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?

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