Friday, 8 November 2013

Tutorial: Speed Paint on your iPad/iPhone

Unless you have recording equipment for your iPad or through the Apple TV via AirPlay Mirroring, there are several apps that have built-in move for move video export. In one of the last few updates from Procreate dating several months, Savage takes their powerhouse painting app to a new level. And if Procreate isn't your thing, another app out there probably has your name all over it.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tutorial: Retro Game Sprites

The easiest way if you're using Sketch Club is to change your pixel brush to jet black and turn down the opacity to 10%. This will help make the hair pop out and make the character in question look less flat. If you're using Dots, it'll take a bit longer. The way to go is to select the color and turn up the darkness a bit for each section.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Hardware Review: Pogo Sketch Pro

I'm always on the hunt for new styli for the iPad. For every winning stylus I tried out, there were three or four that faired better as ear picks than helpful art tools. Artists have multiple tools in their arsenal that rightfully earn their place, I too use multiple styli based on different purpose. Currently I've narrowed it down to two, the Adonit Jot Touch+ and the Pogo Sketch Pro.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Tutorial: Final Fantasy Style Logo Artwork

I’m a huge fan of the Final Fantasy RPG franchise and all the artistic merits that come with it. I get lost in the music as I write and love the abstract concept art of Yoshitaka Amano. My first taste was on the PAL version of Final Fantasy IX where I saw the character art on the disc and how radically different it was from the end result. When I started finding more of Yoshitaka Amanos work and discovering his involvement with each major instalments logo, I went nuts. So over the head crazy, I found out how to make my own in similar fashion.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Magical Multiply Layer

So you love to sketch but can't quite get started on a touch screen. If you find that doodling in graphite pencils, charcoal or ink on a sketchbook or canvas is more your style, it's not hard to transfer onto a tablet to take it to the next level. Most models of tablets can scan using the extremely powerful camera or you can go the old fashioned route and use a scanner, then transfer on board via USB connection. The latter was my option of preference since I painted on my first gen iPad for the longest time and since it was lacking a camera, scanner was my only means. Once imported into your painting app of choice, there are two routes to take. Trace over the sketch in question... Or set the layer to multiply.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Helpful Tip: Sketching

Every piece of art has a beginning, an end and many things that happen in the middle. Take a look at concept art for your favorite animated features and you'll see the numerous drafts before a final character design. And after that comes even more refined sketches and coloring along with many more drafts. So when you finally open Procreate, ArtRage, SketchBook (or what have you) know that the blank canvas will be daunting since it literally has millions of possibilities, it's up to you to guide it into something astounding. Need a little help getting started? Here's a tidbit of advice that I swear by.



Brief Doodle created in Sketch Club

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Apps

I'd like to start by giving a small taste of the apps that I commonly use and explaining the pros and cons of each. One of the main differences I prefer iOS over Android tablets and phones is the wide range of apps in this category. Although there are a few that exist for that platform, there aren't as many with the polish and performance of Procreate, Sketch Club, Art Rage and more. Not to mention there are a lot more accessories such as the HoverBar and styli like Pogo Connect or Adonit Jot Touch that have advanced features unique to the iOS platform. That being said, here are my essential iPad apps for graphic design.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Many argue that the new wave of touchscreen devices (tablets and smartphones) are amazing content consumption devices but aren't good at content creation. I argue against this claim, believing that amazing art can come from anywhere as long as the artist in question has the will to do so. There are a long line of childish apps in the App Store that give some the impression that these devices are 'toys' but this is in the eye of the beholder. I prefer to see the opportunity in my iPad as a graphic tablet, as a notebook for my thoughts, a vault for my ideas or a sketchbook when I'm feeling inspired.

Welcome to Appstract Artist, a blog dedicated to digital art via capacitive touchscreen. With this space I hope to demonstrate techniques, art work, apps that work, some that don't, review various styli that I've tried out and more. Through this experience I want to grow as an artist and help others realize the potential in hardware they might already have in their hands.

My equipment:

iPad 4th Gen: I'm currently using the most up to date iPad. It was a great leap from the 1st Gen that I've been using for over 2 years and has been great for Procreate which is what I use the most. However limitations kept getting in the way such as lag, low resolution and lack of iOS 6. The retina display, speed and comfortable contour curves makes the apps I already own pop. I started seeing new features I didn't have before and have seen dramatic performance improvements. Now it's just me and the app as I draw or paint away.

Adonit Jot Touch+: I've tried many styli with my experiences with the original iPad and I've been lead to Adonit Jot Touch+. As much as I love it, I don't think my search is entirely over (seeing as they recently announced a better, upgraded version which was everything I was hoping for initially). What I have now is a very precise stylus that is light, reacts to pressure sensitivity and feels more natural than any other I've tried so far. I will provide a further in-depth analysis very soon and whether or not it's worth going into triple digits for a proper stylus.

TwelveSouth HoverBar: Curling up with the iPad and using it as an interactive sketchbook is fun on the go or around the house but getting serious requires a desktop setup. The best option for this is the HoverBar from the amazing Mac accessory company TwelveSouth who've brought us other such products like PlugBug, BookArc and HiRise for MacBooks. The HoverBar is a bendable arm that when clamped to a stable surface will hold your iPad up (it really feels like it's just floating there!) This is great as an easel type device, for watching, reading or as a secondary monitor. My initial concern was that it wouldn't be able to take pressure while I was drawing or that it wouldn't be sturdy enough but I've been nothing but satisfied with it.

Procreate + ASKetch: I use more than two apps just to be clear but these two are ones I simply can't live without. Procreate is currently more than usable on first gen iPads as of this writing and ASKetch is fun for just doing whatever you feel like, wiping the slate clean and then starting all over again. Procreate is a humanized version of Photoshop Touch on the iPad, removing as many hurdles and barriers between yourself and the art of creating on the touchscreen as much as possible. It's approachable and seamless for intermediates and beginners alike. Of course I do love Sketch Club, Inkpad and SketchBook Ink as well but I'll go deeper into detail on each later.

My Style:

If I had to give it a title, I'd say my art style would be Western-Anime Pop Surrealist. I enjoy drawing cool characters in various poses, costumes and being generally pleasing to the eye. Over the last several years I've gotten down drawing people but my biggest weakness is backgrounds which I aim to overcome with research, work and growing with practice.

I'm learning to enjoy the creation process more than the end result and I'm hoping that it'll prove entertaining for any curious enough to join in my journey. I hope to inspire you out there who however way you've found this page to take my lessons to heart and perhaps to take up a stylus and tablet, sketchbook or what have you to do what makes you feel unique. Shall we get started?