Giant Bomb News

82 Comments

The uDraw Fans You've Never Heard About

uDraw may not have become the phenomenon THQ was hoping for, but that doesn't mean it didn't find an audience of appreciative owners.

A painting by Connie Deng, partially made with the uDraw, then polished up on Deng's computer.

If THQ doesn’t exist a year from now, it won’t be uDraw’s fault. But it may have been enough to teeter it, a $100 million bet that spectacularly backfired as THQ finally turned around creatively.

Worse, the uDraw actually seems neat, if hobbled and misguided.

Based on headlines alone, it would seem logical to assume nobody is using a uDraw, except sites like us discovering we’ve had one buried in the office for weeks. But just like anything else in the world, the uDraw has fans, and despite recent events, THQ has continued to highlight that community, especially on Facebook.

World of uDraw is the central hub for uDraw on Facebook, and currently has 136,783 fans.

The uDraw launched on Wii in fall 2010, and experienced enough success for THQ to produce more content for its quirky peripheral on Nintendo’s platform, and to work out plans for a version of the simple, cheap tablet to debut on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The accessory launched in November, no one bought it, and THQ has 1.4 million unsold uDraw tablets in warehouses, now forced to ponder how to get rid of them. The device is responsible for turning what should have been a promising THQ financial quarter into a disastrous one. Poor Saints Row: The Third.

But there are surprising uses for the uDraw, such as a controller for players with physical disabilities.

"As a tool for therapeutic use I would recommend it if person enjoys drawing, it’s a simpler interface than software like Coreldraw," wrote assistive technology reviewer Kati Lea, after evaluating the original uDraw on Wii. "I don’t think I will be producing masterpieces but if it keeps the connections working between my hands and my brain I think it would have been worth the money (if I had bought it myself!)."

There are less surprising but no less interesting uses, like engaging very young children.

"At aged two and four this proved to be the best game from our selection and he kids happily took turns and played with it," said an unnamed blogger at Being A Mummy, also talking about the Wii version. "In fact they have been playing at at every opportunity since. I thought it looked very basic but they loved it. It's hard to find a game which is so suitable for this age group and requires very little adult intervention. This is that game."

And, of course, there are artists.

Connie Deng is a senior illustration student at the Art Institute of Boston, and I found her by through the World of uDraw community. She does own a uDraw, though she didn’t pay for it. Speaking over email, Deng told me she found a uDraw ad on Facebook, which was promoting a contest to win free uDraws. As she’s about to graduate, the prospect of getting free games sounded pretty great, doubly so if the hardware itself could integrate into her work.

“The commercial for it was pretty cool,” she said, “and while it looked like it was for kids/folks that like to draw or make art, I saw a lot of potential for it to become a professional artist medium, like Adobe Creative Suite.”

For example, since the uDraw connects to a television, the screen size is much bigger, which would allow Deng to have a closer view of her work without having to always zoom in and out, ala Photoshop.

When the tablet showed up, she put the device through its paces and came away impressed for what it actually could accomplish, despite her experience with much more advanced (and much more expensive) tablets from companies like Wacom. It edges close enough that she has some pretty nuanced criticisms about the uDraw.

“I have an issue with it being sensitive to ‘finger painting,’” she said. “It can be fun, but it also has a drawback for when I want to use my pinky to rest or help pivot the motion of my hand when I draw. The pinky thing is a classical technique and many artists use it so you could imagine it can become annoying.”

One of the more common complaints on the Facebook page are related to the pen being tethered to the tablet, but as someone who has lost countless DS styluses over the years, I can see a good argument for it. So can Deng.

“Even sometimes I lose my pen form my Wacom Bamboo tablet and I get a mini heart attack trying to find it,” she said.

Since uDraw places a limit on drawing time--35 minutes--Deng finds herself using the tablet on simpler pieces, despite her traditional attention to detail in her work. Often, she’ll leverage a uDraw for sketching and blocking, then bring what she’s worked on into software like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Corel Painter to touch up.

Great drawing of Scorpion using a uDraw, or greatest drawing of Scorpion using a uDraw?

