Moleskine’s paper notebooks are immensely popular, but the brand has also been developing digital products alongside Adobe for years, from apps to “smartpens.” Now the companies are debuting a more advanced version of these products, the Moleskine Paper Tablet, which is meant to retain the joy and speed of sketching on paper while mirroring your drawing directly into Adobe Illustrator–in real time.
The two companies have worked together for years, appealing to professionals and aficionados who like the immediacy of paper sketching and the convenience of digital workflows. Their Creative Cloud Moleskine Notebook, which was released at the end of 2014, used dotted pages and an app that turned your phone into a scanner to beam sketches as pixels to Adobe Photoshop (or vectorize it through Adobe Creative Cloud into Adobe Illustrator).
But the new Moleskine Paper Tablet goes beyond that app-based solution. Rather than just pushing your sketch to the cloud for processing and sharing in Adobe apps, the Paper Tablet uses special paper to allow you to draw in vectors in Adobe Illustrator in real time, as long as you’re drawing with Moleskine’s $179 Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse stylus.
The functionality is fairly straightforward: After connecting the Bluetooth pen, you only have to draw in the notebook and Illustrator will mirror what you do in real time, thanks to symbols on each page that trigger different features within the system when the optical pen recognizes them.
“Each page has two symbols which when tapped by the Pen+Ellipse triggers actions,” the companies explain in a release. “One turns on the toggle of the simultaneous drawing mode within Illustrator, while the other triggers the action of saving the current file to the Adobe Creative Cloud.”
Once you’re done sketching, you can tap the Adobe Cloud icon to save and then hop onto your computer if you want to start working with your drawing inside of Adobe’s apps. Like paper sketches, the drawing mirroring process is not perfect, bringing in some of the natural artifacts that occur during the sketch process–so Adobe recommends that, after finishing a piece, you use Illustrator’s digital tools to clean up the vectors. That’s pretty similar to sketching with a Wacom tablet or an iPad, except that working on those digital tablets don’t leave you with a physical, inked version of your drawings. Moleskine’s solution will never be as precise as a tablet, but for designers and artists who still love sketching, it’s hard to imagine anything more natural and convenient.
You can buy the Moleskine Paper Tablet for $35, which also gives you a one-month subscription to Adobe Cloud. The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse is available now for $179.