The Power of the Pencil

Drawing of two boxers fighting

The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil were clearly designed to play together, which they do quite nicely.

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I love to draw. I draw when I’m in meetings. I draw when I watch TV. I draw when I’m in restaurants. I draw at parties. You get the idea. And I really was old school about it. Until recently.

I grew up with Prismacolor pencils, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Conté chalk, kneadable erasers, and hot and cold press illustration boards. I even airbrushed art with actual compressed air. I know! Sounds archaic now doesn’t it?

Then one day I saw the light. I stumbled upon an online post of an artist describing the intuitiveness and responsiveness of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil together with the Procreate app. My world has never been the same.

Procreate offers a large collection of preloaded illustration and painting tools–from a technical pencil to a myriad of painting styles and techniques, as well as an airbrush tool that acts and feels like the real thing. I can even customize the tools to my liking.

The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil were clearly designed to play together, which they do quite nicely. The Apple Pencil’s built-in pressure curves (which can be adjusted) allow me to draw thin or thick lines and paint with light or heavy applications of color. It is incredibly responsive with virtually no lag time, meaning I see what I draw right away. I almost feel like I’m back in the art lab at Bemidji State and someone is playing Duran Duran on the boom box. See what I mean, old school.

Sure, I still sketch on napkins or scrap paper or whatever is within arm’s reach. But my preferred method nowadays is to create visual art with these powerful new tools.

Below are a few samples using my Apple Pencil on my 12.9” iPad Pro with the Procreate app.

Click on this video to watch how I did it. First I imported a photo of two boxers to use as a guide. Then I sketched out the characters and systematically developed specific areas within the composition. Procreate allows me to capture all my steps in a video replay. The actual illustration took approximately seven hours to draw.




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