I would like to share with you some of the iPad painting tools, apps and techniques that I use for creating art on the iPad. Whilst I refer to the iPad, most of the tools and apps discussed here work on almost all models and platforms of mobile devices.
The first step is to close “parked” apps on your iPad (double click on the home button to see “parked” apps, hold an app icon down until they all shake, and then close them one by one by clicking on the red close “-” button in top left of each app icon) so that the full computing power and memory of your device can be utilized in painting. As I paint I export versions of my artwork in progress and the final version, to the iPad “Camera Roll” (the default Photo Album). I then regularly download all those images onto my MacBook Pro (using iPhoto or the Phone to Mac program) for archive and back-up. There are many other ways to back-up and share, including use of Dropbox, email, social media, but the steps outlined here constitute my main workflow.
I use a combination of the Sensu brush and the Adonit Jot Touch, one of a new generation of bluetooth pressure-sensitive styluses. The Jot Touch comes with a compact, magnetic USB battery charger. It needs to be reconnected to the iPad bluetooth every time you restart your iPad. Some apps require you to go into their tool options to enable the Jot Touch pressure-sensitivity in that app. Please note there are other pressure-sensitive iPad styluses such as the Pogo Connect and Hex3 Jaja. So far the Jot Touch is my favorite in terms of feel and response.
Painting in the Tate Britain cafe. The Sensu brush is on the iPad cover and I am holding the Adonit Jot Touch in my hand.
Painting with the Sensu brush feels natural and flowing. A downside of the Sensu is that in some apps when you press down and the brush hairs splay out, that causes the canvas to wildly resize and rotate. The Adonit Jot Touch flows surprisingly nicely across the iPad surface despite the odd looking plastic cap at the end of the stylus. When you come across brushes that respond well to the pressure this is a fantastic tool, which gives you great control of the quality of your line and allows you to do fine line work. The Sensu, about $40, and the Jot Touch, about $90, are both well worth while investing in if you’re keen to paint! The apps themselves are all less than $10 each, many less than $5 – amazingly good value.
One of the challenges I initially found exploring many different painting apps on the iPad was simply recognizing which app I was in! It was surprisingly difficult since most do not have an identifying name or logo within the app UI (user interface) itself. Each app involves finding things in different places and using different shortcuts and conventions etc, so recognizing which app you’re in is essential. Each app allows you to create a unique look and feel of artwork that is specific to the range of brushes and media of that particular app, and you can easily move work from one app to another, building up on different looks. The images within each screen shot below give a sense of the type of marks possible in each app. Mobile painting allows the creative flexibility and freedom to play, transform, experiment and continually repurpose and recycle imagery in different directions.
My iPad screen showing the main icons I like to have easily accessible when I am sketching or painting on my iPad. The top two rows are painting and sketching apps. The third and fourth rows are a mixture of image manipulation, organization, back-up and portfolio display apps plus some useful note-taking apps. Cinco is a companion app for use with Corel Painter 12. In terms of “must have” painting apps, I’d initially recommend Zen Brush, Auryn Ink, Sketch Club, ArtRage and Brushes.
iPad Painting Presentations & Classes
Earlier this year I gave iPad painting presentations at the Oxford Internet Institute (see William Dutton’s blog post) and at the magnificent flagship Regent Street Apple Store in central London. On Wednesday, May 15, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, I’ll be speaking at the Apple Store San Francisco, One Stockton Street at Market. On Saturday, June 1st, I’ll be teaching a Paint on the Go! one day hands-on iPad painting art class in my San Francisco studio.