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iPad Pro against Surface Pro 4, tested by a professional cartoonist

Hi, my name Giacomo Keison Bevilacqua, I have been writing and drawing comics for work, I have been doing it for 10 years, and, to date, I have been nursing more than 30 comic books published in newsstands, liberias and comics, in Italy and abroad.
 You are absolutely right, Mr. Medium User, and it seems to me too …

Hi, my name Giacomo Keison Bevilacqua, I have been writing and drawing comics for work, I have been doing it for 10 years, and, to date, I have been nursing more than 30 comic books published in newsstands, liberias and comics, in Italy and abroad.

(Average user drawn on Notes for iPad Pro)(Average user drawn on Notes for iPad Pro)

You are absolutely right, Mr. Medium User, and it also seems to me to be a correct observation, but mine was a necessary premise to introduce the second point, which is the following: a good 90% of these published books I have them designed entirely in digital, without, that is, to make use of the use of paper and pen.

(Average user drawn with Manga Studio for Surface Pro 4)(Average user drawn with Manga Studio for Surface Pro 4)

Oh no, my dear friend who has remained in the nineties, pause that episode of Friends on the VCR and hear this: for over 10 years a marvelous technology has been circulating, which allows, thanks to a magic and special pen, to draw on one magic and special screen, on magical and special programs, which allow you to create magical and special sheets at a very special resolution to create your magical illustrations and your magical and special comics just as if you were doing it on a real sheet gripping a real pen.

For us professionals, Wacom has always been the reference company par excellence:every self-respecting professional who works digitally knows that the reliability and quality given by a Wacom product can hardly be matched. In recent years, with the boom in portability, several companies have faced the magical and special world of pens on screen, to bring, to the average user with artistic ambitions, a new and different experience.

And that's why I'm here today.

I'm here to tell you about two brand new machines: the Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft and the iPad Pro equipped with Apple Pencil. Both machines being designed for mobile use, I decided to leave home to try them out.

The theater of the clash lAnti Caf, a venue in Rome and other cities, where you have free access to food, drink, Wi-Fi, games, and even to scan and print documents, the only thing you pay time where you stay in the room.


I have divided this comparative into a few main points, which are those that mostly interest those who, like me, use this type of tools to work.


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LiPad Pro is bigger than the Surface Pro 4, you can also see it on the photo, the weight more or less the same, perhaps the Surface slightly heavier, the Apple Pencil heavier and longer than the pen of the Surface, than for wider.

(Average user drawn with Adobe Sketch for iPad Pro)(Average user drawn with Adobe Sketch for iPad Pro)

As mentioned above, these are the considerations of a person who is also used to working on airplanes or trains, the size and weight of an instrument, even in these cases, can be very important.


The very heavy Apple Pencil, already after an hour and a half of intensive design its heaviness is felt, the friction of the tip against the screen instead almost zero, so the feeling of a piece of plastic that slides against a smooth surface, but in this case a good, if also had a strong friction in addition to the weight, now I would be tattooing an anchor on the forearm like Popeye.

The very very fluid sign and the stroke has no delays of any kind, even if we testify to the 1024 pressure levels of the pen, which, as already mentioned in my previous article, makes it a very valid tool for creating a series of drawings and illustrations such as layout, sketches or color illustrations at a maximum of 300 dpi, but not 100% suitable for professional printing and publishing.

(Drawing realized with Notes for iPad Pro)(Drawing realized with Notes for iPad Pro)

Compared to the Pencil, the Surface Pro 4 pen has the opposite problem, lighter but has a lot of friction, it is therefore necessary to exert a strong pressure to receive a well-defined mark, and I don't understand if a problem with the tip they gave me (the tips are various and interchangeable, but I have had only one ), the fact is that this makes the pen quite tiring to use, already after an hour of intense use I had to take a break.

The Surface Pro 4 supports 1024 pressure levels, which are actually divided into 512 in the pen and 512 in the screen:I don't know if for this reason, but the stroke of the pen is sometimes discontinuous and not very precise, the latency in some programs is too high, making the design experience is not 100% intuitive.

Below I tried to use the pen with both the native Windows: One Note app, and with a more professional one called Manga Studio, I used three speed levels to understand the pen's behavior on different occasions or ways of working, and this the result:

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Holding a sustained speed, both in terms of writing and drawing, very slow, if not non-existent, pen response.This makes the Surface Pro 4 a good machine for a whole series of more reasoned drawings or jobs, but much more difficult to manage if you are looking for the average of the line.

