I have always had a bit of a disconnect with my digital tools. I love working in a digital space, I like the infinite variability, I like the flexibility, I feel at home playing with pixels.

But I've always used a Wacom tablet, and it has seemed like a compromise. I never liked drawing on the hard blank surface to have my marks jump up and orient themselves on the screen in front of me.

So of course, I got excited when info started coming out about the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil (yes, I know I could have gotten a Surface Tablet. I didn't want to.) Thanks to my husband, family, and a really good friend, the magic tablet and stylus is exactly what showed up under the Christmas tree, and I've spent much of my time learning what I can do with these new tools.

We have a new puppy, and a new baby on the way; celebration doodle drawn in Procreate!

I was worried. There was a lot of criticism about it still being a tablet, it is dependent on apps. It won't run a full version of any of the standard graphic software, and that is exactly what I use. But I wanted to keep an open mind about where this can function in my workflow, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much it can really take over.

Idea sketch created in Procreate.

SKETCHING & IDEATION

This is where I thought the set up would really excel, and it didn't disappoint. Although I was frustrated at first because Adobe's sketching app doesn't have layers (and I love layers) I soon abandoned the app for the more robust Procreate, which I love spending time in.

From personal doodles, to thumbnails for clients, to full illustrations, this has become my go to app for digital painting, and I really feel like I'm just starting to get into it.

My big goal for 2016 is to stick with using the iPad Pro everyday so that the tool becomes as familiar to me as a drawing pencil.

Snippet of a full illustration created in Photoshop using Astropad and the iPad Pro.

FINAL ILLUSTRATIONS

Having all the bells and whistles of a full version of Photoshop, along with my library of brushes and the ability to create masks is just not happening yet in any app I've seen. That said, there is a workaround that is a viable option, I finished my latest Texas Parks and Wildlife illustration with it.

It is an app called Astropad and it mirrors your computer to your iPad, and it works! It takes a little to get used to the interface, but I had no problem completing my illustration in Photoshop while drawing on my iPad.

Lovely, I say.

Vector Illustration work-in-progress in the Graphic app.

BONUS: VECTOR ILLOS!

Usually I prefer pushing pixels to arranging anchor points, but a recent personal project has me experimenting with new processes. This is brand new so I haven't played in many vector apps, but a little online research had me looking at Graphic, and I've found it to be easy jump into and start using. 

I think the best thing about this set up for me is its portability.

I can lounge on the couch and sketch. I can sit outside and watch my puppy chew sticks and work on an illustration. I can draw while I sit in a waiting room. And it doesn't feel like a compromise.

The apps react wonderfully to the pressure and tilt sensitivity of the Apple Pencil. I'm really enjoying it so far and can't wait to see what else me and my magic tablet can do!

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