6: iPad Workflow: Critical Review


The iPad has been a key part of my workflow for quite some time. Its portability and flexibility make it a very good tool for drafting and exploring alternative designs and ideas. More recently the technology has made a big leap in terms of being able to produce full artwork in a range of styles – potentially replacing both sketchbooks and pc digital work. iPad art has been taken to a high level by artists like David Hockney and also illustrators like Stefan de Groot.

This review  places my own iPad experiments through the course and puts these in a wider context – as an opportunity to upgrade my own iPad skills through looking in detail at other artists and illustrators, and draw some conclusions about:

  • What media can the iPad best produce? What are the range of different traditional media and effects that can be convincingly replicated? In which Aps?
  • How does the iPad compare to other digital software on pc like Photoshop, Illustrator and Corel Painter? When should I use these instead and/or as a complement to the iPad?
  • What are the inherent limitations? Which media and effects that I am aiming for are still best produced in traditional media on different surfaces?
  • What effects can be produced that are specific to the iPad, as an iPad illustrative style in its own right?

iPad evolution and software

The first iPad was released on April 3, 2010 and was used by artists like David Hockney since it first arrived. The drawing experience on later versions has been significantly improved particularly with the iPad Pro, first released in November 2015 and Second Generation 2017. These have progressively  increased the processing speed to enable a bigger range of brushes and variation in stroke, reduced parallax (the distance between the drawing implement and the screen to increase drawing accuracy)  and increased resolution to enable large gallery-size paintings. The introduction of the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro brought in a high degree of pressure sensitivity and tilt functions that are now incorporated into the software. The camera has also significantly improved to enable easy inclusion of photography in digital images directly on the device.

There are many software Apps of varying sophistication and enabling different styles and media. In this review I look only at professional end Aps that are capable of producing high resolution professional images (See Appendix 1 for comparison , and links for specific details, tutorials and my experiments:



Sketches Pro

Tayasui Sketches

Auryn Ink

Inspire Pro

iPad artists

David Hockney

Ilya Tulyakov

A lot of the other iPad art is of a very similar style. There are some very striking realistic portraits. And a lot of soft fantasy and landcape art.

This does not really explore the full potential of the digital art medium, and apps like Procreate.

My own practice – key concerns

I myself have used the iPad as part of my workflow in many of the projects in this course:

  • In Hybrids in some cases I started with iPad photographs, printed these and then painted and/or scratched into the image. In other cases I used Illustrator and/or Photoshop.  
  • Most of my work for Assignments 2 and 3 start with pencil sketches or crayon drawings. These are then further developed using different ink techniques and markmaking and coloured digitally using Procreate, than taken into Photoshop or InDesign for layout. 
  • In Assignment 3 I used developed most of the images from in Procreate am thinking of mostly start with ink or printmaking –  – and then tidy up and bring together as narrative in Photoshop. Some work may be done in Illustrator, then inked.
  • In Assignment 4 I produced images directly on my iPad in Procreate and/or manipulated photos to create digital art. 

However, although the iPad is useful for my work I face some physical constraints in using it so effectively because of RSI, and also after a certain point eyestrain. 

Programmes for sketching, drawing and painting. For high resolution output.

Procreate – export psd

ArtRage – has desktop

Sketchbook Pro – has desktop version. Has text.

Auryn Ink – export flat png eg to artrage

Inspire Pro

SketchClub – export psd to photoshop?


Not Paper 53 or Sketches etc for journalling? Or can I convert to hi res in Photoshop? Not Adobe Draw? Adobe sketch?

. ArtRage and Ketchboik pro


  1. Advantages of digital


Can zoom in and out. And get really very fine detail that is very difficult in analogue media. Much more control eg of transparency.. With blending and fine colour subtlety. If the image resolution is higher.

See eg artrage eye.


Can mix different media in many more ways. Different texturing.


Need high processing power to completely simulate eg watercolour.


Line is less dynamic and controllable.


Bringing in randomness.


Colours at disposal. Mixing, blending. Combinations. Don’t get muddy. Different ease of accessing the colours for speed, some eg artrage have colour palette all the time. Others like Procreate you have to bring up. Get colours from image. Artrage can clone to trace.