While Deng’s training to become a professional artist, she had advice for wanna-be painters that find themselves with a uDraw, such as collectors buying up the soon-to-be-cheap devices.

She happily recommended uDraw as an entry level tablet, and pointed to art history books as a stepping stone. Next, pick a piece to imitate and treat the 35-minute limit as an exercise. If you’re looking for tutorials outside of uDraw, knowing that uDraw’s tools focus on a “painterly” style will point you in the right direction.

“The only other art tablet/digital art stuff is really expensive compared to the uDraw game and tablet,“ she said, “so unless that person really likes art or is a professional artist then I'd tell them to stick to uDraw.”

Given how much funding is drying up for arts education, Deng wishes there were more online tutorials provided by THQ, but with the company already saying it won't produce anymore uDraw games, that seems unlikely.

I’ve collected some of the best stuff from uDraw’s Facebook page into a gallery below. You can continue to follow Deng's work over at her personal blog. If you’ve made any of your own pieces with a uDraw, let me know.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
82 Comments
  • 82 results
  • 1
  • 2
Posted by patrickklepek
A painting by Connie Deng, partially made with the uDraw, then polished up on Deng's computer.

If THQ doesn’t exist a year from now, it won’t be uDraw’s fault. But it may have been enough to teeter it, a $100 million bet that spectacularly backfired as THQ finally turned around creatively.

Worse, the uDraw actually seems neat, if hobbled and misguided.

Based on headlines alone, it would seem logical to assume nobody is using a uDraw, except sites like us discovering we’ve had one buried in the office for weeks. But just like anything else in the world, the uDraw has fans, and despite recent events, THQ has continued to highlight that community, especially on Facebook.

World of uDraw is the central hub for uDraw on Facebook, and currently has 136,783 fans.

The uDraw launched on Wii in fall 2010, and experienced enough success for THQ to produce more content for its quirky peripheral on Nintendo’s platform, and to work out plans for a version of the simple, cheap tablet to debut on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The accessory launched in November, no one bought it, and THQ has 1.4 million unsold uDraw tablets in warehouses, now forced to ponder how to get rid of them. The device is responsible for turning what should have been a promising THQ financial quarter into a disastrous one. Poor Saints Row: The Third.

But there are surprising uses for the uDraw, such as a controller for players with physical disabilities.

"As a tool for therapeutic use I would recommend it if person enjoys drawing, it’s a simpler interface than software like Coreldraw," wrote assistive technology reviewer Kati Lea, after evaluating the original uDraw on Wii. "I don’t think I will be producing masterpieces but if it keeps the connections working between my hands and my brain I think it would have been worth the money (if I had bought it myself!)."

There are less surprising but no less interesting uses, like engaging very young children.

"At aged two and four this proved to be the best game from our selection and he kids happily took turns and played with it," said an unnamed blogger at Being A Mummy, also talking about the Wii version. "In fact they have been playing at at every opportunity since. I thought it looked very basic but they loved it. It's hard to find a game which is so suitable for this age group and requires very little adult intervention. This is that game."

And, of course, there are artists.

Connie Deng is a senior illustration student at the Art Institute of Boston, and I found her by through the World of uDraw community. She does own a uDraw, though she didn’t pay for it. Speaking over email, Deng told me she found a uDraw ad on Facebook, which was promoting a contest to win free uDraws. As she’s about to graduate, the prospect of getting free games sounded pretty great, doubly so if the hardware itself could integrate into her work.

“The commercial for it was pretty cool,” she said, “and while it looked like it was for kids/folks that like to draw or make art, I saw a lot of potential for it to become a professional artist medium, like Adobe Creative Suite.”

For example, since the uDraw connects to a television, the screen size is much bigger, which would allow Deng to have a closer view of her work without having to always zoom in and out, ala Photoshop.

When the tablet showed up, she put the device through its paces and came away impressed for what it actually could accomplish, despite her experience with much more advanced (and much more expensive) tablets from companies like Wacom. It edges close enough that she has some pretty nuanced criticisms about the uDraw.

