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iPad art: How to sketch and paint anywhere

You don't need a Mac and a high-end graphics tablet to create your next digital painting. A tablet or smartphone will do.

The portrait of author Richard Matheson (above) was created by Flickr user New Chemical History on an iPad using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a wide-grip Cosmonaut stylus.

The iPad app costs a mere £2.99. Yet it's a fully-featured mobile art studio with an arsenal of customisable painting and drawing tools. It's all controlled via an intuitive, flexible UI that rarely gets in the way.

The stylus used here gives you the pencil-precision that your forefinger can't. The Studio Neat Cosmonaut model is $25 (£16) plus shipping.

In the hands of a good artist, the results can be stunning.

More iPad art

The Guardian highlighted the growth in iOS art when it asked its readers to send in their own iPhone or iPad art. Submissions varied from simple sketches to abstract paintings. You can see The Guardian's gallery here.

Perhaps the most high-profile artist to be seen with an iPad is pop art pioneer David Hockney. The Louisiana Caf filmed him sketching on an Apple tablet back in 2011:

"Hockney uses several applications, including one called Brushes, to draw the pictures," reported the BBC.

In the video, Hockney uses a stylus but he often preferred to use his fingers.

"Different fingers are used for varying effects," said the BBC article, "and even though he is right-handed, he often draws with his left hand, giving the final works a quality that he'd have difficulty replicating with his stronger arm."

Technology enables art

Brendan Kelley is another artist who has wholeheartedly embraced digital technology, recording a trip to India on his iPhone using Sketchbook and a Wacom Bamboo stylus.

The results displayed in his gallery speak volumes for the power of the technology and the delicacy of the digital pen. Ditto Peter S. Smith, whose digital still life drawings are the result of some clever work with the Brushes App on the iPhone and iPad 2. You can find them here.

Appeal in immediacy

Such iPad art isn't going to replace the traditional pen and paper or canvas and paint brush. But as Hockney observed, the appeal of mobile digital drawing is often its immediacy:

"You can make a drawing of the sunrise at 6am and send it out to people by 7am."

Fancy trying it out for yourself? Sketchbook is available in iOS and Android flavours, while Brushes is iOS-only. Other art apps are also available including ArtRage, ArtStudio, Procreate and Adobe Eazel.

And if you've already created some iPad or iPhone art, then drop us a link in the comments below and we'll swing by to have a look.

Photo by New Chemical History