My First 2 hours with the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate. From Sketch to Something Final-ish?

my first 2 hours with the ipad pro, apple pencil and procreate by blake stevenson

Right off the bat, I want to say that I was the guy talking crap about the iPad Pro. I tried it for a few minutes and flat out declared that no person who actually creates art regularly is going to use this thing. Then I was given the opportunity to actually spend some REAL time with the iPad Pro, Apple pencil and Procreate.

The right software:
I am not saying Procreate is the only software to use with the iPad Pro but for digital painting I’m in love with it. I found that if you don’t do some research up front you can get discouraged pretty quickly by the piles of garbage programs with odd interactions, unrealistic feel and cluttered canvases. This burned me really early on and formed a very negative opinion about the hardware.

Setting up my canvas in Procreate:
So, here is my first skeptical moment with the software. In programs like Adobe Photoshop, I like to build my canvas at 18″ x 24″ @ 600dpi. I know this is much lager than most people work but it has messed me up in the past, needing to enlarge an image and not having a larger enough graphic to do so. After I switched to this rather large canvas size I have yet to run into that problem I had in the past.

This is an assumption but I think in order to ensure the iPad processor doesn’t get bogged down, Procreate limits your projects layers (larger the canvas size, less layers you will be given). The maximum canvas size I was able to work with was 18″ x 24″ @300dpi but that limits me to only 9 layers. Which is fine, I just have to be aware of my layer management as I build my illustration. Hopefully the project layer number will go up with the next generation iPad Pro and its faster chipset.

Examining procreates UI:
My first impression of the interface was “meh.” I looked around and said “how could this do what I want it to do?” The toolset seems limited and unfamiliar. I started poking around and quickly found out that Procreate wasn’t problem it was my frame of mind. Procreates approach is to give you more real estate to draw with and only surface tools when you need them. Once I wrapped my head around the idea that this wasn’t Photoshop but more of a re-imagining/mobile touch version of it skewing heavily towards digital painting.

YouTube is your best friend:
With an unfamiliar interface in front of me and nobody to ask I decided to head to YouTube. A simple search query such as “Fill an object in procreate” or “Layer management in procreate” got me up to speed really quick and made me a power user quick. I strongly recommend this for anyone with and Procreate or curious about it.

Sketching with Procreate:
Initially I thought sketching was really good and responsive. The more I played with it the less I agree with my original statement. The software feels a bit unnatural and sticky but that is not my biggest gripe. The actual hardware is what frustrates me. The smooth tip of the pen and glass surface of the screen is not my favourite. I have heard you can buy a protective screen cover that gives the pen a bit of resistance. For now I will continue to do my initial sketch on paper, take a photo of it with the iPad and then work from there. I may be the only one in this camp but to me I can move faster and more confidently with a paper and pencil.

I have a old version of a Wacom Cintiq (12″) and can sketch with that thing for days. The responsiveness of the pen is leaps above the iPad Pro with Apple pencil. That all being said the Cintiq isn’t touch sensitive (newer 13″ Wacoms Cintiqs are), Lower resolution, and most important NOT portable. These are all factors that make the iPad Pro, Pencil and Procreate very appealing.

Sketch on iPad Pro with Procreate - Jetpacks and Rollerskates

Colouring in Procreate:
This is where Procreate shines. The baked in set of pens, brushes, etc. is pretty unbelievable. Each of the tools compliments the other nicely. The blending, overlays, translucencies of each of the mediums is really well thought out. And, if for some reason the a tool you want doesn’t exist. It’s easy to make them yourself and there’s a pretty active group of creatives making and sharing them.

 

Colouring the mouse with iPad Pro and Procreate - Jetpacks and Rollerskates

My Verdict: 

This is not the tool for everyone. It is expensive especially when you start doing the math:
12.9″ iPad Pro w/ 128gb = $899 USD +
Apple Pencil = $100 USD +
Procreate = $6 USD
Total = $1006 USD (to get you off the ground)

With that in mind, if you look at competitors like Wacom it’s very comparable in price, even a bit cheaper. It’s definitely not a Wacom Cintiq as far as quality but it’s close and probably close enough for most people.

