iPad Pro: The Digital Sketchbook I've Always Wanted

If you do art for an extended amount of time regardless of if you're doing art for fun OR professionally, you know as well as I do that we spend countless hours anchored to our computers.

I think it's very important that us artists get out of the house to get some fresh air, stretch our legs and grab a coffee...Or maybe just to not go stir-crazy with cabin fever. I like having the option to get out and still get some work done too. Since I'm primarily a digital artist, I've been looking for a portable digital sketching device for a very long time. In the past, I've tried older model iPad's with various battery powered pen inputs and the Surface Pro but for my personal workflow, neither of those quite fit. Until Apple released these lovely babies.

iPad Pro (32 GB - Wifi Only) $799 USD. Sparkles unfortunately not included.

iPad Pro (32 GB - Wifi Only) $799 USD. Sparkles unfortunately not included.

Apple Pencil - $99.00 USD Sparkles unfortunately not included with this either.

Apple Pencil - $99.00 USD Sparkles unfortunately not included with this either.

For those that like all the techno mumbo-jumbo, here are the specs of the iPad Pro model I purchased.

  • Retina Display with 2732-by-2048 resolution
  • A9X chip with 64‑bit desktop-class architecture
  • Four speaker audio
  • 8MP iSight camera with 1080p video
  • 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera

Something to note about the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencils is that it does have pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. So resting your hand on the screen while you're drawing with the pencil and you can get a nice amount of line variation when you apply pressure with the pencil to the screen. While I'm unsure as to how many levels of sensitivity it has, it's definitely no slouch!

In typical Apple fashion, the iPad Pro and Pencil both have a very sleek and modern design, however, the slick surface of the screen and the pencil makes it a little difficult to hold and draw on. A simple fix for the slick screen is a matte screen protector. 

Clicking on the pic will take you to the listing for the screen protector on Amazon!

Clicking on the pic will take you to the listing for the screen protector on Amazon!

The matte screen protector helps with reducing the glare of the screen but gives it a bit of a tooth to it as well when you're drawing. It makes all the difference, trust me!

Another simple, and inexpensive fix for the slickness of the Apple Pencil would be to grab a standard 2.5 pencil grip for it. You can pick up a pack of those at an office supply store!

Now that you've readied your iPad Pro for art making domination, what apps should you get? I HIGHLY recommend downloading Medibang Paint. It's free too! It's available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS. The UI looks very similar to what you would see in Photoshop or ClipPaint/Manga Studio. You also have the ability to work in multiple layers as well as a lot of the layer blending styles you'd see in those software packages.

While it doesn't support a PSD file format, files in Medibang Paint can be saved as .JPEG, .PNG and .PNG files with Transparency. 

There are other digital drawing applications on the iPad Pro such as PROCREATE, Adobe Sketch, Adobe Draw and SketchBook Express/Pro that all have their pros and cons but Medibang Paint is the one I feel most comfortable with. 

Now, my workflow consists of doing lots of sketching in Medibang Paint, AirDrop the files to my Desktop Mac (only available to Apple Devices) or Google Drive if I use my PC, then finish the piece there. Bear in mind that this is my personal workflow and what works for me may not work for you but if you're interested in integrating the iPad Pro into your arsenal of art making goodness, it's definitely worth a shot!

I hope this was somewhat helpful!