One week with the iPad Pro

I’ve been trying to do much more with iPad Pro this week because it is new and I’d like to use it as a main computer. The only thing is, is that when I’m at home I seem to be sitting down in front of the computer and it is much easier to use DragonDictate to do the dictation of whatever I’m writing. For example, I was at my desk and opened up Byword on my Mac ready to start this post for NoStylus website. It is true that I will get much better dictation service from the proper dictation application, but I really do want to try and put together more website posts using just the iPad Pro. So I stopped what I was doing and picked up the iPad Pro which were sitting next to me on my desk and I began again. I can also use Byword on the iPad, but because I want this to be a journal entry as well as a blog post and I had Day One open, I started to write there. So far, it’s not going too badly, but I do have to acknowledge I could work slightly faster using DragonDictate.

Made with Procreare

iPad Pro for digital art

Last night I spent a couple of hours with the iPad Pro using the application Procreate. Procreate is an amazing application for drawing and painting on the iPad. I had a photo of some Street Art and I wanted to turn it into a cartoon style illustration. I used layers to draw various parts of the design. I have the outline on one layer and the background colour on another with other layers containing shadows and highlights. The best thing about the layers is you can decide it’s correct and doesn’t need to change and lock it so that you can’t destroy your work by mistake. The default inking bushes didn’t give me the width I was looking for, so I used painting brushes which were wider. It might be possible to make a wider ink brush because there are all sorts of settings for the brushes in Procreate. On this occasion I was too busy drawing to stop and have a look. Here is the speed drawing video of what I was doing.


Movie Making on the iPad Pro

Procreate records the work you do with your drawing and will save it as a video clip. I saved everything with this drawing I made and decided to put it into iMovie to do some extra movie editing. I used a good microphone to record a voice over and there were a couple of parts of the video that were better speeded up even further. I added some titles at the beginning and at the end and it was easy it was using iMovie. Next time I do some editing I will give Pinnacle another try. I have used previous versions of Pinnacle and was very impressed.

Different ways of looking at the iPad Pro.

I was listening to a podcast today when somebody who normally uses a Mac Book Pro was finishing up a week of using the iPad Pro instead. The guy did a lot of complaining about how it was unlike his MacBook. He was able to complete his tasks, but was very finicky about how the images were being rendered when posted from the iPad. There was another blog post from John Gruber earlier in the week in which he comes at the iPad Pro from the point of being a desktop or laptop user. Both of these people are entirely different from Federico Viticci. Federico has the mindset of using his iPad for everything and is not hamstrung by the old ways of thinking. I suspect that many times much of what he does, he does quicker than these other people do with desktops and laptops. I think that only using the iPad Pro for a week and then making a judgement based upon such a short amount of time is a mistake. When you spend more time with it, it’s going to be easier to find workarounds and even better, improved ways of completing tasks. Only then can you give a proper assessment having given it sufficient time to build up muscle memories and you’ve worked out good workflows.

My impressions

The device is phenomenal in terms of the quality of the product. It’s going to be even better when I get my Apple Pencil. As I am writing this, I know that my new stylus is in Milan and tomorrow morning will be in Barcelona being put on a truck ready for delivery to my house. I have a iPad Pro case on order from Amazon and I’m not sure when that’s going to be arriving. The sooner I get that the better, because I like to carry my iPad Pro around the house. I’m really scared of dropping it and either breaking the glass or putting a dent in the case.

I am still sitting in my office chair in front of my Mac, but I have my feet up on the desk and I’m leaning back as I dictate all of the words of this article. I moved the article into Byword which I should’ve done right from the start because it is the best text editor for iOS. Overall it hasn’t taken me much more time to work on the iPad Pro than if I was working using my Mac. The accuracy of the Siri dictation is not bad at all! My next trick will be to open up an application for blogging, either the WordPress application or I might use the other one called Blogsy. In the process of posting to my website I will add a picture. I will also add the video I made with Procreate and iMovie. I am enjoying using the iPad Pro for this purpose and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in doing my work in this way.


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The Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil is nice and thin and fits into my hand much better than the Wacom Creative Stylus. It does feel a little bit shiny and slippery, but I think I can get used to that. The Apple Pencil has a reassuring feel and weight to it and definitely is reminiscent of using an analogue drawing device such as a pencil or a pen. The end cap is more or less held on nicely with a magnet and the pointer at the other end can be screwed off if you need to make a replacement.

