between CSP and MS5 versions since they are supposed to be identical) but after using it quite a bit with the cross cursor, I stopped noticing it altogether. I then did some tests using an Intuos 3 tablet as well as an Intuos 4 tablet (similar tech that's inside a Wacom Companion) and just like you I actually suddenly noticed it in Photoshop and CSP too! That was a surprise.

    I did some tests in Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage with the Duo 13, and they seem to respond brilliantly. I think personally I'm going to call it a null issue for myself, because I've done a lot of sketching on the Duo and it didn't make much difference (I switch between the Duo, an Intuos 3 and an Intuos 4 throughout the day on different machines).

    @klachowski: Hey man! Well let me know of any other questions you may have. I recommend it on a personal note, but you're right, sometimes things can be subjective so it's better to test it first. I certainly don't live anywhere near Ohio, but I can recommend heading into a store that has Duo 13 demos with a USB stick and trial versions of all the software you want to test (I think Sketchbook Pro, ArtRage and Clip Studio Paint all together are no more than around 500mb total in install files (all together)), so perhaps try that. They let shogmaster on youtube test it out in store with sketchbook pro, so I dont see why they wouldn't let you.

    My friend Matt, a character artist, reviewed the Duo 13 here, so do take a look:

    Digital Art Revolution: The Sony VAIO Duo 13 | ArtSketch.Org :: Digital Art :: Conceptual Art :: Character, Environment and Hardware Design ::

    Hopefully he may have answered some questions or topics I hadn't covered
     
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  7. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    OK, I gotta chime in here. I'm not going to outright disagree with you, the Duo 13 is a nice machine with some real promise. But I find your friends review to be dangerously (and unintentionally) misleading.

    Saying that people could buy the Flip 15" for Zbrush for instance. Zbrush uses wintab. I have heard nothing about them switching, and without a pressure sensitive pen to sculpt with you are taking Zbrushes biggest advantages out. I think he needs to be clear that only a small handful of software works, and he doesn't even mention that it currently does not all work properly. ArtRage finally released an update to fix the pressure issues it shipped with (the Duo 13 changed the way the driver communicated with the software, making the machine beleive that 100% pressure from user was only 25% pressure) and the new CSP (MS5.0.2 I think as well) version also fixed the way it interprets data from the DUo 13, but thats it. Thats 2 properly working programs on the DUo 13. Fresh Paint is a nightmare, and doesn't read the media well no matter how hard you press... despite being windows pressure based. The flaw is evident in Sketchbook Pro as well where it's most evident trying to use a airbrush (good luck seeing any evidence of it until your 8th stroke). Until (or if) Sketchbook pro updates specifically for the Duo 13's weird pressure hitch, it's also a very flawed program to work with on on the Duo 13, especially compared to Wacom, or even the Duo 11 which registers pressure the older way and works properly with all versions of those software out of the box.

    So in summary, bar the new updates for 2 programs, your basically only able to use 25% of the available 256 levels, butchering the already limited Ntrig experience.

    Thatcomicsguys examples are no where near as bad as what the Duo 13 does on every stroke, unless you draw really slowly. It is super evident in certain programs more than others, but honestly, it shouldn't be there. The bad drivers are what put Ntrig behind Wacom.

    I don't know if I buy that Wacom payed off the whole digital arts industry to not help Ntrig make their wintab drivers work, (it's been suggested by Ntrig that companies won't help them develop a working wintab driver) I am pretty sure Ntrig simply doesn't want to spend the resources developing one. This shuts down nearly all the programs from use, minus a few ( a good few, I agree) that are using windows built in API, but that's not good enough to compete with Wacom yet. Even if Adobe finally switches all the CC from wintab, (which will be significant ground made) applications like Painter and Zbrush (among the rest) will still be using wintab for some time.

    As an animator, I could still never recommend a Ntrig device to a friend, as FLash is wintab and so is TOon boom, and all the other animation software. You would be animating with the equivalent of a mouse on a stick, only that stick lags at the beginning of each stroke, so it would be worse than using a mouse in that sense.

    not 100% with this thing yet, but I really want it to mature, because I love the machine as a laptop and hybrid. Sony makes good stuff, Ntrig just needs to pick up their britches a bit more to truly compete with the various professionals. I think for illustration in CSP and hobby art though it has come a long way.
     
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  8. ArtofScottHarris

    ArtofScottHarris Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi Stoneseeker,

    I notified Matt about the Zbrush thing, he has since changed it, and apologises for his error, his initial intention was only to indicate that the flip 15 was more effective in terms of 3D processing for 3D modelling apps, and never actually meant to imply that the sony pen worked with Zbrush.

    As for your views on artrage, sketchbook pro and clip studio paint - give me a few days to make some videos which should provide sufficient evidence for their effectiveness. In my personal testing, sketchbook pro (I'll check the version), artrage 4.05 and clip studio paint 1.2.7 work brilliantly, and whilst I can concede to a slight pen delay in clip studio (as I have mentioned above) some tweaks in the app can make a big difference to the drawing experience. Indeed, as others have discovered, wacom has also got some degree of lag, it's just that we'd never noticed it before.

    Nevertheless, I am a fan of both technologies myself, and I too own a cintiq, as well as an intuos 3, 4 and a duo 13 (and hopefully a flip 15 too.)

    As for your comments on animation, I'm an artist not an animator, so whether n-trig works in flash/toonboom makes no difference to me.

    I appreciate your thorough replies though, but let me actually get a camcorder from someone and record this stuff if I can
     
  9. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Hey Scott,

    Wow that was one quick correction! Thank Matt for his diligence. I think its a good point and selling factor that the Flip will have the dedicated GPU, putting it above and beyond the 3D capabilities of something like the Cintiq Companion. I really hope too that more and more software creators like Pixologic of Zbrush start considering including windows API in the near future.

    As for the 3 working software, I realize that the newest patch of Artrage and the newest release of Clip Studio Paint work flawlessly, but up until those recent updates they were actually only registering an incorrect value of 256 levels out of 1024 that windows was (and still is) reporting. Since there are only actually 256, this meant that no matter how hard you pressed the pen down, you got feather light pencil strokes in artrage and any other tool that was using pen pressure set to opacity/width. It was not as noticeable with certain tools. In my review of the Duo 13 some time ago when I first got it, http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/sony/58484-artist-perspective-sony-vaio-duo-13-pending-fixes.html I mention that Sketchbook Pro seemed less effected by the issue except with airbrush. I think that is because even if you are only using a quarter of available pressure, most of the tools were set to high enough opacity that it didn't matter too much. Still, if you try to erase with the soft eraser you'll have to go over the spot 4x the amount you would have to normally just to see it actually erase.

    I guess I don't get why it can't be fixed at the source. Why is Windows reading 1024 levels of pressure when the Ntrig is only able to give 256?? This should be fixed by Sony so the software vendors don't have to release patches to fix it like Artrage did: Sony Vaio Duo 13 - problem with pencil pressure - Page 3

    It limits the already limited software available. Yes, Sketchbook Pro is useable currently, but its not working 100% as intended. I would love to see Ntrig release a firmware update for the Duo13, but I have not found one or heard of one, and Sony isn't even listed among the vendors in the driver portion of Ntrig's site.
     
  10. ArtofScottHarris

    ArtofScottHarris Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hey guys, as promised I have made a video and it is uploading to Youtube right now. I will paste the link to it for you when it's done (should be about 2 more hours, I recorded it in 1080). Will post it soon!
     
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