Life drawing with an iPad

I’ve been taking my husband’s iPad to life drawing for the past few sessions and it’s such an exciting new tool for artists! I downloaded the Brushes (now called Brushes Redux) program for less than $10. I put just a few moments into figuring out how to pick a color, pick a drawing tool, change the size and make a new page and then headed off to my weekly life drawing group. I took my usual kraft paper and big bag of multi-colored pencils, chalks and watercolor sticks just in case I got frustrated and couldn’t manage the new toy in the demanding quick time slots but I got on with it like wildfire!

We start with one minute poses. I always start with colored paper so that I can eventually draw in the highlights, so I just flooded the new canvas with grey then quickly grabbed a different color for each pose.

This 5 minute pose allowed me to try out a greater variety of drawing tips so I got to play with size and texture. This is like having a big box of pastels at your fingertips as well as a whole shelf of any color of nice Canson paper.

With 15 minutes available, I suddenly discovered the transparency aspect to the paint color and played with the underlying pink as if it was watercolor. You can pick color, the depth of light and dark, the transparency with the color tool. The drawing tip tool offers many different textures, width and saturation of the drawing tool giving a huge range of options.

Our group ends with two 30 minute poses so I really went to town with this one. When I draw with traditional tools, my drawings look pretty much like this anyway so this new tool is just enabling me to further my own natural style with an endless toolbox of “pastels” and “papers”.

What I’m not showing you here is the exciting feature of replaying the actual quick video of all the brushstrokes that make up the image. So exciting! When I got home, I finally got around to reading the manual for the Brushes program. learned about many other neat features that I hadn’t had time to discover by myself in my first session like the 6 layers available, for example and how to get the images off the iPad.

The second week, we had a male model as our group alternates male and female each week. I had offered anyone else in my group the iPad but as no one else wanted to experiment, I just used it myself.  One minute pose.

I decided to just go for it and try to use it more as a life painting than life drawing opportunity and started to use wider brushes and juicy washes with pastel effects on top… or whatever!! When you’re working so fast, you just make a quick switch and try it BUT there’s a great undo feature so you can step back many many steps in case you decide you’re heading in the wrong direction. Big bold strokes of saturated colors, playing with textures.

The last 30 minute pose of my 2nd session with the iPad Brushes program. What’s so fabulous about this tool is that you never have to wait for paint to dry, you have every tube of color on your shelf and every brush or pastel or drawing pen you could wish for. Plus it fits in your purse or day bag!! How sweet is that??? I’m completely stoked! More drawings coming soon…

(By the way, at this early stage of digital painting, I was using only my fingers and only one layer. I had not yet discovered the magic of working in layers and using a stylus of some kind.)

0 thoughts on “Life drawing with an iPad”

    1. Yes, it’s a very exciting tool!! Honestly, it’s better than real paint when you can just grab it and use it faster than you could even begin to reach for a paint tube or squish it onto a pallette. For plein air or live work, it’s quite a revolution and continues to inform future artwork with traditional materials.

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