Applications updated for the Apple Pencil

First occasion most people will try with the Apple Pencil is going to be the Notes application from Apple. It isn’t a drawing application as such, but you can do some good sketch noting with it. You get the basic tools of a pen, a highlighter and a pencil for your drawings. There is a useful addition of a ruler which you can move around the screen and set at specific angles. This is very useful if you need the straight lines for precision work. The only other tool you have is the eraser tool. There are three sets of eight colour swatches. The first two of those are the colours and the last one of those is a set of greyscales, from white through to black. If you’re looking for an application that’s going to be good for drawing, then this isn’t it. It’s really just for some notes, as you don’t even get the ability to choose the size of the line. There again, if you want to do a simple pencil sketch, Notes could be just the job. The background is of a textured paper which you get to see more clearly when you zoom in as far as you are able to. By zooming in it is possible to do some quite detailed work with the Apple Pencil. When using the pencil tool in Notes it really does give the feel of putting actual pencil onto some paper with the marks you make. Press a little bit harder to get a darker line and lean the pencil over at an angle and you get some pretty realistic shading. The pressure sensitivity still works when you are using the Apple Pencil at an angle like this. It really is quite impressive the way the pencil works. There will be times when you want to rest your hand on the screen to get a better line and more control generally over your drawing. The Apple Pencil gives excellent palm rejection so you don’t get extra marks in your drawing where you don’t want them. There are some neat little features in the Notes application. For example when using the eraser tool you see a small round dot at the point of your Apple pencil to show you exactly where you are rubbing your drawing out. There seems to be something with the setup that makes the point of the eraser become a little bit larger. For the life of me though I can’t work out what I’m supposed to do to get that larger point and keep it. You will also notice when you are drawing near to the tool menu, it will disappear out of the way if you move your pointer towards it. It pops back into view when you finish the line being drawn.

Other Apple Pencil Applications

If you’re going to spend much time drawing, then you will need to have a proper drawing application to use and one I recommend is Procreate. Procreate is completely and properly updated to use on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. You’ll get many more facilities in terms of the range of tools and drawing options. It’s always good to have layers you use to separate your drawing. You will want to do that for protecting sections you’ve done and you don’t want to change any further. You will also be using layers if you want to have layer effects changing how one part of the drawing operates over the top of another.

Procreate drawing and painting application

Look out for a post coming soon here on NoStylus going into detail of how you can use the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro to create some insanely great artwork.

Going Post–PC with the iPad Pro

I won’t be going completely without using desktop computers. This is the case because I do need to use my Mac for dictation. Dragon for Mac is the bees knees when it comes to dictation. I can do Siri dictation on the iPad and I prefer to do that, than use the keyboard for typing. Not bad but not as accurate as Dragon. It’s not that I don’t like the iPad keyboard for typing, because with predictive text it can be as quick as or even faster than a physical keyboard. When you only need to do one tap to put in a long word or even do many long words one after the other, you just have to appreciate how good it is. Despite all of this, I now have my hands on a lovely iPad Pro.

Drawing and painting on the iPad

IPad Pro Apple PencilOne of my main reasons to get the iPad Pro is for digital drawing and painting and it seems that the Apple Pencil will be marvellous for the job. When I finally get the Apple pencil, that is. There is a wait of one or two weeks to get this product from Apple and I can’t believe that they didn’t have enough made for the launch of the iPad Pro. I am an artist and I used to be an art teacher and despite that I’m not brilliant at drawing these days. I’m quite out of practice after spending many years doing other things and not drawing much at all. I’m keen to get back into drawing again. I have been using a couple of different stylus with my previous iPad and I have both versions of the Wacom creative stylus. One has the usual rubbery end and the other has the harder point. The new Apple Pencil is more like the second version which has the harder end for drawing with. I find that one is quite clicky and hard on the surface when drawing and some of the applications don’t support it. The beauty of the Apple Pencil is, it is specifically made for the job. There is extra technology and hardware implementation on the iPad screen itself. This means that there is very little lag from where the drawing point is, to where the line appears on the screen. I expect this will also stop that thing happening in some applications on previous iPad apps where you would draw a line that was supposed to be straight and it would end up being kind of wavy. I would love to get my hands on an Apple Pencil now to try out. I should have called into the Barcelona Apple store on Saturday as I was passing.

