Any self-respecting digital artist these days uses a graphics tablet to pipe pen input into PC applications. The problem is that good graphics tablets like the Wacom Intuos line are pretty spendy. If you've got an Android device lying around and like to use the GIMP image editor on Linux, you've got all you need for a basic graphics tablet setup thanks to a new app.

The XorgTablet app and driver developed by the gimpusers.com team allow you to select your Android tablet as an input device in GIMP. You may be thinking that sounds interesting but limited – after all, graphics tablets are useful because of the pressure sensitivity, and capacitive screens don't have that. Well, Samsung was good enough to license Wacom's pressure-sensitive pen technology for the Note devices. In the video you can see a Note 10.1 used as a full graphics tablet complete with pressure sensitivity. Other devices will work, but won't be as useful.

The app can connect to your PC via a cable, or over WiFi if you're set up correctly. When you enable the Android device input, the mouse will stop relaying commands to GIMP, so it's not completely ideal. Also, this is Linux only due to the X.org driver. You should be able to use the XorgTablet app in any program on the PC, but there aren't a ton of Linux programs that would benefit.

[XorgTablet, Driver, GIMPusers, Google+]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Chris Webster

    I find this ironic because I just installed Ubuntu today and was installing GIMP when this article was posted...

    • Wayne Randall

      Coincidence perhaps, but not irony.

      • aatifsumar

        OMG Wayne Randall? Didn't you throw yourself in front of a truck?

        • Wayne Randall

          No, that was probably your dad. But I can see how you could confuse the two of us though. I don't blame him either. :-

          • aatifsumar

            *file under failed Dexter references*

  • http://twitter.com/pavanaja Pavanaja U B

    Seems like a good software. Waiting for a Windows application.

    • Paul M

      there is gimp for windows.
      or maybe it's the remote wacom feature you want.

      get an ubuntu live CD and use that if you don't want to install ubuntu permanently on your PC.

  • Micah

    No serious graphic designer would use this.... Wacom's have 2048 pressure sensitivity levels. Just got the Intuos 4 Small refurbished. Only $140 with shipping and tax. Comes with 6 buttons you can program, a knob type circle dial near those that has 4 separate settings also. So really you get 10 buttons, all programmable, and ridiculously nice sensitivity levels.

    And the Wacom pen + tips costs at least $60, so the actual tablet was only about $80. This thing would suck compared to it. For a little kid to doodle it might be cool. No serious designer would want this though.

    • aatifsumar

      How many pressure sensitivity levels do the Note 10.1 and Note, Note II have?

      • Lubomir Naydenov

        @ce753b6a9a90d771cb52b71609fbc120:disqus my Note II has 1024

        • micah

          as others stated its not actually that hogh because there is a minimum pressure you must apply to get it to paint at all, knocking off a chunk of that. and a 1mm offset issue on samsungs. you wouldnt notice unless using a pen though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

        My Note 10.1 has 1024

    • Lubomir Naydenov

      I don't think it's geared towards serious graphic designers... after all, they are willing to dish out money for their profession and need a higher quality standard.

      As an Android app/game developer, I would find this pretty useful when I want to draw some very simple placeholder art or UI elements. Now to get a Linux distro...

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

      I agreed. But it's not something useless as the future version of Note series will continue to improve further. And the price you mentioned can't even buy a cheapest Bamboo in my country. It costs at least $170 for 5" drawing area Bamboo with 1024 pressure level, no buttons or anything, just a pen and tiny drawing area.

    • Ross

      Wow, you must be like some elite hard-core designer hey. So full of incite and know how.

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    Pressure sensitivity on my Galaxy Note is a lackluster - you cannot just touch the screen for it to draw, you need to apply a pressure, as if you're using an old ball pen or dried-up marker, then the pressure value suddenly goes all to the maximum, so 1024 levels of sensitivity is a lie. Also, you cannot calibrate your screen, auto-calibration is non-existent, and the screen pointer always has a 1mm offset from the pen tip near lower-left screen edge. Maybe it's better with Note 10.1, but I would still buy a dedicated tablet, as Micah suggests.

    • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

      I've noticed this same offset on my Note. On CyanogenMod you can enable a cursor which helps to pin point where you are going to draw. I know the Note 10.1 comes with a cursor stock.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

      No, I have both 10.1 and Note 2. So far Note 2 is a lot better although they both have 1024 pressure levels. I think the reason is the pen. The pen on Note 2 is just better but harder to hold.

    • Paul M

      with some note apps you can tweak the pressure thresholds.

  • Paul M

    Some time ago Autocad's Sketchbook was free on Amazon appstore free app of the day. It works very well on my Note2.

  • bse88
    • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

      It doesn't send the pressure sensitive information.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

    I am waiting this for a long time, will try it tomorrow. >...<

  • spydie

    funny, everyone missed the fact that any apple computer also runs gimp and works fine with this app on my note 2... no need to install ubuntu on your favorite PC... just move up.

    • Matt

      But why would you run gimp on a Mac when you can run it on Linux? Seems like an obvious step backward.

  • Matt

    I'll give this a shot with my Lenovo tablet for sure. It also has full pressure sensitivity and unlike the note doesn't require pressure for the initial stroke.

  • Cowicide

    I'm still waiting for someone, anyone to make an app on Android that allows me to use bezier path tools (like the Photoshop Pen Tool) to select elements in photos with smooth edges. Photoshop Touch (crazily) doesn't have it yet, nor do any others I've tested. I was in a pinch the other day without my computer and it would have been great to have this tool. I honestly can't take tablets seriously until this vital tool is available on them. The only thing I've been able to do is install GIMP which has bezier path tools, but I have to hook up external devices to make it work (mouse, stylus, etc.) and it's slow, of course, since it has to run within a Linux VM.

    • Paul M

      does autodesk's sketchbook pro do it?
      their feature list is not very complete


      free trial so you can see for yourself of the desktoptop version

      • Cowicide

        I've tried quite a lot including SP. Sketchbook Pro is probably the closest in that you can load up an image and then trace around it with bezier paths, but as far as I can tell it doesn't convert the paths to a selection like you can do with the desktop Photoshop Pen Tool. I tried another app called Infinite design and was able to put a photo on a layer and trace around it with a Pen Tool, but once again, no way to convert the path to a selection that I can tell. I also found the Pen Tool with ID to be incredibly difficult to control, but I'm going to see if I can figure that out better down the road. I suppose I could jump through hoops and use the magic wand tool or something after making the path by bringing a rasterized vector path (bright red or something) into Photoshop Touch, but I'm really looking for something that would be much faster than that cumbersome multi-step process. Pretty much just want it to work like it does with Photoshop. I know it technically can work on my tablet since the bezier tools work and selections work. I'm just shocked that no developer including Adobe has worked to bring those two together.

  • Saskwatch_1984

    Any chance of this coming to Windows? I'd love to have this for my Nexus 7 and GIMP 2.8.14 install.