eleanor hardiman

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iPad Pro - How my process has changed in 2019

iPad Rough

I’m not one to keep up with tech trends. The newest macbook or phone has never been a top priority for me, however I couldn’t ignore the amount of good things I was hearing about the iPad Pro from fellow illustrators earlier this year. It took me a while to go into the apple store and think seriously about if it was worth purchasing, as it is such a big investment. I wanted to write something that might help other illustrators if they felt the same, and my experience since buying one. 


I took the leap and purchased the new 2019 model with an apple pencil (engraved with my name of course). Upon the recommendation of a few pals I immediately purchased the ‘Procreate’ app. One payment of £9.99 and I was away. I couldn’t recommend Procreate enough, its pretty much photoshop and is incredibly intuitive. You can work in layers, change the opacity, go back steps and choose from plenty of brushes to get you started. The pencil is vital for me and extremely pleasant to use as it is really sensitive to pressure. Another great thing is exporting the files you create as layered files which you can then open in photoshop over on a different device, or just go back to later on. The iPad has helped my working process in so many different ways for different parts of my practice, and in ways I didn’t really imagine it too. 

Client Work

The start of the year was a particularly busy time for me. I had longer projects on sketch stages and quicker projects with a faster turnaround. It was through this time I experimented and solidified a new way of working including the iPad for client work. I still start by sketching with pencil in a sketchbook, I find I can get my ideas out quicker with physical sketches and develop thumbnail ideas in a more organic way without getting bogged down with detail. I then take the rough pencil sketches and work them up into colour roughs ready for client with the iPad. The iPad is so easy to use and changing colour and composition digitally is so quick and easy. These digital roughs are then super easy to export to jpegs and send straight to the client with no need for scanning and editing. When it comes to final artwork I pretty much just copy the rough using watercolour. As everything is already mapped out and colours planned this makes the more finite nature of painting by hand less stressful. Including the iPad in my process has also made me more adventurous, especially with colours. Experimenting with colour is so easy in Procreate and I often have 3 different colour ways in different layers when working up my roughs. Taking risks is much easier when working on roughs digitally as you can just click back or remove a layer if something isn’t working.

New process 

  • sketch in sketchbook with pencil

  • draw successful sketches on the iPad

  • colour sketches on the iPad using layers and groups

  • send digital roughs to client

  • use colour roughs as reference when painting by hand

Personal Work 

One thing I didn’t expect is for the iPad to impact my personal work and drawing habits. Since having the iPad I am drawing so much more in my spare time. I’ll have it with me and be drawing in front of the TV or in a cafe. There is something really rewarding about just being able to pull it out of your bag and being able to sketch and add colour so quickly, whilst having the ability to just undo if things go pear shaped. I have also been learning new things through the iPad. I have always been keen to give simple animation a go, and the iPad makes this easy using layers as frames in a similar way to photoshop however drawing gone the screen makes things so much easier than drawing frames and scanning or using a drawing tablet. I’m also learning about the riso printing process and creating the print ready files with the iPad has been really easy. 

For me, purchasing this piece of kit was really beneficial. It has streamlined my process and definitely saved me a lot of time. It’s also helped my practice and pushed me to create more complex work. However I do think it’s a huge financial decision, especially for someone who is freelance and self employed. It’s definitely not something I could have afforded to do in previous years. If you are on the fence and need that extra push I would say before purchasing to go to one of the apple drawing classes and give it a really good go, or even better borrow a friends to make sure. If you do decide to buy I personally would recommend the larger size and speccing it up a little to give you lots of room to do whatever you want. Has this been interesting? Probably not. Has is been useful? I hope so. 

Eleanor Hardiman