How do I get started drawing on the iPad?
May 29, 2012 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I have a perfectly good new iPad that is sadly underutilized. I'd like to start sketching and drawing on it, but I have no idea where to start. Help!

I'm looking for the following things, specifically:

- What stylus should I get? I'm willing to spend a little money if it's necessary. Also, where's the best place to get them?

- What apps am I looking for? I will be doing basic sketching/coloring (think video game concept art, as executed by a talented 8-year-old.) I do not own Photoshop, nor do I want to - I'd like to be able to make decent-looking files purely on the iPad. Again, free is not the priority. (Although if the best app for the purpose is a free one, awesome.)

- Where do I go to learn to use the above? I have a certain minimum of drawing skills - I had some decent instruction in school, and can, say, draw a person that looks recognizably human with a pencil - but I have zero digital graphics skills beyond a basic understanding of layers, and I would like to learn. Good iPad- or app-specific tutorials would be most welcome.

I am not looking for pro-quality stuff, necessarily, and I don't need the ability to animate or generate vector art or anything funky, but I'm happy to drop a little cash to get decent hobbyist-level stuff. Thanks a bunch!
posted by restless_nomad to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Paper is a lovely sketching app.

If you want something more powerful, Procreate is pretty good. It has layers with different blend modes and configurable brushes.
posted by clearlydemon at 5:43 PM on May 29, 2012

Have a look at Brushes.
posted by vidur at 5:46 PM on May 29, 2012

Best answer: Regarding which stylus to get, I own the Wacom Bamboo, which is nice, and relatively inexpensive, but if I had to do it over I'd get the Adonit Jot. From what I've read, it's better at line work on the iPad than the Bamboo. For my own experience, the Bamboo is functional at line work, but the tip is a bit too wide and squishy, so it's not as precise as I'd like it to be.

There's a few good reviews of the various stylus options available here and here (which all came out just after I bought my stylus, of course!). I recommend you read them and make up your own mind.

Regarding apps, I second clearlydemon when he says Paper is a lovely sketching app, but it's a bit limited in terms of colouring options and export options for my tastes. I prefer Sketchpad Pro, which is a bit more full featured but is simple enough that even an amateur could draw some simple stuff on it.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:51 PM on May 29, 2012

The Verge did an iPad stylus roundup a few weeks ago.
posted by JaneL at 5:52 PM on May 29, 2012

I just downloaded the toolkit for Paper (it's an in-app purchase, the free app only has one brush). It's pretty great even without a stylus, and with one I think it will change my creative life.
posted by padraigin at 6:51 PM on May 29, 2012

This list came out yesterday at lifehacker, maybe that would be a help.
posted by defcom1 at 7:13 PM on May 29, 2012

I'd third, fourth, fifth, and millionth the recommendation for Paper. It's a free download, so there's really no reason not to give it a try, and for me it's been the most fun I've had sketching in years. I use it mostly for capturing ideas rather than creating finished images, but for that use the small selection of colors and tools is ideal. For full-features sketching, I'll second Sketchpad (there's a free version as well as Pro).

For styluses, I really like the ones Elago makes. They're on Amazon, though they seem to randomly go on and off Prime eligability. The one I've got is the Hexa, which is a hexagonal barrel a little fatter than a normal pen. They also have round, pen-sized ones, and a larger triangular one that's quite nice if you have bigger hands. They come in lots of colors, and include a replacement tip.

I used the Wacom Bamboo stylus for a while, and while I liked it in general, I found I often wanted to hold it at a shallower angle than really worked, and the metal around the tip would scrape the glass. If you don't think that would be an issue for you, then consider that recommended as well.
posted by duien at 7:14 PM on May 29, 2012

It might sound kind of dopey, but in addition to getting one of the apps above, get the free Draw Something app. Like anything else, you get better at drawing by repetition. Repetition is easier when it's fun.
posted by jeremias at 9:01 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the basis that regular practice is far more important that the medium, I'll second DrawSomething. Agreed that it's sort of a stupid game, but the cycle of drawing/guessing is a very compelling activity, and having to draw specific, random things pushes you into drawing outside your comfort zone. See this recent MetaTalk thread for people to play against (although some of them seem to have stopped now).
posted by pipeski at 2:15 AM on May 30, 2012

Response by poster: You guys are the best! This is definitely enough to go on with - I'll definitely grab Paper first, and do my stylus research.

I like the Draw Something idea, but since the Zynga buyout... I am very reluctant to give Zynga access to any more of my stuff. It's probably a good idea in theory, though.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:38 AM on May 30, 2012

Response by poster: My Adonit Jot Pro arrived, and I am playing with Paper and it is great. I think I'm likely to Buy Sketchpad Pro before I spend three times as much on extra brushes for Paper, but as a proof of concept app it's excellent. Thanks again!
posted by restless_nomad at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2012

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