Scribble Pen video more deceiving than originally thought



Minutes after the Scribble Pen campaign relaunched on CrowdTilt, the associated video went private and was then removed for over an hour before a replacement appeared without comment from the team.  We originally didn’t think much of it after the numerous missed deadlines and mysterious omissions from the project, but new information provided by a hawk-eyed backer reveals that the video has more to it than just crappy camera cuts.

In an imgur post, Facebook user Miguel describes how he found a “glitch” in their original Youtube video revealing  that even the portions where the pen is just drawing have been faked using post production.



For a single frame after a cut, most of the “scribbling” on the image is conspicuously missing before magically appearing a frame later.  This mistake is easy to overlook, and the team fixed it in the second video they uploaded.

The team has no functioning prototype, they’ve moved to a platform that has less policing and no comments section, and they’ve still raised over $120,000 of their $100,000 goal.  Unlike Kickstarter, CrowdTilt charges credit cards immediately after a project reaches its goal, so this…whatever it is has already started to pay off.


Under closer investigation, it looks like even their new video isn’t without its flaws:



In another glitch, a hand that was super-imposed over simulated scribbling finds its way onto the next frame after a cut at about 0:23.  You heard it here first folks.  Scribble will make you grow a third hand.


{ 35 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. There is more errors in the new video.
    Look at the two screenshots and the time.
    First we see the S letter being partially filled but when they start scanning the lemon the fill is not there anymore!
    Also look at how the S letter looks like – its size is not equal when viewed from different cameras.
    I have also noticed the thing posted above because there is no shadow from the hand above the letter – it looks like glowing.

  2. Here’s another couple of captures from the current video. Note the scribble fill in the S is completely different between the two frames (both in shape and color), while the “3D” fill is identical. Also notice the comically small start to the “C” in the second frame compared to the first…

  3. At 13 seconds, the top of the pen is shown as a single, opaque white piece of plastic indicating that there is not in fact an image sensor at the top to allow for color capture, let alone the LED that Scribble claims would be there to allow for the illumination of the surface to allow for said color capture to take place.

    At 36 seconds, there will be a small amount of the purple drawing on the page that appears in advance of the pen reaching it.

    At 50 seconds, the video shown on the iPad of the UI is becomes paused presenting a “Tap to Resume” UI due to a Skype Conversation Popping up from the following person:
    Bahana Sakaran – “Ah thanks”
    Bahana Sekaran – “Is it only 2 slides?”

    A cut takes place at this moment presenting very different lighting conditions, the glass rotates, hands move considerably, etc despite trying to create the appearance that no cut took place.

    At 55 seconds, there are significant artifacts surrounding the outside of the hands, showing that they were in fact composited onto the imagery of the iPad. In some cases there is duplication of multiple version of the same hand visible in-frame. The hand remains into the start of the next scene.

  4. Is the basic premise at all possible? Printers use CMYK ink but nothing is ever mixed, its separate layers of colour put down in small dots, its a subtractive process.

    I’m yet to be convinced you can mix correct proportions of CMYK to make millions of colours. I’m pretty sure adding white won’t help at all, if anything you’d get a pastel type colour. If they could even show a way of mixing CMYK colours without a pen to make an accurate copy of a colour I’d be impressed!

    As well as doubts on the concept putting it into practise is going to be really difficult. You’ll need some way of measuring and filling a small mixing area. What will power and measure this, little pistons, what will mix it – yourself just shaking the pen?

    Then there’s the cleaning – you’ll need to flush the whole system to clean it properly – think how difficult it is to clean fountain pens or rotring pens. I use rotring pens all the time and there a nightmare to clean.

    The video looks like the samples have been drawn on a computer with a wacom pen and the paper printed out individually. The lines and colour have a uniformity that looks like its done in photoshop. If you do that with a pen, whenever your line goes over another line it darkens slightly as the ink is slightly translucent. There’s none of that there. It looks like the printed one bit of paper with the first letter S, then another with S and C and onwards.

    I’d like to be proved wrong though and only giving my opinion as an artist and designer who is used to mixing colours.

    • I can see something working with a piezo-electric based micro pump (similar to, but I agree that there would be mixed ink held in reserve. I would be more worried about the user moving too fast for the ink flow to keep pace.

