Digital Drawing & Painting with an iPad

December 2011 – by James – In the past few months I have been using an iPad for creative drawing and image manipulation. Originally I thought the iPad was a terrible tool for drawing and editing photos, but it turns out it was just the tools I was using, and how I was using them.

Get a Stylus

Having a stylus makes a world of difference and gives the precision that chubby fingers cannot. If you want to draw on an iPad purchase a stylus. I use a Targus. It was cheap (under $15) and does the trick.

Apps I Like

So what apps am I using, and how do I make these images? First of all, don’t use SketchBook. It really is crap compared to procreate. I first heard about procreate on the iterate podcast -  check it out if you are into UI UX & app development.

What’s so great about this procreate app? It’s fluid. So fluid that you don’t notice the app – you focus on what you are drawing and that’s it. Add the ability to create your own brushes, dynamic smudge effects, layers with blend settings and you have one great app. I find it sits in a happy place between Photoshop and a piece of paper.

But the fun doesn’t stop at procreate. My experiments usually take me through several apps, processing, exporting and building elements then blending them together and processing the composed piece again. It reminds me of the process of chaining guitar effects pedals together – each pedal (app) does something specific or one part of the task, and by combining several pedals (apps) you get this thick, complex result.

Some of the apps I’m into right now are:

camera+ – This iPhone app works on the iPad and the images don’t get downsized. You just have to deal with an upscaled iPhone UI.

PS express – I use the tint and saturation effects to build an element that is a specific colour and import it to procreate

infiniFX – has some unique effects

pixlromatic – some cool textures and overlays

snapseed - this was released recently and is packed with features. If you get this you don’t really need camera+

the internet – Ok, it isn’t and app but it is a great resource for background textures, symbols, etc.

Photography + Drawing = icon smile Digital Drawing & Painting with an iPad

The iPad is great for looking at photos but I didn’t fully understand this until I got the camera connection kit. Now I can review 100 images from my DSLR photo shoot and trim it down to 20 - without having to sit at my desk! I stare at design details all day, so getting away from my desk is heaven. After reviewing the files, I take one of these hi-res images shot with a commercial quality lens and modify it with camera+ or another image app. Then I dump it into procreate and start drawing on the photo.

Give it a Go!

Is this going to replace drawing on paper or painting on canvases? Hell, no! One of the problems I’ve had with the iPad is that it burns my eyes after several hours of drawing. I’ve never had that problem with drawing on paper. That’s ok, they are two different things, so one cannot replace the other. See for yourself how much fun drawing and painting can be on the iPad. Give it a go! It’s full of possibilities!

Video Art

We worked with video artist Jason Suedath and created digital painting stills that were animated for Jane Siberry‘s “Meshach Dreams Back” album.