Adobe Ink & Slide – Real tools for drawing. And now shipping!
Formerly code named Projects Mighty and Napoleon... Ink & Slide are a cloud pen and digital ruler for the iPad. Below, we take you on the journey from inspired concept to shipping product.

A design-lead innovation project from Adobe XD, Mighty and Napoleon were conceived
and developed entirely by Michael Gough's Adobe XD, projects led by Geoff Dowd, Principal Designer and produced with the domain expertise of:
Ammunition Group - Industrial Design
MindTribe - Product Engineering
Adonit - Manufacturing
For a 30 year old software company to make its first hardware, a serious shout-out goes to our intrepid executive team who saw that the iPad could become a serious tool for drawing. We just needed a better pen.
"... humanity’s single greatest, simplest creative apparatus, married to the entire world of digital tools and information." – Co.Design
Adobe Ink & Slide Packaging. The rainbow stripe is a theme derived from our RGB LED's used througout the product.
Mighty and Napoleon. Tools for a touch era. Photo: G. Campbell.
We designed the devices to feel part of your mobile creative tool kit. High quality fit and finish, bead blasted alluminium, contrasting color accents. The pen has a three-sided twist that feels insanely good in your hand. Patent pending.
How could a software company make exploratory hardware that resonated with the creative class, first go?
By focusing on solving a single user need. It all started with the realization that the finger just isn't good enough, and frankly, styli are nerdy. So what if Adobe designed a pen? What would it do? What would it look like? Of course, it would be humble: "God Stylus".
A pen that would be associated with your Creative Cloud account, access your favorite assets, colors and tools. A pen that essentially held your style. And was stylish. A pen that could do anything...
A concept drawing by Dowd for an unexpected pen.
Early appearance models by Ammunition Group. Iconinc 3-sided twist (and 4). Patent pending.
Demonstrating simple creative workflows – like copy > paste across devices – were key to convincing peers that our mobile devices can truly be meaningful canvases today.
Dowd performing the first conceptual demo at the Adobe XD All-Hands. Copy a Kuler theme from your iPhone and directly paste it into your collage on your iPad. The pen as a magic wand.
Phil Clevenger's XD team designing schematic workflows for dozens of Mighty use cases.
Phil Lu and Sam Clevenger editing demo videos for the executive review.
All devices talk to the Creative Cloud. Simple.
Rob Sargent, Sr. Engineering Manager, Adobe, helping design Cloud Copy > Paste.
Rob was our first software partner. He blessed Amir Memon to develop the first implementation. Thank you both.
Bringing Adobe's agile development methods to consumer electronic design, MindTribe and Ammunition helped us apply those same tools to a new domain. We created a product "nucleus" which helped us prioritized user needs. Need number one: provide a better tool than the human finger on a touch screen. Make it pressure sensitive – better than anyone else.
Suddenly Adobe was immersed in the world of wires, LEDs, circuit boards and firmware updates.
Early mechanical engineering – sizing up a capacitive rubber tip.
It was critical to get a working prototype in the hands of users – and our executives – as quickly as possible. We began with wired prototypes. A rapid development method wherein we could iterate on internals before fitting them into the narrow pen shell. Along the way, we made many discoveries which in turn pivoted our design approach.
Pivot: People would lose their cap. So lose the cap. Duh.
3D printing back ends of the pen to evaluate BT atenna window variations.
Dowd with the Mind Tribe team and first Mighty boards.
As the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering progressed, so to did Industrial Design. Ammunition Group under Dowd's direction evolved the pen into a creative kit of parts with an eye for fine details. User need number two on our product nucleus was a very sexy pen.
Mobile Charger.
Desktop Charger.
Under combo lock at all times. Howard Nuk, Steve Sangik Lee and Nick Barrett, with Ammunition Group founder Robert Brunner, produced iconic and proprietary design for our exploratory hardware.
A major milestone reached: The first form factor prototype contained all of the production-intent electronics, including the ability to copy > paste across devices. The tether had been severed and it was magic.
KAWS 1 – the first form factor prototype. Rough CMF, but worked like a charm.
Multi-stage LEDs glow when charging and indicate pen status.
The first untethered prototype side by side a Mighty appearance model.
We believe that hardware inspires software. Enter Mighty's UI – The Pen Tip Menu. A version of Adobe Ideas was branched to develop this highly personalized UI. All of your favorite brushes, Kuler themes, tool settings and a Cloud Clipboard at the tip of your pen... wherever you go and whatever device you touch.
Kuler, designed by Gabriel Campbell. Integrating the new Kuler iPhone UI into the Pen Tip Menu is a perfect example of Cloud-connected services across devices. On your iPhone, on your destkop, and now at the tip of your pen.
Early Cloud Clipboard UI design by Dave Alonzo, Adobe XD. Illustration: Chevon Hicks.
Adobe's Clark Donahue and Brian Brantner – true friends of Mighty. They developed beautiful software to pair with the pen. It turns out that hardware can indeed inspire software.
With functional prototypes, solid builds of the Ideas touch app, beautiful appearance models, and intent to inspire with these exploratory hardware tools, final preparations began for their debut at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles on May 06, 2013.
Photo: G. Campbell.
Photo: G. Campbell.
Geoff Dowd and Lucy Melling on set in San Francisco. Final photoshoot with new Industrial Design models.
Michael Gough preparing for his live demo.
The ubiquitous combo case. She escorted Mighty and Napoleon to Los Angeles for MAX 2013 and many appointments beforehand.
Day 1 of many MAX rehearsals.
Geoff Dowd and Remon Tijssen goofing around backstage with very expensive pen prototypes. No harm, no foul.
Photo: Erik Natzke
Final preparations backstage to make sure Bluetooth interferance and Wi-Fi from a 5,000+ member audience would not disrupt our very real Cloud Copy > Paste between devices. I almost threw up. Pictured: MindTribe assasins.
David Wadhwani's big debut on the MAX stage.
Phil Clevenger and Geoff Dowd with the MindTribe crew. Not pictured are the Ammunition crew and our key Adobe players: David Macy - Principle Incubator, Jen Davi - Program Manager, Amir Memon and Dave Alonzo - UI Design and Development.
Under lock and key until further notice...
And what about Project Napoleon – the short ruler? Truthfully, we conceived of and designed Napoleon long after development for Mighty was underway, though it stole the show. As Gough said at MAX, once we got started designing creative hardware, it was hard to stop. Napoleon is best demonstrated in the video below at minute 2:35. It's even better in person. Contact us.
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