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A cartoon essay supporting the iPad (and stylus) as a drawing tool

Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”.

Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”. published on No Comments on Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”.Purchase print

Squinting? Here’s the full-size version.

A few months ago, Jon Mitchell wrote a great piece on ReadWriteWeb that spurred discussion about the viability of using your hand on your tablet for more than just pinching and zooming. He tried his hand (so to speak) with a stylus on an iPad, and found it wanting. Although I commented at the time, I wound up drawing a more complete response, and last week, ReadWriteWeb ran it.

The time elapsed is significant because of something that happened in the meantime: my birthday. More to the point, my birthday present: what Apple calls the new iPad and what everybody else calls the iPad 3. Doubling the resolution means my answer would have been more emphatic… not to mention drawn on a single screen instead of over two documents and pasted together in Photoshop.

Cartooning on the iPad? Yep.

Cartooning on the iPad? Yep. published on 8 Comments on Cartooning on the iPad? Yep.

(Originally published yesterday on ReadWriteWeb)

You’re looking at what might be the first published cartoon created on an iPad. (Certainly the first one published on ReadWriteWeb. Or here.)

From the moment rumours about an Apple tablet got serious, I was eager to learn whether it could be a vehicle for actual cartooning. Much of the buzz wasn’t promising, suggesting the device would be geared more to consumers than content creators.

Yet even a device as small as the iPhone has shown remarkable potential with the advent of software like Brushes, which produced artwork good enough – admittedly, thanks to a very talented artist – to become a New Yorker cover.

So when Steve Jobs made his Jan. 27 announcement, I was hoping against hope to hear that the device might be a worthy competitor to my beloved (but heavy and unwieldy) Cintiq. In retrospect, that was wildly unrealistic, but I was still disappointed not to hear words like “pressure-sensitive” or “stylus”.

Yesterday, thanks to the heroic early-morning efforts of my wife, I got my hands on an iPad of my own. And after seeing what my daughter did with Doodle Buddy, I quickly installed Brushes andAutodesk’s SketchBook Pro – two drawing apps for nominal grown-ups. After a little experimentation, I landed on SketchBook as my tool of choice for my first experimental cartoon.

Still, I had a problem: my big ol’ meaty index finger, which is not only a terribly imprecise drawing tool but also a very effective obstacle to seeing just what it is I’m drawing. I quickly found myself hankering for the fine-grained control of my Cintiq’s stylus.

That was when I remembered the Pogo Sketch… and discovered it was sold at the same Apple store that sold us our iPads.

The Sketch is a slender stylus ending, not in a thin nylon tip like a Wacom stylus, but a soft kind-of-rubbery material that does the same capacitive magic as your finger. And in conjunction with SketchBook Pro, it seemed to mimic pressure-sensitivity. (That’s important to many cartoonists, who like the dynamic feel of a line that changes width as they draw.)

Most important, it allowed a degree of precision and control I just can’t get with my finger, and it allowed me to draw the cartoon you see here. I can’t say it’s the same quality as cartoons I draw on the Cintiq or with pen and ink… but it’s infinitely better than anything I’d achieved on the iPhone. And to me, at least, it holds the promise – as I get a little more practice – of becoming a truly portable sketching, inking and coloring solution. I can see it coming in handy for liveblogging, rough sketches or, on the road, an alternative to more desperate measures.

How about you – if you’re planning on getting an iPad, will you be using it mainly to read, view and hear content, or will it be a creative outlet, too? And if so, what are you going to make?

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