      • There are certain materials that change color with temperature, some full color printers actually use color changing wax instead of ink. So, if they were using some similar kind of thermo wax it may be possible, but probably would not be live up to expectations.

  5. Wil Freeborn,

    The technique itself is absolutely possible, *if* using a pigment rather than an ink. That’s ultimately the reason why one would even want to go with a “white” substance as to have something to mix against, but also something that could go an existing material. In fact, the only reason why someone *would* go with white is if they were going with a pigment material and were applying hues to the white base rather than dyes to the paper.

    At it’s most simplistic, an ink is absorbed, a pigment sits above.

    There is however the obvious concern that the Scribble team has previous to their Tilt campaign stated that they’ve “found a way” to make inks behave as pigments, namely writing over existing pre-inked surfaces. When continually pressed over this detail and the chemistry behind why inks work the way they do, they decided to add the “option” of utilizing pigments within their pen for an additional fee ($55 versus $30 for the cartridges).

    This however creates it’s own realm of concerns as the two are not interchangeable, and the chemistry behind them, material densities, viscosities, and general characteristics of how they behave is quite different.

    Then we get to their “mixing chamber”, which they also describe as a “reservoir”, depicted as being 2cm away from the nib… This creates all kinds of additional concerns as you’d have 2cm worth of pressurized, pre-mixed and ready to use ink between the mixing chamber and the actual end of the pen. That would ultimately lead to about a paragraph of ink worth of pre-mixed ink ready to use before a color change could take place. And yet color changes are supposed to be instantaneous, and without waste.

    The technical concerns go on from there…

    That’s not to say that there aren’t a huge number of GREAT ways that one could adopt to build a product like the Scribble that *would* work, but as has been described, this one doesn’t pass the sniff test for a number of reasons well before this video came along.

    • Tyson – Thank you for taking the time to reply. That’s a good point about using pigments rather than ink. Surely if that’s the case it is operating on the principle as a paint mixer that you can get in a hardware store where they use pigments with a binder in the scribble scenario that is the “white”.

      This in theory could well work but I don’t believe it could work with just CMYK you’d need a lot more colours to use as you’d be mixing. If this does work, it would truly be amazing to see in action even if it was outside of a pen – mixing the accurate colour filling a cartridge and drawing with it.

      Yes, the mixing technical is tricky – so many issues.

      You’re right that it has great possibilities, I would be impressed if all this functionality would work outside a pen to see if its even feasible! i.e. using pen to sample the colour – have a separate mixing station that would mix a colour into an ink cartridge – fit cartridge into pen and use.

      • Actually, in terms of paints and pigments, this is a common practice and is exactly what is done daily when someone goes to their local hardware store and asks for a particular type of paint to be color matched.

        A white base is added and various additives are mixed in particular known concentrations to reach the desired color via a process of subtractive color. The colors in question are Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black, Red and Blue making for a total of 7 distinct hues mixed to attain any color.

        In some processes, machines will reduce the colors used to simply Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black and the base for a total of 5 distinct hues. These machines are typically regarded as requiring more regular calibration, and are less accurate, but are cheaper to operate. However, as there are light fade concerns over time and that we simply aren’t that great at differentiating between two particular shades of a single color, it just doesn’t matter *that* much to people who want their paint to be a dollar cheaper than the place down the street.

        There are already companies online that will color match any variety of ink you want and ship you either a bottle or cartridge for use within a fountain pen, and I’ve used one a couple years ago to get my own personal shade of orange ink when I was feeling particularly adventurous.

        The concepts described are not new, hence why the idea of miniaturizing it into something “pen-esque” is capable of passing the sniff test.

        The concerns ultimately arise with the positioning of the components within the housing, and the length of time that it takes to perform a color change. For example, there is no real reason why one would require a conventional “mixing” chamber in a pen where one could utilize a roller ball to effectively to the mixing itself. All one would ultimately need is a dispersion mechanism to provide a reliable flow of colored ink to a reservoir directly above the ball. If there were unusual concerns like end users applying their own custom inks to the pen that could have separate viscosities, or even that you would have multiple suppliers with different formulas for a single color ink that would make this dispersal pattern infeasible, adding something as simple as a small piezoelectric oscillator that could pulse momentarily upon ink being fed in would handle mixing quite effectively and would itself be very low power draw.

