Organizing the EdTech Workshop's Digital Colouring Activity: An Exercise for Finding the Artist Within

Related people and/or projects: The EdTech Workshop 2023 is back in person!

At this year's EdTech Workshop 2023: CTRL +Shift, the ETO had an exciting Digital Colouring station that offered attendees the opportunity to explore their "inner artist".  Keep reading to learn more about the activity goal, the setup, and some of the comments and questions that came up from attendees about the tablets that were showcased.  

Goals for the activity

This year's EdTech Workshop 2023: CTRL +Shift included three "outside of regular programming" activities that revolved around the themes of digital versus analogue.  The activities provided attendees with the chance to tap into their inner "Builder," "Artist," or "Achiever," all while also introducing them to new tools and technologies and allowing for some fun throughout the experience.  One of the Artist activities was a Digital Colouring station that was set up at the Myhal Visualization Facility (VF).  This activity incorporated the use of different types of tablets that attendees were encouraged to play with, while digitally colouring in a line-based illustration created by our Educational Graphic and Media Developer, Cheryl, that was displayed on the VF's large, high resolution display wall.

Activity setup

The Virtualization Facility features a state-of-the-art 10' x 39.3' display wall with a high resolution of 9450 x 2400 pixels.  This made it the ideal venue for hosting the Digital Colouring activity.  The VF is situated on level 0 of the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is the first narrow pixel pitch (NPP) direct view LED-based solution used for research at a Canadian university.  The activity setup included the use of 4 different tablets (3 display and 1 non-display), each connected to a laptop.  Each laptop had a browser open to the Magma webpage, which had the line-based illustration uploaded to it.  Magma is a free browser-based art collaboration playform.  When choosing an online collaboration platform, it was important that the tool was either free or had a free tier because we wanted to look for something that could be incorporated into classrooms.  The free version restricted the size of the canvas and the number of layers, but it was still good for real-time collaboration.  A line-based drawing was uploaded to Maga and then displayed on the VF's display wall.  Participants could then use the tablets to colour in the drawing.  The ETO did a lot of pre-workshop testing to ensure the success of the activity.  This included scheduling time at the Virtualization Facility to test our laptop and tablet connections and to ensure that the illustration looked just right on the display wall.  It was a great team effort to prepare and get this activity up and running, and it was also a great opportunity to see the capabilities of the VF in action.

Showcased tablets

Here is a rundown of each tablet that was showcased during the activity.  Some of these tablets are older models that are no longer available, but we have made sure to include equivalent options that are current available for purchase!

Wacom Cintiq 22HD (ETO's version is no longer available, but have a look at the latest Wacom Cintiq 22)

  • Industry-leading pen display
  • 22" HD display - wide format, full HD resolution and extra wide viewing angle
  • Pressure sensitive pen provides natural, on-screen control
  • Comes with a traditional, easily adjustable rotating stand that offers both landscape and portrait viewing angle

Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 Creative Pen and Touch Display (ETO's version is no longer available but have a look at the Wacom One 13 Touch Pen Display)

  • 11.6" x 6.5" active area
  • Full HD resolution
  • Built with an IPS (In-Plane Switching) touchscreen display
  • Comes with Wacom Pro Pen 2
  • Built-in stand for a more ergonomic experience

Wacom Intuos Pro - Medium

  • 10" active area
  • Small and lightweight
  • Comes with Wacom Pro Pen 2 

Huion Kamvas 13

  • 13.3" panel size
  • Full HD resolution
  • Includes battery-free pen
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac and Android platforms

Graphic Tablet FAQ with ETO's Cheryl Lee

ETO's Educational Graphic and Media Developer, Cheryl Lee, has had plenty of experience working with tablets and has answered some common questions that came up during the digital drawing activity.

There are so many options to choose from and it's overwhelming!  Do you have any recommendations?

You're right!  The graphic tablet market is no longer monopolized by one company, and there are a lot of brands you can choose from to fit your budget. Of the ones we had featured in the activity, Huion Kamvas 13 was the most affordable ($269 at the time of this article being written), but it still comes with a built-in screen and pressure sensitivity (compared to the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium, without the screen in priced at $499).

While there is a learning curve to using graphic tablets, it's significantly lower for ones with screens - there is less hand-eye coordination.

I'm not an artist, but I've heard about people switching to tablets because of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - what is a good option for me?

You may consider graphic tablets without screens, if you want to use it as a mouse replacement.  However, keep in mind that if you are conisdering switching because of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or other repetitive strain injury, I would opt for at least a medium size (so at minimum an 8" x 5" active drawing area).  Every pixel of your monitor is mapped to the tablet - so it won't help you with RSI if you are always moving between a small area.  If you are using a dual monitor (or more), you should opt for a large.

Of the tablets that we featured in our activity, the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium fits this description.  It is also the one that I use daily.  However, I would only recommend an Intuos Pro to a professional digital artist, with a bigger budget that needs the higher pressure sensitivity - these days, there are a lot of lower-cost options around $100 (my Intuos Pro is more than ten years old, and there weren't a lot of options back then).  Personally, I prefer these tablets over ones with screens because it keeps my neck and shoulder posture straight.

Interested to learn more about graphic tablets before making a purchase? Book a consultation with the ETO: Content Production Consult


Article Category: EdTech Workshop 2023