Tail Jar

Jasper St Aubyn West

Vector Sketching in Adobe Illustrator Draw

I've got some client work on at the moment that requires highly detailed line art at a pretty large scale (the pieces are being printed BIG). This kind of illustration I would usually do on paper with pen and ink but I really wanted the line work to be nice and crisp when it's blown up so rather than go the other obvious route and draw it up in Illustrator (or in Photoshop at a ridiculously high resolution) I thought I'd see how Adobe Illustrator Draw would handle the thousands of strokes required in a piece like this. 

So I bashed out this weird skull piece yesterday as a test.

(Hot tip for people wanting to draw on the iPad Pro - get yourself a matte screen protector! It helps reduce the slippery nature of drawing with plastic on glass)

(Hot tip for people wanting to draw on the iPad Pro - get yourself a matte screen protector! It helps reduce the slippery nature of drawing with plastic on glass)

Now, a lot of emphasis has been placed on the fact that I've been using an iPad Pro lately for my monster scribbles and I'm reluctant to be known as "the guy who always uses an iPad". That being said it's a new tool for me and when I invest in a new tool I like to properly explore it's potential.

So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about the iPad Pro as an illustration/digital art tool over a couple of lazy blog posts, this being the first.

I love the clever bastards that make this app. I've loved the app itself since the first version back when it was called Adobe Ideas and the new features now like shapes/rulers and the ability to just "send" your piece straight to Illustrator on your main machine is incredible.

To jam it in a nutshell this thing is a smooth, fast and elegantly simple way to draw vector illustrations. I've used it a fair bit over the last few years and there are some awesome artists out there doing some pretty complex and beautiful things with it. With the accuracy and sensitivity of the Apple Pencil now in the mix I was curious to see how it would go with a heavy dose of cross hatching and detailing.

(As you can see, there's a heck of a lot of points going on in there...)

(As you can see, there's a heck of a lot of points going on in there...)

Essentially it handled it like a pro (pun sort of intended). I experienced virtually no lag as the layers increased and the detail went in, I could pinch and zoom around fluidly and scribble as fast as I would using a pen on paper.

It really is quite incredible considering how much information is there. With live vector shapes created for every mark made with the pencil. My fairly beastly workstation was struggling a little with the file once I transferred it to Illustrator so whatever wizardry is going on with the combo of Adobe's code and the iPad Pro's hardware it seems to be working damn well.

The app does have its limitations, it has quite a small toolset and none of the usual vector editing features found in a full desktop app but if you use it for what is says it does on the tin (drawing). You're aware of it's limitations and you partner it up with it's big brother Illustrator for any bezier tweaking or final refining then you've got yourself a very handy tool in a very portable package.

Which really is the big appeal for me when it comes to the iPad Pro in general. I think it sits perfectly on the scale in terms of screen real estate and portability. The fact that I can take this thing with me when I'm traveling or commuting and smash out a complete digital piece whenever the inspiration hits me is a game changer.

Apps like Adobe Illustrator Draw or Procreate (there are a couple of others I'll get to in another post) are damn good and can absolutely produce professional, useable results. 

I dig it.