        Creating a product like this is certainly possible with the technology today. All of the pieces have now come together from extremely power efficient and tiny SoCs that would run everything, batteries that would keep it running for hours, extremely small pumps, actuators, servos and pressure relief valves, etc.

        As for the cost effective nature of it following economies of scale, that’s not exactly my area of expertise so I can’t speak to that.

        However, please don’t take what I’ve just said to mean that I am in any way endorsing Scribble. Under no circumstances do I believe that what they have described can work as they claim. For starters, they simply can not fit the items of the quantity that they claim into a housing of the dimensions that they’ve shown.

  6. Hey everyone — I’m Matt, a team member at Tilt, and I wanted to chime in and say that we’re looking into this now!

    Feel free to reach out to with any questions, and we’ll keep you posted.

  7. Good work Tilt, no doubt you do not want to be associated with a bogus product

  8. My pots on their Facebook have been deleted and I’m not allowed to add anything, it appears if you doubt them then they remove you quickly, wouldn’t touch this with any money at all!

  9. Thanks for the article choof and discussion everyone, I was about to purchase, but I notice a few suspicious things on their new video (which they’ve taken down now):
    Email me if the video doesn’t work and I can send it to you, but @:39, :59, and 1:03… they seem to pause the video and the environment (and hands) shift, then record when they manually switched the color. Making me think they’re far from a prototype, let alone near production, or it’s all a scam. Starting to feel like the Indiegogo scam:

  10. From looking at their website and watching the videos, this looks like a con. Even ignoring the obvious CG trickery, things just don’t make sense. Just look at some of the questions and answers in their FAQ…

    “Does it come with a fountain pen, felt, or rollerball tip?”
    “The standard Scribble Pen comes with a rollerball tip. We are currently working on brush tips, fountain pen tips and felt tips as we see that there is a large interest in this options”

    How would a felt tip even work on a color changing pen? Are you expected to replace the tip with a new one every single time you change color? Even the other tips seem unlikely to work without massive ink waste. Perhaps the magical $25 “tip cleaner” addon is the solution?

    Also, why is the “estimated delivery” date for the tip cleaner, cartridges and alternate tips a month prior to that of the device itself? Wouldn’t they logically ship them all together? What exactly would you do with those accessories without the device?

    Then there’s the video, in which none of the drawing is actually taking place outside of post-process effects, despite them claiming that they have a prototype that is “ready for use in home and business applications.” Meanwhile “Mark” and “Robert” featured in the video simply don’t look or sound genuine at all. Who are they? There doesn’t seem to be any information about whoever is supposedly developing this product at the site. And if they’ve been working on it for two years, why are there no work-in-progress photos of their development, or any information about what they have been doing at all? All we see are nonfunctional mockups in videos that are trying to pass off as consumer-ready devices.

    It seems likely to me that these guys don’t have any sort of prototype, or even an understanding of the technology required to make such a device. They’re extremely vague on any details, while agreeing to add anything that gets requested, even if it wouldn’t logically work. And yet they’ve raised over $200,000 already, for a product that has little chance of ever being released. Do people even put the slightest amount of research into these things before throwing hundreds of dollars at them?

    One other random thing I just noticed… The picture displaying the available colors shows the touchscreen nibs on the pens with the ink cartridges, and the ballpoint tips on the ones without. Also in the “photo” showing their app, the RGB to CMYK color conversion doesn’t even match up. They seem to have put 153 for the green value, in place of 135. I need to stop looking at these pictures though, since there’s probably something wrong in all of them. It’s like one of those “find the mistake” puzzles. : P

  11. So I have to ask how many informational videos you have made in one take? Because everything that you have mentioned is a take issue. Also, are you artists? I am, and when I sit down to try something like this, I usually end up drawing out about 6 or seven pieces before I’m satisfied with what is in front of me. But you are saying that whoever sat down and wrote “SCRIBBLE” must have done it perfectly in one take. Which is pretty much the YETI of the art world. come on kids, even for something as simple as 3D lettering, people make mistakes.

  12. The point is that nobody asked them to draw perfect “Scribble” letters and if this was a problem they could do anything else like showing a CONTINUOUS sequence where they scan a color, draw a part of a line, scan another one, draw next part of line or something similar.
    I don’t believe these people are so stupid that they don’t understand a video should show how the prototype works in the simplest and most convincing way and it doesn’t matter what they draw. The only reasonable answer is that it doesn’t work and that they try to keep an illusion it does.
    Especially when you see how many people call it a scam. If they could just show that it works they would do it an close our mouths but they don’t even try to defend themselves, just pretend they don’t see the comments or delete them (on Facebook).