Specific media issues:

Sketching and pencil

Black and white charcoals and ink

Pastels and chalk


Oil Paints


Taking photos and reference materials.

Digital doodling

Can sketch in airports and people think you are just using your ipad.


  1. What cant’t do in iPad


Text need Photoshop. But dedicated paint programmes much better.

Animation in Photoshop or premiere or After Effects.

Corel Painter watercolour, liquify etc.


  1. Use of analogue. As basis for digital development. More dynamism. Paint bleeds and interactions etc. Fun. Collage and 3D.

Ergonomics and interface with RSI and eyesight.


  1. Work on top of digital printouts. Try different types of paper. Use lighting effects on photos. And work back in.


Ipad Artroom: http://www.ipadartroom.com

iPad Art: Lessons, Apps and Ideas for the iPad in Visual Art Cathy Hunt: ebook  on using iPad for classroom art education for Apple download

Software Reviews:

Creative Bloq January 2017: http://www.creativebloq.com/digital-art/art-on-the-ipad-1232669

Digital Art April 2017 : http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/illustration/12-best-apps-for-drawing-painting-on-ipad/

Digital Trends: June 2017: https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-ipad-pro-drawing-apps/

IPad artists

Michelle Brown How Does my Garden Grow
Michelle Brown How Does my Garden Grow

Michelle Brown: http://oldcellsstudio.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/iPad

David Hockney


Adobe Illustrator Draw is a vector drawing app designed for quickly sketching out ideas and concepts. Zoom up to 64x to apply fine details and customise your toolbar and brushes. You can draw perfectly straight lines and geometric shapes, rename layers, and use shapes from Adobe Capture CC. An enhanced perspective grid also lets you map shapes to a perspective plane. Has 13 tools, a digital ruler, and graph guides. You can import your own images or stock photos to work on and for tracing and collage. Using the Creative Cloud connection, you can send a file to Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC on your PC or share your art with the Behance creative community.

Adobe Illustrator Draw 

ASKetch is a  black & white charcoal drawing app. It’s a simple app designed to make you forget about the tools and just draw, using intuitive multi-touch gestures to help you achieve the desired result. It opens straight to a blank canvas. You can start sketching immediately, using the pinch to zoom gesture to get a bigger or smaller line. Tapping at the bottom of the canvas will bring up the tools menu, which is very basic. You can choose between a smooth or rough brush, and you’ll also get an eraser. The undo and redo tool is handy, and you can also access your other sketches from there.


Artrage: variety of canvas presets and paper options, plus a wide array of brushes, pencils, crayons, rollers, and pastels. You can paint directly onto the screen or apply a glob of paint with one tool and smear it around with another. ArtRage also features a dedicated watercolour brush option, which can produce some striking effects. Experiment with the ArtRage digital canvas by smearing, blending oils and watercolour. The app is smart enough to detect the roughness of your paper so your pencils can be used for soft shading. Add layers to your work without damaging others with a range of Layer Blend Modes, import photos and convert them to oil for smearing or use as reference images, or trace over images. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the interface, it’s easy to change brush sizes, bring up the colour picker, work with layers and blend/smudge different elements together.The main idea of Artrage is to make painting as real as possible on the iPad. You can mix paints with one another as though you were manipulating them on a real canvas. This app works with layers, and if you’re already familiar with Photoshop, you’ll feel right at home with the blend modes. Artrage also allows you to record your drawing for later viewing on the desktop.

ArtRage Tutorials

ArtStudio: over 20 different brushes, various different canvas sizes and options that include layers, layer masks, filters and effects. ArtStudio also includes step-by-step drawing lessons/tutorials plus the handy ability to export your artwork to Photoshop for further fiddling.


Auryn Ink: for watercolour painting. You can pick different tip shapes for the brushes and specify different bristle effects. You can also adjust the texture of the canvas and the amount of water on your brush.

Auryn Ink

Brushes Redux: used by David Hockney. Using a basic toolbar at the bottom of the screen, you can bring up a colour wheel/picker, work with layers and switch between various brushes. Brushes is fast and responsive to the touch so it’s easy to work quickly. Can record brush strokes. You can only create up to 10 layers.

