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Making Art with the iDraw pen plotter

November 12, 2023 by Bernhard Poppe
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The iDraw Pen Plotter is an absolute game-changer for anyone looking to elevate their creative pursuits, whether you're an artist, designer, or hobbyist. As a proud owner of this remarkable piece of technology, I've been absolutely blown away by its performance and capabilities. Here's my comprehensive review of the iDraw Pen Plotter:

My journey with the iDraw Pen Plotter began with a mix of excitement and curiosity. As an artist with a penchant for intricate designs and a fondness for precision, I was eager to see what this innovative device could add to my creative toolbox.


Design and Build Quality

The iDraw Pen Plotter impresses with its elegant and robust design. Crafted with an aluminum frame, it exudes a premium feel and sturdy construction. Every element, from the precision-machined components to the sleek aesthetics, shows meticulous attention to detail. Its compact footprint ensures that it seamlessly fits into any workspace, making it an attractive addition to any creative studio.


Setup and Installation

Setting up the iDraw Pen Plotter was a surprisingly straightforward process. When using the pen plotter for the first time, this video by "thedotisblack" was particularly helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzwu9d3gGfA. However, UUNA TEK itself also provides instructions and YouTube videos. Within an hour, I had the device up and running, ready to bring my creative ideas to life.

The plotter arrives almost completely assembled and well packaged. The rest of the assembly is surprisingly quick and easy.

Performance

The performance of the iDraw Pen Plotter is truly exceptional. With precision and accuracy that rivals the most seasoned artist's hand, this plotter flawlessly translates digital designs into tangible works of art. It handles a wide range of paper sizes and weights, allowing me to undertake diverse projects, from intricate sketches to engineering schematics. Whether I'm creating detailed illustrations or crisp text, the iDraw delivers consistently outstanding results. UUNA TEK claims on its website that the idraw pen plotter is 300% faster than the Axidraw, and various reviews confirm this. I don't own an Axidraw myself, so unfortunately I can't verify this. In any case, the pen plotter works super fast and effectively, and is considerably cheaper than the competitor's product.

Compatibility

The idraw pen plotter is controlled via an Inkscape extension. (Inkscape is available free of charge for Windows and Mac, the extensions are provided by UUNA TEK). The SVG files themselves can of course also be created in Illustrator or other programs, but Inkscape is absolutely necessary for the plotter itself. The idraw extension also comes with some practical tools, such as converting normal fonts to Hershey fonts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hershey_fonts) or converting color areas to cross hatching. What is also particularly practical is that the idraw extension can be used to plot just a single Inkscape layer instead of all layers. This makes it very easy to create multi-colored artwork. The result is a smooth, efficient creative process.

The extension makes working with the pen plotter very convenient and easy

Also worth mentioning is the "DrawingBotV3" app. Photos can be converted here so that the result is very similar to a hand drawing. The result is optimized for pen plotters, and an almost infinite number of creative styles can be generated using many different setting options. The premium version unlocks even more algorithms.

Also worth a look: Plotterfun (https://mitxela.com/plotterfun/). This free web app can also be used to create artwork from photos. Different algorithms are available and offer lots of fun.

Those who can code are even more flexible. With Javascript p5.js, for example, generative designs can be programmed relatively easily and then exported as an SVG file.

Generative Art, coded in p5.js. ©Bernhard Poppe, 2023

With Inkscape open and the iDraw connected, I embarked on my first project and I couldn't wait to see it come to life. I meticulously prepared my design, ensuring it fit perfectly on the chosen paper size.


The iDraw extensions are very easy to use. You can watch this video to learn more about the software: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-s5Ya48Vb4&list=PLA2MtqsvPsTlJWbs2XkAYLBj5a5myexuA.


As the iDraw Pen Plotter came to life, I was captivated by its precision. It moved gracefully, meticulously replicating my design with incredible accuracy. Once the plot was complete, I eagerly retrieved my artwork from the plotter's surface. It was impeccable, every line and curve exact and flawless. The iDraw Pen Plotter had transformed my digital vision into a tangible masterpiece.

This image was converted into an SVG file with DrawingBotV3 and drawn with the iDraw and a ballpoint pen.

In this test, I tried plotting using a thick marker, which worked out perfectly! All kinds of different pens should work with this plotter.

Quiet Operation

The iDraw Pen Plotter operates with a remarkably low noise level. Its quiet, non-disruptive performance is a welcome contrast to other noisy plotters, allowing me to focus on my work without being distracted by irritating sounds. (It makes noises, of course, but I don't find them annoying - on the contrary, the quiet "beeping" is kind of cool ;)) This characteristic makes it ideal for shared workspaces or home studios where tranquility is valued.


Customer Support

I must commend iDraw for their excellent customer support. They are not only responsive but also extremely knowledgeable about their product. Any inquiries or concerns I had were addressed promptly and professionally. This level of support instilled confidence in my purchase and made me feel genuinely valued as a customer. There is also a group on Facebook where the community has a lively exchange. 


Price

The iDraw Pen Plotter is an investment in your creative potential. While it is not the most budget-friendly option available, its combination of build quality, performance, and features more than justifies the price. It is cheaper than the competing product "AxiDraw" and (according to the company's own information, which I cannot verify as I do not own an AxiDraw) 200% faster. For those who are serious about their artistic or design work, the iDraw Pen Plotter is worth every cent. It is, without a doubt, an invaluable tool for creative professionals and enthusiasts alike.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the iDraw Pen Plotter is a game-changer for anyone who is passionate about artistic or design endeavors. Its impeccable precision, versatility, and user-friendly features make it an indispensable addition to any creative workspace. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a budding artist, this plotter will unlock a realm of creative possibilities. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I eagerly anticipate the new artistic horizons it will help me explore.


The iDraw pen plotters and accessories are up to 30% off during Black Friday week. (Valid until the end of the month). To take advantage of the discount, use the code BLF3FF at checkout. (The link is: http://idrawpenplotter.com)

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