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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Surface Pro 3 for Artists

Illustration done on the Surface Pro 3


I've had the Surface pro 3 for about a month now and wanted to do a quick review. I'm using the Surface in a very specialized way and I know everyone won't use it in this way. I'm a professional artist doing finished illustrations and that is my primary concern. It should be noted I'm not a big numbers geek, so I won't be going into detail about processors and all that stuff. I am just concerned about how it works for me as an artist.

Pen Sensitivity

This is typically why any artist will be looking at this machine so I'll start here. I must admit that when I first got the computer the pressure sensitivity was a little fussy. I had to push down a little too hard to make light lines. It's not that it was entirely horrible, it just didn't feel as smooth as my studio cintiq which I love.

Then Microsoft released an update which allowed the user to create a custom pressure profile to fit their particular needs in terms of pressure sensitivity. It was just what the doctor ordered and now it perfectly matches my studio machine. Light lines and dark lines are both effortless and smooth.


How much does the cursor lag if you make a fast stroke across the screen? This  is subjective because depending on what brush you use could make a difference. If I'm just using the standard photoshop brushes then it's very responsive and fast. Some of my high resolution brushes lag a little if the file size is big. I'm currently doing a book and the images are 8.5" x 20" with like 20 layers so the brush can get a little laggy if I'm really taxing the machine.

It's about the same on my studio imac so it's not that big of  a deal. I know it's not gonna be perfect and hasn't really afftected my workflow at all.


Cost is always a factor but I would highly recommend maxing out all specs you can when buying a computer. We are pushing these machines so hard that you will regret it if you try to save here. Mine ended up being around $1600 because I bought an open box version. I think retail is around $1900 or something like that. 

Everything else

Overall the machine has been awesome! It's so light that sometimes I double check to make sure it's actually in my bag. It's easy to carry around and work in different locations so I like it for that. Battery life is good when just browsing (maybe 9-10 hours) but if you are working in any adobe application, battery life will be reduced to 4-5 hours (depending on how big your files are).

I've never used a windows machine before and have been pleasantly surprised at the operating system. I'm still SO clumsy with it although I'm sure that will get better as I get used to it. I'm still bummed that Apple didn't come up with a product that artists can use. But after getting this machine it hasn't been too bad. Linking to dropbox is effortless with the exception that windows can't read a few funny characters so if your file has a question mark in it or some other weird character it might not link properly.

I have to give this machine a 9 out of a possible 10 in terms of my satisfaction with it. It is much better than the cintiq which I owned for all of 4 days. That thing felt clumsy and heavy by comparison.

I did the illustration above this post for Ladybug magazine on the Surface pro 3 and it was really easy to work into final art. 

Shoot me an email or comment below if you have any questions.  : )

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