Things We Love: iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

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I first fell in love with drawing when I was a kid. I don’t remember when exactly—probably after reading Shel Silverstein or my first X-Men comic. Whatever the muse, the fascination stuck, intensified, and all these years later, drawing is still my favorite pastime.

Which is why I wanted to write about the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Now, I have been told that the iPad Pro is some kind of multitasking maestro, a mixed-media maxing, universe-mastering marvel. And while I have total confidence in these assessments, I myself cannot attest to their veracity as I—to the abhorrence of all my Apple-obsessed acquaintances—only use it to draw. But in that arena, I do wholeheartedly believe the iPad Pro to be without rival. Here’s why:

For starters, the screen. Much has been made of the iPad Pro’s Retina display, as well it should. The 10.5-inch display, coupled with its 600 nits brightness rating, wide color gamut, and 2K resolution, make it an ideal surface in terms of size and how crisp everything looks. It’s also sunlight-readable and doesn’t catch a lot of glare, which is important to me since I spend a lot of time drawing outside. I could gush about how responsive the display is, but I’ll save some of that for when I serenade the Pencil.

Going back to my drawing outside, the feature I truly love about the iPad Pro is how portable it is. Thin and super lightweight, it travels easily and takes up almost no space. If I’m on the subway or at a park and want to do a quick sketch, I can quickly retrieve it from my bag, work a little, then put it away again with no fuss. Best of all, it keeps everything in one place—all your drawings, all your work, organized and accessible for when you need it. Take it from someone who has spent most of his life toting around messy journals and reams of crumpled-up, half-folded, mid-airplane-constructed sheets of paper—the convenience of this cannot be overstated.

Now, as much as I love my iPad Pro—its gorgeous display, that go-anywhere design—the true target of my affection is the Apple Pencil. To me, the iPad Pro is a stage—be it 9.7, 10.5, or 12.9 inches—but the Apple Pencil, that’s the star. Backing my belief, consider the goal of any digital stylus manufacturer: to make a pen that is as authentic and close to lifelike as possible. With the Pencil, I truly believe Apple went a step further. Instead of creating a stylus that was close to the real thing, they made one that was better. It probably sounds like blasphemy, but I prefer using the Pencil to a pencil. Why? As with so many perfect things, it’s hard to describe—the weight, the response to pressure and force, the way it rests in my hand. If I was talking to a drummer I would compare the balance to finding that ideal stick position, the perfect fulcrum. All those traits make me yearn for the Apple Pencil whenever I’m forced to use more traditional counterparts. What is this—graphite? Might as well be drawing on cave walls.

When you put the iPad Pro and Pencil together, you have, IMO, a perfect drawing solution. It’s powerful, it’s easy to work on, and you can take it anywhere. Do I get the same functionality as my desktop setup? No, of course not. But I also can’t jam a 27-inch iMac into my messenger bag or comfortably draw with one at the park. I can, however, take whatever iPad project I’m working on and quickly port it over to my home setup for some final editing, so add “plays well with others” to the list of lovable qualities. For illustrators, what more could you want?

How about you? Is there a specific digital drawing setup with which you’re smitten? Join the conversation and leave a comment below.

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