iPad fun... er TOOL!

A few days before I went to Wisconsin to paint the mural I bought an iPad. I had been wanting one since the first ones came out well over a year ago. The primary purpose was to use it as a digital portfolio. It proved to be a fabulous tool for that as evidenced at the mural meet as I showed my friends around our past and current projects. The images were crisp and brilliant and showed in a professional manner. I know a few more sign folks now have this nifty device on their wish list.

The iPad also proved handy as I traveled. With the WIFI hookup offered in most airports I could use face time to video conference with Janis back home - much preferable to just a phone call... and free too! I could access my email effortlessly and do a little surfing too as I waited between planes. The iPad was worth the investment in my mind already.

In the future I will use it for my presentations at my workshops using a program called Keynote. That will leave my laptop for doing onscreen demonstrations using the drawing and routing programs.

But I wanted more from my iPad. I had watched videos of people drawing on the tablets, both with their fingers and using a stylus. I decided to give it a whirl last night. I downloaded two drawing apps in a few minutes from the Apple store. They both cost around ten bucks. One was called Procreate, and the other was Sketchbook Pro. I wanted to compare the programs before I invested a whole bunch of time getting proficient with them. I had used a stylus noodling around on a friend's iPad a while back, but since I didn't yet have one I would just go with my finger this time.

Both programs offered layers, changeable brush styles and sizes as well as opacity. To get started I simply started scribbling. The drawing is rough and very quick - not a portfolio piece by any means. I just wanted to find out what this thing was capable of. I built up the colors. layer upon layer - six in all. Using gestures I intuitively figured out I could zoom in and do fairly good detail - down to one pixel line width. The iPad draws the line by using the center of your finger, meaning I sort of had to guess where my line was going to go. Even so I got the hang of it in a few minutes, about half way through the drawing process. The portrait was done using Procreate - and I liked the controls a lot. I didn't spend more than ten minutes on the piece. I found it could be saved, layers and all and easily emailed to myself. This way I could open it and refine it later on my big computer.

The second drawing was done using Sketchbook Pro. Although different the controls were also intuitive and easy to use. The drawing was of a twisted tree - a possible idea for the bar tap holder for the Fox & Hounds Pub project. It too was done in six layers using nothing more than my finger as a drawing tool. I was relatively happy with the result... and eager to start anew with what I had learned. This program too allowed me to save my drawing and export it via email in a touch on the screen.

Both programs are capable of so much more. I'll be investing in a Wacom stylus to enable me to achieve much more detail in a fashion I am more familiar with. The iPad is perfect for my needs - a multifaceted tool to add to my arsenal. It will not replace my sketchbook, nor my laptop and desk computers.

-grampa dan