ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

iPad Apps for Creative People: What I Use to Write, Draw, Blog

Updated on August 28, 2012

My iPad in its Native Habitat

Working on my patio with my iPad.
Working on my patio with my iPad. | Source

Have Stylus, Will Doodle

I'm still becoming acquainted with my iPad and its uses. I'd like to share some of the ways I'm using it to create art (subject to my limited abilities), write and blog. I welcome suggestions below by other writers and artists; I'm still debating about the best diary/journal app to try.

Here's the apps I'm using as a writer, (not very skilled) artist, and blogger. I'll be updating this page as I try more, especially since my Mom is currently betatesting a new art app that she's raving about.

TIP: Taking a Screenshot on iPad

Need to take a screenshot of your iPad, as I did below?

Press the Power/sleep switch at the top right edge of your iPad (in portrait orientation) at the same time as you press the "belly button" (main button with square on it). That saves the current screen to your camera roll.

Transferring/Uploading Images

You can transfer apps, iBooks, video and music between your computer and iPad using iTunes, but for some reason you can't easily port photos back and forth. I suspect Apple will fix this sooner or later, but in the meantime, to upload images from your iPad to your computer, you need DropBox. DropBox is a FREE file transfer app.

How it works: You sign up for a DropBox account with a username and password. You'll then get 2GB of free storage space (you have to pay for more than that) on DropBox.com. You can then sign in from the website or get a free DropBox Application (for your computer) and DropBox App (for your iPad) that let you upload and download any files to the dropbox.

What if you want to upload images from your iPad to your self-hosted website, or a website that allows FTP? Then get FTP Client Pro (NOT free, but reasonably priced) which lets you log into your website (address should be ftp://website.com or whatever your website is) and upload/download files to it on your iPad.

My Creativity iPad Apps and Tools

Here's the apps I'll cover on this page (minus the default apps at bottom).
Here's the apps I'll cover on this page (minus the default apps at bottom). | Source

Bamboo Paper App Demo

A quick doodle to test out Bamboo Paper. Note color/pen palette: that's all you get. So this isn't really a full-fledged art but a sketch/diagram/note-taking tool. (Click for full-sized)
A quick doodle to test out Bamboo Paper. Note color/pen palette: that's all you get. So this isn't really a full-fledged art but a sketch/diagram/note-taking tool. (Click for full-sized) | Source

Bamboo Paper: Free Sketchpad

Bamboo Paper by Wacom (yay!) is a FREE drawing sketchbook with extremely limited, yet pleasing, tools: a nib pen brush that changes darkness/thickness according to pressure in a way that feels natural, and a sort of wash/tint brush. It detects and filters out when you rest your hand on the screen. It looks pretty good drawing with the fingertip, but a stylus is better.

The free version gives you one notebook and a set of background papers (white, lined, graph, or calendar/appointment style); the paid version gives you multiple notebooks and the ability to share them with other Bamboo Paper app users.

  • Pros: FREE, really smooth drawing tool feels more intuitive and natural than any other I've used; great for drawing diagrams, equations, taking handwritten notes.
  • Cons: Very limited set of colors, no way to free-select colors with a slider. When you choose a paper background (lined, white, graph), it's set for the whole notebook, which goads you into buying the paid version to get multiple notebooks.

After trying out several drawing apps, I can't quite explain why, but the pen tip on this one feels more natural and seems to place the line and thickness exactly where I'd expect. Too bad there's not more art brushes and colors.

Feel: like drawing with a really smooth, high-quality fountain pen or fine-nib artist's marker. You've got 9 different colors of ink cartridges, and 3 nibs. Plus a sort of airbrush-smooth tint tool (even tone/color throughout, low opacity.)

Demo of Paper

A real artist could probably work wonders with this app. The natural media flows nicely on the simulated paper. See brushes, colors below. (I'm finding Wacom's Bamboo Paper a little easier to use, but then, I got it first.)
A real artist could probably work wonders with this app. The natural media flows nicely on the simulated paper. See brushes, colors below. (I'm finding Wacom's Bamboo Paper a little easier to use, but then, I got it first.) | Source

Paper: Draw and Paint

Paper is a beautiful, free sketchbook app for artists, but it may also work as a notebook for jotting down notes, diagrams, ideas.

It comes with a realistic ink pen tip and eraser; you may purchase other tips like pencils, markers, watercolors.

I'm still getting the hang of Paper. Its controls are hidden: drag up from the bottom, or drag down to hide. Undo is a gesture: put two fingers on the tablet and circle left to "rewind" brush strokes. The limited color palette (see screenshot) may be blended on the paper as if laying down strokes of color. There's debate in the user forums about whether to add more colors.

