Hands on: Adobe's Mighty and Napoleon drawing hardware for the iPad

Adobe has used its Max conference this week to reveal that the company is making its first foray into creative hardware, with Project Mighty and Project Napoleon—a digital pen and ruler for iOS devices (see above). Still in the experiment stage, there’s no word yet about when we should expect to see Mighty and Napoleon hit the shelves, but we got our hands on working prototypes of the devices to try them out and take some photos of them in action.

Project Mighty is a cloud-connected stylus pen that currently works with unreleased Adobe apps that have been designed specifically for the hardware.

Adobe has chosen a twisted, three sided design for Mighty, which we found was brilliantly comfortable to hold and gave us precise control over the movement of the pen while we were drawing. The prototype we tested had a soft, rubberised tip, but Senior Experience Design Lead at Adobe, Geoff Dowd, told us that the company has been experimenting with different tip types, such as a narrower precision tip for more intricate drawings.

Drawing with Mighty on an iPad.

When using the Mighty and its accompanying app to draw on an iPad, you can erase lines by using a finger, because the technology has been designed to recognise the difference between a finger and the pen. This way of drawing and erasing became second nature to us within minutes of using Mighty.

Other gestures that you can use to speed up the drawing process include undo with a tap of one finger and redo with a two-finger tap.

The button on the side of the pen brings up a little tools menu on the iPad, to let you quickly change between a pencil and a paintbrush, for example, or choose from a variety of Kuler colour themes that are stored within the cloud, and are accessible wherever the pen goes.

Another of Mighty’s cloud-connected features is the clipboard, also accessible via the tools menu. The clipboard lets you place previously drawn elements that you’ve created onto your current canvas. What’s cool is that the pen is connected to your personal data, so you can use it to paste elements stored in the clipboard onto any device.

We particularly liked Mighty’s copy feature, which lets you draw an element and then use the button on the pen to copy that element and paste it wherever you choose, including on another device.

Another nice touch is the Mighty’s LED, which covers the top of the pen and indicates when you’re connected. When docked, the LED gradually changes colour too.

Project Napoleon (the 'little ruler')

Project Napoleon (a little ruler, get it?) can be used with Mighty as a line and shape-drawing aide. You place it on top of the iPad just like you would with an ordinary ruler onto paper, and then choose which line or shape type you want to draw by touching one of the buttons on its surface.

This then projects a guide onto the iPad which you can use to accurately draw straight lines, angles and more. The Napoleon works with the Mighty, but can also be used by drawing with a finger.

Napoleon is a simple little device that does its job well, and could benefit many digital artists that use their iPad to draw.

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