One week with the iPad Pro

iPad as Main Computer

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 Procreate

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.

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 Good and Geeky going into detail of how you can use the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro to create some insanely great artwork.