It's worth downloading, since it's free. Give it a try to see if it works for you.

Feel: like really smooth paper and very good art pens, elegant and minimalist. I don't have the pencils/watercolors, but based on the free tools, I'm guessing they're like carrying a travel set of excellent colored pencils or a mini watercolor palette.)

SketchPadHD Demo

Here you can see the color palette.
Here you can see the color palette. | Source
More SketchPad HD. I got this app to help me plan my patio garden. I mapped/measured the patio, noting sun/shade, then took my iPad to the garden center and made notes of what flowers I was buying and where they went.
More SketchPad HD. I got this app to help me plan my patio garden. I mapped/measured the patio, noting sun/shade, then took my iPad to the garden center and made notes of what flowers I was buying and where they went. | Source

SketchPadHD: Draw and Write

SketchPadHD is an award-winning iPad app that lets you combine drawing and text. It's a paid app, but cheap.

It still doesn't have a freeform color picker or extensive brushes, but pen nib sizes from pixel up to about half an inch in diameter.

You can set individual pages of the notebook with different backgrounds.

I find it a bit frustrating that the text starts at the top left-hand margin. You have to use spaces and returns instead of just clicking an insertion point elsewhere to start typing. But as you can see, this app is a lot more flexible for planning, note taking and design, because you get editable text plus drawing / diagram capability on the same page.

I'm still looking for a journal program that lets me import camera pictures, draw, and put a text insertion point anywhere on the page, mimicking the old journals in MYST and RIVEN (which have been re-released for iPad, huzzah).

Feel: like drawing on a whiteboard. A bit clumsy with the tip; that might just be me.

WRITING App: Nebulous Lite

Nebulous Notes Lite is a FREE writing / text editing app which lets you pick a font, choose a soothing background paper texture, raise/lower font size by pinching, and set macros for things you need to type frequently. (I added < > [ ] / and = macros across the top strip of the keyboard so I could enter code without having to fiddle with the shift / alternate character sets.)

It also includes arrow keys to move the insertion point forward or back a word.

You can save text documents or save them to DropBox, but it doesn't let you create folders on your iPad (you can on DropBox). So it wouldn't be a great program for writing a whole book -- organizing drafts and chapters might be a chore -- but for writing a post before you upload it to your blog, forum, or a site that lets you post content, it's the tool to use. Select all, copy, and paste into the text window on your web browser.

Procreate App Demo

My first attempt at drawing with Procreate. Having a photo on a bottom layer sure makes it easier to pretend I can still draw! (It's been over 10 years since I did any kind of drawing; I'm hoping I'll improve if I start using the iPad to practice.)
My first attempt at drawing with Procreate. Having a photo on a bottom layer sure makes it easier to pretend I can still draw! (It's been over 10 years since I did any kind of drawing; I'm hoping I'll improve if I start using the iPad to practice.) | Source
Procreate screencap. Here you can see how useful layers are for not screwing up lines with coloring. (Gamer geeks may recognize these two brainy women from Suikoden.)
Procreate screencap. Here you can see how useful layers are for not screwing up lines with coloring. (Gamer geeks may recognize these two brainy women from Suikoden.) | Source

Procreate: ART Program

The iPad art app I'm using is Procreate.

It lets you have up to six (?) layers, setting the opacity of each one to let those below shine through, and the toolbox lets you import a photo. Here, I used one of my photos of the Lady Washington in the background with opacity turned faint, drew on layers above, and then hid the photo (a technique known as "onionskinning"). There's a smudge/blur tool, and unlike the other programs, you can set the opacity/pressure as well as diameter of this and the eraser.

There's a full range of brushes, chalklike, brushlike, penlike, airbrush and spatter (see water at right); one can change brush opacity; and there's a color picker as well as swatches so you have a full spectrum.

It will export to your camera roll as a transparent PNG. It looks a little weird in the camera roll, which puts a black layer behind it, but it looks fine when you upload it to the web. It might be a good idea to put a bottom white background layer, just to make sure.

TIP: choose the wrench at top and pick "Set artwork orientation" if you're working in portrait mode (taller than wide). I found that FTP Client Pro uploaded my ship 90 degrees on its side when I left it to guess. Setting orientation fixed the problem.

Feel: like drawing with all the brushes and layers in Photoshop, or a very stripped-down version of Painter.

Just for Fun: 123D Sculpt

123D Sculpt is a FREE 3D rendering app for those of us who were goofing around with Bryce and Raydream in the 90s. You start with a ball of virtual clay (or, optionally, a preshaped blob like a dinosaur or a head) which you can pinch, dimple, layer more clay on, and otherwise distort.