Hitting the iPad Pro hard for the next month

I have promised myself that apart from the time I need to spend dictating text into Dragon dictate on the Mac I’ll spend has much time as possible using the iPad Pro. I’d like to see if I could transition to the small mobile device, despite it being quite a bit larger than the previous version. It should work out a lot easier having the ability to run two apps side-by-side on the screen. Each app being the same size as they used to be on the iPad Air 2. It makes it very easy to do a copy and paste from one application to another. I expect that one day we will be able to do a drag and drop in between two applications. Although, who knows what version of the operating system for iOS it will be when that will becomes available. The screen for the iPad Pro is lovely and a very high resolution which makes it a delight to work with. A truly immersive experience when using the iPad Pro. That is a very good thing when you use art applications. Keeps you in the zone and makes it more personal for your creativity.

My need to get a protective cover is holding me back

Despite the fact that the devices well-balanced and weighted and feels good to hold and use , it does feel a little bit slippery and precarious in my hand. I have become used to having my iPads in a decent protective cover. I prefer to have one that will protect the back as well as the front. I also like the smart covers that turn the screen off using the magnet sensors when you close it. I chose a cover from Amazon for the magnificent price of €15 rather than laying out the ridiculous amount of money for an Apple smart cover. As I was saying about my preference for dictation, I don’t have too much need for a keyboard. I’m not hankering after getting the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro or the Apple iPad Pro keyboard. I might still try one out though when I see one in the Apple Store on my next visit.

Logi CREATE Keyboard Case for iPad Pro

Other Mac apps I’ll need to use.


I do have an application on the iPad that will create e-books and it does a fairly good job of it. However, Book Creator doesn’t do the iBooks that I’ll need to use iBooks Author for. It’ll be interesting to find out which are the other OS X applications that I just can’t do without. There are occasions when all need to do some high-level photo editing and for that it’s still going to be better to use Affinity Photo and maybe I’ll have stick with that and Affinity Designer. I used Topaz Impression the other day also to modify a photo in a creative way. Seems like I might have to use the Mac for quite a few things…. Still, I’ll try to get as much use out of the iPad Pro. I’ll pick it up first and only when I really have to switch to the Mac will I change over.

The New iPad Pro

Getting setup with the iPad Pro

IPad Pro Surprise

I am quite delighted with the iPad Pro, even though it doesn’t have the same portability that I had with the iPad Air 2. It is less portable than it will be after I’ve got a cover for it. It seems like a big slippery bar of soap to carry around without having a cover. I have carried it around the house a few times already, but it does sometimes feel a bit precarious. I know I would certainly hate to drop it and break it. On account of having my mother visiting when the iPad Pro arrived I haven’t spent as much time with it as I would have liked to. I just know that I would have been using it constantly around the house and maybe even taking it with me outdoors. Perhaps I would have gone to the local store to buy a cheap neoprene cover to put it into for a little bit of protection.

Setting of the iPad Pro as a new iPad

In some ways it would have been easier to set it up from a backup of my iPad Air 2 and I pressed the button to see about it a couple of times. I didn’t go ahead with it because it wanted to do a download of the operating system which I didn’t think was going to be necessary or even a good thing to do. It’s probably the case that the iPad Pro iOS operating system is a little bit different from the version for the iPad Air 2. So I don’t know what was being downloaded, was it the version for the iPad Air or was it the version for the iPad Pro. In any case, I didn’t go ahead with it and decided to set up as a new iPad. Obviously, this takes longer and requires going into iTunes and specifying which applications I want to get loaded up onto the new iPad. The other thing which would have saved time is the organisation of the icons on the device. It would be nice to have had all of the icons set up just the way I had them before. I did some organising of the icons on my iPad Pro and I had its connected by cable to the iMac. I was also trying to do some organising of icons using iTunes and after doing a sync I lost all of my organising time as it reverted back to how it was before. So there was a lot of cursing and I started again!

iPad Pro Unboxed

My mom holding up the iPad Pro to show just how large the beast is

First impressions of the iPad Pro

Blood hell, it’s a complete and utter beast of an iPad. It’s enormous, massive and decidedly huge. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time, in fact a couple of days later it already seems quite normal. There are some apps that have been optimised for the iPad Pro to properly take advantage of the extra space available. At this early stage, a good number of applications are still just blown up larger versions of how they are on the smaller iPad. That doesn’t really bother me too much as having things bigger is helpful to my older eyes anyway. It’s one thing for applications to be optimised for iPad Pro in terms of how it fills the extra space available and then there is the other question of the Apple Pencil. It’s going to take some time before some of the applications are fully updated to use on this device. So my first impression is mostly based on the size of the beast. In terms of what you can do with it it is not hugely different from the smaller iPad. Certainly, it does make a difference having the extra space so you can better run more than one app at a time. There are some applications, such as Safari you can put to the left side of the screen and then pulling another one from the right-hand edge. After you’ve pulled in the second application from the right-hand edge as you can with the latest updated applications pull across further so you have the split in the middle and the two applications showing equally. This is really handy if you’re using one application for research and the other application for taking notes or writing. It’s going to be a big improvement when there is a better way of choosing the secondary apps. At the moment all we have is a long list and you might have to scroll quite a long distance to get to the app you want. This is all iOS 9, but it has the space to do it properly on the iPad Pro.

