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Why I Paint on the iPad

This is a painting I recently finished on the iPad.  For those who want the technical specs,  I’m using the first generation iPad, the Wacom Bamboo Stylus, and the procreate app.  The actual size and resolution of this image is roughly 13″ X 9″ at 72 ppi.  The only photo used was for reference (thanks, Pete!) and I designed my own brushes.  I have no idea how long it took me to paint as I worked on it over four or five days, an hour or two here and there.  I’ve never done a painting in one sitting and doubt I ever will.

Since the resolution and size for the iPad is so low, I’ll likely never be able to do what I call ‘finished work’ on it, so you might wonder why I bother at all.  As a sketch pad, it’s great, but why put all the time into painting in detail, light and shadow?  Very simply put, it’s a challenge, and it’s fun.

At the risk of sounding immodest, I already know how to make Photoshop sit up and do the boogaloo when it comes to painting.  I know what it takes to get the fine details and I’ll always keep working to add more realism and texture to my paintings, but any limitations I have in my painting are my own.  If my paintings aren’t as good as I can possibly make them, the fault doesn’t lie in Photoshop or my Wacom tablet, it’s in my ability.  I can’t remember the last time I thought, “I wish Photoshop could do…”

With the iPad, however, the challenge is to see just how far I can take a painting before I’m limited by the tools I’m using.  The resolution tops out at 72ppi.  The size is finite.  I have to work with what I’ve got, which is a combination of the device, the stylus and the app, all three I feel are the best I can find for my needs at the moment.  I’m not about to buy a new iPad while this one still works very well.  By working with limited hardware and software, it forces me to become a better painter, to find new ways of achieving the best I can from an image, with the tools I have at my disposal.  That stretching of skills can’t help but translate to better painting when I’m NOT limited by the hardware and software.

The fun part comes from being able to paint on a portable device.  As much as I enjoy working with the Wacom Cintiq 12wx and a laptop, or even just the Wacom Intuos4 small tablet and a laptop, neither option is REALLY as portable as a pencil and sketchbook, or an iPad and stylus.  Even though I work all day in my office, I often sketch the next day’s cartoon or paint on the iPad while sitting in front of the TV with my wife in the evening.

When I began to paint this ring-tailed lemur, I really had no intention of taking this image any further than this.  It was fun to work on, but it wasn’t supposed to be a finished painting.  But, much like the ostrich painting that was first started on the iPad, I’m pretty happy with it, and I love the manic expression in this little fella.  There is a very good chance I’ll be taking this painting into Photoshop, bumping up the size to 18″X24″ at 300 ppi and spending many more hours finishing it.

For the difference in iPad painting vs. Photoshop painting, here’s a comparison of the Ostrich Totem.

2 thoughts on “Why I Paint on the iPad

  1. Awesome painting Patrick! I love the eyes!

  2. Thanks Patrick! well said “stretching of skills can’t help but translate to better…” & wonderfully illustrated.

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