Tag Archives: iPad

Enter the Gold Stylus…

Styluminati. Asus tablet, cheap eBay styli, Fresh Paint app.

Long time readers (hi mum) will know that I’m a bit of a stylus addict. I did a quick head count of my box of styli the other day and, without looking for the ones which have fallen to the bottom of a range of bags and boxes around the house, I reached 130 fairly easily.

A small box of many styli.

There’s no specific stylus I buy more of (although I do seem to have more Nomad, Pogo, Jot, Dagi and Wacom than other names but that shouldn’t be surprising – they’re the ones who make the majority of named styli), and I’m certainly not in a position to buy all of them as they’re released, but I do love to see what each and every new scribble stick will bring to the square glass firework which I like to draw on. Some styli work best on one screen, others refuse to work on another screen. Surface hates Nomad, Hudl 2 loves Maglus and Dagi, for example. Surface RT would only work with Dagi and Jot, Jot doesn’t work, at all, on HP all in one desktops in my experience (which is odd and must have something to do with the amount of connectivity needed to pair to the screen). I mentioned the fact to a couple of HP product managers at BETT last month and they seemed surprised that it was the case or that there were so many alternatives out there (it came up in discussion because I was having a quick draw with Sprout and the stylus they chose to demo it was the Jot classic, which seemed ironic).

SproutMite by @HP. #FreshPaint at #BETT2015.

I have a range of styli that I love, which I’ll get onto later (and which is the subject of a forthcoming article in a very lovely art magazine that I’ve been invited to write for) and I have some which I don’t love. I’ve never gone into a stylus review wanting to give it a good kicking, as all have positives and a stylus which I don’t get on with may be the favourite of another artist. The very lovely Susan Murtaugh loves the Jot Pixelpoint, which I respect but find almost inexplicable, and the equally lovely Mr Matthew ‘Roz’ Hall loved an Alupen which I bought for him way back when at the IAMDA meetup which, again, wasn’t a stylus I gravitated to.

DrawQuest: Tablet art styli.

Studio 53, makers of the extremely user friendly app Paper (by 53), have in the past released the Pencil stylus which has divided opinion (another hugely talented tablet artist – Paul Vera Broadbent – hates it. I like it loads). I wanted the Walnut one but only managed to buy the black one in the end (yes, stylus looks are important to me too 🙂 which makes me, at times, a shallow screen scribble stick consumer). Now they’ve released a Gold Pencil stylus which I think looks fabulous, but which again I can see dividing opinion. Whatever… Don’t like it, don’t buy it! I think it looks striking and confident and can’t wait to use it. With the Maglus a close second the Pencil is, apart from being a thumpingly good stylus, the most beautifully packaged stylus I’ve ever laid hands on…

Stylus T. And a mouth full of blue teeth. Photoshop Touch, iPad, many styli.

Sadly, I’ll probably have to wait. In the same week as the stylus is announced I’ve had to shell out many, MANY, stylus bucks to have our house rewired. Sigh. There is a competition though, running daily from the 4th to the 9th of Feb, which I’m entering daily. The competition is to remix a stylus image with whatever ideas you bring to  the table. This is what I’ve come up with so far (and I’ll edit the post to include any that come up until the 9th)…

day 1:

No, Mr Bond... iPad Mini, Paper, Pencil.

day 2:

It's so shiny... #Paper53 #Pencil53 #StylusTFrog

day 3:

Gold stylus remix.

day 4:

Fiddy Fwee the gold eared stylus bunny.... ipad mini, Paper app and Pencil.

day 5:

#NationalDoodleDay on iPad Mini, Paper app, Dagi and Pencil.

day 6:

The Golden Stylus Surfer. iPad Mini, Paper by 53, Pencil stylus.

day 7:

Mr 53 remix.

day 8:

Mirror Mirror remix 2. iPad mini, Paper, Pencil.

day 9:

Meanwhile, on Hoth.... iPad Mini, Paper app, Pencil and Maglus.

…and A bonus update on the Golden Surfer pic as I flipping LOVE Galactus 🙂

If I did but wield this stylus...


Wish me luck 🙂 (that was then… I didn’t won one of the coveted ten styli boo, but it was fun to get closer to Paper…) Unless you think I need an intervention on Styli matters (quite possible)  in which case wave as I go by 🙂

Stylus T Frog says hi.

