“Art Bully” My Review of iPad Pro & Apple Pencil

There’s always a bully. Someone bigger & stronger, who punches you in the face and takes your lunch money.

In art, the bully is the “standard” or the “tradition” or “the way we’ve always done it”, and the evolution of art has always been the young whipper snapper who has the gumption to stand toe-to-toe with the bully and take a swing.

In 300-400BC Plato said, “Look up and paint what you perceive. Mary is to be painted in glory with golden paint!” Aristotle later said, “No. Look down and paint exactly what you see. Not simply the perception of who Mary was, but the truth… a teenage girl giving birth in a barn.” How dare you! Aristotle took a swing at the bully, and connected… the outcome was the Renaissance where we got Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

In 1874, Louise Leroy (a bully of the worst kind – an art critic), saw a painting titled Sunrise at a major art exhibition and accused the group of simply painting, “impressions!” Insolence! Claude Monet had took a swing at the bully… and the outcome was the impressionist period (thanks for the name, Louise J) where we got paintings like Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

I want to rave about a new young whipper snapper in the digital world of graphic art today.

Whether intentional or not, the new bully in the digital art world is money. This is what I mean…

To be competitive and create digital art that keeps up, it’s not as simple as buying a couple paints and painting your ideas on canvas… it MUST be created in up-to-date programs and apps to be used in the professional, fast-paced, competitive world we live in. And the ONLY way to do that is to spend $3,000 on a computer with minimum of 8GB of RAM, get Adobe creative cloud for $50/mo, and buy a $2,500 Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 Creative Pen Display – Graphics Tablet to get the feel of hand drawing on paper but capturing the strokes digitally… which you don’t necessarily “have to have” but the other option is capturing this fluid feel with a mouse… good luck. So, starting at $6,100 (in the first year), you can play ball… or at least show up to batting practice. You still gotta prove you know how to play.

Until now.

I say all you need is an Apple iPad Pro (starting at $649) and Apple Pencil ($100) to create incredibly beautiful and powerful artwork that is digitally professional and current. I spent countless hours researching the difference between the Wacom Cintiq- (whatever it is called… good luck finding three people who all call those stupid names the same thing) and the iPad Pro and I was biting my fingernails all the way to the Apple Store. You know what I found out?

The iPad Pro is unbelievable!

Drawing (feel):

I’ve been drawing before I could walk and I have never found a tablet that could keep up with how fast I draw. I’m not some sort of fast-drawing-prodigy, I’m saying it just couldn’t keep up with a fast scribble! For years I have covertly sat down to draw on a friend’s tablet or a tablet on display at a store testing the always brand-new tech… only to have my suspicions confirmed; there was always a lag from the stylus to the screen to the processor to the stroke. And for an artist, that is not just frustrating, it’s not workable. The iPad is flawless! Plus, the iPad’s screen sensitivity to the pencil makes the ability to draw lightly or boldly a dream, and VERY realistic.

One of the greatest features of the Pencil, which is the thing that actually sold me, is how it can be turned sideways and can be used like a REAL pencil! I have yet to find a SINGLE stylus that can be used like this which puts Apple’s Pencil so far out in front, it is simply unfair. I don’t care how many buttons you put on your stylus, Wacom, the problem I have with drawing has never been, “man, I just don’t have enough buttons on this stylus,” it’s always been, “this stylus sucks because it doesn’t feel like a real pencil.”

Finally, since the glass screen of the iPad isn’t the “paper feel” that’s ideal for drawing, I bought a matte screen protector that had a little texture that gave me a much more realistic drawing surface that I has solved that issue.


Compatibility with Art Software

No matter how awesome a tablet and stylus combination, if it isn’t combatable with programs that are used by industry professionals then you’ve got yourself a hobby pad.For example, if it couldn’t create vector art then it wouldn’t be compatible with Adobe Illustrator or if you couldn’t save your artwork as a .PSD file then you couldn’t quickly open it up in Adobe Photoshop to edit or remove the background to make a .PNG. Or if it couldn’t create in layers to easily export into Animation programs like After Effects then you couldn’t expect to use it professionally.

The iPad can do all of these things!

If you have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you automatically get an app for your iPad called “Adobe Draw” which is allows you to create freehand vector art that can be shared directly to Illustrator on your laptop or computer with one tap! (When I say one tap, I mean, you tap “share” and it opens up Illustrator on your computer and it’s immediately on your screen ready to work on… yeah).  There are also different apps that allow you to create in layers, save files as .PSD, .PNG, .PDF, and allow endless layer combinations, transparent backgrounds, and file transferring with no limitations. And it goes both ways, not simply editing things created in the iPad on your computer but vice versa also. You can drop pictures directly into most apps and manipulate instantly opening options that haven’t ever been available!


Turning iPad into Drawing Tablet Connected to Computer

Lastly, if you’re not already sold, there is a company called “Kickstarter” that creates an app called Astropad that turns your iPad into a drawing tablet. So, through a wireless connection or plugged directly in, you can connect your tablet into a mirrored screen of your computer so whatever program you’re creating in, no matter what it is, will show up on your iPad, creating the ability to freehand instead of clicking and clunking with your mouse.

AND in May of 2018 Kickstarter will be releasing another app called Luna Display which will turn your iPad into a 2nd monitor. Pretty cool!




My favorite app is Procreate, which  is $9.99 on the app store, and I have yet to find a thing that it cannot do as far as creating art digitally. The tools are amazing, feel real, and customizable, the workflow is simple and easy to use, and the depth that you can go to creating exactly what’s in your mind is absolutely incredible. For animating frame-by-frame, an app called “Animator HD” is my favorite so far. It’s easy to edit the frame lineup, copy and paste or move objects quickly, and it can create animations with no background so you can export into other projects.


My Preference

In conclusion, the three P’s that I have found to be the most powerful, versatile, and real-feeling are the iPad, the Pencil, and an app called Procreate. With these three P’s and some talent you will be well on your way to punching the bully in the face and showcasing your skills for a fraction of the price!





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