Sunday, January 22, 2012

iPad drawing 101

Wacom makes some great products that many artist love, including myself. That said, drawing with Intous is the closest they have to mimicking the feel of traditional media. This is a monitor you can draw on. It has to be plugged into the wall and a computer, which itself needs to be plugged into a wall if you plan on using it for more that 2 hours. It's also heavy, which means it's fine if you want to work at a desk. But I don't. I want to zip to a coffee shop if I'm finding it hard to concentrate at home. I want to work... wherever, anywhere I happen to be. And even if I stay at a desk I'm limited to the feel of a drafting table, where everything feels bolted down. I want a more sketchbook-like drawing experience where, not bond by cords and weight, I can easily rotate my medium, move it close to my face to see fine detail (zoom). I want to be able to smudge colors with my fingers, I want a tactile experience. Even though I can't be working directly in Photoshop, or what-have-you, the iPad is a more "real" drawing experience.

Of course finger painting only goes so far. Drawing with a stylus offers more precision. The downside is that you can't rest your hand on the iPad's surface without it thinking you are trying to draw or zoom/pan. The solution is a glove with thumb, index and middle fingertips lopped off. Not as weird as you might think. Artists who work in media like pencils or chalks have long used a similar solution to avoid smearing. My first attempts weren't great. You need something that completely blocks the screen from your hand without being too hot to wear. It also needs to be easy to cut up without fraying. I settled on work gloves from a hardware store, under $5.

I cut off the finger tips, flipped it inside out and sewed a quick cuff to prevent unraveling of the fabric so that the glove would last longer and not get in the way.

As for a stylus, I think I've tried everything. I did not like Pogo for drawing. The first I liked was Targus. There are others, like Griffin and Acase, that as near as I can tell are the exact same thing as the Targus. The biggest problem with these--and this might just be my problem--was that the tips would start to dull, then crack and eventually break. Maybe I push too hard, not sure, but I was going through them fairly quickly. And at about $12 a piece, I started to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if I were using traditional media, how many pencils, pens, ink, etc, would I be going through? Trade-offs, nothing more.

I eventually settled on Wacom's stylus. It's more expensive at about $30, but has a nicer weight and feel, thinner tip, and most importantly, offers replacement tips. Set of 3 for $5.

So with a stylus and the glove you're ready to draw.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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