Digital Drawing with the iPad Pro

As some of you may read on my twitter account, I recently invested in the new 9.7 inch iPad pro. I’ve never had a tablet before, but this Learning Project where I learn more about digital art has really begun to surged my interest in it, so I decided to upgrade from my $60 Wacom Drawing Tablet to an Apple Pencil outfitted iPad.

I’ve only drawn one thing so far but I’m already wowed by how much better this is. The Pencil is much more precise and responsive than what I was using before. Plus the added benefit of drawing right on the screen like you would on a piece of paper makes the whole experience feel a lot more natural. But I don’t want this post to turn into a product review, so before I move onto explaining the learning process for what I drew, I’ll just say that my mind is swimming with all kinds of ideas of how to integrate the iPad and pencil into the classroom. For example, using the Mirror App, you can wirelessly screen cast an iPad onto a smart board. With the pencil you could simply do all your whiteboard writing on the tablet and have it show up on the smart board. No need to write on the board with your back to the class, you can write on the tablet facing your students to gauge their understanding, or stand at the back of the class and see the board from their perspective.

The last few days I’ve been working on realistic facial proportions. The best way to start this, I knew, would be to start with a straight on angle of the face, then work on more dynamic angles.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.38.46 PM.png

A small snippet of the exceptional tutorial “How To Go From Manga To Realistic” I studied for this drawing. Put together by the very thorough FOERVRAENGD.

One thing I’ve learned about drawing realistic anatomy is how mathematical it is. In the tutorial above, you can see that a grid is applied to help map out the proportions and maintain symmetry. Every face starts with a circle to form the upper half of the head. A ‘V’ then extends from the bottom of the circle, which both helps to frame the lower half of the face, and it also shows you were the cheek bones would be. Every feature of the face, eyes, nose, mouth, has it’s place along the grid. Essentially every feature has a fixed adjacency to every other feature. So if you’ve done a good job at placing one eye, then the next should be easy, which will then make placing the nose a simple matter of finding their half way points (the tip of the nose is half way between the eyes and the chin, and the mouth is half way between the tip of the nose and the chin).

Below you can watch my application of the grid to draw a face in the video below. I drew this in Procreate, an app for the iPad. I’m used to doing all my drawings in Adobe Photoshop CS6, but I’m finding that Procreate is way better for my purposes. It’s much more user friendly and  it was only $8 in the app store vs the many hundreds of dollars Adobe Suite costs (something that would be much easier for a classroom to invest in). Plus it has a nifty feature where it records you drawing so that I can share the process with all of you!

Looking ahead, I’m not confident that I’ll meet all my goals for what I want to learn in this project, but I’m okay with that because I’ve learned a great deal of things that weren’t on my list of goals (but if I could revise that list they definitely would be). Even though I probably don’t know as much about how to draw realistic human anatomy as I wish I did by now, I’ve learned a lot about the practice of digital art itself. The resources that are out there, the different apps, the different processes, the communities, are all discoveries that have unexpectedly enriched my learning and have succeeded in hooking my into this art form that I will definitely be continuing long after this class is over. These extra learnings that don’t necessarily line up with my learning goals also seem to be a lot more relevant to my role as an educator, so I’m delighted with where the project is headed.


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