Comic Draw: by plasq, enables you to build an entire comic narrative inside the app – from concept sketches to colour and lettering. It has a digital sketchpad for original ideas, and also inking and colouring with a variety of brushes to finish your concepts. Lay out different panels on your page and use layers to build your drawings. Add as many pages as you want to create a comic strip, books or even graphic novel. To finish off, add words with Comic Draw’s lettering suite made up of different typefaces, balloons and design tools. Comics can be shared on the on-line community  Comic Connect.

Graphic:  by Autodesk used to be called iDraw. different brushes and full support for the Apple Pencil, but can create vector-based technical drawings. You can create complex vector-based PDF and SVG files using the powerful pen tool for customised shapes, but also simple diagrams if that’s what you prefer. This app offers layer effects such as shadows, glow, multiple strokes and fills, as well as canvas scale, rulers and units to create dimensions with precision. You can also use classic brush and pencil tools for fluid drawing and sketching.

Inkist:  by Tai Shimizue is a painting app with a range of simple, customisable brushes with support for pressure-sensitive styluses.The interface is simple, with minimal taps required to switch between tools,  The apps features three layers with blend modes, opacity, and opacity-locking settings. You can then export your work as a PNG, PSD, proprietary ISImage file format and as individual layer files. 

Inspire Pro:  from Canada-based SnowCanoe’s has 60 high-quality brushes to choose from, divided into six sets: oil paint, airbrushes, basic shapes, graphite pencils, wax crayons and markers. And these can all be used as a wet or dry brush or eraser to create fast and realistic painting, drawing and sketches. Dynamic colour picker Adjusting the paint load and customising brushes (by rotating the bristle pattern) becomes second nature. Add a subtle blur, use Canvas Playback to watch your paintings unfold, use dual textured brushes, customise your canvas size.

Inspire pro

Medibang Paint

MediBang Paint includes many different creative tools for illustrators and comic book artists. Some of these include, numerous brushes, screentones and backgrounds, cloud fonts and comic creation tools. Finally registering on MediBang’s site for free gives users access to cloud storage so they can easily manage, backup and share their work.

Medibang Paint

Paper 53:  quick sketches for a selection of virtual journals, with pages to thumb through for easy viewing. Has diagramming and note-taking tools in addition to the standard creative tool suite it’s always had. Tools are a watercolor brush, calligraphy pen, pencil, marker, ballpoint pen, eraser, paint roller, scissors, and a ruler. You can  import or take pictures, and mark them up with text or drawings. Upload to FiftyThree’s creative community Mix.

Paper 53

Photoshop Sketch:  features 14 tools, including a graphite pencil, ink pen and watercolour brushes, with adjustable size, colour, opacity and blending settings. You can layer and rearrange your images, use perspective and graph grids to help align your creations. Export your work to Illustrator or Photoshop CC. 

Photoshop Sketch

Pixelmator:  to enhance or touch up  photography, paint detailed, layered images from scratch. It has more than 90 brushes (including double-texture brushes), watercolours, and the pixel brush. Graphic design features include using blending layers, shapes and text, whilst adding features like shadows, outlines and gradient fills and a range of effects including kaleidoscope.


Procreate:  professional software from Savage Interactive won the Apple Design Award and the App Store Essential. It has a built-in  brush editor for creating custom brushes, which enable you to define brush shape and grain. On the Pro, it can go up to 16K resolution with 64-bit color, and you can export your artwork as PSD, PNG, JPG, or Procreate files. The app also lets you record videos of your art and helps you build a portfolio and share your work, if you so desire.

You Tube Procreate Tutorials

Procreate experiments

SketchBook (Autodesk) has  a wide range of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes to choose from, all accessed via a simple but intuitive UI that lets you pin toolbars to the screen for easy access.

SketchBook Ink preset brushes aren’t editable apart from their size, and there are no layers (besides the option to add a photo as a background layer). very high output resolution. You can export images to iTunes at up to 101.5 megapixels (8727 pixels x 11636 pixels) or your Photo app at up to 4096 pixels x 3072 pixels. Although exported files are flat PNGs, not editable vector files, the images are still very high quality.

Sketch Club has  a community of artists with whom you can share your art. You’ll also be able to comment on everyone’s work and get inspiration. Lets you create 64 layers in total, and canvases that are up to 4K in resolution. Wide selection of brushes and vector tools, this is a full-fledged drawing app. It has full support for the Apple Pencil and the ability to record in 1080p.

