iPad for illustration--can someone help me think through this?

  • @LauraA

    Is Fresco only available with the full subscription? What do you think of it? I am loath to upgrade from the photography plan because of the extra monthly expense, but we'll see.

    IMO it's pretty rough still. Definitely not worth the money considering Procreate is available at one single purchase price, so even if Fresco got close to Procreate in terms of functionality or quality, I still wouldn't pay monthly for it.

    If you needed to do a lot of selections and cropping and photo editing, I'd consider using Affinity Photo app instead since it's also just one single purchase price.

    For me, I'm already paying for Photoshop so I get Fresco anyway, but it's still clunky to use compared to Procreate.

  • I guess I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I feel like I'm the only person that the Ipad/Apple Pencil/Procreate wasn't a game changer for. I have the Ipad pro 11 inch (whatever the smallest gigabite size is). To be honest I mostly use the Ipad as a second screen to watch youtube/netflix while I work on my laptop. I tried to love Procreate but I just don't seem to create the same standard of work I can on Photoshop. Maybe it is because I am so much more familiar with Photoshop and haven't figured out my way of working in Procreate.
    I do use Procreate to thumbnail and doodle while I watch TV, but realistically in terms of expense it probably wasn't worth it as I thought I'd be doing a lot more work on it. I don't regret buying it though as I like having an Ipad to use for various reasons. Not trying to put you off buying one, just my personal experience!

  • SVS OG

    Thanks for all your additional views! I ordered the iPad this afternoon. what I'm secretly hoping is that it will force me to simplify my process somewhat, if that makes sense. And I'm hoping it will increase my ideation/drawing time overall. I understand your point, though, @eriberart. I don't know which I will end up using more, but I have seen some very nice work on Procreate, so we'll see. And I think if for some reason I didn't use the iPad, my husband would probably like to have it!

    You have some good points there, @duttychai. I'll try to look into those.

    Thanks for your help, everyone!

  • I'm all for the Ipad Pro 12,9 inch with 250G storage, got it a couple of months ago and I'm loving it! I do almost all my illustration work on it now, only do final touches in Photoshop. (But I'm currently going back and forth between two places every week so the Ipad is a lot more convinient than a Cintiq or other stationary display tablets, maybe that will change in the future. I still feel that Photoshop is better than Procreate, although Procreate is very good!). I think you will be very happy with it!

    Another Ipad related tip for illustrators - even though it's really nice to be able to draw digital while watching Netflix on the sofa (right!?), I started to feel it in my neck and wrist. And even though the Smart Folio (which I have) is good I didn't feel it was enough for longer periods of working on it. So I got this stand - Parblo adjustable tablet stand :


    I'm sure there are a lot of other good stands out there but I'm really happy with it. Feels sturdy (even when putting your hand on it while drawing) and offers many options for the incline 🙂 and it's rather small and foldable when not using it! Sorry, a little bit of a shameless plug, but I was just so happy when I found it ;P

  • SVS OG

    @KajsaH Thanks for the recommendation! I'm looking at everything in these links. And it's not a shameless plug unless you own the company! On the contrary, I like hearing what has worked for other people!

  • (Edit: Wow, I didn't realize how long this is. Hopefully there's some useful info in there.)

    As an iPad Pro + Procreate user, I'd echo much of what has been said so far.

    I like the idea of a larger Cintiq type screen and the freedom of Photoshop, but the portability of the iPad Pro is really nice. And Procreate is very good and so far worth the minor inconveniences.

    I opted not to get cellular because when I'm out and about I have decent access to wifi. But, if you rely on wifi at the places you are visiting (coffee shop, library, etc) you really want to also get a VPN service like NordVPN or ExpressVPN or something like that. Public wifi is convenient but not the safest thing to use without a VPN of some kind. (Good VPN services will still cost money, but it will be cheaper than a data plan for an iPad and most VPN services let you connect a number of devices like phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)

    I went with the 12.9" iPad Pro for the larger screen. I have used smaller iPads as well and I like the larger size.

    I got the smallest storage, which is 32 Gb. Since my iPad is not my main device, I end up archiving or storing my finished artwork files on my main computer. So, I really only need enough storage to keep my "in progress" files. So far I've had no space issues. I should also note that I do pretty much just artwork on my iPad, and don't have music, movies, etc on it to take up space.

    When I backup or archive from my iPad to my main computer, I copy three files of each final piece:

    • Procreate file
    • Photoshop PSD file
    • Flat PNG image file

    I will then delete the files off of my iPad.