We are at a very preliminary stage, so my hope that the inconsistencies encountered will now be settled perhaps later thanks to updates.


If on the immediacy and fluidity of the pen stroke, the iPad exceeds the surface, on the side of the operating system and programs, the Surface Pro 4 is the master.I had so far had very few opportunities to use Windows 10 and let me tell you, I am more than pleasantly surprised: a little gem.

But beyond the merits of the software, the most important thing is that with Windows, the Surface Pro 4 offers users the possibility of install any type of professional program, making it in all respects a secondary machine more than good for dealing with any type of OTG work. If Apple had equipped its iPad Pro with the same operating system as its Macs, the game would have been quite different, while with iOS the iPad Pro is nothing more than a bigger iPad, with few apps that fully support Pencil and none of them able to work at professional levels.

Worthy of note are the Adobe Photoshop Sketch apps (which in Photoshop only carry the name: an app much more similar to Sketchbook Pro than anything else) and the native Note:

One of the few semi-professional apps in the Android and iOs lapp environment Medibang Paint, developed almost exclusively for cartoonists and illustrators, but if on Android you can create digital sheets even at 600 dpi (ie a good resolution for printing) suiosnon can do it (at least for now). Also in this case, the hope that, over time, apps for professional use will be released and that they will be able to take full advantage of the power of this iPad Pro, which, for everything else seems to be an excellent machine.

(Average user designed with One Note for Surface Pro 4)(Average user designed with One Note for Surface Pro 4)


Many people write to me every day wondering what, in my opinion, is a good machine for those who want to approach drawing on screen without having to spend almost 1000 euros for the aforementioned instruments, if not even more for the more professional ones.

As mentioned in the previous piece, they can be around, at a low cost, tablet with integrated pen that can give the same identical results as an iPad Pro, if not even better. the case, for example of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy Tab A (version with integrated S-pen). Note 8, with 8-inch screen, retractable pen inside the device included, and a cost of just over 200 euros, practically a portable sketchbook, which enters the inside pocket of a jacket without problems. The Galaxy Tab A I discovered recently and bought without delay, with a screen of almost 10 inches and, also, the integrated retractable pen inside the device: it has a price that is settles at around 300 euros, the screen does not have a good resolution for gaming and entertainment, but guarantees a more than optimal quality for all that concerns the design. a tablet designed for designers? Yes, the proof is that Wacom has recently released a pen created specifically for this tablet.


Another note of merit, the only app that comes close to the current level of professionalism of Photoshop and Manga Studio and you see in the photo above, or Medibang Paint (which among other things is free for both iOS and Play Store) offers a free cloud service, the export of files in .psde format, only in the version for Android, the possibility of working even on files of 600 dpi.

Traveling often, the weight and size of an object is very important to me. And the Galaxy Tab A, despite not being a professional tablet, can easily keep up with my workflow. As evidence of this, I will show you two vignettes from Lavender, a special color for the series The Stories of Sergio Bonelli Editore I'm writing, drawing and coloring: the first two work phases, namely the layout and the pencil, were made on the Galaxy Tab A, with the Medibang paint program on a 24 × 32 cm digital sheet in .psd format 600 dpi and with 6 levels. The only slowdown that I had been in the saving phase due to the very large format, for the rest, a surprising fluidity.

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I'm a fan of the first hour of the Surface Pro and their pen, the first two models had a fluidity that, unfortunately, was lost already from the third model. Probably Microsoft wanted to detach a little from the world of design to land towards different shores, and from that point of view, the Surface Pro 4 does its job very well. a machine for designers, illustrators and cartoonists? No. a machine for people who could find a shortcut in the workflow (eg photographers, architects, 3D modelers, etc.) in the on-screen pen tool? Absolutely s.

LiPad Pro a good machine with a wrong operating system, the Pencil does its job well if you pass over its weight and the excessive sliding of the tip on the screen. If you could find, over time, a decent professional app park (or that at least supports a type of professional work) it could become an interesting machine. For now, for those who do work at professional levels like me, I don't repeat myself: with Mac OS it would have been a totally different issue.


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