Using two applications side-by-side

iPad Pro apps side by side

At the moment I have Safari sitting on the left side of the iPad screen and I have Byword to the right. It is really easy to copy some text and then to paste it into Byword on the right-hand side. There is a good range of applications you can use in this way, writing apps such as Drafts, mind mapping apps such as iThoughts, social apps such as messenger for Facebook, Twitterific and Whatsapp, notetaking apps such as Notes, OneNote and Evernote and you have applications like Buffer, Omni focus and 1Password. So there are plenty of available applications to use side-by-side on your iPad Pro. Switching from one to the other is a seamless operation. Another possible use would be to have your photos on one side and the drawing application on the other if you wanted to have a quick reference for your creative work.

Waiting to be creative with an Apple Pencil


Apple Pencil

It is without a doubt absolutely terrible and hard to believe that Apple sent out the iPad Pro without having made enough units of the Apple Pencil. I am going to have to wait one or two weeks before I get my Apple Pencil and this is a very poor showing by Apple. They knew how many iPad Pros they had for sale you would have thought they could have matched that number with the Apple Pencil. The pencil/stylus is a huge differentiator and selling point for the iPad Pro and it is obvious that anybody buying the iPad Pro is going to want to get their hands on an Apple Pencil. Maybe many people bought multiple Apple Pencils for fear of losing one. Then again, perhaps Apple just got it wrong and cocked up. I could be one of the lucky ones in only having to wait one or two weeks, because there are some people who have a delivery date at least one month away. We can only hope that Apple will get their finger out now that they have some definite numbers and get those Apple pencils that we have ordered quicker than presently stated. I think it may also be the same case with the Apple iPad Pro keyboard. I’m not really interested in getting one of those for myself at the moment. The keyboard end of things might not have been so bad because Logitech have made a keyboard called Logitech Create and customers have been tempted by those when the Apple keyboard wasn’t available. I prefer to dictate as much as possible and the software keyboard is not bad if you make full use of the predictive text. Sometimes you often only need to do one tap to put in a complete word, which makes typing quite fast.

Amazon com Logi CREATE Backlit Keyboard Case with Smart Connector for iPad Pro 920 007824 Computers Accessories

Changes to the software keyboard

On account of there being extra space available, there have been some changes to the keyboard. There is an extra row of numbers and from these numbers you can also get to some other symbols. If you tap and hold down on the number 7 you’ll get a pop-up which will allow you to insert the & instead. Another way of doing this is to do a tap flick on the key to quickly get that other symbol. On the main keyboard itself, on the top line of the letters you get access to square brackets and a backslash. The tap and hold and the flick tap doesn’t work with these, you have to use the shift key to get at the curly brackets and the pipe symbol. That probably makes sense, as you will be more likely to do a flick tap by mistake on the letter keys than you would on the number keys. You still have a full set of numbers and symbols accessed by the .?123 key in between the key for the smiley’s and the dictation key with the microphone symbol. Another extra on the new keyboard is a caps lock key and I’m not sure that is a good idea. I have the caps lock key turned off on my physical keyboard connected to my Mac. Is it going to be too easy to hit that key and end up with all capital letters by mistake, only time will tell.

Am I happy with the iPad Pro?


Absolutely, yes I will be even more happy when I get my hands on the Apple Pencil. The developer of iColorama has said she’s going to be updating it for the iPad Pro quite soon. Procreate is already pretty amazing on this new large iPad and ArtRage is looking pretty good too. I can’t wait to get into the swing of creating many more creative pieces with the iPad Pro. I have ordered an inexpensive smart cover from Amazon. This is where I usually get my covers from for my iPads. There were one or two that were advertised were not available until the end of the month, so I didn’t have a lot of choice. The one I shall be getting for €15 will do the job just as well as the expensive ones you can get from Apple. At least I won’t be so squeamish in carrying the iPad Pro around the house, scared I might drop it and break it. I love the iPad Pro and I’m going to do as much as possible with it and give the iMac a rest.