Tayasui Sketches  Pro eight brushes along the left-hand side, with pencil, rotring, watercolor brush, felt pen, and eraser for free and more brushes and size, shape and blend controls and paper types to buy. You can import photos, too, if you want. You can organize your sketches and creations into different notebooks in the app. 

Sketches Pro

Zen Brush:  traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes. Gallery feature that enables you to save your work in progress, as well as an ink dispersion effect to give your drawings an added feeling of depth.  Uses black and red ink. 

Zen Brush



Animation Desk Cloud: Animation Desk Cloud isn’t a new app, but is now compatible with the Apple Pencil. 

I found choosing one topic quite difficult – I started by considering going into more detail on media like pencil, or more broadly Black and White, or visual Dynamics of Colour. I also thought about looking more at graphic novels and narrative. But as Assignment 2 progressed and I experimented more with my iPad, then drew on different types of workflow I had started to look at in the Hybrids project, I felt that I could incorporate at least the media explorations into this.

I have already used many different types of sequencing in the projects in Assignments 1 and 2.

  • In Hybrids in some cases I started with photographs, printed these and then painted and/or scratched into the image. In other cases I started in Illustrator and printed. In others with drawings.
  • Most of my work for Assignment 2 starts with pencil sketches or crayon drawings. These are then further developed digitally using Procreate or Photoshop, using different digital techniques and effects.
  • In Assignment 3 I am thinking of mostly start with ink or printmaking – using different ink techniques and markmaking – and then tidy up and bring together as narrative in Photoshop. Some work may be done in Illustrator, then inked.
  • In Assignment 4 I am aiming to explore collage and digital montage in more detail, using drawings and printmaking as well as manipulated photos.

I also explore different ways of combining analogue and digital techniques in my Book Design course – suing scanning and different types of paper.

Book Design Part 4: Materials and Process

Book Design Part 5: Production

Most of the other illustrators I have looked at so far have worked in a specific medium and then just tidied up in Photoshop, or worked entirely digitally. In Assignment 2 I have also looked at illustrators who combined techniques in more interesting ways in:

Architectural Illustration Approaches

I am intending to look out many more.

What I want to look at are different types of sequencing of analogue and digital workflow, focusing on a number of interlinked key questions:

  • how far can I push digital software (Illustrator, Photoshop and Procreate) to make different types of mark, texture and colour?
  • what is best started digitally then printed and finished with analogue media?
  • what does different sequencing mean for the types of mark and texture recorded on location, or analogue work like printmaking? is it best to just do tonal drawings with colour notes? or to do colour drawings and paintings?

This will help me to develop a flexible range of techniques that can help me to express different subject matter in different ways, while maintaining a coherence of approach and voice.

Procreate. Brusyes. Colour palette not so easy. Blend modes opacity. Video

Painter. Brusyes mire developed layers interact. Video. Text. Photo clone

Flash: drawing and animation. Text

Illustrator. Adobe colour. Vector. Patterns. Change strokes and styles. Text

Photoshop. Text. Photo effects. Photomontage. Compositing.

Lightroom. Photos, print eg squares. Book. But limited layout and text.

InDesign. Bl nd modes. Text.


Quality of line? Predictability/random/ happy accident control. Types of stylus. Types of tablet.


Innpreactise combine. Butbissues pf tranlation. Going via jpg, png, gif.


Colour management and printng.


Illustration vs fine art. Illustration generally to be printed and reproduced or on web. What is illustration?


Google digital artists using these methods. Quite limited in style.


  1. Colouring  sketches –A1  A2 A3
  2. Drawing from photos
  3. Digital art printing on different papers and collaging A3 nose
  4. Layering and compositing A1
  5. Photomontage then going over A3
  6. Design and cutting out
  7. Digital and trace or fill in.
  8. Design for street art
  9. Animation A3
  10. Books A5


Ways people work


Dave McJean

Chris Ware

Manga and co iccartists

Pen and ink. Then scan.


Wikipedia iPad gives a history of evolution of the specifications of the device. Specifically for the iPad Pro see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad#iPad_Pro_series