Is it enough to go from sketch to final? Sketching is a bit weak (IMO) and it depends on what your working on. Limited layers makes it hard to to do larger scale pieces. Hopefully, the new processor on the second generation iPad Pro should cover some of those issues. The biggest thing that should not be overlooked and may make it sore above the competition is portability. The iPad Pro, Apple pencil and Procreate can completely change your workflow as a digital artist. It ‘s been very freeing to take a drawing from start to end(ish) while sitting on my couch. If you don’t have a drawing tablet yet this would be a great choice.

I hope that helps and if you have any question please feel free to leave them in the comment section. If you want to see more of my adventures with the iPad Pro and Procreate be sure to follow me on Instagram (instagram.com/jetpacksandrollerskates) where I post regularly.

Final (on instagram):

ipadpro-procreate-03-jetpacksandrollerskates

Weapons of Mass Creation festival shirt design and process video.

I have attended the Weapons of Mass Creation Festival for the past 3 years. It’s an event like no other. The people, speakers, and vendors compliment each other and create something very special. Last year I was asked to do an alternative art print for the festival. and this year I was so excited when they asked me to do a shirt design. Giving back to this creative event that has given so much to me is a no brainer. Here are a few of the artifacts that came out of this.

Process Video:

Shirt Design:weapons of mass creation blake stevenson tshirt design

Master of One T-Shirt and Speed Drawing

 

I originally stumbled upon the Master of One Podcast while combing through Andrew Kolb’s (An extremely talented illustrator) social feed. I noticed he was a guest on a recent episode of the show. I listened to that episode and said to myself “Hey these guys are having a good time and promoting all the things I am very much interested in.” Since then I have listened to almost every episode, I even got to be a guest on one of those episodes (Mof1 Podcast Episode 77 – Canada’s Greatest Import). Then when Andrew Sale (One of the show’s hosts) approached me with the idea of doing a collaboration T-shirt for there trip out to Creative South I couldn’t help but say yes.

Master of One Podcast T-SHirt Collaboration Graphic

Hope you guys dig the design and if you are heading down to Georgia for Creative South, pick one up!

Slap! Sticker process video. Insight into what I do.

 

I was in the office the other day developing some icons for a client and from behind me I could hear a couple of my co-workers say “I like watching Blake work.” Out of context this could sound super creepy but it came from a very honest place.

Traditionally I hate when people look over my shoulder while I work but when they ask questions about how I do things, it then becomes a much different experience. Genuine interest in how another co-worker does their job is such a valuable practice. It allows for a mutual understanding of the work that goes into something and develops insight into that person’s field. This can help the observing parties to speak more confidently when collaborating in the future.

Long story short. Not long after the discovery by my peers I decided that I should create some process videos. It’s really no skin off my back to just record the screen from time to time when I am booting up a project.

This first video was a collaboration with the monthly sticker club called Slap! Stickers (www.slaptastic.com). They approached me mid to late last year to see if I would be interested in developing a sticker for the club. Just looking at the amazing list of designers involved (Aaron Draplin, Rogie King, Amy Hood, Nick Slater, Justin Mezzell, Mike Jones, Meg Robichaud and more) I couldn’t say no.

With this project I would also like to support all the other facets of art that go into making a video like this pop. That is why I asked my buddies in the band GLORY GLORY if I could drop their amazing track Where the People Are into the video.

Enjoy the video and expect a few more of these coming down the pipe.

A blog, Why a blog?

There comes a point where every designer types there portfolio website URL into the address bar at the top of the browser window and hits enter on the keyboard. After that key has been pressed you dread what loads on the screen in front of you. This feeling has been building since the day you launched the site 3 months ago. It’s crap.

I got over that feeling a while ago. Not saying that it is gone but just coming to grips with the fact that I can’t possibly keep up with my minds own need for consistent change. One way of coping with this looming feeling was to boot up a blog. My past attempts at a blog have been lackluster at best, what I have only begun to realize as lack of direction and focus.

Now, take that with a grain of salt. This blog will definitely be a bit scatter brain cause that is just how my mind rolls and to combat that would be foolish. The direction and focus will be on furthering myself as an artist by “writing” about what inspires me, showing my process work, possibly talking to other creators and whatever else I find myself getting into.

Bare with me as I stumble through this creative experiment. Hopefully you will find some nuggets to help you just like some many other creators blogs have helped me in the past.