  13. Hindsight is always 20/20, but come on… a pen that can draw any colour? Seriously? Kickstarter is about creative implementation with current technology, not the birth of a new technology! Have some sense please. If this were possible we would have heard about it before. But there is a silver lining here. With this idea out in the open, a lot of capable companies might start thinking if this is possible after all. We might have this in our hands before this decade is out!

  14. Its pretty clear this is a fraudulent product-just based on the video, one can clearly tell that they don’t have a working product, as it would be impossible to fit all of the components they claim into the form factor they show. Further, the product very much looks like a dummy in the video.
    As someone with experience in electrical and mechanical engineering, I’m fairly certain they were hoping to figure out how to engineer it after their crowdfunding (or worse, maybe not develop it at all). That’s not to say its not possible to engineer this-in fact, I think its quite doable, though not with all the capabilities that Scribble claims.

  15. Thank you for your report!

    Even more suspicious frames:

  16. I noticed something interesting: When you access the video on Youtube via a phone (or use Chrome’s developer tools to pretend you are using a phone), it says “55 comments ” at the top but shows only 7 comments. To me this means, that they deleted 48 comments!
    The video:

    On the longer video (, 9 of 10 comments were deleted.

    One more thing:
    I wrote a comment on the shorter video and can still see it (8 comments) when I am logged into Youtube, but as soon as I log off or use a different account, it disappears (7 comments).

  17. checkout the whois info on their website as well…
    it’s an anonymous registration – why would they want to thide contact details? no legit company would ever think about doing this,….

    • Eh. I wouldn’t attack them for that. This site is privately registered. It keeps the crazies from calling you. If any legal action is presented, the private registrar is required to hand over the info.

  18. Not only will it grow you a third hand, but look at the scribble color in the next-to-last image (the frame before the cut). The green ink seems to GLOW almost as if it isn’t effected by the ambient light conditions of the page!

  19. OK so I hadn’t followed Scribble closely, but when I stumbled onto it the idea was cool enough that I signed up for updates, somewhere (I forget exactly where). I didn’t look too closely at the Kickstarter and didn’t fund it, but I did notice that it hit its goal, great.

    The really strange thing was that very shortly before it got pulled from Kick, I get an email from Scribble saying they want beta testers. So I signed up, and even emailed them about bugs on the signup page. The signup form was very explicit, asking exactly what ink (dye, pigment) and which 3 nib sizes you were interested in, and of course full address details. And they sent a submission confirmation.

    Then (next day? or so) I got their own notification about pulling the Kickstarter over concerns if the prototype exists (which they didn’t confirm in that email). Now you have to hand it to them – if it was a scam, to go to the lengths of PRETENDING that they’re ready to run a beta test is quite something. Of course the (quite serious) bugs on the signup page were strange, but you could excuse a three guy outfit (or whatever) from being a little stretched with their success to get everything perfect. But even if they had a prototype (and nothing else), what exactly were they going to start a beta test?

    So if it was a scam, wow. I actually emailed them saying ‘if you didn’t even have a prototype, why bother asking for beta testers’, ‘course I never got a reply …

  20. .. actually the beta test thing was sent out just before they closed Tilt (not Kickstarter). Shows how much attention I was paying to it : ).

  21. I also signed up for the “beta” and just got an email that I had been “accepted”. It says “your Scribble and will be sent to you at no charge.” However, there is a 14.99 shipping charge on the form. Sounds like the “beta” is just another scam to make some more money.

  22. I went ahead and did the beta thing…I contacted them and asked when they were shipping. If I don’t hear back from them soon then I’ll do a reverse charge and be done with them.

    • So they replied to me…the beta tester pens will be shipped out this December. (in theory)

      • So now it’s “Soon™” since December 2014 came and went. I think I’m going to end up reversing the $14.95 shipping charge. These guys definitely were not prepared to be or do any sort of business.

  23. This was posted on Scribble’s facebook page and quickly deleted and the person blocked. All my comments were deleted as well and I was blocked.
    I don’t remember who posted this link, but this is a wonderful page showing who exactly this scammer is.

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