Getting to grips with the Apple Pencil
I could clearly articulate my reasoning for investing in the iPad Pro. Firstly, I was hoping to speed up and separate out my process into specialist devices. Additionally, it made an excellent tool for transporting and presenting a full portfolio. Finally, I was really keen on locating the gap between my digital vector work and my looser hand-drawn work. I feel that the 'pendulum' of my progress keeps swinging between these approaches, slowing and slowing as I evolve my style even further.
Leaving my Comfort Zone
I knew it would take some getting used to and would probably mean going back to basics. That's all my observational drawing tasks from school, exploring mark-making in a non-tactile way and knowing the feel and pressure of the pencil and the screen. If you think about how many years you have to build a relationship between your hand gripping the pencil and a piece of paper, it made me sceptical as to how much of that relationship could really transfer over to the Apple Pencil. Looking back, it actually boiled down to being less of a problem with the pencil but more about the psychology of a realistic experience, non-permanency and on-the-fly digital layering.
My Wacom tablet sat watching me ruefully as I made friends with my new toy. It must have been a dramatic show to witness, with a great deal of initial frustration. Using a Wacom tablet had always been something I did only when necessary. The quality of the Wacom was quite low, being an entry-level model and we'd never become anything more than distant and formal colleagues in my working process. Following the frustrating learning curve, I can now safely say that the Apple pencil was a vast improvement on my current Wacom tablet in terms of performance and accuracy. It is everything you've heard and more.
Shortcut the frustration
If you're considering buying one, I have a few tips to speed up the frustrating experience at the beginning.
- Get your preferences moved over, in terms of app settings or integrations and installing new apps. I use Google Drive almost exclusively. Once I had got all the dots joined up between my preferred apps, I was able to run instead of stumble awkwardly.
- Invest time in modifying brushes and colour palettes. Transfer over any colour palettes you prefer working with. Download brushes or create your own. Procreate is so great and flexible for this. Adobe Draw was able to download all of my favourite colours in a flash. I'm working faster because I'm comfortable again. Being comfortable allows me to explore and create with confidence which is far more important than speed at the beginning.
- Do some exercises every day for the first couple of weeks. Go back to your basics with drawing and your trusty hand exercises with paintbrushes. Be consistent with practice and you'll start to build flair and confidence in the Apple pencil in no time. The great thing about going back to basics is that its familiarity helps the muscle memory to kick in and it's all zero-pressure tasks. Don't make things harder on yourself by jumping into complicated compositions.
- Go see what other people are doing online! I got so many great ideas and tips from other people's explorations.