I got an Apple pencil…now what?
I’m not affiliated with Apple. I’m not an Apple person. I’ve never been an Apple person. But a few months ago, I got an iPad and thought heck, I might as well get the stylus.
Except it’s not called a stylus. With Apple, it’s called a pencil. Oh, how fancy of them.
I’ve always had the impression that Apple products are overtly expensive, which gives the brand a general public perception of it being much more elite than other technological alternatives.
Don’t get me wrong, but Microsoft has improved massively over the past decade, with other strong contenders like Samsung. In part, this is because a lot of them share the same, if not similar, hardware. Technology has become more a mix and match with a dash of marketing and software integrity kind of game.
So what led me to finally buy into an Apple product?
Well, it’s because I want to learn how to draw.
No more excuses
Once upon a time, I had a creative streak in me that my teachers tried to nurture. But my mother, being the stereotypical Asian mom that she is, convinced me to do something safe like economics instead. She painted tales of starving artists and sign makers, struggling to make ends meet.
Fast forward two decades later, my mother got it wrong. Those economics classes were duller than watching paint dry — no pun intended. While she may have had good intentions, I am somewhat a little under nurtured when it comes to my art skills. Looking back at my old stuff, I’d like to think I had potential as a kid.
As an adult with nowhere to offload my excuses, I decided to take charge of my personal growth and got an iPad. While I could have learned how to draw traditionally with pencil and real paper, I’ve got plans and I needed a way to bypass a step or two. There are things I want to do with this art and I haven’t got time to figure out how to shade a ball on paper (which I’m already pro at) and then replicate that in a digital format.
I tried the digital art thing a while back but drawing with a mouse and screen just isn’t the same. The iPad and Apple pencil just seemed a much more intuitive approach than trying to go down the old-school digital art route.
It was one of my secret reasons why I ended up with one of the original iPads back in 2010s. But back then, there was no such thing as an Apple pencil and the stylus were more like sponges attached to metal sticks.
The Apple pencil is much more precise, with better control and a seamless charging experience.
The alternative line-up
Before I made the decision to get an iPad, I did look at the other alternatives. Back at my old workplace, I managed to get my hands on a Surface. At first, I was hyped to use the pen, only to find it somewhat lackluster. My handwriting looked like a kid learning how to write. The responsiveness was a little bit off and holding your hand the wrong way could make your lines skip.
But that was a few years ago, so the technology might be better now.
I also looked the Surface Pro, but I didn’t need another computer — especially when I’ve just bought a new laptop for programming work about six months prior.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab series was another option but there’s been reviews pointing out the lack of tilt function support.
By the time I made my way around to the iPad and iPad Pro series, I’ve already become researched fatigued.
Software matters too
One of the major things that got me to buy an iPad was the long term cost. The thing with Android and PC based apps and software is that they often run on subscriptions. There’s something about apps with Apple that you just buy it once and call it a day.
The cost of owning an iPad suddenly seemed more appealing. The issue with subscription software is that it does get expensive over time. At some point, the cost of the subscription will outstrip the cost of the device.
While Adobe is good, the long term cost of it just didn’t work for me. Last year, I’ve forked out about $600 for just the subscription to Adobe. I’m not that pro yet and haven’t figured out how to monetize digital art.
When I was doing my research, ProCreate was an app that kept coming up in tutorials and reviews. The major appeal with ProCreate is that you only have to pay the once-off fee to buy the app and it won’t cost you the price of your kidneys. ProCreate is an Apple exclusive piece of software only so that instantly reduced whatever brownie points non-Apple products got during the decision making process.
Is the Apple pencil worth its weight in gold?
When I first started using the Apple pencil, my art didn’t look instantly great. In part, it’s because there is always a learning phase when it comes to figuring out the nuances of hardware and technology.
ProCreate was easy to figure out and the Apple pencil itself did was I was expecting it to do. The only downside is trying to draw on glass. The tip just glides over the surface, resulting in weird slips here and there. I ended up getting Paperlike after a few days and when it did eventually arrive due to postal delays, the process of drawing with the Apple pencil is similar to drawing on real paper.
Learning to draw and shade digitally with an Apple pencil is much easier than trying to get things pixel perfect with a mouse. I’m not saying it’s impossible, especially when there’s ton of other artists doing it.
Personally, I’m a tactile kind of person and the Apple pencil does make the creation and learning process much easier.
There are probably annoying parts but I haven’t quite discovered it yet. Rather than an issue with the pen itself, it’s more to do with my proficiency towards the ability to use an Apple product. So far, it’s been a positive growth process and most of it has to do with the task of learning how ProCreate works. The tilt and pressure support also makes it easier to deal with the layering of colors and thicknesses of lines.
But was it worth its weight in gold?
For now, yes.