A couple months back I started to see quite a few mentions of an iPad app called Procreate. It had been out for a couple of years but with Apple’s release of the iPad Pro and Pencil, Procreate was getting some new attention because it is an app specifically designed for painting on the iPad. I’m not a painter which is why I’d not given it more than a passing glance before. That said I have spent the past few years focusing more on increasing my graphic design skills, specifically vector-based work. I began with Illustrator because that is the industry standard. But have branched out to others because I don’t like Adobe’s subscription model. In any case, my time spent working in vector apps led to several for-fun illustration projects which has opened the door a bit to a larger creative flow. Enter Procreate and the idea of sketching or painting with an iPad.
I’ve not upgraded to an iPad Pro yet as my Air 2 is still quite fast and fully capable of doing what I do with it. I’ve never noticed the slightest bit of lag. So, when I started playing with Procreate it was not with Apple’s fancy new Pencil but with a generic $3 tablet stylus. It’s got a rubbery ball end that works much better than a finger for seeing where I’m touching the glass and allows for a much smaller point of contact. Nothing so accurate or fine as the Pencil but it still works pretty well.
My first really go at something was unintentional. It started as a doodle of a book cover which had a close up image of the “Pillars of Creation” which is just one small part of the Eagle Nebula. Ten minutes turned into twenty which turned into an hour and then two hours. I couldn’t put it down. I spent the better part of a day and evening. And a couple days later I picked it up again to fix a few bits that were out of proportion which led to another evening. By the time I was “finished” I’d probably spent 15 hours on it. I’ve no doubt that someone with more skill could have done much better in less time but for me it was not only a learning process but I found it incredibly relaxing.
A few days ago I’d gotten the notion that perhaps I should enlarge the project to more of the nebula. Yesterday I picked up the iPad, duplicated the file, and gave it a go. As before, the hours just flew by as I concentrated on the contact between stylus and glass. I think this second, larger painting was about 8 hours. I could likely spend another few hours on this and may yet do that. Something I’m finding with this kind of work is that it’s never really finished. There’s always something that can be changed. There are many, many details within an image like this that I could give my attention to. Also, this only represents a small portion of the much larger nebula. Perhaps that will be the next project.
The larger nebula:
And, of course, the Wikipedia page for the Eagle Neblua!