Saturday, January 11, 2014

Digital sketching and collage

Hi. Terry Grant here. I got an iPad awhile back and wondered if I could really create art using some of the drawing apps that are available. I have to confess that I downloaded several and tried them out without much success, grew frustrated and kind of set them aside. Then I heard about Artrage and saw some work that was being done so I tried it and found it really user friendly, with a lot of features—almost too many. While I was captivated with all it can do, I was a little overwhelmed. Then a couple weeks ago I was in Starbucks and picked up their card with the free download of the week—an app called Sketch Club. It was just what I needed to start really working at this digital art thing! It is user friendly and has enough features to work with until I really get the hang of working with it.

One of the things I love about the program is that you really can work in layers in a combination of drawing, painting and photo collage. Just to demonstrate, I decided to put together a quick collage-y piece using just what was at hand—the iPad, the newspaper and my red coffee mug. I started by taking a photo of the newspaper laying on the table and loaded it into Sketch Club as the first layer. Then I added another layer and started using the painting tools to paint my mug. By the way, I am using a New Trent Arcadia stylus to draw with. You can see it above, next to my iPad.

Since the painted image is on a separate layer from the newspaper image, it is independent from the newspaper image and I will be able to move it around later if I want to. The painting is a bit crude, so now I can refine it a little by blending the "paint" with the smudge or blur tool.

I added some highlights and blended them in too. Now it is beginning to look a little more painterly. I could see that I was not going to want that mug smack dab in the center of the piece, so I moved it to a better location and I added another layer for a line drawing, and another layer behind the mug for a shadow.

Because the black line drawing is on a separate layer I can erase any parts I don't like, without affecting the other layers, or even remove that layer if I decide I don't like the drawing. The shadow is way too dark. I can adjust it by lessening the opacity of the shadow layer.

It could be finished at this point, but I thought it would be richer if I added some texture and adjusted the opacity of the newspaper background, which seemed pretty stark. The app gives you quite a few choices of texture brushes, including crosshatching and that subtle basket weave pattern. I added new layers to test them out on and saved the ones I liked. Here is the finished piece.

I do not feel at all expert with this, but I am learning something new with every piece! I can see my iPad becoming my new sketchbook.


  1. Very interesting, Terry & I loved seeing how the piece developed. I was very impressed to see the work of David Hockney, who, at 76, is using an iPad to create some amazing work:
    It's never too late to embrace new technology!

  2. Thanks for the step by step. It gives me ideas on how to use parts of my photo programme.
    Sandy in the UK

  3. Very nice! I have also been experimenting with art apps. They sure can be complicated. I like sketchbook pro and My Brushes pro and Art Set is a beautiful app and just plain fun! Always something new to learn huh? Sharon from Idaho

  4. This is great! Thanks for sharing! Have you used paper53? It's fun to play with and very simple...

  5. Nice!. I find I use my android tablet more than my paper sketchbook now, it's very addictive. I use sketchbook pro the most, and sometimes photoshop touch.