How Tablets Can Enrich And Inspire Creativity

A new set of applications are turning touch devices into a mobile suite of creative tools that empowers artists.


Portability, versatility and increasing computer performance of tablets are bringing completely new experiences, changing how we enjoy entertainment, shop, gather information, communicate and blend our digital and real worlds. This series by PSFK and Intel explores how improving tablet capabilities are changing the status quo in many aspects of our lives.

Do you ever stop and ask what’s behind the things that catch your eye? More often these days you’ll find digital technologies are playing a role, whether it’s helping a visionary to map out ideas, a designer make that idea come to life or how we experience a story or piece of art.

This becomes more apparent when you look at the rapidly evolving world of tablet devices. They have become incredibly powerful tools for creative people, many of whom are using tablets to chase their artistic endeavors in photography, video, music, painting, drawing and other areas in the world of arts.


On the other hand, as they proliferate, tablets are drawing more people into the creative class, increasing artistic expression in ways that may have never before existed.

While ancient clay tablets have been common sites at history museums for generations, it’s a more recent phenomenon to walk into a gallery, turn on your own tablet device and have it act as your personal docent, providing narrative, music and additional visuals to give you a deeper understanding for works of art.  But the impact of tablets, especially as they rapidly evolve beyond digital media players and Internet access devices, can be seen more profoundly when you look at things like the Intelligence Sounds robot controlled tablet orchestra by acclaimed artist Flume, which was created using Intel tablet technology.

The rise in computational capabilities of many tablets is allowing artists to stretch their imagination into new areas and helping them to push the sensory impact of their creations, whether it’s a visual family montage set to music or otherworldly endeavors of a novice science fiction writer.

Award-winning comic artist Cameron Stewart uses a Wacom Windows 8-powered tablet with a Pro Pen to draw scenes for his Cintiq Companion. Not only has this tablet created a mobile, digital studio for Cameron, it has dramatically changed his creation and revision process.

“Previously I could maybe take some notes, then go home, then make the changes then send [revised works] to the client,” said Cameron in a recent interview with iQ. “Now I can just make changes right there on the spot.”

While tablets are allowing creative people to strike emotional chords and break new ground in their area of interest, it may be even more impressive to think how tablets will continue to unlock the potential for human creativity today and in the future.


For decades, desktop and laptops computers have empowered people around the world, but today in Brazil and other places people are buying tablets, eager to explore new computing experiences. According to IDC, more than 260 million tablets and 2 in 1 devices will be sold worldwide in 2014, marking a 20% increase in the number of tablets sold compared with last year. As tablets get into the hands of more people each day, the limits of creativity are being pushed in all directions.

A tablet’s interface plays a critical role in democratizing acts of “making.” Their large or small touchscreens, Internet connectivity, long battery life, ability to capture photos and video then edit and display them in high quality are advantageous to artists. Their ease-of-use, mobility and almost limitless utility provided by an ever growing number of useful applications is making tablets ideal for creating things that engage family members huddled in a living room or attendees at an emerging artist installation.


Eric Gradman of Two Bit Circus and his merry band of interactive game developers are using tablets to put a high-tech educational spin on the traditional county fair. Games and activities built around tablets are an integral part of the traveling STEAM Carnival. Gradman, a self-proclaimed mad inventor, is serious when he says drawing younger generations into art is as important as appreciating science, technology and math.

It may still seem funny but is becoming more common to see people using their tablets to shoot video or capture pictures. What may be surprising is that tablet apps like CyberLink YouCam Mobile are allowing people to capture precious moments then quickly edit and share with family and friends or make personal postcards. Some apps are even using a tablet’s front and rear camera at the same time, which could come in handy for creating moving or still-frame selfies. And the ability to produce stunning movies using apps like CyberLink PowerDirector Mobile is allowing novice and experts alike to edit quality videos on tablets then save projects that can be finished later on a laptop or desktop PC. This level of ease and quality is inspiring more “on-the-spot” video and photo creation and sharing.

While not everyone can make music like a professional DJ, just about anyone with a tablet can become a great DJ using apps like edjing. Another DJ app, Music Maker Jam, taps into sensors inside the tablet so you can modify sounds by tilting or turning the tablet then you can transfer your creations and work on them using a laptop or desktop computer.


In this evolving space for digital creativity, new tools are turning everyday spaces into blank canvases for us to present our work. One advantage of projection technology is that it allows for us to endlessly reiterate the meaning of a space without impacting any physical features. TagTool is a graffiti application for tablets that lets you use your finger to pain and create animations then project your work on a wall. It allows for collaboration with others via Wi-Fi in order to create dynamic wall narratives in real time.

People are also using tablets plus virtual and augmented reality to create new storytelling experiences. Leviathan, a steampunk series by author Scott Westerfeld, who re-imagines World War I with mechanized war machines and genetically-enhanced creature-based combat, was recently recreated by Intel in front of an audience attending the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. It featured an enormous whale that jumped off the screen and into the air above the audience. Tablets held up by some on the audience revealed a much richer visual and interactive experience that brought the book to life.

“Leviathan points towards a future in which video games and cinema are fused in order to create new experiences, said Alex McDowell, the director of the World Building Media Lab, who worked on the project. “We’re really moving rapidly into a new narrative space.”

This new narrative space is being explored by researchers but also anyone using the app, IDNA, which lets tablet owners creatively layer engaging digital storylines over real-world environments. It brings 360-degree immersion into any story or presentation created with a tablet. By moving the tablet, the view within the animation and the story unfolds wherever the viewer’s interest drifts, taking different routes depending on the tablet user’s focus on certain angles or characters. The audio is also sensitive to a person’s orientation to give a deep feeling of immersion.

Like so many other technologies, tablets are tools that are helping people enrich their lives. As they continue to improve and become more prevalent in people’s lives, tablets will lower the barrier for many newbie artists. Tablets are not only unlocking the potential for human creativity, they are empowering everyone to bring their vision into the world.