(as always, click on the picture to see a higher resolution version. No idea, now I’ve moved onto a Surface, how to centre the pictures here or make them bigger…. Techno artist I may be but some – probably simple things – fly well over my head..)

Digital art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

As if often the case in a half term The Electric Theatre in Guildford asked me to run a couple of art sessions for 5-9 year olds. Mondays theme was traditional art and Wednesday was digital.

We started, as almost all of my classes do, with a couple of psychological tricks to explain how easy drawing is. Once that barrier is broken (about 10 minutes in if I’m taking the scenic route) we started to draw on tablet.

And excellent fun it was too, as these sessions often tend to be 🙂

On the touch screens we started with the very lovely Tesco Hudl (first generation) and used Autodesk Sketchbook to take photos of drawn owls and colour them:

Then we did a little bit of face liquifying (still on Hudl) which went down brilliantly 🙂

We did a bit of Autostitch panorama photo taking:

(click on the photos for larger versions)

…and we drew on a range of apps:

Fresh Paint app on Surface RT.

Brushes app (v2) on iPad.

Autodesk Sketchbook on Hudl.

Adobe Photoshop on Hudl.

ArtRage on iPad.

All in all? A lot of fun and, I think, a good few new 6 year old touch screen artists ready to carry on where they left off after the 2 hour session (all asked which apps and styli they should buy and all of the parents/grandparents looked relieved when I told them that the prices were generally low and affordable). The feedback was excellent with the often asked question ‘are you going to do more of these sessions’ becoming more and more pressing on my mind 🙂 Hopefully soon (although not until early 2015 that said).

I was also lucky enough to be joined by three of my College students – all very capable tablet art tutors in their own right – which meant that if I’d so wanted I could have delegated all of the work to them! I didn’t of course – doing youth arts work is too much fun to not be involved in – but it was lovely to know that I could hand off to them when I wanted the younger kids to have some extra assistance…

Next up? Half a days rest. I think I’ve earned it 🙂

Adventures on Touch Screens.

It’s been a busy week at Kercal central on a range of screens…

I had a quick play on an Apple iPad Air 2 following listening to an artist talk at the Covent Garden Apple Store. It’s as nice a device as you would expect (although I increasingly wonder if their obsession with thinness needs an intervention). The screen is beautiful and, with a conscious movement towards Replay and Pixelmator coming for me on tablet I think I should be looking at updating come Christmas time (‘cos there’s no way I’ll afford it sooner).

I drew this in a Moleskine (which  I’ll find and add later) and then on a Surface RT on a train to London (using the very fab Fresh Paint app). Kudos to Arthouse Meath in Godalming for reminding me how funky a flamingo can be.

I am seriously liking the photo sphere camera setting on the Hudl 2. Click on the pic for larger formats…

And on the Shake Shack side I drew this in 11 minutes while they filmed me on time lapse. Look forward to seeing the artwork come to be on the page (well, screen). I am THOROUGHLY enjoying the art residency there 🙂 Bigger blog on that to come.

And finally we have a large touch screen in at work to evaluate. I booked two 45 min slots and came out with these pics:

MS Paint, Photoshop and Clevertouch built in software respectively.

Finally also had a quick draw on a Lenovo tablet in PC World while waiting to see if there was a Google rep near the Chrome desk (only weekends, sigh. But yes, I do want to draw on a Nexus 9 STAT!)

Screen Frenzy! 🙂

Surrey Opportunities Fair.

We are getting rather good at this.

This being juggling a bunch of students and one dog tired teacher going to a venue (this time: Epsom Racecourse) and demonstrating tablet art techniques to potential new students (and, more often than not, teachers and teaching assistants).

So yesterday the students and I got a bus at way too early to get to the racecourse ten minutes late via a horribly foggy and disgusting drive. Safety (always) first, so late was the better of the options.

One quick set up later and the school kids started piling in. And in. And in. It was fairly busy:

(as always).

One of the nicest things for me was that the students who went started drawing on the bus and didn’t stop working until we finished at 3.15.

Which is nice for me as their teacher… They’re a good bunch I have this year. Which is good as my student intake has almost trebled.

All in all? Not a bad way to spend a day. Dog tired at the end of it though. I’d say roll on half term but I’m doing tablet art at the ‘Leccy then…. Good to be busy I suppose 🙂

Green Screen envy part deaux.