Three non-mainstream iPhone apps that you may want to check out

There are loads of apps to find on the mobile market, overflowing with user favorites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but the App Store actually has more than just the obvious ones to explore. It lists hundreds of thousands of apps that are extremely useful for everyday tasks, albeit not as popular as the aforementioned. If you want to play with some new apps that deliver fantastic usability, here are three apps that you may want to check out.


Don’t you just hate it when you take videos and you forget to take it horizontally? Watching videos on vertical is just disappointing as it is 10x smaller than what it’s supposed to be. With Horizon, however, users will never have to worry about taking vertical videos by accident ever again. The app works with the iPhone’s internal gyroscope to instruct it to always take shots on vertical. It supports a variety of resolutions and aspect ratios, as well as 8 built-in filters. Horizon can be downloaded for free but shots will have watermark on them. To remove it, users will have to buy the premium version.

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RockMyRun is an app for those who want to listen to consistent, upbeat music that can help them stay motivated throughout their workout. The app runs mixes of a variety of genre, from Hiphop to EDM. One of the best things about RockMyRun is that the beats can be adjusted to fit into the pace of a user. It can run in the background so that people can use other apps such as Runkeeper while running. The free version of the app lets people add mixes of up to 45 minutes. The premium version removes this restriction as well as the ads that come along with the free app.


If you’re a frequent traveler, LoungeBuddy can be beneficial for you. It helps users locate airport lounges at over 400 airports around the world, complete with details on amenities and operating hours. There are also user reviews on the app to help alerts users which ones are good and ones that not worth paying for.

These apps may not be getting a lot of support compared to the popular ones but they’re still quite profitable. Take for example the first app, Horizon, which has over 500,000 downloads. If even ¼ of that downloads purchased the premium version, it means this simple app has garnered around $124,000. Gaming Realms, host to a variety of recreational gaming titles, says that the boost in mobile sales can be attributed to the advancements of Internet capabilities of smartgadgets. Almost everyone uses a smartphone, which explains why even the non-popular apps can garner a decent profit.

Do you use a non-mainstream app that you’d want to share to the rest of the readers? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments section!

Creating art with iColorama on the iPad

I have fallen in love with the application iColorama. There isn’t a perfect art application on the iPad, but iColorama has such a lot in it. It is more than just an application for applying filters to photos. In the Apple App Store there are a huge number of photo filter type of applications of varying quality. Some of them just apply a single filter which works over the whole of the image and doesn’t have any adjustment. While there are other photo filter applications for iOS that are more capable with layers and masks. iColorama will let you make the basic adjustments to photos, such as exposure, contrast and will even let you work on levels and more. There are other applications that will do that part job easier or better, but there is enough in there to improve your photos ready for doing the real artistic work in iColorama.

IColorama 1

Creating photographic art with iColorama

Take a photograph using the camera on your iPad or iPhone and get it into the iColorama application. I can also use Wi-Fi on my mirrorless Sony camera to import photos and work on them on the iPad. You can start with a blank canvas if you want to, but often it is easier to start with a photo you have on your photo roll in your Photos app. When you bring your photograph in, choose which resolution you want to use and in most cases you just might as well choose the highest resolution. I’m working with the iPad Air 2, but if you have an older model you may need to choose a lower resolution. Here is a photo I worked on in iColorama and posted to Facebook.

The application only works in landscape mode, which is okay even though it is not optimal when you’re working with a portrait shaped picture. In the first menu Tone you have a number of menu items you can choose from to enhance your photo. Depending upon the adjustment you wish to use, you get a number of sliders, switches and presets to work with. With some of the adjustments you’ll be getting blend modes, allowing you to get a particular look with that specific effect. One such effect is Duotone and as well as the blend modes, you also have 40 presets. You get all sorts of weird and wonderful looks for your photos, mixing and matching the settings for the controls for these effects. There is a menu item for converting your photo to black-and-white and another one which will do the black-and-white plus one colour. So, the first step is to use these basic effects to improve the starting point for your photo artistic endeavours.

Going crazy with the artistic choices in iColorama

IColorama Tunnel

It’s possible to go directly to the Form menu and choose something which is going to deform and alter your image so that it looks nothing like the original photo. For example you might use the Escher filter and make everything in the image spin. Same sort of thing if you use the Tunnel effect or the one called Deforms. Who knows, you might be just looking to create a fancy pattern using the colours available in the photo and you’re not bothered if it’s going to look completely unrealistic. We are talking about making art after all.

