For many years, people have asked the question. "Is the iPad good enough for real work?" Some people have given such qualms *cough* Cory Doctorow *cough*, stating it's a "consumption only device". Some people have resorted to buying so-called tablet hybrids with so-so hardware to do their artwork on it. I'm not afraid to be biased here, but what I really want is a tablet made by Apple and only by Apple. I was tempted for years with Wacom's Cintiq (which I eventually bought the Cintiq 13HD) and was a click away from buying a Cintiq Companion; It was horrible experiences from others scared me away. I really would like to own a drawing tablet that doesn't have the reliability of an Xbox 360.
The Dark Days of Drawing on iPad.
For several years, I've been drawing a lot more as a grown up. I'm not the one to say I've been drawing since I was in diapers. I took a nearly 20 year break. My hidden talent laid dormant thanks to school work and a lack of self confidence. Once I was able to squeeze some free time to dedicate to learning to draw, I started out with some original characters of mine to warm up my creative juices a bit in 2010 and eventually started drawing some fanart every now and then. I soon moved on major book projects, self publishing 2 picture books and a full length novel I wrote and illustrated (and two more are on the way). My art needs have significantly changed over the years, going from a simple pencil and paper sketchbook, branching off to digital art with a Wacom Intuous in Photoshop on my Mac. Ever since the original iPad was released in April of 2010, I yearned to do digital art wherever and wherever I dare chose to. Because the iPad at the time didn't support things such as palm rejection or tilt sensitivity, that experience was pretty…rough to put it lightly. I bought a cheap stylus a few months after the iPad came out and the experience of drawing with what was really a skinny felt tip felt unnatural and was very difficult to get used to. Also the early apps designed for drawing made me yearn for Photoshop in the worst way possible.
In 2011, Australian-based developer Savage Interactive released a program called Procreate exclusively for the iPad. For the first time, I saw true potential in drawing digitally on the iPad. Compared to a "real" art program, I couldn't do much such as create a ton of layers unless I took a lot of shortcuts and the resolution size for the most part was limited to the resolution on the iPad itself. For the 6 bucks I paid for it, I could say it was worth every penny. As Procreate released version after version, it got better and better, even adding features that put Photoshop to shame (I'm in absolute LOVE with Color Drop!). The interface is natively designed for iPad and only iPad. When I was away from home, Procreate would be my go to app for digital drawing.
Some of my older iPad art before the Apple Pencil came into my life. Featuring Maddie.
Several companies, most noticeably from Adonit, Pogo, 53 and even Wacom have tried to capitalize with digital drawing on the iPad with varying results. Adonit, a company born from the world of Kickstarter released a revolutionary stylus that was completely accurate with a clear plastic tip. It worked great for awhile…but you needed to replace the discs and spring mechanism every now and then. Failure to do could scratch up your precious iPad, necessitating the use of a screen protector. Eventually, these companies would come up with a solution to the lack of pressure sensitivity with Bluetooth powered styli. I stayed loyal to Adonit, tolerating their shortcomings, but it's hard to stay loyal when you promise pressure sensitivity when it doesn't work at all as with their first bluetooth stylus back in 2012. The Jot Touch 4 released the following year was better, eventually working with Procreate for pressure sensitivity finally (sort of), but the Jot with PixelPoint while nice and comfy couldn't even draw a straight line. And don't get me started on the Wacom styli. Straight up garbage.
When I first heard rumors that Apple was working on a large screen iPad, I knew immediately drawing would be in the cards. They had patents set for what is now known as the Apple Pencil for many years, so could this finally be the one? Fast forward to Fall 2015 and Apple not only delivered, but threw the package through the window with no regard for human life. The iPad Pro is indeed a reality and its optional Pencil is probably one of the best digital drawing devices I have ever laid my hands on.
The iPad Pro - OMG SO HUGE.
When you first look at the device, especially if you're used to the regular iPad or mini, your eyes will pop open for how ridiculously huge it is. It's the kind of impression I get when I see a prepared meal with incredibly large portions. To give you an ideal of how big the device is, it's roughly the size of a 13-inch MacBook Pro. At approximately 1 pound, it even weighs less than my 11-inch Mac Book Air! Holding the device doesn't feel that much like a burden as I thought. It's comfortable enough to hold in your hand when you're on the couch. My hands are almost big enough to grab a regular-sized iPad with 1 hand and it felt much less heavier. If you were a 7-footer in the NBA, this would probably feel more comfortable. Compared to a Cintiq Companion, it's definitely a featherweight and cool to the touch when you get down and dirty with drawing stuff. The iPad Pro comes with 4 speakers, not two. It certainly sounds great, but I mostly listen to music on my phone so this sort of thing is not a big deal for me.
