My Annual Ipad Digital Painting Rant


Once a year I seem to go on a rant about the iPad and how I wish it were a better device for mobile digital painting. All I’m wanting to do is collapse into a chair in my living room in front of a football game on tv, press a button and instantly be able to digitally paint during the commercials… is that too much to ask?

I do my professional studio work on a Wacom Cintiq hooked up to an iMac with Adobe Photoshop and I’m a huge fan of all these products. I have a smaller 12 inch Cintiq (which is great) to work with on the road, but it has to be powered by a laptop computer, has six kazillion cords to hook it up with and you have to be next to an electrical socket to make it all work… not exactly the spontaneous mobile painting experience I’m looking for in a portable device…

…so I keep trying to make the iPad fill this need, and while Apple’s not doing a whole lot to help me out with this (other than to provide the most fabulous, ground breaking, magical device ever) outside developers are quickly filling the digital painting void. I’m currently using a Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. It has a finer point than a typical stylus, links to the iPad via wifi and delivers faux pressure sensitivity. The product I cannot say enough about is a painting app called ProCreate. It honestly has almost every Photoshop tool I typically use to paint with plus a few… like saving video of your work process.

So this is my latest experiment to see how well an iPad could work as a mobile digital painting studio.


First of all, a traditional sketchbook, mechanical pencil, iPad and Wacom stylus are all extremely portable. I still prefer to draw with a pencil and paper, so I snapped a photo of a drawing in my sketchbook using the camera on the iPad and imported it into the ProCreate app. Because I am just wanting to have fun (and don’t want to paint a background) I fire up the iPad internet browser, find an image and import it into ProCreate to paint on top of. You can see my painting process in the short video (exported out of ProCreate) below.


My conclusion: I was able to plop down in a chair, fire up my iPad instantly with the press of a button, snap a photo, surf the web, paint a picture, export video of it and when all was said and done, the most important part of the whole thing was …it was really fun.

10 Comments on “My Annual Ipad Digital Painting Rant

  1. Sounds like you found a way to do it. My last gig had me working on the portable Cintiq which is an all encompassing computer made by Wacom. It was a little larger than the iPad, but was basically like that except it ran Photoshop on it. The screen was touch sensitive like an iPad is, but I turned that off when drawing because when I used the stylus, my wrist was resting on the screen and would make the cursor jump around. At any rate, that’s another option if you wanted to buy yet another device.

  2. Hi Dennis,

    First of all: I admire your work and blog and learn a lot of it as an amateur artist. I have the feeling and the guts that I want to share my experience with you on this issue . I use a Cintique 13 HD. It is great, but as you say a lot of cabeling …… I believe Wacom has now the Companion, which should be made for your needs. (?!?) I use, with a lot of pleasure, the program Sketchbook Pro, which is very easy to work with for sketching and painting. Photoshop will surely have more features, but I never succeded in learning to use them and remembering them. For you nothing new perhaps, but never the less, I’d like to share this with you. Please keep on going with your inspiring blog. I love it.

    The saying is: “Don’t try this at home….” But, I’m building a new workshop at our home for my hobbies and I will try to make a wallpainting in it as you did in these churches. 😅

    Best regards,

    Herman Sytema
    The Netherlands

    • Hi Herman. I would really like to have a Wacom Companion, but they are a bit expensive and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something I will only use occasionally. On the other hand, I use my iPad every day, so if I could learn to create art with it, too, that would be a good thing. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing your video and comments about your set ups. Have you tried #AstroPad? Turns your iPad into a tablet for working on your MAC.

    • I’ve seen AstroPad and it’s apparently a solid piece of hardware to hook up and use with your Mac. I have a Wacom Cintiq hooked up to my Mac, so there’s just not any circumstance in which I personally would use an iPad instead of a Cintiq… but AstroPad might be a good option if you are Cintiqless. 🙂

  4. I managed to break my IPad so I’m now saving for a Surface Pro 3. I’ve read good things. As I’ve never used a Cintiq I think it could be a good choice

  5. Hola soy de Chile me.llamo Cristian .me gusta tus trabajos eres ingenioso el sistema que usas y tus ideas son muy buenas .me encanta ver tus dibujos lo veo y me motivas dibujar .yo uso iPad pro la sencillez y comodidad me gusta .solo decirte desde Chile Santiago eres unos de mis artistas preferidos hay muchos pero eres de los buenos y me atrevo a decir eres el inspirador y motivador
    Así que felicitaciones Denis Mis respetos y saludos de Cristian Corces.

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