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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

How To Draw On The iPad Pro

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

The iPad Pro has been on the market for a few years now and it has quickly become one of the most hyped and craved drawing instruments for professionals and amateurs alike. Whether you make a living out of your artwork or you are just fond of drawing from time to time, you have probably wondered whether it can make a difference for you.

How is drawing on the iPad Pro?

Drawing on an iPad Pro is weird and awesome. If you are accustomed to traditional drawing, there are several things you will miss when using an iPad (such as surface traction and tool weight), but you will also quickly fall in love with all the possibilities and the agile workflow it offers.

Since the iPad Pro is not cheap, it is definitely worth to carefully consider whether it is a good fit for your creativity. In this article, we’ll try to provide you with a fair idea of how it performs and what can it do for your drawing practice.

Caveat: We’ll be mainly focusing on the third-generation iPad Pro.

I. Traits And Features

Let us first have a quick look at those iPad Pro specs which affect your drawing experience.

1. Size and weight

In 2020 Apple is selling two models of the iPad Pro. The smaller one is the 11 x 7 inches model and the bigger one is 12.9 x 8.5 (roughly). The 11-inch weighs a little less than 500 g and the 12.9 is a little over that. Both of them are 6 mm thick. Therefore, they both feel pretty much like a medium-sized sketchbook, meaning they are very comfortable to work with in any position and also extremely convenient to move around. You could likely get refurbished models from previous years which could be as small as 9.7 inches.

2. Screen

Since the first iPad Pro was released in 2015, display quality has been breathtaking. The actual models support something along the lines of 16 million colors in an LC screen, so don’t worry about that: it will look really nice.

3. Storage capacity

In both models, the new iPad Pro starts at a very respectable 128 GB capacity and goes up to a whopping 1 TB. This considerably affects their price. Honestly, I wouldn’t see the necessity of the heaviest storage unless you are looking to do animation and lots of video editing with it.

4. Ram memory

This is not the first big difference you’ll see, but it is likely the most important. Earlier models did an amazing job of optimizing their 2 GB of RAM to give you a great drawing experience. The 2018 release was twice as powerful and the 2020 models are already at 6 GB. This greatly enhances the speed of your workflow and allows you to paint flawlessly in ever-larger documents.

5. Stylus

Simply put, there’s no better digital drawing tool than the Apple Pencil. Wacom makes fantastic products, but Apple’s stylus is as close as you can get to a real brush or pencil.

It is the main reason why the odd experience of virtually drawing in the air starts to feel natural at a certain point. It is worth the 120 USD.

6. Price

The most affordable 11-inch version is now 800 USD, whereas the most expensive version of the 12.9-inch model is over 1,600 USD, although that is when equipped as a cell phone, which in all honesty is not very practical, so drop that to 1,500. Do not think at all you are getting anything subpar if you buy the entry-level version, it is a formidable piece of equipment.

II. Performance

Now, let us have a word to describe how it feels to work with this guy.

1. Responsiveness

Apple’s state of the art processors have been at the heart of their success over the decades and the iPad Pro has taken this savoir-faire to a whole new level of user experience.

For a while, all iPads had to operate with iOS, an operating system designed for the iPhone. This somewhat hindered the device’s potential because the iPad’s processor is significantly more powerful, so it was pretty much like having a Ferrari and not being allowed to drive it past 50 miles per hour. This was amongst the reasons why it wasn’t easy to develop iPad versions of software like Photoshop.

But in 2019 Apple finally released the iPadOS, opening a very exciting horizon of possibilities, particularly for art and design apps.

While the iPad Pro still tends to lag and even crash when attempting to work with very large (over 100 cm) and multilayered canvas sizes, virtually any standard drawing, painting, and design operation required in the pertinent industries will be seamlessly and quickly accomplished. It just feels good to use it.

2. Precision And Trait Quality

Indulging a little bit into the benefits of combining the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro, this stylus allows you pixel by pixel precision if you wish. On a more day-by-day scenario, you can expect the Apple Pencil to do exactly what you want it to do, although this slightly varies depending on the drawing app you are using.

