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Entries in Sketching (1)

Sensu Brush Review - Was it Worth the Wait?

Sensu- Artist Brush for iPad from Artist Hardware on Vimeo.

It took 6 months from the close of their successful Kickstarter campaign (it felt like a lot longer somehow), but the team at Artist Hardware finally started sending out the first Sensu brush production units earlier this month to their patiently waiting backers, including us.

So, was it worth the wait?

Oh yes - we have a new love in our lives!

Industrial design

The Sensu has been designed as both a stylus and an artist brush for your iPad (and other capacitive screen devices).

It performs this dual function using a very carefully thought out design that incorporates the brush handle as a protective cap when in 'stylus mode' and it works really well.

Sensu brush stages - Image courtesy of sensubrush.com

As a Stylus

When the Sensu arrives (complete with a nice little felt slip case for Kickstarter backers) it is in stylus mode (top of the picture above). We were really impressed by the way the Sensu Brush works as a stylus or pointing device.

How it feels

The chrome-plated brass body feels light but stable in hand. The length of the stylus means it fits perfectly in the crook of our hands between thumb and index finger when used in pen/pointer mode. The smooth sculpted shape of the stylus body/brush cover is simply lovely. 

We felt it was one of the most natural and balanced styli we have used. It seems just about perfect for long sessions writing, sketching, or painting. Of course, everyone's hands are different, but we think the Sensu is spot-on as a stylus.

Sensu brush stylus - Image courtesy of sensubrush.com

Stylus tip

Artist Hardware have gone for the soft, malleable rubber 'ball' approach that many other stylus makers have used, which does seem to best emulate a human digit. The construction is solid though and we had no worries about possibly tearing the material or mushing it out of shape like some of the cheaper styli we have tested.

As with many new styli, it takes a short while to get used to the amount of pressure needed, but once you have worked it out you don't think about it again.

As a Brush

It is when it is in brush mode, though, that the Sensu really shines. Slip the protective cap away from the stylus tip and you reveal the brush, cosseted inside.

Flipping the cap round and putting it back on over the stylus tip creates a handle for the Sensu Brush which is only a little shorter than the handle found on another favourite of ours from last year, the Nomad Brush.

Sensu in Brush mode - Image courtesy of sensubrush.com

Again, the team at Artist Hardware have thought very carefully about the design here and we don't have any complaints about the balance or feel of the brush in use. As with the stylus mode, the brush sits nicely in the crook of our hand and, with fingers on the rubberised barrel grip, feels perfectly natural to use. 

Similar to the Nomad Brush but with a more tightly bunched cluster, the hairs of the brush are synthetic, conductive, fibres.

In use, the brush felt very responsive and tracked precisely across the iPad's screen. Like the Nomad Brush, it is possible to use the brush as a pointing device on the iPad screen if you really wanted to (though it is not always as accurate or reliable as your finger would be for these tasks).

You can see Matt Lynaugh from Artist Hardware doing just this in his video below, where he demonstrates using the Sensu to paint a portrait in ArtRage on his iPad. It is well worth a watch if you're keen to see the Sensu brush in action.

Painting a Portrait with the Sensu brush and Artrage from Artist Hardware on Vimeo.

Tried, tested, loved!

We tried the brush with ArtRage, procreate, Inspire Pro, SketchBook Pro, Paper, and the stylus with Penultimate, Notability, Skitch, Bamboo Paper, even (perhaps especially) Draw Something, as well as other apps that we had sat on our iPads. The Sensu worked faultlessly with all of them.

But we're not the only ones who have been using the Sensu, check out some of the images below from Matt Lynaugh (the first one being the end result of his video above) plus a few other Sensu users who have shared their work:

Sam-3.17.12 © Matt Lynaugh

Assorted Veggies © Matt LynaughImage © Raul Allen

Image © Margi Laurin

Final Thoughts

Whilst individual user style and personal preference always come into play with devices like the Sensu, we have to say we have loved using the Sensu Brush. In fact, it is now a permanent companion to our iPad and taken everywhere with it.

The iPad Creative kids (ages 6 and 4) took to the Sensu with total ease as well and began painting with the brush immediately after it was unwrapped. In fact, for a while, it was a struggle to get it off of them.

If you are looking for a great stylus or brush for your iPad, but especially if you are looking for both, our recommendation is that you order the Sensu as soon as it becomes available.

We got our Sensu by backing the Kickstarter project and we are very happy we did.

Sensu will be available for purchase in May 2012 from sensubrush.com at a price of $39.99.