Tag Archives: Surface

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

The Surface RT tablet and it’s recommended stylus*…

*Recommended by myself and Stylus T. Frog that is.

Every tablet has a flavour. I like drawing on most machines, truth be told. I’ve yet to find a favourite and tend to find something easy to like about the machine I’m using at the time… And, of course, many tablets also have apps specific to them and each piece of sortware has something to offer that others don’t.

What I have noticed is that some styli suit the flavour of a tablet more than others…

(This is all massively subjective of course, and I have HUGE piles of respect for tablet artists who use and adore styli – or apps – that I don’t have much time or love for. As previously mentioned Mia Robinson likes long hair Nomad and I like short hair. Roz Hall likes Alupen and I find it a bit draggy. Both are awesome artists creating amazing work).

On iPad I’ve yet to find something I like more than the one two-three-sucker punch of the Nomad Compose (short hair), Pogo Sketch Pro and Stylus Sock. Each do a different thing and I hold all three in one hand to use them for various parts of a picture (that said I’m using the iPad very infrequently at the moment bar daily plays with Draw Quest).

On Galaxy Note the SPen reigns supreme although I do like using the Sketch Pro on the screen as well.

(And, as also mentioned in the past, respected tech journalist Sir Andy of Ihnatko and I are currently in agreement on one thing: no tablet is perfect and he and I would both love to see an uber tablet made from the choice of the iOS store, the SPen of Samsung devices, some aspects of the Surface tablet – Vapor MG is nicer than Aluminium – and the entirety of the Metro UI. In one of those Twitter arguments that mean little and add nothing to the happy running of the world that was what we both came up with and who am I to argue with such a revered and sonerous voice? Especially when he and I were the ones agreeing with each other against a whole host of people saying only one tablet is the only one tablet ๐Ÿ™‚ )

On the Surface RT? I hadn’t found a stylus that suited me best until now: the Dagi Accu-Pen is the Surface stylus of choice for me now. Perfect for the tablet it is. I’ll say why later – if I work out why it is – ย but if I were using the Surface at this very moment I would only be using the Dagi with it.

I do want to try the Surface Pro and the pen that comes with it. I’m interested for a number of reasons (ArtRage 4 on a tablet screen? Fresh Paint with pressure sensitivity? Get in! But the Dagi is the one which does the job so perfectly I’m happy with it for now.

*slight edit of 100 typos ๐Ÿ™

Surface artwork…

So I’ve been loaned a Surface RT tablet to make artwork on… These are some of the first few images that came out of the first few days…

For the most part they were painted in Fresh Paint app, which I may have mentioned I love ๐Ÿ™‚ If ever an app sold me a tablet I think it’s the closest to have come to that (and I wait with bated breath to see what Surface Pro will bring to the table. Specifically my table).

So, comments? Too long a day and too much typing today… But I like both the tablet and the OS and Fresh Paint and I look forward to seeing where all three things go in the future.

Oh and, yes, the keyboard is as lovely as it looked in the first keynote they delivered on the tablet and as good to use as I cynically suspected it wouldn’t be.


#Catching the 365.

So, a week and a half ago (I REALLY should have blogged about this earlier but it has been that hectic for the past ten days) I was delighted to be asked to be the artist in residence on the 365: Microsoft’s launch bus for new Office.

It was a wonderful day as, I hope, the photos attest:

(Painted on the moving walkway on the way to the bus… Couldn’t resist)..


The bus at Marble Arch.

(this picture was drawn using Snap – trace – paint. Which I like. But… well… there’s some issues…)

There was an absolutely fabulous band who performed both on and off the bus. Wish I could link to them but in all of our chats about life and gigs and cider and busses I completely failed to ask the band name… (aha! A quick search finds out that they were called the Ray Guns… Amazing they was. Very cool stuff…)

(Not my favourite picture of the day and I do keep intending to come back to it… But most paintings here had to be completed in around five minutes with strange and odd viewing angles so I did the best I could throughout ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I got to sit behind, and listen to, and paint while the bus was moving, Will Greenwood. Which, when I got back to College the next day had a few of my students grumpily green with envy.

For a start, and I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but OH MY GOODNESS he has got huge hands.

Painting on the bus was… well… not always easy but not hard either (it’s one of my zone choices if time allows. That said drawing on a new tablet and a new app on an old style bus that was a smidge trickier.. Still, it all came together in the end – was a very concerted and concentrated 7 hour stint of drawing and, like I said, an extremely cool bunch of people to be around. And to be honest Will looked he was having difficulty even standing up as he was talking; at least I managed to find a seat to draw from ๐Ÿ™‚ ).


And, throughout the day, a slightly hobo chic dressed doodler was a part of the show, drawing the talks and the gigs and so on and explaining, to those who asked, what it was like to draw on a tablet and which app I was using and which stylus and so on and so forth. If you were one of the people who stopped to ask if I was part of the show – thanks! I loved being a part of it but can fully understand why the magicians, guys on stilts and rock stars got the bigger applause ๐Ÿ™‚

More to come, I hope. I’ve certainly not stopped drawing on Surface and Fresh Paint…

All images here were drawn and painted using Fresh Paint app and Autodesk Sketchbook Espress (bar one which I made using a different app as noted). Both have capacity to grow and I look forward to seeing where updates take them but, if you’re drawing and painting on a Surface RT they’re excellent apps to take advantage of.

Another post to come later on working with the Surface RT and a variety of apps but suffice to say I REALLY like Metro, I love the industrial design of the Surface and Fresh Paint app has a feature so good that if I could marry it I would consider it as a viable option.

The Flight of the Frog and Flamingo.

Painted on Surface using Fresh Paint app.

I’ve surprised myself by REALLY liking the Surface (the OS is just a very futuristic feeling system and I love the physical design of the tablet and keyboard) and Fresh Paint is a fabulous app (although slightly better on desktop Win 8 as there are a few tools missing on the RT version that I could do with…)

For a version one product both FP and Surface are impressive things… Am looking forward to Surface Pro far more than I thought I might be before Christmas.

As for the characters and the picture? They’re based on the Graphics class mascots:

the Stylus Frog and the Yodelling Flamingo of Shame (given to the student who has done the silliest thing through the week and always given with a cheer from all of the students). It’s a mark of affection and all students are keen toย receiveย it week on week.

They’re hoping to go out on an adventure in April. Still tying up the ends of the loose threads but… 80/20% likely to happen and, if it does, it’ll be a hugely exciting adventure for them (and me) (and the students).