Ever since I first got my hands on the Surface Pro 3 back in January i`ve had a major issue. You see, for me the Surface promised so much, and in many ways it delivered, but in one key area it just let me down.
That area was with ZBrush and for many users it worked without an issue, which frustrated me more because for me it would lose the all important pressure sensitivity needed to properly sculpt. If I wanted to simply practice sculpting using a dynamesh sphere or one of the custom models, that was fine and the pressure worked flawlessly. It was when I wanted to import my own base mesh, or load in a sculpt I had started on my desktop everything would fall to pieces and the pressure would be reduced to simply on or off.
For an artist like me this is disastrous and it meant ZBrush on the Surface was just something I could doodle in but never be productive with. I even had stages where it would lose pressure even on a dynamesh speed sculpt, so ultimately this lead to me never actually using it just because it was so unpredictable.
I was in contact with Microsoft and they did try to help and in the middle of the year a ray of hope shone through with a firmware update. This update worked, but for reasons unknown it didn`t last and the final nail in the coffin came with the update to Windows 10.
Now, I do get contacted frequently about the Surface Pro 3 and in particular people ask whether they should buy the Surface or the Cintiq Companion 2. Even though I know people who have no issues on the device, and this could be a difference between the i5 and i7 models, I couldn`t recommend it for ZBrush work knowing the struggles I have had.
So to help answer peoples questions I decided to create a new video demonstrating the issues I am having, firstly so people are aware but secondly in the hope someone across the web may have a solution. The resulting video, which you can see below, turned out to be the exact opposite.
Last week Microsoft released another firmware update and for a few days I had been trying, and failing to install it. I though it only fair to record the video with the latest updates installed so I had to go hunting for a way to download them manually.
After some time searching I followed the link at the bottom of this post and in the list of updates, right at the bottom, I saw a new Wintab update. Could this be the one that solved my problems? I was a little sceptical seeing as the last updates hadn`t worked but I downloaded them, held my breath and installed them.
Now they didn`t work streight away. I had to do some juggling as I had the Wacom drivers as well as some other tools installed too, so I uninstalled those and then reinstalled the Wintab update again, this time choosing the Repair option.
After a restart I opened ZBrush, waited for the Lightbox to open and chose my usual dynamesh sphere. The pressure worked, but in fairness this isn`t where the majority of my problems were. The next stage was to test it on another scene.
First I loaded a sculpt I had created on my desktop, it worked and I got a little flutter of delight inside my stomach. The final test was the OBJ test, could I now import my base meshes? I put pen to screen and drew a line, it came through as a slight bump on the surface of the model. I applied more pressure, the bump grew and I almost let out a squeal of joy.
Now I had been here before, but for some reason this felt more stable, so I decided to try it over the space of a few days to be sure. Problems arose again when I tried to reinstall the Wacom drivers and the pressure vanished, but again I used the Wintab update with the Repair option and this fixed things again.
To cut a long story short the updates seemed to have worked and I am finally in love with the Surface Pro 3 again. So as mentioned earlier, the video I then recorded wasn`t a complaint against my Surface and ZBrush still not playing nicely together, instead it became an updated review of sorts for all those wondering what working in ZBrush on the Surface is like.
For me it means I can finally recommend it to ZBrush users, and i`ll be keeping a copy of those Wintab drivers, just in case.