Drawing on Apple iPad with SketchBook Pro and Pogo stylus

Posted: 2011-01-18

When I got an Apple iPad the first thing I was eager to try was drawing on it. As a painter I have long tried to create art digitally and have found it frustrating. The Wacom table is a fabulous piece of technology, its pressure sensitivity and accurate response to your movements is amazing. However I could never get past the disconnect between the tablet and screen, just too hard to overcome a lifetime spent seeing marks being made where the implement touched the material. And yes I know there are amazing tablets that artists use to draw directly on but these were always beyond my reach.

So when I got my hands on an iPad I was really excited by the possibilities and it hasn't disappointed. Adobe Ideas and SketchBook Pro were the first I tried; having used SketchBook Pro before I immediately gravitated to that app. It is an amazing app for drawing no two ways about it. One of the initial obvious drawbacks when drawing on the iPad is the lack of any pressure recognition but having said that it really only takes twenty minutes of messing to get over that. Sketchbook Pro comes with a great range of brushes that when set to a mid opacity are similar to a light touch with a brush. It comes with a lot of silly ones too, but using two to three plus the radius and opacity you can achieve whatever you need.

The other big issue with drawing is the stylus. Using your finger is not really an option for me, tried it but not enough control for me. There are a number of stylus' on the market and a lot of very good 'make your own stylus' videos on youtube. I bought a Pogo Sketch in the Apple store in San Francisco on a trip there, really just for convenience. I read a few poor reviews of the Pogo but gave it a shot as I was impatient to get drawing with a stylus. The Pogo can feel a bit unresponsive, you do feel like you need to press a little too much, having said that its improving over time. The snub top begins to shape the more you use it and it is feeling more responsive the more I use it. I then found the DAGi Capacitive Stylus online and watched this video review on youtube. This stylus fixes the main issue I find with the pogo i.e. you can't see the tip while you draw due to the snubbed top. The DAGi Capacitive Stylus has a circular top which is transparent so allows you to see what you are doing at the point of a line, very important. Mine is on the way so I will post what its like in comparison to the pogo when I get it.

I am excited by this new medium, am working hard on a series that I wanted to do as a series of paintings am now doing on the iPad. The author series is a project to draw authors based on the image that appears of them on the inside or rear covers of books I own. I've made a start and will continue to post as I go.

You can follow the author series here as it grows, all images are drawn on the iPad using SketchBook pro.

Kurt Vonnegut - Author series Don Charlwood - Author Series