Direct-touch tablets are quickly replacing traditional pen-and-paper tools in many applications, but not in case of the designer’s sketchbook. In this paper, we explore the tradeoffs inherent in replacing such paper sketchbooks with digital tablets in terms of two major tasks: tracing and free-hand sketching. Given the importance of the pen for sketching, we also study the impact of using a blunt-and-soft-tipped capacitive stylus in tablet settings. We thus conducted experiments to evaluate three sketch media: pen-paper, finger-tablet, and stylus-tablet based on the above tasks. We analyzed the tracing data with respect to speed and accuracy, and the quality of the free-hand sketches through a crowdsourced survey. The pen-paper and stylus-tablet media both performed significantly better than the finger-tablet medium in accuracy, while the pen-paper sketches were significantly rated higher quality compared to both tablet interfaces. A follow-up study comparing the performance of this stylus with a sharp, hard-tip version showed no significant difference in tracing performance, though participants preferred the sharp tip for sketching.
The media used for the main sketching study were:Ã‚Â (a) a marker pen (overall size ÃƒÂ¸12mm 123mm with a 3mmÃ‚Â tip) on paper (b) Ã‚Â finger on a 7-inch tablet, and (c) a blunt-tipÃ‚Â stylus (ÃƒÂ¸8.5mm 122mm, 6mm tip) on a 7-inch tablet.Ã‚Â The follow-up study compared (c) with (d) a hard-tip stylusÃ‚Â (ÃƒÂ¸7.6mm 114mm, 1mm tip) on a 10-inch tablet.