About 18 months ago, I (Ash) was on Instagram looking through the daily stories and posts and I saw a promoted post for a KickStarter Project. I was intrigued and clicked on it. I read through and without even really thinking too much, clicked on the support button and awaited the delivery of the new SketchBoard Pro by BrainTree House.
About a month ago a delivery driver appeared at my door and shoved a rather large package into my hands and left, I was confused and intrigued, I quickly opened it and found a large, flat box, covered in pictures of cartoon hippos and inside was a large black piece of plastic and silicon, My Sketchboard Pro had finally arrived, yay!!
So what is it? Well the SBP is a mount for your iPad to sit in at a tilted angle and set either landscape or horizontal and held securely in place in a silicon frame, which is perfectly flush with the plastic board, so as you draw your hand can move across the surface without hitting edges or frames and allows the drawer to work on their artwork, without having the hold the pad, or rest it at an odd angle to draw.
When I saw the original advert it was still in the very early stages of the design (and that was part of what I liked about the Kickstarter), the project grew and evolved and with every stage, every change I received an email telling me about the improvements and also questions or questionnaires asking what I liked, what worked, what didn’t make sense. Braintree House were really listening to the artists and designers who would be using the SBP and it seems they really got it right.
But this development and planning didn’t go without a few hitches, there were production problems, the original plan was to build in the U.S or somewhere, but due to costs it proved cheaper to farm it out to China and then a damned inconvenient virus caused everyone to panic and everything coming from China was subject to some stupid quarantine rules and regulations, all explained in the monthly emails and clearly the team trying to make and ship their precious designed baby, were getting rightly frustrated. Members of the team were meant to visit factories, check on prototypes and samples and every one of these points was delayed or outrightly blocked, by bureaucratic and stupid rules. They weren’t able to fly to China, weren’t able to have samples shipped to the States and some packages it seems may have been destroyed just because of their origin and so every time a date was set for final production, it was scrubbed out and put back and another email came across to me and the other backers, begging forgiveness and trying to explain what was going wrong. I felt as sorry for the crew at Braintree House, just as much as if I were getting the email myself.
In October last year I got an email asking to confirm my address and details, as they said the shipments were soon to be on their way but the end of October, early November.
November came and went and nothing, I started to think I should email them to check, then in early December an email stating the Freighter should be docking from China in Southampton, UK a week before Christmas, but due to Christmas, the Dock Workers were unlikely to unload the containers before the new year.
Then the final agreement of Brexit kicked in and ‘Hey Braintree, here’s another spanner to add to your collection in the works’. With the stupid rules now in place, any and all exports from the UK to the EU, were subject to a further tax, the price? Way more than the amount the Board had cost to invest in, in the first place. So if you ordered your board and lived in Spain or France, you may get a DPD delivery and a bill for €120 This email told everyone to inform the company of any delivery and ask that if they were in any doubt to refuse the delivery and hope the courier would return the board and not just destroy it. I could tell by the wording the company were fuming and fed up, but there was nothing they could do. I wonder how many boards got sent back and are sat in a container on the docks of Southampton Harbour?
But thankfully I got my board and it came in one piece (another concern they had, being as they weren’t able to check the packaging in person). So what do I think now that I have the board?
Well it’s well designed, the fold out legs on the back are a clever design, popping out to lay the board horizontal or vertical. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be, it measures 19x17inches (43x48cm) and sits at about a 45º angle in the horizontal and a bit steeper in the vertical positions, the silicon rubber inner frame is extremely snug in fit, at first I thought I had the wrong size, but it pushed in and held the iPad perfectly. There is a whole in the plastic frame (on the bottom right) to stick the iPencil in and stand it upright, but this is one issue I have with it, they clearly only thought Right-Handers would be using it, there should have been a hole for us Lefties, it’s not a practical solution and it’s a small quibble, but one that could have been so easy to add. Additionally it’s designed for the iPencil 2, because there is a gap at the top of the pad, to magnetise the pencil to the tablet, but with an iPencil 1 it falls out all the time, a groove in the silicon would have been a simpler, safer solution.
Also it’s clearly designed for the latest iPad Pro’s, it’s really big for my 6th Gen 2018 iPad (as reviewed previously here). There is a lot of plastic and it takes up the whole side of my dining table and when it’s in the bag (which didn’t arrive until last week, a whole month after the board), the bag is more like an A2 Portfolio Case and so quite big. It could have been made a couple of inches smaller for the smaller iPads and I draw primarily in Vertical, a lot of portraits and figure work and the board in vertical stands quite high and is certainly less stable this way, the fold out legs are just not as strongly supported.
But overall, it’s a nice piece of kit, it looks like I’ve invested in a Wacom Drawing Tablet as it sits on the table and in a dedicated office or studio it’s probably a great addition, it’s just a bit big for my living room and has been put away so that I can eat at the dinner table! But one day, when I have a new Art Studio, there will be a table just for the SketchBoard Pro to live on!
At this time the website is showing all but the largest Sketchboards are sold out, but a re-stock should be imminent (unless there are more delays in the shipments), They will retail at €119.00 a go and given the limited numbers available, I would recommend ordering yours and hopefully you won’t have to wait as long for yours to arrive, as us backers did!
Did You invest in the SketchBoard Pro, Are you looking to but one? Well check it out here… https://sketchboardpro.com