About Some Art apps, Other apps and My Books


My initial idea when I got my first iPad, an iPad mini, was to: type up some of my poems, use an art app to do some simple line drawings, perhaps add a dash of colour, print them out – then make some handmade books. Which in previous years I have made before – color copying, stapling and binding them together. My books are usually one of my poems, broken into pages, which I then illustrate. *I’m now using an iPad Air 2. 

I wasn’t really planning to do much iPad art.  Mainly as the art apps I first tried, had a very basic range of markmaking properties, and didn’t really inspire me. However, I was intrigued enough to investigate further.

These are a few of my handmade books. Getting a colour copier for home; was marvellous! I’ve used it heaps over the past ten years or so. The media I worked in for my book illustrations include: pencil, ink pen, watercolour, oil pastels..on paper. Sold them locally; they did well. These are a bit crinkled – made way before iPad’s ever existed – but they’re the only ones I have left.

I’ve now found a few apps which have amazing natural looking art media, and allow me to draw and paint – much as I do on paper or canvas!

I rarely use a computer (built this website on my iPad). I’ve heard of photoshop, but know little about it. My art training is in the traditional fine arts, so I was thrilled to discover, that very little technical know how was needed to draw and paint on an iPad. Mostly, I just dip my finger into the art app media, and off I go! Wonderful! Unfortunately, I can’t offer much information on art apps available on android tablets – don’t know much about them. Searching reviews could be helpful. 🙂 Nevertheless, most of the drawing/painting tips I share on my blog apply to works on paper/canvas, or any tablet.

I’ve experimented with lots of free art apps, also with popular ones that I’ve purchased: Artrage, Procreate, Sketchbook pro…  At first, I found their user panels a bit complex (at least for me), and didn’t like the layer systems, which don’t suit the more traditional way that I work. These apps seem geared towards people with graphic design skills. However, with a bit more trial and error, I’ve found them quite easy, and enjoyable to work in. I still don’t use some of the media, or the layer system – I build up my art on the one surface, which is what I do on paper or canvas. I keep things as simple as possible, and one of my favourite apps is still “Art Set Pro” for it’s beautifully designed user panel, and naturalistic art media. *More about this further along.

For those of you interested to learn more about these apps, with layer systems, and see some beautiful accomplished artwork by artists who use them, I recommend an excellent book, by Dani Jones, “iPad for Artists”.

This past couple of years or so, I’ve almost exclusively used art apps to do my drawings and paintings. I can now do an excellent quality print of my work from my art apps. Since returning to work more in my traditional art media, I often enjoy merging some of it with my art app media – and printing it.

A couple of years go, when still using an iPad mini, I had an exhibition of my iPad art prints. I emailed the artworks from my iPad, to a local office supplier, where they were laser printed on a responsibly sourced, gloss archival paper. The latest laser printers do quite a pleasing print, and after I placed them into frames they came up quite well.

In recent times, I do more and more printing at home on my pigment ink air-printer. I also enjoy making cards with small prints. *There’s more information about these areas, on my page “Printing iPad Art”. 

I use my finger to draw and paint on my iPad, so I can’t offer any information on the pro’s and con’s of using a stylus.

I think many people prefer to do their art on a tablet screen with a stylus, and find it difficult to use their finger. It’s worth experimenting to see what suits you.

I always have the logitech keyboard attached to my iPad. It’s not only great for typing, but prevents the iPad’s keyboard popping up and getting in the way, when I am arranging my art and words.

IPad art prints on the cafe wall
iPad art prints from my cafe exhibition.

A Brief Overview of Some of the Apps I use

*Adding a link here  to one of my posts, with a downloadable pdf infographic, which you may find helpful.

“Art Set Pro” app: really love this app. You can see examples of it’s lovely design in the picture below. A beautiful app – all of it’s tools and media have amazing naturalistic qualities: oil pastels, conte crayon, coloured and graphite pencils, ink pens and more… I’ve occasionally gone to wipe the charcoal off my fingers!

*I still use this app a fair bit, though I’m using “Procreate” quite a lot now; and another great app, called “UBrush Pro” – this app has a beautiful watercolour paint, among other great media. 