“I have an issue with it being sensitive to ‘finger painting,’” she said. “It can be fun, but it also has a drawback for when I want to use my pinky to rest or help pivot the motion of my hand when I draw. The pinky thing is a classical technique and many artists use it so you could imagine it can become annoying.”

One of the more common complaints on the Facebook page are related to the pen being tethered to the tablet, but as someone who has lost countless DS styluses over the years, I can see a good argument for it. So can Deng.

“Even sometimes I lose my pen form my Wacom Bamboo tablet and I get a mini heart attack trying to find it,” she said.

Since uDraw places a limit on drawing time--35 minutes--Deng finds herself using the tablet on simpler pieces, despite her traditional attention to detail in her work. Often, she’ll leverage a uDraw for sketching and blocking, then bring what she’s worked on into software like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Corel Painter to touch up.

Great drawing of Scorpion using a uDraw, or greatest drawing of Scorpion using a uDraw?

While Deng’s training to become a professional artist, she had advice for wanna-be painters that find themselves with a uDraw, such as collectors buying up the soon-to-be-cheap devices.

She happily recommended uDraw as an entry level tablet, and pointed to art history books as a stepping stone. Next, pick a piece to imitate and treat the 35-minute limit as an exercise. If you’re looking for tutorials outside of uDraw, knowing that uDraw’s tools focus on a “painterly” style will point you in the right direction.

“The only other art tablet/digital art stuff is really expensive compared to the uDraw game and tablet,“ she said, “so unless that person really likes art or is a professional artist then I'd tell them to stick to uDraw.”

Given how much funding is drying up for arts education, Deng wishes there were more online tutorials provided by THQ, but with the company already saying it won't produce anymore uDraw games, that seems unlikely.

I’ve collected some of the best stuff from uDraw’s Facebook page into a gallery below. You can continue to follow Deng's work over at her personal blog. If you’ve made any of your own pieces with a uDraw, let me know.

Posted by dbol

ok

Posted by wild_fire987

Interesting.....

Posted by Lunar_Aura

Dat Scorpion's all like "Get over here... and buy a uDraw!"

Posted by Darkstar_KoP

I still say that the uDraw was the fucking sickest shit ive seen for the consoles. Damn shame it crashed and burned.

Posted by buckybit

As I wrote in the comments to the THQ earnings call story this device is something I can see sell very well ... if you know how to market it to the right audience? This is a bet THQ made and did not know how to 'sell' it?

Of course, no ONE (single) business decision should put a video game company of this size on the brink of bankruptcy. But independent from that, a dedicated handheld device for digital artistry - educational or therapeutical - is a good idea, IMHO.

Recently three big video game studio executives had a public panel talk at DICE, saying, they are not afraid of their talented employees making bad decisions; it's the higher management - the decision makers - in the companies, who can ruin a company. This is a tough job.

Posted by Little_Socrates

This is a good read. However, I'm supremely bummed out that amongst all the uDraw art out there, most of it looks worse than some of the things made in MS Paint you'll find on DeviantArt. It's cool that people are using it, but looking at the end results is cementing in my mind that it's not worth owning for adults or artists.

Posted by Claude

I wonder if  the Wii U's new tablet controller will be used for something of this nature as well?

Posted by BeautifulSpaceCowboy

I am interested to see what, if anything, the homebrew community does with it.

Edited by xxizzypop

This is a kind of interesting piece, but I can't help but notice that it's very Wii-centric. Though I suppose it has to be, given the nature of the uDraw. It looks like an interesting, cheap tablet (especially now) that I might tinker with, and it's nice to see some proof of concept that it can actually function as an art tool. It's strange though that they put a time limit on how long you can spend drawing. 35 minutes seems incredibly short, but as a completely out of practice artist, I could be wrong.

Also, Patrick Klepek, I guess I'm not really seeing how it's useful to those with a physical impairment, unless it was strictly as a sort of physical therapy tool, like Kati Lea says about keeping those muscles and connections in use.

