UKEdMag: iPad Art – Swapping the Brush For the Stylus by @SteveCrowther

CrowtherGiraffeBy Steve Crowther (Extract)

I started to paint using ‘traditional’ media in 2008. Having taught design and technology for 17 years I always had a bit of an eye for drawing but I had never tried painting before. The opportunity to join a local art group came up, so I went off to purchase a huge amount of equipment and a beret, before taking myself off to the class. It proved to be a bit harder than I thought! I am not sure why this surprised me though. Whilst I had the picture in my head it was proving difficult to put it down on paper. My first mistake was thinking that watercolours would be the easiest medium to use – in reality they are unforgiving and tend to do whatever they want – a bit like pushing water up hill at times.

In a very short time I became addicted just wanting to get better and better. The trouble was, I wanted to do more art at home, but without a studio (spare bedroom) I had nowhere to leave equipment out, and painting on the dining room table meant a lot of getting out and putting away of equipment. I was also scared to death of dropping acrylic paint on to the carpet which would have been the end of it, and possible divorce.

I needed an easier way – the lazy man’s way of painting. I had seen that David Hockney had been trail blazing with the app “Brushes” on the iPhone and iPad. I didn’t really like his art but the iPad idea made me download the app and have a try at this new way of painting. It was ok, but not like ‘real’ painting – the tools didn’t act as I wanted them to. Another visit to the app store and about ten apps later I stumbled across my favourite…”Artrage”. This is a super app and has a number of tools that mimic traditional materials very well with the bonus that there is no mess on the carpet.

Any app takes a while to get to grips with and “Artrage” does have a few quirks. But once you know what it is doing it is possible to produce some wonderful effects in pencil, pen, oil, watercolour and pastels with all the blending and mixing capabilities of real paint on a palette.

Another great feature which gives an instant hit is the ability to import an image as a reference photo. This means that I don’t need to print out a photo when I want to paint one of my own images. I can simply import it, move and resize it as needed, even zooming right in to see the detail. With the bonus of a comprehensive layering system it is great to produce the distance, sky, middle distance and foreground on separate layers experimenting with colour and tone without ruining the rest of the image.

Once I could use the app, being quite happy with the result, I needed something to paint and draw with that was thinner than my finger. I don’t enjoy finger painting as it doesn’t feel natural. A stylus was the next thing on my shopping list. There are a huge number on the market from basic £1 shop versions to £100 pressure sensitive ones that attempt to give the feeling of pressing on to get a thicker line. I have settled on two. The Adonit Jot Pro and a Sensu Brush. The Adonit Jot has a small clear plastic disc on the end which means I can draw fine lines and actually see where they are, rather than being under my fat finger. The Sensu brush is an amazing bit of kit as it is an actual paint brush with the look and feel of a traditional sable brush.

My workflow now sees me import my reference image, set up the various layers, draw the image using the Adonit Jot Pro as a pencil or pen then apply the digital paint using the Sensu brush.

Once the image is completed it is exported to my iPad camera roll and imported into “Snapseed” app. With this photograph editing app I can crop the image and apply a basic frame before saving it back to the camera roll. If I want to see what the painting will look like in a frame and a mount, I use an app called “Wall of Memories“. This app lets the artist apply a whole range of frame and mount combinations before printing and framing the image for real. I have painted a few pet portraits for friends printing out….

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