Make Great Art on Your iPad – Paint, Draw, Share by Alison Jardine

Mar 28, 2019

Make Great Art on Your iPad – Paint, Draw, Share by Alison Jardine. London: Octopus Publishing Group, 2017.

Book description

In this somewhat unconventional entry, digitalEPIGRAPHY would like to draw your attention towards the general understanding of what using computers in producing art really means. The importance of knowing the platform and medium we use for digital documentation can’t be understated, therefore in our new series, we’d like to introduce some of our favorite books regarding the techniques and methods used when creating digital art. The first entry is written by Alison Jardine, a British artist, whose artwork encompasses new media, sculpture and painting. Her interest in painting on iPad goes back to the time of the first iPad’s release, when she made a drawing every day for 365 consecutive days, sharing them on social media. Since then, she has participated in several digital projects such as live painting at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, illustrated a book, and made iPad drawings for the cultural events surrounding the 2012 Olympics.

“Make Great Art on Your iPad” is a lot more than just a manual to some of the most popular software solutions available on the iPad. The book’s attempt is to teach skills that would improve not only drawing and painting on the iPad, but across any art media. The author links all digital sample projects to art history and masterpieces made by famous artists, while elaborating on just how important art is to a fulfilling life. The book’s message for us, artists, Egyptologists, graphic designers interested in documenting ancient Egyptian art, is to not be afraid of thinking out of the box when it comes to digital epigraphy and make utter use of the complete art studio that is offered by the genius portable device called iPad. Looking beyond the actual sample projects, in her introduction the artist provides a fresh look on the basics of composition, color, perspective, figure drawing, still life, landscapes, and portraiture. In the First Chapter, Jardine highlights digital tools that go beyond paper, pencil, canvas, and paint, recommending actual apps (Procreate is one of her favorites), with a preference for the simplest and most intuitive solutions. Throughout the entire book, step-by-step exercises illustrate a range of techniques on a variety of themes inspired by famous artists, such as Claude Monet and even Banksy among others.

Make Great Art on Your iPad – Paint, Draw, Share. Contents.

Excerpts from the Introduction

“Innovative in scope, Make Great Art on Your iPad is structured around classic themes in art, such as still life, landscape painting, portraiture, and perspective. Often iPad art is associated only with the graphic and illustrative arts found in genres such as video games. This book is grounded firmly in the traditions of the fine art world.

The chapters Great Composition and Color teach fundamental principles for any kind of art, while A Sweet Gesture teaches drawing skills. Other chapters lead you through drawing still lifes, portraits, animals, and challenging objects like glass, plastic, and reflective surfaces. As the skills of each chapter are mastered, there are plenty of projects that will continue to challenge, and, in turn, enrich the proficiencies of even accomplished iPad artists.

To inspire the reader further, “Masterworks” sections introduce exceptional artists who work in traditional media as well as on the iPad. From Banksy’s graffiti, Margaret Morrison’s pop-inspired hyperrealism, Janet Fish’s still lifes, Claerwen James’s modern portraits, and Gwen John’s paintings of cats, through to Schiele’s and Seurat’s masterpieces of drawing, the works of these artists give context to the themes of the projects.

Make Great Art on Your iPad will teach you all the skills needed to paint or draw in these different situations. If you have ever wanted to learn to draw and paint, whether on the iPad or not, or improve your iPad art skills, keep a sketchbook, or start a visual journal, this is the perfect book.”

The iPad Apps used in the book

“Although this book is titled Make Great Art on Your iPad, there is no reason at all why the projects won’t work on the Surface or any other tablet or smartphone. While some small specific features may differ, the general principles carry across, and most apps are available across platforms.

I value simplicity and I don’t like to have lots of complicated apps on my devices that I rarely use, so I prefer to work with ones that leave me free to create art and not spend time fiddling with awkward technicalities. To get started, download a copy of Procreate. As with most apps, it is free, but for a small payment you can also have the extra “advanced” features.

The book also features projects using Pen & Ink and ArtRage, the latter being a great all-around app that offers a very satisfying “painterly” experience. For “What Would Banksy Do?” I chose to use ArtStudio, because it is well-suited to graffiti-style spray painting. “Puppy Love” uses Tayasui Sketches Pro, which has a fantastic pattern-based tool and a craft knife.”

Creating art on a tablet computer

“One huge difference between a laptop or desktop computer and the iPad/smartphone is that with the latter you draw directly onto the screen.

…the Apple Pencil… … I have enjoyed learning how to use it to make marks similar to a real pencil, using side swipes and by varying the density and tone. The new apps also offer pressure sensitivity. In some apps, tilting the Pencil changes the way the paint is applied, producing spray rather than a line.

Although the paint tools mimic corporeal media, on the iPad you are in fact painting with light. For color mixing you work with RGB not RYB. In the traditional painting world, artists talk of hue (color), tint (hue with white added), and shade (hue with dark added).

In the digital world, the terms most commonly used are luminosity, saturation, light and dark, and color based on the HEX matrix. On the iPad, color mixing can be done by layering different luminous hues on top of each other, either on different layers or by using one the apps that work “wet on wet.”

Another advantageous feature is that you can zoom right in as if under a microscope, and then zoom out to look at the whole picture, allowing for detailed, intricate drawings. The key superpower of the iPad is the ability to layer, and then move between them. Painting in pigment, every brushstroke is a commitment. On the iPad, you can click onto a lower layer and put new tones directly under what has gone before.”

Sample pages

What we like

  • The book is very thorough and informative, while extremely inspiring and relevant even for the type of creative work digital fieldwork requires. Furthermore, the author writes in a chatty, accessible way, equally resonating with beginners or more experienced iPad artists alike. 
  • Some specifics on how to use the apps are covered by following through projects. Instructions and tips are organic parts of the lessons, rather than appearing in a separate section.

  • For certain projects, you can use your own preferred app to your liking, which is very thoughtful of the author in reassuring you that her book won't go out of date with each new app update. However, it is assumed that the reader has fluent knowledge of the apps used for these projects.

  • The projects are creative and fresh, enriched with quite a bit of art history, and are structured around classic skills and genres usually taught in art schools, teaching the reader some real art talents along the way.

  • This book is far from being a step by step tutorial, rather it is full of information and inspiration that will help you to think like an artist and use your digital media as naturally as you would do so with pencil and paper.

  • Excellent color and black and white illustrations are used throughout the entire book to provide examples and explanations for each of the topics being discussed.

Additional reading

You can purchase “Make Great Art on Your iPad – Paint, Draw, Share by Alison Jardine” from Amazon US ($11.59) and Amazon UK (£12.48) in paperback format or have it delivered to your iPad as a pdf directly through Apple’s iBooks Store in certain countries ($AU 14.99). It is also available in French in paperback format at Amazon France (EUR 12.90).

To read more about the book and Alison Jardine's work and online projects in general, visit her website.

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