This morning, I went into my regular routine of just picking a portrait on either Sktchy, my Instagram feed, or RedditGetsDrawn and picked up where I left off with my traditional media. After all the wonderful comments and thoughts about using digital in addition to my traditional mediums made me realize learning a new tool isn’t going to hurt my watercolor practice. If anything, I’ve already figured out a few areas I could improve in my traditional practice.
After a few sketch pages, getting used to the different brushes and pens available on Procreate, I picked two that I liked the most and just went with it. One pen for the outlining (Studio Pen) and one brush for the painting (Flat Brush). I thought that after all of my whining about too many tools yesterday, focusing on two would be fine since I don’t use much more in my regular practice.
I know a few people commented about being overwhelmed with a digital studio set up because they haven’t used programs like Photoshop. You know what, though? Procreate is pretty instinctive in its user interface and other than a few ideas a new user might be unfamiliar with, you can easily get in and start drawing pretty easily.
One of the benefits of using a digital art studio like this is being able to draw on separate layers. The easiest way for me to describe layers is to imagine a few pages of laminate sheets and you can draw and paint on the different layers but each of them is translucent so when you combine them together, the images will stack on top of each other but with transparent backgrounds.
A question you might have is why use layers instead of doing everything on one canvas? Easy editing! Below, you’ll see the different layers I used while making this portrait. One layer was my initial pencil sketch that isn’t even in this image (no more need for eraser or accidental pencil marks left in your painted pieces). The next layer I created was the inked layer that basically solidified my pencil sketch into a opaque inked lines the same way I normally do with my India ink and brush. Next came painting the subject’s skin tones and facial features. Using the flat brush, I used a very basic palette using only about three colors and adding layers to increase value where needed—the same as with watercolors. And lastly, I created a layer for the hair. The reason I didn’t paint the hair on the same layer as the skin is because the brushes aren’t as maneuverable as a normal round brush, going from a thin tip to a broad wash. Basically, I’m sloppy with my lines and so I can go in and erase where I went outside the lines without destroying everything I did on the skin layer.
Well, as you can tell, I’m less overwhelmed with using the iPad. Some of my friends noted today that they can see it’s still “me” in the digital painting (which is pretty neat). Limiting some of my choices helped me from trying to use too many tools or colors. I’m excited to see what else I can make in the future. I don’t plan on quitting portraits, but I really want to explore some new territory this year.
What are some of your biggest frustrations with using the iPad to sketch, draw, or paint with?