There’s been a bit of new tecn mentioned around the place the past few weeks hasn’t there.

From Ifa we had news of new Samsungs, Lenovos, Sonys and more… And of course on Tuesday we had the Apple keynote (and, on the Tuesday morning we had a little more info on the Hudl 2 which is one of the more anticipated machines for me. Yes, I am odd like that).

All of which led to these pictures:

(Screen sizes. iPhone 5S and ArtRage app).

(Note Edge draw on Samsung Galaxy 8.9 using Sketchbook app).

(iWatch on Interactive Whiteboard using Didlr online app).

(Giant Enemy iCrab. iMac and Didlr online app).

(Pay Apple. iPhone 5S and ArtRage app).

(Secret Easter Eggs of the Apple Watch 1. iPad 3 and ArtARage app).

The last pic might well become a series of sorts. I’ve certainly got a few more ideas of what could be other Easter Eggs of the Apple Watch (which looks fascinating – and I’d love to buy one – but unlikely I think… We’ll see).

Anyhow: Love a Keynote, me. When’s the next one? 😉



I haven ‘t blogged for a month???

Well. Maybe not much of a surprise. Has been a hugely busy and chaotic month.

Will blog more soon, so much to blather on about. Did my leg in then walked 15 miles, took 40 students to a small comic gathering over 3 days showing off tablet art techniques to 100,000 people (working a ninety hour week and walking 60 km in the process) as well.

Hmm. A theme gathering here, yet I still look like Jabba the Slug. Sigh.

ANYHOW! Busyness. To whit the next blog post. But before that I present a distracted paint iPad ArtRage doodle I did last night while watching the latest preposterous slice of 24.

A matter of styl(i).

Yesterday, over twitter, I was asked which stylus I used to make my Creative Week images.

It’s a good question, a valid question, and an incorrect question and it strikes at the heart of how some people see iPad art. The other day I responded to a different tweet (from a technology magazine) about the 7 inch iPad and I said that I was looking forward to it and thought it would do well in the education world. “Why, don’t the deserve a real iPad?” came the reply. I’ve often been asked if I do ‘proper’ art as well as draw on iDevices.

This is the problem. To me the iPad is the most interesting creative tool that I have come across. The screen lends itself to drawing and painting and creating and collaborating. Styli help with that effort (but you can draw without them). But this new realm of artistry didn’t begin with the iPad (nor did it begin with the iPhone) but it was the New Yorker, Jorge Colombo and the Brushes app that popularised it to the extent that I and millions of other sat up and took notice. So was the iPhone a toy? Certainly not. So why would the 7 inch version be a plaything? For primary school children with smaller hands the smaller version will be perfect. The price will help, it’s an interesting proposition (as is the Nexus 7 but the app store doesn’t support the hardware anywhere near as well as the iDevices and their access to more tools that you could ever imaging utilising). I like the idea of a 7″ iPad (or iReader as Kyle Swager thinks it will be called – and I wouldn’t bet against him).

Would you tell an oil painter to use one paintbrush? A sculpter to use only a hammer or chisel? So why are people surprised when I say I use a handful of styli? Because it’s unexpected. And that’s part of the magic. For the majority of users an iDevice is understood as a content consumption tool. Draw Something challenged that stereotype for a brief, beautiful moment, but people still look over my shoulder when I’m painting, especially when I do so on a train or a bus. I’m always happy to answer questions about what I’m doing and what stylus I’m using – what surprises me is that so many people ask, especially on the tube.

So, onto the styli:

(Click for larger image. Drawn using Adobe Ideas on an iPad 2).

I’ve more but these are the ones I could find, having been asked to submit an image on the subject at pretty short notice. All of them I like, all for different reasons. A stylus is as personal as a paintbrush and most artists I know have a good few brushes that they move between, often stored upright in a paint stained jam jar (although I always preferred a Marmite jar myself 🙂 ). Me, I keep my styli in a Stylus frog, to make sure they don’t roll away when I’m not looking or the bus turns a corner.

