In 2012 I fell in love with tablets. Lightweight enough to travel easily to organizing meetings (including those held in parks or tents) they also paired beautifully with projectors.At the time I was part of a group projecting political art onto buildings, an alternative style of street art. But I was still creating the art itself on a very expensive cumbersome setup. I was teaching ad hoc classes to people interested in graphics but the hardware was a barrier, both financially and physically. So toward the end of 2013 I began a 6 month experiment to see how far I could take art created on tablets.

It was an adjustment, I had to detach from years of expectations about what was possible and how to do things. But I was immediately impressed with just how much IS possible on a setup that cost a fraction of my other working environment. For the curious – I tried all the graphics Apps I could find, Artrage and SketchBook Pro were my favorites until I discovered ProCreate. While I did find that a ‘smart stylus’ (aka Bluetooth) was a must have, I also LOVE the ability to use my fingers. This one little tweak had long been missing from digital art, and tablet use gave it back to me.

I chose illustrating Twitter hashtag topics for my learning curve experiments. There were several reasons, but the one important to graphic artists is that I knew I wasn’t willing to give up the use of layers. Channels and masks (small sob) I could bear to live without, but not layers. Fortunately layers are very available in tablet art apps.

Looking back on these I can see the progression of comfort with the tools, the resulting pieces definitely got better over time. I’d estimate it took 4 months before I had anything I was pleased with (the Jonathan Ferrell portrait, 6th one below). But I got there and what a joy it is to paint digitally “en plain air”! Print quality is great at A4 and can be pushed up to A3+ without too much loss for most things. But the best part is knowing that the tools for creating digital fine art have become so much more accessible. This under $1000 setup can’t do everything I’m used to, but at a fifth of the cost it’s pretty amazing.

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