I would like to share with you some of the tools and apps I use for creating art on mobile devices (see my Mobile Art gallery page on my art site JeremySutton.com). Whilst on this page I refer primarily to the iPad, the styluses will work with most mobile devices with capacitive screens. A number of the apps I reference on this page are currently only in the iOS platform, such as Sketch Club. I also use other mobile devices besides the iPad for making art, including the Microsoft Surface Pro and the Wacom Cintiq Companion. One of my inspirations for painting on the iPad was David Hockney, whose magnificent large format prints and video replays of his iPad drawings I first saw at the Royal Academy in London and then, subsequently, at the de Young Museum (where I performed live iPad drawing at the opening of the exhibition). The David Hockney: Bigger Exhibition at the de Young served as a great learning opportunity. I ran a couple of two day Inspired by Hockney iPad painting workshops based on visits to the exhibition. I am excited to bring the inspiration, lessons and energy of Hockney to my Paint on the Go! workshops.
For a general discussion on mobile digital art please see my Thoughts on Mobile Digital Art . Also worth a great resource worth visiting is the new site MobileArt.how, just launched by my friends who founded the mobile Digital Art & Creativity Summit.
Which Stylus to Choose?
Mobile painting is in an exciting period of growth with new styluses, devices and apps being developed, improved and introduced continually. I encourage you to try things and experiment. Whatever I share and recommend here on this page is simply a snapshot of my current faves at the time of writing and is likely to change! When it comes to styluses, there is a huge amount of choice. I find that different styluses are good in different circumstances. I should also add that using your finger, instead of a stylus, is also fine! Many artists do and with amazing results (see Kyle Lambert’s artwork as a wonderful example of what can be achieved with painting with your finger).
My current favorites are the Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 – Walnut (pictured below) and the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2 (CS600PK). I’ve heard the Wacom Bamboo Stylus fineline for iPad 3/4, iPad Air and iPad mini – Gray (CS600CK) is also very good and am looking forward to trying that out.
The Walnut Pencil by FiftyThree is very light and comfortable to hold, looks and feels like a carpenter’s pencil and gives a silent soft painting experience. In addition to be available for purchase online at Amazon through this link, it is now also available at all Apple Stores. Be aware that the rubber tips wear out fast so I recommend ordering some extra Pencil by FiftyThree replacement tips and erasers (53T003) when you purchase the Pencil stylus.
Others to consider include the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad – White (pictured below) that has a precision tip and pressure-sensitivity (with Jot enabled apps);
and the Sensu Stylus Brush (Black) (pictured at the top of this page) that is great for washes, glazes and watercolor type brush work. A downside of brush styluses is that in some apps when you press down and the brush hairs splay out, that causes the canvas to wildly resize and rotate.
Other pressure-sensitive iPad styluses you may wish to consider are the Ten One Design – T1-PGCT-302 – Pogo Connect 2 Bluetooth 4.0 for all iPads and HEX3 Jaja.
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.
Which Painting Apps to Install?
Some of my current favorite painting apps on the iPad are Finngr for line work, Art Set Pro for realistic impasto oils; Pen & Ink and Sketch Club for sketching; and Auryn Ink and Art Rage for water color looks; and Zen Brush and Procreate for loaded ink brush looks. These are just a few of the many great drawing and painting apps out there, all inexpensive, mostly under $5. I would recommend experimenting with all the apps you can find and then honing in on the ones that resonate for you. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, each have their own fan base and loyal aficionados. As you experiment with them you’ll find some resonate for you and others don’t. You’ll also come across brush marks and looks you really love that you’ll want to come back to later. I list below of some of the creative apps I have on my iPad that you may wish to explore. I’ve included links to their iTune pages and current prices as of the time of posting this (subject to change and including the main in-app purchases and pro edition upgrades where available). If the list is too long then I suggest just starting off with the eight I mentioned above. They would be the eight painting apps I would take with me to a desert island (this is a reference to a BBC Radio 4 program called Desert Island Discs where celebrities share which eight records they would take with them to a desert island).
My Desert Island Eight
Art Rage ~ $4.99
Art Set – Pro Edition ~ $6.99
Auryn Ink ~ $3.99
Finngr Pro ~ Free
Pen & Ink ~ $7.99
Procreate ~ $5.99
Sketch Club ~ $2.99
Zen Brush ~ $2.99
Other Painting & Drawing Apps
ArtStudio ~ $4.99
ASKetch ~ $3.99
Bamboo Paper ~ Free
Brushes Redux ~ Free
Inspire Pro ~ $9.99
MyBrushes Pro ~ $2.99
Paper ~ $8.94
SketchBook Pro ~ $3.99
Sketji ~ $1.99
Tayasui Sketches ~ $11.96
TwoToJazz ~ $3.99
TypeDrawing ~ $2.99
Image Processing Apps
Adobe Photoshop (PS) Express ~ $8.97 +
BeFunky ~ Free
Distressed FX ~ $0.99
iColorama ~ $2.99
Waterlogue ~ $2.99
If you’re attending one of my studio iPad classes and wish to be able to print out your work on my Canon PIXMA printer, then please also install this app on your iPad:
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. Here are screen captures showing the look and feel of some of the apps listed above.
The Kit: Case, Bag, Easels & Stand
iPad case with adjustable stand and a place to hold your stylus – great for general purpose painting anywhere and always having your Pencil by 53 with your iPad. Also includes very useful hand-strap for supporting iPad with one of your hands when standing
Lynktec iPad Case (lets-0002)
Handy shoulder bag that protects your iPad and is easy to carry with you – great for carrying your iPad painting kit with you everywhere
STM Scout 2 iPad Shoulder Bag, Black (dp-1800-03)
Wood mini-easel for sketching at a table – great for still life painting and portraiture
Winsor & Newton Brent H-Frame Table Easel, Mini
Light weight metal tripod easel for vertically mounting your iPad – great for plein air painting and presentations
Napoli Easel with Carrying Case – Black
Light weight portable adjustable stand for placing your iPad on – great for plein air painting and presentations
insTand CR3 Portable Laptop Stand for Standing or Sitting
iKlear iPad screen complete cleaning kit
iKlear Complete Kit – Eco-friendly Package