In addition to these I also have a cheap eBay knock off of the Alupen (not at all responsive), a cheap eBay rip off of the Dagi, surprisingly good but not transparent, a couple of eBay styli with thick, chiselled rubber tips (horrible, slow and laggy), a Samsung stylus (which I loved but died after a few months of concerted work) and a cheap eBay stylus with a biro pen on the other end which was fab but I’ve since lost… 🙁

The styli I want to use are: the Redpen, the Aponyo, the Collusion, the oStylus, the new Dagi, the o-tool and, like many mobile device artists around the world; the Blue Tiger prototype from Ten One Design. Which looks very, very interesting indeed. (the only problem is a: cost and b: the fact that at the moment I’m a part time teacher with an occasional freelance funding stream for such things and small matters like replacing a roof at short notice tend to take priority over fripperies like another stylus for my collection. Sadly).

Do I have a favourite stylus? Often. But not the same one all of the time and not the same one for all of the apps. It’s a mood thing and, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so, I always encourage people to try a stylus before they buy a stylus. I’ve done a few events over the past year (World Skills Fest, London International Tech Show, 2 x Pechakucha’s and a few other things here and there) and, at each one, I’ve taken my well fed Stylus Frog with me for people to try and find the one that works for them best. I’m in the process of being booked for two events in October and, if you can join me you’d be most welcome to test drive a stylus or two.

So, what did I use at the Adobe session on Tuesday? Does that signify a favourite or two? I used the Stylus Sock and two Nomad paintbrushes (short and long hair). Why them? Well, I do love them both, but the main thing was that they were silent and I had a camera perched on my shoulder 🙂 You see? Different styli, different uses. All amazing.

(Drew this to test out the Cosmonaut… If i get a new app or a new stylus I try and draw something, often my frog, just to see how they work…)

(and, ahem, I also named my iPad art book after him, so he’s that important to me 🙂 )

Watched the footie, read a comic on iPad then drew this…

Back to the iPad, not quite there yet but not so far either…

It’s (in case anyone was wondering) the Mandarin from the Iron Man series. I’ve always had a soft spot for characters with power rings for some reason or another (what with him and GL too) and enjoyed the new comic with Mandarin starring front of stage. That said the story wasn’t exactly a happy ending but it was  a strong tale and reminds me that, of the man dreams I’ve yet to see realised and feel less likely than ever to be able to do so, writing and drawing for Marvel is right up there…

Speed doodle.

So, what feels like a million years ago, I was very into comic book artwork. Possibly unhealthily so 🙂 I can remember the first picture that grabbed me (Ian Gibson’s mighty double page Dredd spread for his second part of the City of the Damned storyline) and from that point on one of my eyes was always pointed to a comic or where I might buy one…. And I found a HUGE amount of awesome artists to follow and grow up with from the pages of 2000ad and then the vast realm of Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and indie comics. It remains a slight passion of mine but, and I hate to say this, with the advance of Image and the over the top, barely dressed and ludicrous excesses that followed I gave up on comics for a long while.

Funnily enough I chatted to the marvellous Nick Page recently and he pretty much said that spoke of his experience. He suggested I read Bone and a strange French comic he couldn’t remember the name of, I suggested Invincible and Cerebus by return.

Cerebus brought me back to comics, but that’s a little unfair to Cerebus. Sim and Gerhard’s sequential story is to comics what the space shuttle is to elevators. It is a comic, yes, but it’s also amongst the finest works of literature I can think of having read and enjoyed and deserves a far higher place in people’s estimations that the word comic will limit it to.

Invincible is different. It’s a teen soap opera with superheroes. It’s beatifully paced, wonderfully drawn, dramatic and ugly at turns, comic and joyous at others. It’s brought me back to comics in a big way. Wonderful stuff. Sometimes very ugly, brutal and powerful stuff but, if I were to read a comic book fight scene I’d want to feel the punches, not see it as a nothing, trite, consequence free series of coloured in boxes.

(Different subject but the Comics X app on the iPad is a thing of joy. That said one comic I picked up today did leave me in a very low mood because of its content. Not over violent but very affecting).

So, anyhow, when I had ten minutes to doodle today following being out with le fam Invin sprung to mind and this came out of the Pad.

Long winded way of saying: did a doodle.


So, so sooooo much to do on a multitude of angles yet my mind strays little from playing with the Brushes app on the iPad. Sigh. When it comes to deferring gratification I’m not the best of the best.

Witness these for example. I’d also like half a dozen other doodles, finished and some less so, taken into consideration.

(although this one was, admittedly, done on the trusty iPod touch 🙂 )

(and this one fought finishing for flipping yonks…)