Art Set Pro, has a great range of smudging tools, quite similar in effect to ones I use on paper : tissue, pointed torques, a larger smudge tool, an eraser, a sponge, paint thinner…

As with most art apps you can step your work back if you need to (saves scraping paint of canvas..!) and in “Art Set Pro” you can duplicate work. It can be freeing to know that if an experiment goes very wrong, you still have a back up. For some reason though, I don’t often use this facility, I think once I get absorbed in a piece I forget I can even do that.  Also there is a large range of paper/canvas textures and colours. This art app is quite an incredible well rounded artist kit!

Examples of
This art app offers a large range of very naturalistic media to choose from.
Daisies in a vase
I painted this in the “Art Set Pro” app. This app has a broad selection of brushes.

“Tayasui Sketches” : a very good app; very impressed with how generous they are with the free version. Before long I bought the “Pro version”. It was the first art app that really showed me the potential of painting and drawing on an iPad.

I use my iPad to scan in artwork using the “Scanner Pro” app,  then import the picture/artwork from “Photos’, a preinstalled app on the iPad and if shadows creep in on the white areas I remove them in an art app.

 I also experiment with beginning an artwork on paper (or canvas), then taking it into an art app, and  adding line and/or colour work…sometimes into “Art Set Pro” to use (and media) it’s wonderful smudge tools.

 “Scanner Pro”  is an excellent app. I find it more effective than just taking a photo. You can regulate the light and darks of the scan to get it as close to the original image as possible.

“Zen Brush”: very rich inky brushwork flowing from your finger tip (or stylus, though I rarely use one) Greys and black ink, lots of paper choice. The eraser can be adjusted to make short/long soft or sharp strokes which I love to use to cut back into my image.

“Zen Brush” 2, the new update, has a lovely red ink as well. Excellent app.

Woman reading the Bible
I painted this in the “Zen Brush” app.
Woman looking at Cross
Drew this in the “Crayon Style” app. It provides a white surface. For this drawing I imported in a coloured surface/paper from the “Paint It” app to work on.

“Crayon Style” a lovely realistic crayon look, with one smudging tool.

“Paint It”: pretty good, lovely lush pastels, a broad selection of media, you can change the paper colour to whatever you choose..it has a layer system, though I don’t like to use a layer systems.

“Sketch Block” has a lovely watercolour paper surface and I really like the pencil and watercolours it provides. It has other media, however, I’ve not had time yet to explore it fully. It has lots of colours to choose from and you can mix your own.  You can smudge a bit in this app but, its difficult to control and can very easily create a muddy look. Also it records your drawing and you can have a video made up of it in the app and then send it your “photo” library . Here’s a very quick one below.  There’s a video from there into a post called About drawing faces Usually the videos from this app are quite crisp; I think a little blurriness has crept in this one because of it’s large size.

“Bamboo Paper” app: lovely colours to choose from. It has: pens, pencil, crayon, and watercolour. A simple, easy to use design. It has sketch or note books which open up, and the pages can be easily flipped forward or back.  The colours don’t mix as in “Art Set Pro” (which they do in such an amazing natural way), yet some interesting marks and colour variations can be made by overlaying the different media. Pity there’s no smudge tools, however, if  you wish you can take the artwork from there, place it into “Art Set Pro” and then smudge it a bit in there, as seen below. Overall, a great app. I’ll be revisiting this app more in the future.

Two faces.
The face on the left I drew in the “Bamboo Paper” app and on the one on the right is the same face after using the smudge tools on it in “Art Set Pro”.
Dog asleep
A quick sketch in “Bamboo Paper” app. Used pencil and watercolour.

“Draw-n-Show’, a great little app. Just some coloured pencils, an eraser and the option to record your drawing process. Here’s a sample video below.

“Pic Collage” is an app that is quite useful at times: it enables you to put your pictures/photos in either a fixed template frame or as I prefer, a free style one – where you can place things where you want. You have a choice of quite a few different patterned or coloured backgrounds and you can add text (and stickers,etc). It’s easy to enlarge or shrink pictures and text with just a sqeeze of your fingers. I choose a background colour to border my artwork for display and to arrange text with pictures as seen in the picture about the “Art Set Pro” app. It came in handy for a display of my drawings at the top of my page, “About”. And I’ve used it quite often on my Facebook Artist page

“Book Creator” is an amazing app ; and was pivotal (as was my iPad) to my plunge into the online world.  Here was a way to format my illustrations and poetry into ebooks, and also make them print ready. Much as I have loved making my books by hand (handwriting them as well) time was always an issue, and my general audience rather small.  I may still use my handwriting, which I could insert into “Book Creator” as it does suit the personal nature of the content. So many options in this app : fonts, page colours, importing in your pictures/artwork; even video can be placed into your ebook…really worth a look. They have a free version, as soon as I tried that, I was very quick to buy it.