IColorama 2

In the Texture menu what you are doing basically is to overlay an image containing a texture. It’s possible to change the size and contrast of texture as well as choose the blend mode , rotation and hue. There are 170 different textures to choose from, some of them more useful than others. In any case, there is something in there for everybody, whatever your artistic temperament.

IColorama 3

No layers – No problem

With these sorts of applications it’s quite likely you’re going to want to combine various effects and processes as you create your artwork. When you have an application like Procreate, Art Studio or Pixelmator for iPad, it is really useful to have layers. Change the look of your image merely by reordering the layers in a stack. You’re able to keep the various processes and masking separated onto a specific layer with applications such as these. Unfortunately, with iColorama we don’t have layers. Not really a problem as you have workarounds allowing you to blend one image on top of another and use masking tools to specify where the effect is going to go. You do need to kind of know which order to use the iColorama effects in your process to get to your end point.


Book visual - iPad Art Magnet

Get this Book for free to read on your iPad, iPhone or Mac in iBooks.

Applying and saving as you go

Because there is so much with these effects to configure and try out it’s a good idea to experiment. Try out a few of the different presets and see what they do, if you like something you can use the Save button. Bring the image back in later either to start fresh or to blend over something else you’ve done. Or what you can do, is to use the Apply button which will create a step in the process you can go back to at any time. So if you’ve applied something to the image and it’s not really working out with the next stage of the process, just go back to a previous point.

Knowing iColorama and using serendipity.

It’s a good idea to spend a good long time playing with application trying out all of the different effects. There is so much in the application it’s going to take you a long time. Start off with your favourites and gradually build on your knowledge of what the application can do. Join the iColorama Facebook page which is a community of artists in itself. You’ll find other digital artists using the application and quite often they will say what they’ve done in order to create the image they are showing off. You can take one of your own images and try to replicate the effects and learn as you go. You will often find there will be slightly unexpected effects happen with the combination of two or more iColorama effects. Sometimes it’ll just make your image look terrible and then other times you’ll think it looks fantastic. I think it’s great to find these serendipitous creations in your artwork and keep them if they look good. Keep on learning.

Icolorama FB2

Brushwork in iColorama

Within some of the effects you can use brushes. There is a huge range of brushes available and you can also import extra brushes into the application. These brushes will also work with the masking tool. There is a brush menu giving you a number of brush tools. When you choose a tool like Bristle, it starts off with a completely white canvas covering your photo underneath. Choose one of the presets and start painting onto this white canvas for your painting to emerge. It’s possible to get a painterly effect and it is just like you are smudging the paint around on the canvas. Change the brush size, opacity and if you click on the icon with the word Set underneath it, you’ll find even more controls to play with. If you fancy going expressionistic with your painting, dial in some colour variation and size variation to the brush. It’s fantastic what you can come up with.

IColorama 4

 Making Adjustments to the brushes

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Using with other applications

To use with other iPad drawing and painting applications it’s quite easy. Simply use the Save button and save the image to your Photo Roll and then open up in the other application. Another way to do this, is to use the share option on the menu and then use the button for open in other app. The applications you can send your image to will depend on what you have available on your device. On mine I could send it off to ArtRage, Pixelmator for iPad, Graphic by Autodesk and a whole range of other applications. I tested this out by sending it off to ArtRage, I applied some paint, saved the digital painting to the Photos app and then I brought it back into iColorama. It all worked out okay, except that it didn’t come back in at the same resolution as it went out. The painting came back in at a lower resolution which depends upon the maximum resolution available in the other application you’re using. In some cases It’s not going to matter too much. With some artwork you’ll need to keep it at the full resolution so you have to be careful which other applications you use. Either that, or just keep all of your artwork within iColorama.

ICiolorama StyleSketch

The special effects of iColorama

There are a few possibilities within iColorama which will give you special effects. From the Style menu you could go into Style/Sketch and use one of the 12 presets to give you something looking a bit like a crosshatched pencil sketch. There is a switch in the bottom menu which will put some of the colour back into your image, or use in conjunction with the opacity slider to set up your picture. You can turn your image into just the blobs of colour by using the Style/Tensor effect. The Style/Flow effect is interesting with 11 presets each allowing you to change the level of highlight, shadows and bleaching. Within the Style/Painterly effect you have presets which will give you the Van Gogh starry starry night effect with the swirling of the colours. You have to be careful with many of these special effects of iColorama, as it is quite easy to completely destroy and obliterate a perfectly good piece of digital art. If you use them in moderation, then it could be just what you’re looking for, for your image.

