A new digital drawing tool means revisiting the drawing I did for my last new drawing tool. Which has been replaced a couple of times but it’s not like buying a new edition of the same computer a few years later really needs a ceremonial celebration like buying an entirely new form factor running an OS you’ve never used before does.
A few years ago, when I got my first Macbook Air, I got really stoned while I was transferring all my data to it. The Magician came out and impulsively tried summoning a local spirit to inhabit the computer and make it work that much better; part of the process of this summoning was of course to draw said spirit in a way that acknowledged that it was kind of stuck inside my computer.
There’s a sticker of that drawing on the back of the current Air, just like I had a sticker of it on the back of the last one. Getting a new Air didn’t seem like it needed any ceremony. It was just a simple matter of making sure one was backed up, and restoring the backup onto the next one. But moving to an entirely new form factor and OS? I felt like I needed to be a but more complicated about it.
When I went to the Microsoft store to get the Surface, the Magician made me bring the Air along so that the genie I have living in it could sniff dubiously at the Surfaces, and so that she could start settling into one if I brought it home.
And what better thing to use to make sure I could get Illustrator running in there than a new drawing of this spirit? She’s looking a little more dragon-y than she originally did, probably as a result of living with my dragony self for so long. This was quite deliberately not a conscious choice on my part; I just went with what the voice in my head wanted . Said voice is maybe just me assigning a personality to this carefully-molded pile of metal called a “computer”, or is maybe me making contact with some kind of entity outside myself. As always with all things majgicghkal, I’m never sure if there’s any objective reality to any of it, but I’ll note that my Air was super cranky after I spent a couple days working exclusively with the Surface, until I politely requested Tealfour to not stay exclusively in one device or another.
After I finished that drawing, I did another one of this revised version of Tealfour to be the desktop/startup screen. I figured having her hanging out looking cute and offering me her stylus might help keep this as a device that I think of as my sketchbook rather than a general-purpose Twitter/Reddit/Hacker News/etc machine that I can waste away hours with.
Configuration continues to go well; I’ve changed from SharpKeys to AutoHotKey for swapping the ctrl and windows keys, which also lets me use the capslock key for ctrl-alt-shift, and gives me back a lot of shortcuts. I’ve also been playing with RadialMenu to create a tool panel I can make sprawl across the bottom of my screen and work as those shortcuts when I don’t have room to take out the keyboard, though it has some weird issues with one shortcut triggering ‘cut’ after doing its thing and some other shortcuts not working. It’s still a lot faster than grovelling through the dropdown menus.
I am sort of considering trying one of those little keyboards with like a dozen reconfigurable buttons as an alternative to having to make space for a full keyboard when I’m sitting on the bus. Right now I can only pull it out and draw with full keyboard-shortcut-powered speed if I’m sitting next to someone who doesn’t mind having my keyboard on their knee; ideally I want to be able to do it next to a total stranger without invading their personal space. Maybe one of those little ultra-programmable keypads designed for Gamerz? Though they tend to be bulky and not bluetooth. Or maybe one of those button grids musicians use? Though some googling suggests they mostly have the same problem. Maybe just a tiny Bluetooth pad with some heavy abuse of AutoHotKey… bonus points if I set things up so I can attach it to one side at the back and hold the tablet while using it. Maybe. That starts to sound like work, though. Or how about a glove? Mmmaybe not. I’m thinking “bluetooth numeric pad” sounds worth investigating, though.
I’ve also added on a matte screen protector. Out of the box the Surface is incredibly reflective; it’s so much of a black mirror that you could contact Enochian angels on it. Which makes it kind of a pain to draw outside. It’s still not usable in direct sunlight but it’s a lot better.