Digital painting – it’s much cleaner than traditional painting, but do you gain anything by it? Sure, it’s all done on a tablet, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning your brushes or the fumes of paint thinner. But what about the hand-crafted look you get by using paint for your art? Is it possible to still get that feel by using digital tools?

ProCreate Open Graphic

Over the last few months, I have been researching and experimenting the different iPad apps that utilize the Apple Pencil. The leaders for me are Astropad and PROcreate.

I started with PROcreate. This app seems to be quickly becoming the standard for illustrators everywhere. The interface is very well designed. All the tools are like Photoshop and Illustrator and are easy to find. The only downside was that it was a little hard locating the layer’s blend modes. They are hidden, but after searching for a few minutes, I found them.

Another learning curve is the number of layers. When you make a new document, you can adjust the size of your artboard and the dpi. For example, if I wanted to make a new 10x10 artboard with a high dpi, I can only have around 20 layers. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you are used to having unlimited layers at your disposal, it is an adjustment.

The drawing/painting in PROcreate is intuitive if you have any experience with either drawing/painting and any of the creative programs.

Here are a few examples of what I have done in PROcreate.

PROcreate Image 1

PROcreate Image 2

PROcreate Image 3

Astropad is like PROcreate in the fact that they both allow you to create digital art. That’s where the similarity ends. Astropad connects to your computer over wifi or USB to act as a mirrored tablet drawing surface. I have used this mostly in creating digital paintings in Photoshop, but you can use it for countless possibilities.

What I like about using Astropad is that I could maintain the familiarity I have with Photoshop. This app is straightforward. You connect the app between your computer and tablet and the software on your computer does the rest. You are drawing in your favorite program in no time.

I must admit I did have some hesitations about Astropad. I wanted to know if it was going to bog down my home network or if I was going to experience major lag. While I had my iPad and the Astropad app open and connected, I performed a speed test and was constantly checking my network load at home and was amazed at how well this app performed. Internet speed was good and I wasn’t hogging bandwidth.

Here are a few examples of what I have done in Astropad:

Astroidpad Example 1

Astroidpad Example 2

Astroidpad Example 3

When it comes down to it, both apps have major benefits and very little downside. I feel that for quick sketches and illustrative art, PROcreate would work best. If you’re looking for more control and familiarity for heavy digital painting, Astropad is the way to go.

Do you have a preferred illustration app? Let us know in the comments!

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