The combination of speed, pressure, and inclination response is amazing, and several developers have made the most out of it. You can dramatically alternate opacity, width, and weight in a single brushstroke. The level of control you can exercise over your artwork is simply astonishing.

Add to that the ridiculous amount of brush sets of every sort you can find for apps like Procreate and the Affinity suite, and you’ll realize you are holding a professional art studio in your hands.

As suggested before, the only competitor that offers you a comparable drawing experience is Wacom, but only in their own realm. While they have developed several Bamboo styluses for the iPad (which already is suspicious), none of them quite achieve the same extraordinary level of performance they yield in their own tablets.

3. Workflow

Every iPad has a feature called “split screen” which allows you to use two apps at the same time. This is a major advantage that saves you a lot of time and sparkles your creativity while drawing.

You can easily move images from one document to another or simply prepare a mood board you wish to keep on sight all the way. If you are a concept artist or logo designer, you will certainly appreciate this.

But even if you are a traditional sculptor or oil painter, you will find how much can the iPad help you with making light, color, and texture studies, or maybe accurately picturing a piece in a given space. It could even help you to find the right mixture of colors your palette needs.

III. What Kind Of Artworks Can You Create?

I suppose it would be much easier to ask what can you not do.

The answer would be that you cannot use it as an actual canvas for your actual bristle brushes; or maybe that you can’t flood it in real watercolor.

So, beyond the obvious limitations of traditional media, there is really nothing you cannot do. Concept art, digital painting, product drafting, 3D modeling, architectural renderings, vector design, whiteboards, comic art, animation, or just doodling and sketching… You name it, the iPad Pro will surely become your go-to choice as it has become for millions of professionals from different disciplines all over the world.

There is a wide variety of apps you can use for each of these purposes on the iPad.

Many have a cost, but there are also some great options for free, like Autodesk Sketchbook. At the end of the day, you will find something that will foster and empower your creativity.

IV. Comparison With Other Tablets

Whilst Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy series are oftentimes great pieces of hardware, none of them offers yet the same software quality as the iPad Pro. iPad OS apps are simply more powerful at the present date.

Besides, the quality of Apple processors allow the first models of the iPad Pro to still perform beautifully five years later, and it is safe to say the newest models will do, at least, the same.

There’s also a big small detail which is a difference-maker in drawing performance: palm rejection. Android tablets do not handle that very well. This means that you will often find dots and lines over your artwork because the Android software still has a hard time distinguishing your palm from your finger-tip and your stylus. This can be remedied by disabling touch, but then you totally lose hand-gesture control.

You don’t have to worry about any of this in the iPad Pro and your workflow will thank you for it.

V. Related Questions

1. Can The iPad Replace A Professional Drawing Tablet?

While you can achieve professional results with any iPad, the iPad Pro is arguably the best drawing tablet and much more than that. Strictly speaking, drawing tablets are tools that you connect to a desktop computer which will run the software you’ll use to draw.

The iPad Pro, like the Microsoft Surface or the Samsung Galaxy Tab, is first and foremost a mobile multitasking device with its own operating system.

That said, if you are looking for something to pair with your desktop software as you would do with a Wacom Cintiq, then the answer is “not yet”.

Apps such as Astropad or the new Sidecar technology from Apple allow you to draw on the iPad what you see in your desktop software, but even with a great WiFi and Bluetooth connection that’s the very aspect where Wacom still has the edge.

2. What’s The Drawing App On iPad Pro?

As we mentioned before, there are several drawing apps for the iPad Pro available at the AppStore.

The most popular one, and for good reasons, is Procreate. At only 10 dollars it is easily one of the best purchases you’ll ever make. Its smooth user-friendly interface, intuitiveness, and a vast assortment of brushes will take over your heart. It is a raster (pixel-based) app.

Other great drawing apps are Affinity Designer, Autodesk Sketchbook, Concepts, and Clip Studio Paint (Adobe has largely neglected the iPad so far, even after Fresco).

3. How Do I Start Drawing On My iPad?

To start drawing on your iPad you might want to download any drawing app of your liking and start experimenting with that app and your stylus. Additionally to that, you could check out online courses on digital drawing or especially a course on drawing on the iPad to build up deep knowledge and insight within only a short time.

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