ArtGerm's artist review of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Stanley Lau, aka Artgerm, has recently bought the iPad Pro (128gb) and Apple Pencil.

He has put out a 1hr+ video review on Livestream that you can watch or ask him questions.

If you want to save time, I've already transcribed his points regarding the idea of drawing on the iPad Pro.

ArtGerm is a digital illustrator know for his beautiful portraits, especially for the female characters. The review of the iPad Pro and Pencil is from his perspective as an artist.

His focus is on creating digital art, and he's only interesting in the production side of using the iPad Pro, for exploring ideas, doodling and drawing.

He says that the iPad is huge with a 12.9-inch screen (2732 x 2048 resolution). It's awesome as a drawing tablet. ArtGerm has applied an anti-glare matte screen protector on the screen. That removes removes the glossy look and provides a matte surface which is more comfortable to work on. It also prevents sweaty hands from sticking to the glass surface. The matte screen protector provides a natural feel to drawing, as if you're drawing on paper.

Battery life is 10 hours which is pretty good. There are minimal accessories, such as a small adapter and cable for bringing on the go. Pencil in full charge can last for 12 hours. iPad Pro does not get hot even when working on it for hours.

Whether the iPad is heavy is relative. You can't hold it with single hand for long. It's 1.57 pounds, 713g.

Dual screen mode
What's cool about the iPad Pro is the new functionality from iOS that allows you to split screen and use two apps at the same time. You can place a reference image on one side and draw on the other. Dual screen is a feature he uses a lot.

To get into dual screen mode, you just have to swipe the screen from one side, either left of right, then choose to open another application in the empty space you have just created.

Apple Pencil
The pencil is a little heavy compared to normal pencil but almost the same weight with as a Wacom Intuos pen. He added a rubber grip to the pencil for addition comfort. Just get any cheap ballpoint pen with a rubber grip and put that onto Apple Pencil. It's a cheap effective way to get better grip on the stylus.

There's no need to pair the Pencil with the tablet constantly. For the first time, just remove the end cap and charge it with the iPad Pro and it will be paired. The good thing about the Pencil is battery life. You can charge it 15 seconds for 30 minutes of drawing. Or charge a minute for 1 hour of drawing.

The Pencil has tilt function. If you tilt it, you can shade with it as if shading with real pencil. It's cool to have the tilt function but not something he uses often as it can be distracting.

How many pen pressure levels?
The number does not really matter. What matters is you're able to get thin and thick lines as and when you want it and he can do so with the iPad Pro. Procreate also allows you to change the pressure curve to get to the curve that you like.

Drawing is smooth and without any lag.

He uses Procreate for drawing on the tablet. There are layers in Procreate. Layers can be merged, additional layers can be added. There are also blend modes in layers, just like what Photoshop has. The finger gestures to undo and redo are very handy. They work without issues.

You can share the Procreate file to the computer. You can export the file as PSD to the Mac using Airdrop. The same file can then be worked on in Photoshop with layers intact. If you're using Windows, you can save to DropBox, and download the file from there.

One good feature about Procreate is its autosave. Don't have to worry about losing the file for whatever reason, e.g. crash.

Palm rejection is good. This allows you to draw in a natural hand position.

Even when using the Pencil at corner of the screen, it's precise. Other tablets don't work as well at the corner.

Colour profile seems consistent. It similar to what is shown in Procreate and Photoshop. Colour temperature and dynamic range is the same.

Artists have been creating awesome app with other iPad using Procreate but now with the Pencil, they can even do more. Just with Procreate, you can do a lot.

How does iPad Pro compare to Surface Pro
ArtGerm has used many other tablets before. He has a Surface Pro 2. He doesn't expect the mobile tablet to do everything that a desktop does. He uses the mobile tablet to do initial drawings, explore ideas, and then port the drawing over to desktop to finish it up.

He finds that Surface Pro is awesome as a small machine that he can do many stuff, for example play games, like a desktop. When it comes to art production, the applications are full versions, like Photoshop, Corel Painter. Those softwares are not optimized with touch interface. Most of the time, if you need to use shortcut keys, it would be difficult to use them on the desktop applications. You have to go back to the menu to undo and it is very tedious and not efficient.

If you use the keyboard undetached from the Surface Pro, the hand position is awkward.

Wacom Companion is better in the sense that you can customise the physical shortcut keys on the unit.

The mobile tablet should help to ease the workflow, or expand the possibility of creating artwork on the go. It's important to have the device to have an app that allows you to not use the keyboard, and yet being able to access important functions, such as picking colours. He still prefers using the keyboard but it would be great to have a way to access the same functions without using keyboards on a mobile tablet.

Is it possible to use this tablet as the only production tablet?
If you draw simple cartoons, then probably. It's great to use this when traveling, for presentation. It can be used as a mobile portfolio. The screen is big so your work will look great on the screen. Of course, there are the entertainment aspect, you can watch movies, surf the web. Without the Pencil, he would not even consider this iPad.

It's cheaper than Wacom Companion but does it replace the Wacom Companion?
Maybe not. It depends on whether you need to have the full Photoshop. He still prefers using Photoshop for detailed artworks.

The system, Microsoft, Apple, Android does not matter
ArtGerm only cares about whether the devices works and aids his workflow. The system running it is not as important.

What apps to use?
Procreate is much better than Photoshop sketch in terms of interface, touch features, ease of use.

This is the first attempt from Apple at a pressure sensitive stylus and it works very well. That's why he's not going to wait for the second version of the Pencil.

The iPad is good for people on the go, who wants to leave the room, draw outside.

He still uses a Intuos3 tablet and does not have a Cintiq.

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