ipad as sketchbook
27 May 11
A couple of days ago I bought the Wacom Bamboo Stylus for my ipad. I'd been looking into styluses for a while, because while I find the idea of drawing on the ipad really appealing, in reality I can't draw with my finger. It feels weird, my hand gets in the way, it just doesn't work. I've seen people make finger painted masterpieces, but that sure does seem like a lot of work. If I was going to work that hard at something I would just do it on my desktop with a proper graphics tablet! I wanted something that I could make quick sketches on when I'm out, so that I could occasionally lose the sketchbook and lighten my handbag load (I can't seem to leave the house without camera/ipad/kindle/sketchbook combo which gets HEAVY). I looked in to the Pogo stylus, but when Wacom announced their offering I thought I'd wait it out. Wacom know what they're doing in the digital drawing arena, right?
I've been playing with it obsessively for a few days and I'm really pleased! Let me say first of all that this is no graphics tablet substitute. There is no pressure sensitivity and the larger rubber tip takes a little getting used to. I did find it a lot more accurate than using my hand and drawing with it much more natural. It's weighty and solid, so it feels nice to hold in your hand. When you're using it, you kind of forget that it's just an overpriced stick to poke at the screen with because it feels like a proper pen! Talking of price, it's $29.99 in the US, but of course in the UK I had to pay £35.90 (which included £6 for shipping from Wacom's EU location. £6 for A PEN, are you serious right now). For that price I would have a liked a little case for it or something!
Comparison of the tip with a Wacom pen. The rubber tip is soft, so gives when you hold it against the surface and you don't have to push down very hard (trying hard not to throw in a "that's what she said" right here).
Some quick sketches I've done with it (including some from a very jolty train!):
The drawing apps I've tried so far:
This has the nicest user interface, you can adjust the size and opacity of the brush and undo with one hand as you draw with the other. Super easy to work out what's what because there aren't too many options. It gets out of your way so you can get on with drawing. Their name really grosses me out for some reason, horrible word.
right: Sketchbook Pro
This is my favourite for sketching and simple line drawings. Really responsive and quick and it's got the best export options (I love that you can export a layered .PSD to Dropbox! In 2011 everything should have an export to Dropbox). I find the default layout a bit fiddly, but you can change some things around in the prefs to make it a bit better. Fun mirror drawing tool! It's verging on having too many tools/brushes/options though and lots of them are fairly useless.
I really want to like ArtRage because it has the best brushes and you can do suspiciously realistic pencil drawings and watercolours, but it's just sooooo slow and laggy. It seems to be a complete memory hog because it's constantly throwing up memory errors and wanting me to restart the ipad. I have the desktop version of this too and it seems to suffer from similar issues, which is a real shame because it's so close to being amazing.
Probably the original and best known drawing app, Brushes is my favourite for a more painterly style. In the gallery you can play back your drawings from the beginning which is really fun! It's got the least tacky and most useful, um, brushes and it's one of the most responsive in terms of speed.
I do wish these apps had palm recognition (allowing you to put you palm down when you're using a stylus instead of having to suspend it awkwardly in midair), like a lot of handwriting apps do. That's the only complaint I have, you really have to alter your hand position which is a bit of a pain. I guess the resolution of most of the apps is pretty small too (1024 x 768), which is limiting. A higher resolution would only slow things down to a crawl though, so for sketches it's just fine for me.
Anyone else use any ipad drawing apps? I'd love to hear recommendations! It's so hard to find anything in the app store unless it's super popular already.