Posted by ALavaPenguin

that id inyrtrdyinh@

Posted by Sweetz

Wait, they put a time limit on how long you can draw? That seems downright idiotic. What could the reasoning possibly be for that limitation?

Posted by Winternet

I can't draw, why don't uDraw?

Posted by Hailinel

For all of it's financial failure, the uDraw was a asuccess on the Wii, so it makes sense that there's a community out there for it. It's just a shame that THQ so badly misjudged the audiences on the other consoles.

Posted by FesteringNeon

I like that they tried to be creative in the console world, but when you line this up with a Wacom bamboo, you get similar results, minus the oodles of software options and fidelity. Double the investment for a Intuos, and you're knocking on graphic artist territory.

Posted by DrDarkStryfe

No retailer could keep this thing in stock in 2010. The tablet was the biggest thing for the Wii that year, and it still sold pretty well into 2011. The stupidity of THQ was thinking that the 360 and PS3 would have the same markets, which they obviously do not.

Posted by Oni

I've seen these in stores here in the Netherlands going for 40 euros, down from like 100. It seems they're pretty desperate to get rid of them. I just don't think there's a big enough audience for this kind of thing on PS3/360, they should have stuck to the Wii version. Of course, this is with benefit of hindsight, can't really blame them for trying to do something novel. 'tis a shame.

Posted by Chet_Rippo

I was sympathetic towards THQ up until I read there's a 35 minute limit. Why would anybody make a product like that?

Posted by daletiel

I understand being able to turn that 35 minute into something of a training tool, but having that be enforced as a hardware limitation seems pretty disingenuous to me.

Posted by mrfluke

good piece scoopz man, based on your guys quick look i never  would have thought it could create such drawings as what u posted, 
 
also obligatory crowdsource spell check  
 
shouldnt that have a T by he 

 and he kids happily took turns and played 


Edited by Robo

Point?

uDraw is still a bad joke at best.

Even if all you're doing is dicking around with a cheaper alternative to professional grade digital illustration hardware/software you can do better with a cheap Bamboo and a copy of Gimp. And without the 35minute limit.

Posted by DarthB

I bought a uDraw and pictionary. I can never seem to muster the will to play a real board game where I have to keep score.

Posted by Napalm

@dbol said:

ok

What a compelling comment.

I'm glad to see there is exposure on the prospered community that has sprung up for the uDraw hardware. It's nice to see that people are getting uses out of it, even it was a financial bomb.

Posted by mrfluke

  you can definitely do some real solid stuff with the udraw

    
Posted by Chris2KLee

I figured there had to be some audience out there for this. Good article.

Posted by RecallBerserk

"Since uDraw places a limit on drawing time--35 minutes"

Why? That's why THQ are in the trouble they are in, they place limits and problems on things where they shouldn't exist. You cannot justify a time limit on a drawing appllication, so dumb.

Edited by lightsoda

I lost my pen for my wacom intous 2, I eventually found it, but that pen alone cost almost as much as a completely new intous.

Edited by Aufaber

With it.. you can draw the Pirate, or the Turtle.

"Do you Like to Draw or Paint? Or maybe just sketch or Doodle?"

Posted by GnomeonFire

The feel of a real tablet just blows it out of the water though. For one, a real tablet doesn't register when your hand touches it. From what I've seen it doesn't look like you can get a wide range of value on the thing, good for the first 10 mins where you just block in large shapes though? Sure. But if you're going to do any rendered paintings then this is just adding an unnecessary step and cost.

Posted by themangalist

@Robo said:

Point?

uDraw is still a bad joke at best.

Even if all you're doing is dicking around with a cheaper alternative to professional grade digital illustration hardware/software you can do better with a cheap Bamboo and a copy of Gimp. And without the 35minute limit.

This. If the only "draw" the uDraw has is the price, then it really is a non-issue given there cheap and functional tablets, with better and more precise software. There is absolutely no point for a professional artist to use uDraw. I can only see it fun for kids for a little while, but if i had kids, I'd teach them to draw with pen and paper. It just isn't the same.

Posted by JoeyRavn

Kurt Cobain eating a microphone. Thanks, uDraw!