“Pages” app: use this all the time; do typing; arrange my images to have borders, and email them from there to be printed; (though you can print them straight from an art app or the I’d rather put borders on first) sometimes I copy my text from there and paste it onto my WordPress site or my Facebook Artist page. Sometimes I edit an artwork’s composition in “Pages” slicing it up, enlarging areas..good fun. I think it’s much better than “Word Doc” on a computer, but then, I’ve never been very comfortable with computers. My motto these days is:  ‘if I can’t draw on the screen what good is that to me!’

Toddler girl sitting
I drew this in the “Paint It” app…. Don’t often use this app, though there are aspects of it I like.

“iPhotos”:  this is a preinstalled app on the iPad. Every artwork I do on my iPad, or scan in, is taken into here. It is where I place my artworks for storage. You can also store your work into an app’s gallery, and where I organise them into seperate albums. From there I also: send my pictures to  “Book Creator” or  the “Pages”app – I usually print my artorks from there, rather than straight from “Photos”. Sometimes I import them from “Photos” into: another art app or send them into an app for a watermark, or to put other text on them, and then back to “Photos” and so on.. The “Photos” app is vital for all my arty purposes on my iPad.

“Big Photo”: this app came to the rescue, when I discovered I needed bigger pixel dimensions for my artworks. I went to place my artwork into “Redbubble” an online, print on demand store and apparently I needed bigger pixel dimensions for art prints and for my art to go on most other products. They could only fit my work on phone cases! –  I’d calculated differently. My learning curve in all things pixel has been huge, however I still find it a bit (lot) baffling. With a prayer and a search I found this app, which resamples and resizes images up to very large pixel measurements without loss of picture quality.  I resized my artwork photos up to 12 megapixels. It worked! My art is in RedBubble. I’m thankful, really wanted to display my art this way, may even sell some. Amazing app.

“Phonto” is an app I use frequently for for adding text/poems and a copyright symbol and my name on my pics.  “WordSwag” has interesting preset ways it can arrange your words onto an image . In an app called  “TypeDrawing” you can: run your text, in curves,wavy lines,across,around..over your image with your fingertip; or do a drawing just using your words.

Painting and drawing on my iPad continues to be a valued way of doing some of my art; and I’m experimenting more with mixing it with traditional art media. After a long investigative period, focusing mainly on my iPad art, I’m now using my traditional media more often, which includes: watercolours, coloured pencils, acrylics… Quite spoilt for choices – thankful. My pencils and brushes are jumping for joy! This is a link to a poem, I wrote about/to them, when I began my iPad art journey.

These wonderful art apps, aside from the delicious media they offer, and the time and money they save, particularly suit my artistic style and purposes: doing smallish works, (love minatures), writing and illustrating books. Drawing and painting, whether on paper, canvas or iPad, is an ongoing learning journey – and good fun!

If you have any questions or enquiries, you are welcome to send me a message on my contact page, or via my Facebook Artist Page. 

Thanks for visiting. 🙂

P.S Here’s a quick way up, you will land on my, “About” page or on my “Blog”; haven’t quite worked out a link to get back up to the top of this page….yet!

All images and text © 2014 – 2017 Janette Leeds. All rights reserved.

The various apps and products I share about, as well as any links listed, are to offer you information – which I hope you’d find helpful, and explore further. I’m not affiliated in any monetary way (would make it clear if this was the case) with the product developers or companies, nor do I neccessarily endorse all their products or practices – just saying.

2 thoughts on “About Some Art apps, Other apps and My Books

  1. Wonderful post… I do a lot of iPad art too, but I end up using this stylus with a blunt edge…I wonder if I can use the apple pencil directly on my iPad…I feel a stylus gives me a bit more of control…Also, never tried Art Set Pro, usually use Pages, or Sketchbook Pro…. but I agree they are a bit too complex for someone like me who just wants to doodle right away and get something I envision…

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    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed reading this rather long page. 🙂 I hope you get to try “Art Set Pro”; it’s delightful! I may try a stylus again at some stage – had a brief go with a Adonit Jot stylus; wasn’t too pleased with it. Meanwhile, I’m happy enough using my finger on the screen. I look forward to seeing more of your lovely artwork in future posts. All the best, Janette

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