Thursday, February 15, 2018


Since I had no formal art training, after I graduated from college since Computer Art was supposedly the next big thing on the horizon I decided to take a computer class…but discovered it only dealt with programming. After one frustrating session in the lab where I couldn’t figure out how to even log off this machine, and it occurred to me that if I was a success at this I would eventually be working in an office, I dropped that class. 

A decade later, my water color instructor, Bill Calliope, at the local community college showed me a new program called Photoshop. He was very excited because you could simply place your cursor on any color and it matched it. Wasn’t much for drawing though. A few years later when I was at an ad agency one of the reps was very excited to have me “ draw” on their new computer tablet, where an image would appear on the screen. I quickly sketched in a few strokes…but nothing happened. “It takes a few seconds”, he explained. By the time it showed up on the screen it was obvious this wasn’t my approach to drawing…the machine couldn’t keep up with the hand. 

All of the above images were drawn on the iPad Pro in Procreate

Still, in the early nineties, I invested heavily in computer graphics equipment and began working with the Wacom tablet. Combined with the current Photoshop program it was an amazing step forward in its possibilities. Coloring drawings, adding lettering and graphic components, and making corrections were all infinitely easier than working with the traditional methods that I had been taught. Still, it wasn’t much for drawing and painting.

These drawings were done on a Cintiq monitor using ClipStudio Art

Life Drawing studies done traditionally with pencil and ink. 
"Pencil" drawing done in ClipStudio Art

In the 21st century, the next step was drawing directly on the screen, with the most popular being the Cintiq. I immediately got one, and when they introduced a tablet with this capability I bought the Samsung version. While technology has made major leaps, it still couldn’t compete with the facility and finesse of paper and pencil for me. The Cintiq was too big to work with as a lap board (and the smaller version was too small). I tried the swing arm you could mount it on, but that always wiggled a tiny bit. That, plus the fact that with the width of the glass screen you were always slightly  removed from the drawing, made smooth, tight work very difficult for me.  The tablet was a bit too heavy and a little clunky and slow. The biggest drawback of both was that I always used the side of the pencil when I drew (or inked) and with the stylus your could only use the point.

The Above still lifes were done on newsprint with charcoal and pastel, and a bit of opaque white. 

The IPad Pro has finally changed all that for me. Thanks to my good friend Tom Nelson’s continued insistence, I finally bought his old (six months…lol) version…and now I’m hooked. It’s light enough that I can swing it around like a piece of board while I draw, but still large enough that you can work on a good sized drawing. The biggest selling point is the “super pencil” I use with it that allows me to draw holding it on the side like you would with a regular pencil.  And while Photoshop is just too expensive, the Procreate program (about $5) has amazing capabilities. Manga Clip Studio Paint is another program that is popular, but a good bit more expensive. It is very comic book friendly, but has a longer learning curve. 

This drawing and all the ones below it were done on the iPad Pro in Procreate.

 With all the different possibilities with different brushes, paints, color,etc., there is a whole world of possibilities that I can’t wait to explore. For years I started the day doing a 30 minutes still life in charcoal and pastel; I now do those on the IPad. While I’m still pencilling my comics traditionally, I am planning on trying to do the inking process on this device sometime in the near future. 

My only issues with it are that it is an electronic device and you have to constantly make sure it it charged. The “super pencil” had a little protective cap that fell off and was lost within two days. There should also be a way to secure the pencil the IPad when it’s not in use. Likewise, charging the pencil using the machine is a fairly awkward process. but all that said, if they come out with a slightly larger model I’m buying it tomorrow.

ps. Since I already know how to drive,  when I buy a car I don’t have to take a course in being a mechanic, which I’m simply not interested in. So while I appreciate all the technical advice that many of you will want to foist on me, you can probably save your breath. If you have any tips that will make me better at drawing, I’m all ears. 


  1. I like to make some colors on Clip Studio Paint (Photoshop is too expensive for my use) and I bought a Huion tablet.
    I’m so obsessed with paper quality/rendering with pencils and inking that I don’t have pleasure to draw on tablet. It’s always the same feeling.

  2. I understand that completely. As an aesthetic approach, I will never be able to give up paper and pen. However, as a professional and pragmatic approach, the digital work makes like so much easier. Where can I see some of your work? Best, Mike

    1. Well, I suppose you found it - and remember we exchanged some mails some years ago