In all seriousness, this is a bit heart-warming. I really hope everything goes well for THQ.

Posted by selbie

What Robo said. There are affordable tablets that can achieve a quality several orders of magnitude better than this shit. uDraw is a kids toy, with software that barely passes as a glorified MS Paint. The WiiU's tablet might be able to do it properly. A pressure sensitive stylus addon would be a boon to amateur artists if good software is there to support it.

Posted by Phatmac

As much sympathy that I have for the uDraw failure, if this is the best of the best, than I'm not surprised that it failed so badly. No offense to the artists, but I'm not that impressed with the drawings provided in this article. Hopefully whoever uses this tablet can get a better one to fully develop their artistic abilities.

Posted by Generiko

Those pictures bring back memories of Gamepro

Posted by rndmtask

As an artist, I see how uDraw has probably made a cool entry point for these young aspiring artists, and that is a good thing. With that said, these are all terrible pictures. Get your ass to some proper art classes now.

Posted by Crono

This article was compiled in 35-minutes on THQ's latest: the uWrite.

Posted by patrickklepek

@Crono said:

This article was compiled in 35-minutes on THQ's latest: the uWrite.

Bravo.

Posted by lockwoodx

I won a Udraw on a gaming site in a contest along with the spongebob game. Ended up giving it to a friend who had young children and after about a day she called me back saying the kids loved it.

Posted by JackG100

Whoever thought uDraw was a good idea should consider getting into another business. 
 
Then again, I think the same of Kinect and Motion Controls so who am I to say that. :)

Posted by Itwastuesday

This article actually had me quite intrigued with this tablet until I got to the 35-minute drawing limit. That is some next-level shit. I can barely believe that they've arbitrarily put a limit on one of the most basic uses of their tablet. That is dumbfounding. That's like myNotebook's ridiculous limit on digital notebook pages.

Posted by Max21

A 35 minute drawing time? WTF

Posted by Grnd_Lb_Knt

FWIW the 35 minute time limit is on the record feature. Meaning for larger projects that would want to use undo or redo it can only record/remember about 35 minutes worth of strokes. It measures the time for your strokes not the time you just sit there. It's a memory thing.

Posted by ghostNPC

Excellent article, even if the uDraw is still garbage. I like what angle you took on this situation Patrick, well done.

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Those are pretty good!

Posted by lokey013

I'd totally get one for my 360/ps3 if the price was right....reminds me of Mario Paint....but brainier!!! >_>

Posted by buft

@rndmtask said:

As an artist, I see how uDraw has probably made a cool entry point for these young aspiring artists, and that is a good thing. With that said, these are all terrible pictures. Get your ass to some proper art classes now.

i was just thinking that, those are poor examples or this table really isn't all that good

Posted by AngriGhandi

Patrick Klepek takes you on another wet and wild journey to the forgotten corners of the industry!

Bring your elephant gun.

Posted by RedTailedGamer

I see the U-draw as a gateway for gamers whom thought of doing Art. I like the fact that a community has formed around this. It reminds me of graffiti application on facebook. It is harder to produce work on it so, seeing how people can take the limited device and push it to produce art with it showcases their resourcefulness and creativity.

As a device for kids I think it is wonderful. I have two young niceness, they have a kids tablet that hooks up to my Brother's computer. That is computer is in a back room and it's hard for them to monitor the girl's online activities. It is nice to know they can draw right from their Wii instead. It's easier for them to use and keeps them in the living room and out of daddies den. I am really thinking of getting it for them.

Posted by Airickson

@RedTailedGamer said:

I see the U-draw as a gateway for gamers whom thought of doing Art. I like the fact that a community has formed around this. It reminds me of graffiti application on facebook. It is harder to produce work on it so, seeing how people can take the limited device and push it to produce art with it showcases their resourcefulness and creativity.

I thought that's what Forza was...

Posted by Morrow

I was interested until I read about the 35 minute limit. WTF? Pictures that take only half an hour to draw can only look like crap...

  • 82 results
  • 1
  • 2