Hands on: Adobe's Mighty and Napoleon drawing hardware for iPad, coming 2014

Adobe has announced that it is planning to ship Mighty and Napoleon, its cloud-based digital pen and ruler for iOS devices, in the first half of 2014.

Adobe says that it is moving projects Mighty and Napoleon, which were previewed at Adobe MAX in May and are Adobe's first foray into hardware, from "technology exploration" to a "planned product." The company has also revealed that it has teamed up with creative tech maker Adonit to manufacture and ship Mighty and Napoleon, so we can expect to be able to buy the two new devices early next year.

As well as announcing that Mighty and Napoleon will arrive in 2014, Adobe has also revealed that it is working on a new Project Parallel iPad app that's designed to work with the Napoleon ruler hardware, and Project Contour, which it says is "essentially Kuler for shapes". Project Contour will allow users to take a photo of an object or shape and access it with Napoleon on the iPad to enable enhanced architectural line sketching and drawing on the tablet.

Back in May, during the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, we got our hands on working prototypes of the devices to try them out and take some photos of them in action.

Project Mighty is a cloud-connected iPad stylus pen

Project Mighty is a cloud-connected stylus pen that will work with Adobe apps that have been designed specifically for the hardware.

Adobe has chosen a twisted, three sided design for Mighty, which we found was brilliantly comfortable to hold and gave us precise control over the movement of the pen while we were drawing. The prototype we tested had a soft, rubberised tip, but Adobe XD senior experience design lead Geoff Dowd told us that the company has been experimenting with different tip-types, such as a narrower precision tip for more intricate drawings.

When using the Mighty and its accompanying app to draw on an iPad, you can erase lines by using a finger, because the technology has been designed to recognise the difference between a finger and the pen. This way of drawing and erasing became second nature to us within minutes of using Mighty. 

Other gestures that you can use to speed up the drawing process include undo with a tap of one finger and redo with a two-finger tap. 

The button on the side of the pen brings up a little tools menu on the iPad, to let you quickly change between a pencil and a paintbrush, for example, or choose from a variety of Kuler colour themes that are stored within the cloud, and are accessible wherever the pen goes. 

Another of Mighty's cloud-connected features is the clipboard, also accessible via the tools menu. The clipboard lets you place previously drawn elements that you've created onto your current canvas. What's cool is that the pen is connected to your personal data, so you can use it to paste elements stored in the clipboard onto any device.

We particularly liked Mighty's copy feature, which lets you draw an element and then use the button on the pen to copy that element and paste it wherever you choose, including on another device. You can see the copy tool in action in the photographs below.

Another nice touch is the Mighty's LED, which covers the top of the pen and indicates when you're connected. When docked, the LED gradually changes colour too.

Project Napoleon is Adobe's ruler for iPad, allowing users to draw accurate shapes and lines.

Project Napoleon (a little ruler) can be used with Mighty as a line and shape-drawing aide. You place it on top of the iPad just like you would with an ordinary ruler onto paper, and then choose which line or shape type you want to draw by touching one of the buttons on its surface.

This then projects a guide onto the iPad which you can use to accurately draw straight lines, angles and more. The Napoleon works with the Mighty, but can also be used by drawing with a finger.

Napoleon is a simple little device that does its job well, and could benefit many digital artists that use their iPad to draw. 

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