The iPad Pro is quickly becoming my go-to tablet for digital art, but I still miss the size and ergonomics of using a proper drawing tablet. This is where the keen and clever folks at Astropad are innovating, with the Darkboard drawing stand designed for iPad.
Astropad has a history of getting more from iPad, its Astropad Studio is one of the best drawing apps for iPad, and enables you to run Photoshop on your Mac and paint using your iPad, to turn Apple's app-based device into a full-fat drawing tablet.
The Astropad's Darkboard is a little different but the idea is the same. This drawing stand has been designed to offer a uniquely comfortable drawing surface for iPad artists. The iPad slips into the middle slot leaving a large work area surrounding the screen to rest your arms. This is ideal for achieving the smooth, natural sweeping movement needed for drawing clean lines. (It's similar in style to the very expensive but brilliant Xencelabs Pen Display 24 drawing tablet.)
The Darkboard can be used like a standard easel-style drawing tablet with a comfy 30-degree angle and best of all it can be folded down flat and used as a lap tablet. This is the stand style that really appeals, as I have a desk-bound drawing display but the versatility of using an iPad on the sofa with the larger space provided by the Darkboard's 'frame' is inviting.
Playing into iPad's portability the Darkboard comes with a neoprene sleeve that Astropad's press statement says is "stain, water, oil, and heat resistant". It's ideal for taking your art on the go and maintaining the comfort found while noodling on the sofa.
If you are looking to draw on the go, read our Procreate review, this is the ideal app, and if you're looking to turn an iPad and Darkboard into a Wacom replacement read our guide to how to turn your iPad into a drawing tablet. We also profile the Astropad founders in our feature 'Meet the ex-Apple engineers who turn iPads into Wacom killers'.
The Darkboard originally launched as a Kickstarter and now its initial backers have their clever iPad drawing frame, we can all order one. Order from the Astropad websitefor $119.99 and choose from two sizes, either the Model D1 that fits the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation and newer), or the Model D2 that fits the 11-inch iPad Pro or the iPad Air.