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How the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con can help make art on a Surface Pro

Turn Your Joy Cons into Drawing Remotes
What are the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con motion controllers currently good for, besides playing Zelda and embarrassing yourself in 1-2-Switch? If you ask YouTuber Brad Colbow, the answer is “making art on a Microsoft Surface Pro.”

Colbow used Bluetooth to connect his Joy-Cons to the Surface tablet, plus a key-mapper to tell the buttons what to do, and was able to use the left Joy-Con controller to change brushes, undo actions and more in various illustrating programs.

Connecting the Joy-Cons (or even the Switch Pro Controller) to a PC or Mac is easy — follow our guide if you want exact steps, but the gist is you hit the sync button on the controller then simply find it in your computer’s Bluetooth menu. Once he had the left Joy-Con connected, Colbow used programs like JoyToKey (on Windows) and Joystick Mapper (on MacOS) to map the motion controller’s buttons to specific keys and functions. With a stylus in his right hand and the Joy-Con in his left he said he’s able to save time and feel more comfortable as he draws.

Granted this would work with any Bluetooth controller, as Colbow pointed out, including the Xbox One controller and Sony’s DualShock 4. But the main perk of the Joy-Con is that it fits easily in one hand, Colbow said.

“I like buttons, the kind you can touch and feel with your fingers,” he said. “What I like about [the Joy-Con] is how comfortable it is to just hold in your hand and use.”

Eventually the Switch homebrew community will likely come up with ways to use the Joy-Cons as motion controllers with a PC and enable even more robust drawing programs. Tilt Brush on HTC Vive is fantastic, after all, but it would be even better to get a version that uses the Joy-Cons to draw in 3D space instead of an expensive VR headset.

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Michael Rougeau
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mike Rougeau is a journalist and writer who lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and two dogs. He specializes in video…
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