Illustration Hacks; 12 tips to improve your sketching on iPad

Scriba Stylus
Nov 9, 2016 · 4 min read

Digital art is taking over for cartoonists, graphic designers… and anyone who creates art these days. The iPad is one of the most easily accessible and user friendly tablets on the market and it’s great for digital sketching. If you’re making the switch from analog to digital drawing, sketching and painting, here are some tips to make the transition easier.

Get a Hold on the Basics

Just because you’re using a tablet to draw doesn’t magically mean you’ll become a better artist than you were before. The quality over your art will only get better as you do. Spend a good amount of time practicing with real paper and a pencil and learn all the basics before making the switch to an iPad. Basic techniques like figure drawing, perspective, shadowing and colour theory all make great places to start. Once you have mastered them, it will be much easier to transfer your skills to a tablet.

Get a Good App

There are many apps available that offer various tools and options to help you sketch. Once you’re ready to start on the iPad, check out apps like:

- Brushes

- ArtRage

- ArtStudio for iPad

- Adobe Ideas

- Sketchbook Pro for iPad

- Sketches 2

- Procreate — Sketch, paint, create

They will give you the tools you need in order to create your next masterpiece. You can also use applications like Osmo to combine tablet and real-world drawing.

Colour Last

Similar to real-world drawing, you’ll usually want to start in black and white sketching. This way you can establish where everything is, sizes and dimensions before adding in your colours. If you dive in, colour first, you may get overwhelmed with all the colour options.

Use Layers If Possible

If your app allows you to, make sure to utilise the layers feature. With layers, you can group pieces of your drawing together and lay them on top of each other, editing them independently for different looks. Removing or changing a whole layer means less time tapping the undo key if you make a large mistake, testing different layers with each other and overall a smoother manipulation of your end product.

Start Big and Go Small

If your end product is going to be a large document, make sure to start with a large board. If you draw on a small board to start with and try to increase the size later, you’ll end up with a blurry and pixelated end product that will end up being a waste of all your hard work. Remember, you can always zoom in on the tablet in order to work on more detailed areas of your sketch.

Work With Old Material

If you sketch with a pencil and paper, scan it and finish it digitally. This is great when you’re first starting out because you don’t have to start from scratch on the iPad but you can get experience colouring, shading and finishing something you already started.

Explore and Be Patient

Use all the options and tools your app allows, from texture brushes, photo textures, lighting features, and more. Take the time to see what each feature does and learn how to use it. Your sketches will be all the better in the end.

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