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Samsung Galaxy Note cartoonist: The stylus is mightier than the pen

Samsung may have hired caricature artist to pimp its new 5.3-inch Android smartphone, but gimmicks aside, the Galaxy Note holds real appeal for digital artists.

Caricaturist Kathy Bailey
Caricaturist Kathy Bailey, holding a Samsung Galaxy Note, sees digital art as a way to expand her business.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Caricature artist Kathy Bailey perches on a stool, a tiny wand pressed against the 5.3-inch face of the Samsung Galaxy Note she's grasping in her other hand. "You have a lot of hair," she tells me, furiously inscribing brown circles.

Bailey and fellow artist, a young woman named Sam, were hired by Samsung's mobile team to draw attention to the Samsung Galaxy Note's artistic capabilities, by quite literally illustrating CES conference-goers. Last night Bailey sketched me at a press-only showcase (pictured above); throughout the rest of the week, she and her team of artists are stationed at Samsung's booth.

It takes about 10 minutes to create a caricature, Bailey promised, so I plopped down on my own stool to see how digital art with the stylus was done using the S-Memo app that comes preloaded on the Galaxy Note, a smartphone whose size borders on that of a small tablet.

While the small, thin, and light plastic stylus felt rather cheap in my hand, Bailey, who works with art tools all day, couldn't get enough. "The pen is much more comfortable," she said, comparing it with a larger, heavier wand she might use on another tablet. Often she has to use her finger, which can grow tiring after several hours on the job.

Cartoonist at CES 2012 using the Samsung Galaxy Note
The Samsung Galaxy Note's 5.3-inch screen responds to more than 250 levels of pressure. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

She also appreciated the app's response to more than 250 levels of pressure, which allows her to control the heaviness of a stroke and makes things such as shading possible.

As for the size of the Galaxy Note itself, Bailey was again all compliments. Isn't it rather small for caricatures, I asked. Not at all, she said; you can zoom in. Surely, doling out praise is part of the job here, I told her, but Bailey demurred, instead telling me of the few other tablet options that she and her husband, fellow caricaturist Buddy Rose, have used in their Las Vegas-based company, Caricature Cinema, all of them more awkward to hold over long periods of time.

Drawn to digital
Bailey and Rose are often hired to spice up booths at trade shows and press events. They often use a Wacom pad, which requires you to draw on the pad while the image shows up on a connected monitor.

They'll also use a Cintiq tablet, which does something similar.

While Bailey spends the bulk of her time exaggerating people's facial features the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, she says she's consciously trying to implement her art in a digital format. She's in no better city to hone her craft.

"I've done every kind of gig you can in this town," Bailey told me proudly of her work. "We did the World of Concrete conference," she said, holding up the Note to show me my likeness. "My husband has done the gay rodeo!"