The resolution is 2732 by 2048 pixels; pretty big and detailed for some serious artwork, but certainly not 4k. Once again, this is not a big issue for me. Besides, Procreate supports a canvas of up to 8k and supported 4k resolution before the iPad Pro was even out. No biggie. As long I'm able to do my art in at least A4, I'm perfectly fine. The iPad Pro comes in 3 major configurations; starting with 32 GB of capacity at $799 USD, 128 GB for $949 USD and 128 GB and a cellular data option at $1079 USD. It comes in 3 colors; Space Grey (Black), Silver and Gold. I chose the 128 GB Gold option. I don't see myself burning LTE data with this device since the majority of what I'll be doing is just drawing. Wifi is good enough for me.
Apple Pencil - If you see a pencil, they owned it.
Let's get this over with. Steve Jobs wasn't a big fan of styli. We know this. For those pathetic humans who congregate on the Mac Rumors message boards, Steve didn't mean that styluses are evil, what he really meant if a competitor came out with a phone with a stylus (back in 2007), they aren't getting the point. This is why Blackberry is irrelevant today. The Apple Pencil certainly isn't a stylus; its a drawing instrument. Unlike certain competitors, Apple doesn't expect you to use the pencil for basic functions. Obviously for those that like to take notes, use apps that appreciate a pencil-like function and for me to make art, the Apple Pencil is a no brainer. Its the best damn writing device for iPad…EVER.
When I first tried out the Pencil in a Apple Store, for a few seconds, it felt weird. It wasn't that grippy but eventually got quickly accustomed to it. The pencil is very featherlight, making drawing very similar to an actual pencil that I use with paper. Perhaps its the closest to drawing with a real pencil and paper…I emphasize closest. Drawing on the screen still feels a bit slick at times. I blame the smudges all over the screen. The Palm rejection actually works! Very much like what what you would experience with a Cintiq. The tip works pretty well, though tilting it will give you the ability to shade. Keep in mind, your drawing app of choice needs to be updated for Apple Pencil. It won't work very well even though the operation system is made for it. Luckily, a lot of major drawing apps such as Procreate, Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Draw, Concepts, Paper, Tayasui Sketches, Autodesk SketchBook, AstroPad and ArtRage have added or currently in the process of adding support for Apple Pencil. The only thing I don't like about it is the color – plain jane white. Its certainly customary with Apple accessories to be like that with the exception of cases and covers, but c'mon Apple, brighten it up a little!
A lot of folks are pretty mad at Apple for including a male lightning port where a eraser should be. I wouldn't say I missed it since I'm so used to erasing in Procreate. Sticking your pencil in the iPad looks awkward but trust me, I dealt with USB dongles from Adonit style that I lost, preventing me from using my jot touch entirely. This way of charging is much, much more convenient. If you want to avoid looking embarrassed with your Pencil dangling out, it comes with an adapter that allows you to use your regular lightning cable (and save your precious sanity). If you just need a small boost from a dead pencil, it gives you a half hour charge in just 15 seconds. If you think its a lazy design, carrying a USB dongle to just charge a stylus is even more lazier. People who complain about this little thing don't know what they're talking about.
If you draw, is using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil useful for professional work? I'll admit, I don't consider myself a "professional", even though I create artwork for books that I sell myself as a "hobby". If you're looking to claw out of the Adobe Ghetto, working with the apps that are available you may at least use it for sketching or preliminary work. I plan on using my iPad Pro for illustration in my novels in the near future, so I consider it useful for me. If you're hopelessly addicted to Photoshop, Manga Studio or Painter, I just can't see some people dropping their Cintiqs for an iPad Pro. Using both Procreate and Photoshop on my Mac, I see faults in both apps. Photoshop is definitely more versatile, but Procreate is more agile and nimble in some tasks. I don't also have to drag a keyboard with me if I had a Cintiq Companion. Not to mention the battery life is pretty well. Imagine getting 10 hours out of a Companion. Not gonna happen. I think the software will be the defining reason people will decide to pick up a iPad Pro for art. Apple has finally given us artists a truly mobile digital canvas. Once developers fully embrace this new platform, maybe something with the likes of a real Photoshop (and not a lame starter app like Photoshop Sketch) can finally be realized. Until then, most serious developers may have trouble creating these types of apps since they expect serious money in return. If iOS drawing is to be truly mainstream and well supported, these developers need to believe in what Apple is providing them.
There's a whole lot wrong with the world these days. At the time of this writing, there's an on-going conflict with Israel and Palestine. Russia is certainly not getting along with Ukraine and the Ebola virus is raging on in some African nations with no stop in sight. Not to mention gas prices are high as usual and the American economy is still trying to get back on it's feet (Though it seems to be headed that way.) August is rolling in and that signals the end of Summer and many of you are starting college and high school soon. Also, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is on a hiatus, with no date for season 5 in sight.
There is a lot of bloodshed, conflict, struggle and growing up to do. Here comes BronyCon, a convention targeted to the peripheral demographic of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic". That demographic mainly consisting of young men.
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