Friday, August 23, 2013

iPad and the Artist

Yup, I was one of those people that used to scoff at my significant other's Apple gadget love.  Why did we need all of these excess things that only serve to tether me to the internet so that I can never, EVER escape?

But then he gifted me an iPad and now I am forced to admit the usefulness of this tool for the working artist. (Curse you, Kev!)  Could I live without it? Probably.  Would I want to?  Nope!

A Thousand and One Uses

Credit Card Processing - While it wasn't my original intended use because I had a more expensive credit card terminal, I eventually retired my more expensive terminal in lieu of the portable Paypal Here processor.  I was paying a monthly fee, bound to a contract, and paying a large 'security' fee every year to keep my professional terminal active.  

What was worse is that I still had to pay for it when I wasn't using it much.  Now, with more flexible data options built right into the iPad as well as mobile processors like Square and Paypal Here, processing cards is a far less daunting task!  I will miss being able to print receipts from my terminal, but most people seem to be okay with signing digitally and having a digital copy mailed to them.

Reference Tool - I've gotten into the habit of propping my iPad up on my desk with references up on the screen.  This allows me to save paper since I would've printed a collage of references out to carry with me in the past.  I can then have those references anywhere I prop up the iPad, in the studio or on the go.  If I have internet access, I can always set up the iPad anywhere there's a tabletop and get in a quick life drawing section with Pixellovely.

Illustration Research - I've gotten into the habit of using my iPad for multiple types of research.  I have many albums of reference photos, tons of cheap digital collections of masterworks, and every digital ebook reader possible.  I never thought I could give up the glorious smell and feel of holding paper books, but the ability to highlight passages from novels and add searchable notes to them makes finding descriptions for future illustrations far easier!  I even have a handy app called Art Authority that has artists organized by period, title, subject, etc. and is updated regularly.

Space Saving - This ties into my last topic.  After much trepidation, I've been converting all of my text novels into digital.  The iPad allows you to use Nook, iBooks, and Kindle, which makes it the most flexible ebook reader out there.  I still keep physical artbooks because there is just nothing that beats the presence oversized printing has.  Still, I ran out of bookshelf space long ago and replacing the space my novels took up with artbooks has been an easier trade-off than I thought with the advantages digitized books give me in reference tagging my novels.

Art and Portfolio Display - I've noticed a trend in artists producing their bodies of work as specialized apps fans can download where they can browse their art, share it, and purchase prints.  That just blows my mind!  With the massive amount of folks browsing the Apple appstore, this is an opportunity to really get your work out there.

Not to mention, I have since retired showing my little Itoya portfolio to folks at cons. The glare on the plastic pages was always annoying, as well as the scratches that built up on the pages over time.  Now, I just whip out my iPad and let the viewer control the flow.  When I want to add new work, I just download it instead of having to print it out and add it to the physical book.

I've also seen some really cool trends with people publishing their Tarot decks digitally.  Check out Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's beautiful deck app to see what I mean.  What an amazing way to publish your work (especially if it's a card deck)!  I can imagine interactive sketchbooks done in a similar vein.  Click the finished painting to see video of the works-in-progress or hear the artist talk about their inspiration for the piece.

My portfolio on the iPad using Portfolio for iPad.
App review forthcoming!

At Home - The iPad also serves as a portable music and movie viewer when I'm cooking or cleaning house.  It's also my recipe database, which allows me to consolidate my cook books since we do not have too much excess space in our apartment.

My Favorite Art Apps for iPad

Portfolio for iPad - As shown earlier in the screenshot. It has some advantages that using iPad's default album doesn't allow you, such as toggling views for your gallery images (full screen or image with thumbnail strip showing the rest of the work in your gallery).  It allows you to fully customize the fonts, arrangement, and images in your gallery.  More on this app later once I've given it a convention test run!

Pose Tool - A simple little 3D pose tool that lets you play around with a male or female figure. You can view the models with skin, with muscles, or broken down into gestural shapes, which I find effective for figuring out the physics and flow of your poses.  You also can choose between body types for each gender, old, plump, average, and lean.  I also love this app because it's pretty simple and I don't need to learn any sort of robust program to use it.  Just select a limb and use the sliders.  It's not perfect, but it'll do for simple posing needs.

Color ViewFinder - Point your camera and capture the colors in the viewfinder.  You can then save the palette with hex codes. Best of all, this app is free!

Disney Animated - A bit hefty in the price tag, but when you consider the fact you're getting so much info in one place, it is well worth it!  There's everything from visual development on every major Disney feature to concept art and a timeline of Disney Animation.  I supremely enjoyed the color 'barcodes' of all the major feature films all put into a timeline by year.  It's Disney art at its best, meaning endless inspiration for any kind of artist and storyteller!

Other Cool Things?

I haven't had the chance to utilize the iPad as a digital sketchbook much.  The glare from the screen in sunlight is pretty harsh, though the new Wacom stylus tempts me so!  Do you guys have any other tips for using the iPad this way? App recommendations? etc.?

Any other cool things I should know about?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  The iPad makes me squee with the potential it has to enrich the lives and marketing potential of artists everywhere.  I must know all the things about it!