IColorama StyleFlow

iColorama is fantastic for digital art

This application is quite marvellous in the right hands. I have seen some super examples of digital drawing and painting in the iColorama Facebook group. I’m very happy with what I’ve created myself working with my photos using iColorama. It’s a hugely flexible and capable application and just about any creative person could have a lot of fun creating digital art with iColorama. When I’m using the application to create my photographic art images, I’ll often end up with six or seven images I’ve saved along the way which I like for various reasons. It can be difficult for me to choose which one is the image I consider to be the finished one.

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Getting better with each update

I would really like to see the addition of layers within the application at some point in time. The brush settings are not bad but could probably be improved upon, for instance the developer could make it easier for choosing the size of a brush. These are minor inconveniences in an excellent application. The developer is active in improving the application showing off evidence of art creation using new tools in iColorama. The application can only go in leaps and bounds getting better with each new iteration.


Book visual - iPad Art Magnet

Get this Book for free to read on your iPad, iPhone or Mac in iBooks.

Learning to use applications on iOS

More art applications on my iPad

Yesterday I spent a lot of time working with various iOS drawing and painting applications. I bought a couple of new ones and I quite like them. I got one called Glaze which gives some very interesting effects that look quite painterly. I’m still trying to work out how to use the application. With some of the effects available I think it’s better to make some adjustments to the photo beforehand to boost the colours as the effects can make the picture go quite muddy looking. It’s quite a complicated interface and I need to have a look at the help system built into the application to find out how to make it work. It does this auto thing where it is scrolling through various styles and I’m finding it’s possible to swipe through the history. I do like to have an application that gives me layers I can work with, so I can put one effect across the top of another. I don’t seem to have layers with this Glaze, but what I can do is to save out an image and put into Procreate or Art Studio. So then I’ll be able to do any blending of images I need to do. There is a masking system which would be more useful if it was possible to change the size of the brush. I like the way that in Procreate it’s possible to get a marker on the screen showing the shape of the brush which makes it easier to do the painting, whether it is a mask, paint or an eraser.

Learning to use applications on iOS

The conventions we use for working with a touchscreen are still evolving. Designers of applications are working out what works and what doesn’t work in terms of touching the screen. There are some things like the pinch to zoom using two fingers that are now baked into the vocabulary of working with the touchscreen. There are other things that are new and untested and when you pick up a new application on the iPad you might have to read the user guide to find out how to use it. In this application Glaze there are five zones at top of screen and you can drag images into the zones. When you have one of these selected, you touch and hold on your main image. It is then possible to drag and adjust the region displayed in the saved styles. I still haven’t fully worked out exactly how this works, but I suppose if I spend more time with the application I will work it out eventually.

A strange application called Glitché


I found the Glitché application mentioned in a tutorial on a website all about creating mobile artwork. It really does have some extremely weird visual effects. The application is even more strange with some of the effects being three-dimensional in nature. After the effect is applied you can touch the screen and move the image around in 3-D space. Even when you’re not using it, it kind of moves around by itself. The effect called Scene with the Glass setting is like looking at a photo through constantly moving molten glass. When you click on Done at the top of the screen you can then go to a share screen to send to the usual social networks or to save to your device. The application is quite impressive in a funny sort of way.

Updated my StartSSL Email security Certificates

Email security day

I got some reminder emails into tell me that my StartSSL certificates for three of my emails needed to be renewed. These certificates are free from this certification authority, but they only last for one year. If you want to pay you can make them last for longer. I haven’t found any need for paying as yet. You create the certificates through a process of validation of the email followed by certificate creation which is downloaded through your browser and added to your Keychain Access application on your Mac.

Book-visual-Email-Privacy.pngAfter I’ve got the certificate into the keychain I then exported out as a .P12 file and then send it to myself as an email. I do this so that I can open the email in the mail application on my iOS devices. All you need to do is to tap on the attached file in the email and follow the instructions to install the certificate on your iPhone or iPad. So if somebody sends you an email that has been encrypted with the certificate you’ll be able to read it on all of your devices.

SSL certificates versus using PGP/GPG

The first time you make one of these SSL certificates it seems like a complicated process. It’s not that complicated although I do have to remind myself each time I do it. Well I only have to do is once a year and my memory is not brilliant. Once you have the certificate installed on all of your devices is easier to use than PGP in some respects. All you need to do is to exchange emails with somebody else using the same system and forever after that your emails will be encrypted automatically. The emails are also decrypted by your email client automatically and the main thing to know is that these emails cannot be read by anyone else while they are in transit through the Internet.

