DIY: Can You Teach Yourself To Draw On An iPad?

Learning To Draw Using Just An iPad

I cannot draw. I do not draw. I am not a person who can draw.

If you want beautiful watercolour vistas of light and land then look elsewhere. If you need someone to do an iconic portrait using oil on canvas then you can keep me off the list.

My drawing interest and skills stretched to their absolute limit when I used to try and draw landscapes on the back of till receipts while I worked at Tescos. (That was back when older, much wiser people were trying to convince me that journalism is a terrible idea.)

Since those days I haven't tried, not even the odd stick figure here or there. Why waste my effort, when I have friends who have clearly been given that gift - and can do it far better?

Except... I also believe there is no reason I could not learn. I am a technologist. Tech is my life. And I know that with today's tablets, styluses and software, I could surely pick up the basics? If an Xbox can teach me to drive a Bugati Veyron with one hand through the streets of Italy, I can learn to draw a cat on an iPad.

As we approach the new year - the time of renewal and growth - I believe the moment is right. I am going to draw, and I'm going to do it by teaching myself using nothing but technology.

Part 1

To begin with I think it's probably a good idea to gauge just where my skills lie. I know they're in there somewhere, it's just a matter of coaxing them out. Am I cartoonist? Or perhaps a landscape perfectionist? Maybe I've even got a bit of Turner in my blood?

My starting weapon of choice is a Wacom Intuous 2 Stylus with the Bamboo Paper app. It's an iPad/Android precision stylus that uses Bluetooth and a range of nifty sensors to turn your tablets into a high-resolution canvas.

I start by drawing the first thing that comes to my head, it's a Land Rover. I loved cars as a kid and I still do, I also learnt to drive in a big old rusted Defender, I guess it makes sense that it is the first thing I go for.

It's also a big metal box. Easy.

Or not.

It's bad, in fact it's so bad that I'm certain my incredibly young nephew drew something substantially better on the side of a cracker using the remnants of his mince pie.

Maybe cars aren't for me. Or maybe I shouldn't improvise. Instead I'll try for some good old fashioned imitation. My particular piece of inspiration comes courtesy of the James Bond film 'Skyfall'.

The cinematography is incredible and -- if you've seen it -- you'll know the scene that I had picked was a particularly pretty one.

I start by playing around with the stylus options. It becomes clear that the pen isn't the most accurate thing in the world, I mean it's good enough for me but having given it to a few friends who do, you know, drawing, they've all said that it's a solid sketching device and nothing more.

A word on the Wacom Intuous 2 Stylus:

I happen to like it, the smart functions are useful and intuitive and the nib is the smallest I've seen for iPad which brings me to the one get out of jail free card that Wacom has: this is on an iPad.

For some utterly bizarre reason Apple's tablets still don't offer a screen that's actually good for drawing. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and others now offer pro-quality drawing screens as standard and considering Apple harps on a lot about the iPad being a creative device it's frustrating to see them lag behind.

With that in mind Wacom have made the best of having one hand tied behind their backs, and as such I think it's a seriously impressive solution.

One of the key advantages of drawing on a tablet is that you can combine the creativity that comes from using your hands with the ability to turn back time that comes from doing it on a piece of technology.

It gives you the chance to experiment without having to face the consequences of it going wrong and believe it, it went wrong.

Finally though, after lots of fiddling, and plenty of 'Undo' I have something that I can almost say looks vaguely like a drawing.

It's not bad. I'm going to work on it some more this weekend and then in Part 2 we'll see how much better/worse I am with an actual human telling me what to do...


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