How and where do you start?
Not all iPad art requires an underpinning from drawing. We think many of you will enjoy simply painting into photographic images and manipulating these using apps such as Facetune. Alternatively, you may want to use the layering capabilities of an app like Procreate to create collaged effects. However, we regard the relevance of drawing as being a deep one. We see it as the principal means of helping you look at subjects and compositions - something that will go on to inform your creativity. For this reason many of the great abstract and impressionist artists benefited from years of technical training in how to draw. Like any other skill we believe it can be acquired with practice and is not dependent on innate ability. Your iPhone or iPad make regular drawing incredibly accessible.
Just bought an app and want to make a start?
Initially, we suggest you confine your purchase to just one app such as Procreate (see Top Art Apps). Practice on this and only then look to experiment with other apps. Over time the learning curve to using other apps shortens very considerably because most apps share similar design features.
Make sure you read the relevant app tutorials
Do have a look at the relevant instructions which typically are available to read online or can be downloaded from most developers' websites. Remember you don't need to understand all capabilities and functions to start with. So we suggest you confine your initial learning to a single layer/canvas and familiarise with how to use the colour palette, paint brushes, erasers, undo/redo and smudge functions. For many artists this will be all they need. But with a good understanding of the basic mechanics you can then experimenting with more advanced techniques like transformation and layering.
Procreate provides an absolutely superb and free guidebook you can import to your iBooks library. Check too for "how to" clips on Youtube. Some apps such as Artrage offer good tutorial videos. Links to instruction manuals or tutorials can be found in Top Art Apps.
Key things to familiarise yourself with
If you want a schematic then over a number of sessions, aim to try and progressively familiarize yourself with some or all of the following:
- selecting and varying the size of the brush/pencil.
- varying the transparency of the brush/pencil.
- selecting a colour and varying its hue/tonality and transparency. App2Art recommends you work with a good degree of transparency as this adds depth to your drawings/paintings.
- using the dropper to pick up colours.
- adding and using layers. However, in many instances App2Art prefers working directly into a single layer. This is because it renders the creative experience directly analogous to, and fully competitive with using traditional media. So if you are troubled by the complexity of using layering just paint away in the one layer.
- filling in the background colour.
- undo and redo functions.
- saving your artwork.
- duplicating the art work so you can experiment without damaging the original image.
- learn how to take photographs using your art apps and then paint into the resultant images to achieve a multimedia effect
- exporting/importing an image to/from your photo library and using photographic applications to increase/decrease contrast and saturation
- as an adjunct to importing and exporting you will need to familiarise yourself with how to manage your growing gallery of images in each app
- App2Art recommends that you start with simple tonal drawing using different brush effects and transparencies but maybe using a darkish background and then drawing with the lighter colour.
- try to experiment with tonality too by avoiding the use of any outlines in your image and using the transparency settings on your brushes/erasers to build up tone instead
- learn how to use the gridlines in apps like Photogene to optimise your composition
- if you are a painting novice restrict your colour palette to start with and instead use gradations and greys from the same colour. Also read up on colour theory and try to learn a bit about complimentary colours in particular Above all else don't be frightened to experiment because thanks to undo functions, duplication and savings options you can easily go back to your original if you muck it up.
In many apps you can determine the pixelation used when you create the blank canvas. To print at large scales you clearly need to maximise pixels to avoid obvious digital granularity. David Hockney created prints of his iPad art of up to 3.2m by 2.4m at his Royal Academy exhibition. However, it is also likely that Hockney had his images scaled on a mainframe using Photoshop or dedicated scaling software such as Blowup 3 or Perfect Resize 7.5
Some useful technical background
All art apps allow you to save your image to your photo library as a JPEG file although this will compress the memory and layers used in the art app. Equally art apps typically also allow you to export files in original format (TIFF, PNG or PSD) via iTunes; Dropbox or via email. Very large scale imaging will probably demand uncompressed technical files to permit reworking in the likes of Photoshop, Pixelmator or the scaling apps mentioned above.
While many online photographic printers demand a minimum DPI of 300 App2Art has printed many large retina display (1536x2048 pixels) based images at far lower DPI - even at scaling of up to 1.2m x 0.9m. If you want to check your image, quality online printers such as Pics2Posters.com have an upload facility that checks print resolution and quality as well as aspect matches without any reference to DPI. So in short don't fixate on the DPI of your image because a retina display resolution of 2048x1536 pixels (DPI 264) should in most cases be sufficient for print sizes up to 100x75cm without risk of any pixel granularity or loss of sharpness in the finished image.
A sophisticated art application like Procreate offers a range of pre set and customisable canvas sizes. We typically use the default retina display canvas dimension of 2048 x 1536 (portrait/landscape), but in Procreate and some other art apps you can additionally customise canvas sizes at up to c.4000 pixels per side but sacrificing layers when you do so. Alternatively, Procreate offers a canvas with a DPI of 300 for an A4 sized print but again with layer restrictions.
Remember that some imported iPhone and other art images may possess a lower default pixelation than retina display.
If you have an iMac there are many very competent and affordable mainframe art and image suites you can purchase. App2Art particularly likes Pixelmator, but notes that Artrage and Sketchbook Pro also have comprehensive desktop applications too. These also allow you to export files in a variety of formats.
As an IOS oriented operation App2Art has not checked for Windows compatibility. We note that the majority of the art apps we recommend are not currently Android configured.
Obviously Photoshop remains the industry benchmark processing suite but it is hugely complex and expensive. We think you can do the majority of your preparation on your iPad.
If you want to use low cost photographic printing, and are printing up to c 75cmx100cm the JPEG photo library image is likely to be all you need. If you want to enlarge to larger sizes you may need to work with uncompressed image files. But because these can be very large indeed (>100mb) they maybe difficult to upload/send by conventional email and you might need to use a service like Dropsend.
We strongly recommend that you use good online printers (www.pics2posters.co.uk) rather than the highly automated and sometimes cheaper photographic sites. Pics2posters also provides exhibition quality frames and canvasses and has considerable expertise in how best to wrap or edge your image.
Note that photographic print papers and canvasses possess more limited colour palettes than your backlit iPad so you will most probably see a modest degradation of colour intensity in the printed image. For images requiring complete colour accuracy App2Art recommends that you only look at more expensive art printing methods such as Giclee printing. This uses acid free art grade papers and light fast inks so the image will not deteriorate over time.
Generate a replay of the keystrokes behind your painting
Some applications such as Brushes records your brushstrokes and this can allow you to generate a video replay of the keystrokes behind the construction of your image. Procreate also offers a video replay export option and Sketchbook Pro a more circumscribed video export function.
You should be aware of the default height to width ratios applied to most art apps is 4:3 and unless you are happy to crop your image this may impact your "off the shelf" framing options. Some apps like Artrage or Procreate, do allow you to determine dimensions when you first create your canvas. Artrage lets you pick different canvas textures too. Equally, many photographic apps and software such as Apple's Aperture allow you to alter canvas size and characteristics after the image has been created.
You can contact us at App2Art firstname.lastname@example.org