Get a guide to create and install SSL Certificates on the Mac and iOS

I use both of these systems so people can encrypt email messages to me whichever of the systems are using. The advantage of using PGP is that you can use it to encrypt files and folders on your computer as well as for sending emails. The technology behind both of these email encryption systems are pretty similar so the thing to do is to use whichever one you find best for you.

How Do You Protect Your Personal Info In Emails?

Get the GPG Cheatsheet.

The first step to get you started with email encryption using GPG or Pretty Good Privacy. This will help you get your he around the concepts of using a private and a public key pair for encryption.

GPG Encryption

Apple Prison, Ghetto or Holiday Camp

I heard on a podcast somebody suggest that we live in prisons of technology

While I get the point the person was trying to make, I don’t necessarily agree with the analogy. You could possibly say we are in ghettos of technology. A ghetto being a place you can walk into, a place you can get out of although sometimes it might be a little bit difficult. Then again, I like to think of my Apple products ghetto as the Apple holiday camp. I chose to walk into this technological holiday camp of my own free will and I am having a great time whilst within. The services provided are fun and entertaining, as well as productive and help me to get things done. It is easier to live just in this one holiday camp than it is to sit astride two holiday camps with a foot in each. I tried that scenario when I bought an Android phone and an Android tablet to go with it. I still had my iPad and my Mac, so you might say I wasn’t truly fully committed to living in that Android ghetto or holiday camp. It wasn’t impossible to jump in between the two places, but it wasn’t much fun either.

Happy Camper

Is one holiday camp better than the other?

After trying out the two different holiday camps I can unequivocally say that the Apple camp is much more fun and easier to live in than the Android camp. The Android camp was lovely, interesting and a diversion for the first six months of being in there, but over time there were more annoyances and niggles and in the end I couldn’t wait to get out of the place. Some people wouldn’t be bothered by the services and facilities that were annoying me and that’s okay. It all depends on what you want to do and whether you expect to have the latest and the shiniest of new possibilities in your holiday camp. In the Android holiday camp, the swimming pool water had turned green and the owners of the place had stopped repainting the walls. There were workers outside the holiday camp with a new operating system in a wheelbarrow waiting to come in, but the owners hasn’t noticed they were there. It’s as if they wanted you to pay for a complete new holiday camp in order to get the latest and greatest new toys. It’s no wonder I went back to the Apple holiday camp where the new toys get installed as soon as they are ready. Apple applies paint to the walls and cleans the swimming pool to keep everybody within as happy as can be.

Prison, ghetto or holiday camp

Do you feel you are imprisoned by your technology? Perhaps you have to go with the Android because that’s all you can afford, so it feels more like a prison or a ghetto. It’s difficult to get out of and you have to make the best of it. Perhaps you aspire to moving to the Apple holiday camp and joining the happy campers or have you given up. Or have you been taken in by that syndrome and you have now started to cheer on the prison guards or the kidnapper. This might make you feel better in the short term but in the end you know you’d prefer to go and live in the other holiday camp. The two businesses providing similar services are competing with each other and that’s a good thing. It’s like the nuclear arms race for the technological holiday camps. Both places get better over time and the inmates all get a little happier. This is not to say that everybody is happy in either of the places. Even in the Apple holiday camp there are grumpy hard to please people always looking for extra improvements. Some people are never happy and were born to moan and others are just seeing how things could be improved and are just making helpful suggestions. When it comes down to it, neither of the two places are perfect. All I can say is that I’m living the life of a happy camper and I don’t feel imprisoned by my technology choices. What about you, how does your technology make you feel?

Day One of Record a Life

Record a Life the Good and Geeky Way

This latest Good and Geeky book has just been published on Amazon and is ready for you to buy. In the book I cover the how and why of journalling and recording your life using digital means. Why it’s good for your sanity and healthy to keep a journal close why did better to do it as a digital journal. I use the application Day One to bring together all of my life recording, life logging so I have just one place to go to search for anything. You can only put one picture in the post and it would be nice if you could have a slideshow or some way of having more than one picture. The answer to that is to create shorter posts each with a photo or to create a webpage with your photo using something like Adobe Slate. You can then make a post which links out to your webpage or slideshow from within Day One. Buy the Good and Geeky Record a Life book on Amazon.

Private or make it public.

Keep everything private within your Day One journal and have its password protected, whether you are using on your Mac, your iPad or iPhone. Then if you want to, from your iOS device it’s possible to send the post and to the world via Facebook and Twitter and also tumbler. It’s nice to have my private journal postings protected on my iOS devices by biometric fingerprint protection.


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