    A note on backups. I do a regular onsite AND offsite backup of my main computer. I'm on a Mac, so my onsite backup is a Time Machine hard drive and my offsite uses a service called Backblaze. It may seem like overkill, but backups are like insurance. It's a pain to deal with when things are going well, but when you need it you're glad you had it in place.

    There is an app called Astropad (www.astropad.com) that lets you use your iPad as a drawing tablet for your Mac. It allows your iPad to basically become an extended display for your Mac, and so you could use Photoshop (or any Mac app really) with the Apple Pencil on the iPad. If I run into a situation where Procreate on the iPad is a bit too limiting, I can export a PSD file, open it in Photoshop on my Mac, and then use Astropad (I use Astropad Studio) to continue working on it without the limitations of Procreate. Of course using Procreate and Photoshop is different, but I've done some experimenting and found that I can create the same artwork in both and it looks and feels the same. So, just something else to consider. (Also note that the latest version of macOS does have a feature called "Sidecar" which is like this, but it's not really tailored to artists. Astropad has refined the process and so it's a pretty seamless experience.)

  • SVS OG

    @drawnbyshawn Thanks, Shawn! I have a couple of questions:

    Any reason why .PNG? I'm just ignorant. Does it save more info? I usually create .jpegs just because I can put them in the photos on my phone and upload them to Instagram.

    I don't know much about backup services, so why did you choose Backblaze? I do agree that an offsite backup is good, and I noticed that I have already used a lot of my iCloud space though I have the 50G. Photos and backups, I think.

    And finally, I took a look at Astropad, and I see that it's $12/month. I've already got a few such monthly payments, so I hesitate to get another. And I would have sidecar and a Cintiq. Is there any reason it would be worth it for me to pay for Astropad instead of just transferring it to the computer and using the Cintiq?

    Thanks for your help!

  • @LauraA

    Either JPG or PNG would work fine. I don't have a really great reason for choosing PNG other than that I just like it. My thought process on the three file formats is:

    • Keep the native format in case you want to continue working on it in Procreate.
    • Create a Photoshop PSD file, which you can then continue to work on in Photoshop if needed.
    • Create a flat image (PNG or JPG) to have as a reference or just a "snapshot" at the finished stage.

    Backblaze is one that got good reviews when I was searching for a backup service. There are definitely others out there that are good too. I'd just do a search and look for reviews for different services. (Carbonite is another one that I've heard is good.)

    For Astropad, I do have an annual plan for Astropad Studio. And I have an education discount, so it's like $45 a year I think. Still, even at the normal price it's a relatively inexpensive alternative to a Cintiq. But ... if you have a Cintiq then there's really no reason for it. (You may have mentioned you had a Cintiq in an earlier post and I just missed it.)

  • SVS OG

    @LauraA Jpegs reduce image quality - ...i think you can choose a lossless jpeg though through setting...? I alway try to save and upload png or tiff files if possible - Each time you save something as a jpg it loses some image quality - jpegs are considered a "lossy" format because they automatically compresse the image information a bit - there should be a warning label on them for artists 🙂

  • @Kevin-Longueil Yes, you are right! I can't believe I forgot that detail. 🤦🏼♂

  • I'm a hardcore analog guy, so I too was worried about the cost of an iPad and the risk of investing in a platform that I might not want to stay with. I opted for the 'minimum possible' solution and got this a few months ago: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XQZNM5S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It was only $329 and it works perfectly for me, with enough power and storage (128GB) to dabble in Procreate. Please, note, my creations are more sketch-like over full-color, painting-like art.

    Having experienced the digital world, I have to say, it's worth the investment in a "Dang" expensive option. You won't regret it.

    Like others have mentioned, get a good case/cover and a paper-like screen protector. Storage will always be an issue. Investing in a good cloud-based service might help.

  • SVS OG

    @drawnbyshawn Thanks for the response! I see, yes, that Astropad could be less expensive than a Cintiq! But I do already have one and use it daily, so I'll stick with what I have.

    @Kevin-Longueil I tried creating a .png and found I could import it to Photos on my phone and post it on Instagram, so I'll use that now. Thanks! (Not that one can see the tiny Instagram squares so well anyway, but at least I'll know I have a good flattened and post-able copy of the image.)

    @dickdavid Thanks for your input! Since I want to do some serious painting, I got the iPad Pro. I also got the Apple Folio cover and am currently exploring paper-like screen protectors on Amazon.it, since they don't have the same brands as on Amazon.com. I did find some, though!

  • @LauraA I've been looking at this, which was a Kickstarter a while back. Great reviews, but a little pricey (for my low end iPad). Might be worth it for a Pro iPad.


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