It includes decals which you can rub on at varying opacity -- eyes, fur, feathers -- for some bizarre effects, or it's got a color palette and brushes. You can spin your sculpture around and view it close/far away in a way that staggers me, since I remember the days when it took hours to render a shape like this.

When you're finished playing it around, save it in a gallery, take a screenshot of it, or upload a video of it turning around to YouTube. Like most art tools, in the hands of a master, you could do amazing things with this program, but in the hands of a clod like me, it's still relaxing to sculpt and paint odd abstract shapes.

123D Sculpt Demo: Fun But Odd

My iPad Stylus

The optional iPhone strap can be looped securely under one corner of a SimplyMac smart case. There's a clasp like a necklace clasp, but sturdier, that lets you detach the stylus.
The optional iPhone strap can be looped securely under one corner of a SimplyMac smart case. There's a clasp like a necklace clasp, but sturdier, that lets you detach the stylus. | Source

Accessories I Use with My iPad

Acase(TM) Stylus - A-ccurate Slim Stylus Pen for Touchscreen Devices Including Kindle Fire, Apple iPad/iPad2/iPad3, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry PlayBook (Jet Black).
Acase(TM) Stylus - A-ccurate Slim Stylus Pen for Touchscreen Devices Including Kindle Fire, Apple iPad/iPad2/iPad3, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry PlayBook (Jet Black).

No iPad stylus is perfect, because they have to be soft enough not to scrape off the conductive coating on the screen. So the tips tend to be soft and rounded rather than a narrow point. This one is pretty good. I keep it clipped on the outside of my iPad case so it's always handy. But before you buy this one, watch the MacWorld video review of stylus options below. It sounds like some of those are better!

 
Logitech 920-003544 Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2
Logitech 920-003544 Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2

I got this fold-up keyboard for travel. Charge it with a USB cable, then it can be used without. It works fairly well, except that annoyingly, when I haven't been using it for a while, I have to re-synch it (Go to iPad settings > General > Bluetooth, then click the synch button on the keyboard). Once they're synched, typing is easy. Keypad includes up/down arrow keys, command-c, command-v for cut and paste, function and volume keys. It's also a handy iPad stand in a very small space (like an airplane tray table.)

 

Good Review of 12 iPad Styluses for Drawing and Writing

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the software reviews, Greekgeek. I'm thinking about getting an iPad, and I love playing with art programs, so your hub was very useful.

    • Greekgeek profile image
      Author

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Thanks! I need to find out what my Mom's using; she picked up an early version of some art App and got in touch with the developer who's working on a new version and getting her to betatest.

      Adorable kitty. Looks like mine, but with more obvious Siamese. (Mine's a shelter mutt, some kind of tortie/siamese mix.)

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I do all my business and all my really creative work on my desktop. But I'm noticing more and more that my iPad can do quite a bit with all those apps that are available. No need for a separate laptop anymore, which I basically use when traveling. Thanks for writing about these additional nifty apps that I didn't know about.

    • RolyRetro profile image

      RolyRetro 4 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK

      Great hub, I am a huge ipad fan, and use many of these techniques, if not the same apps. Flickr andDropBox are great for sharing content without wires, and you can do a lot with graphics as well as maintaining web content in hubpages and wordpress.

      Cheers

      Roly

    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Have you tried out Paper for the iPad yet? It's a very well designed app and it's fun to create art within it.

    • Greekgeek profile image
      Author

      Ellen 4 years ago from California

      I have, but I'm a dunce and can't find the controls. All I can get is the default black ink brush. Help! :)

    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Swipe up from the bottom gives you the colours and other drawing tools. The extra brushes cost a few dollars each, which is how they're making money from the app. If you pinch on the screen, you can choose a new page or notebook.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I always wondered why one might need a stylus for an ipad, but it makes sense now. thanks!

    • petertebin profile image

      petertebin 4 years ago from Maryland

      Great hub on a great set of apps for the IPad!

    • creativegenius profile image

      Brian Scott 4 years ago from United States

      Got a chuckle out of the fact that I am using about half of these apps already--which means I am probably on the right track to become a better creative thinker and designer. Thanks for providing screenshots for the other apps. Currently a user of Bamboo, and love it.

    • truebluewriter profile image

      Malds Menzon 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      The only one I use that's here is dropbox lol. I have been thinking of getting a stylus for my ipad though. I'd love to be able to write and draw in it naturally. My fingers are too big so they're not working for me lol.

      Im liking the sketchpad app though and might get that once I buy a stylus

    • profile image

      Joe 4 years ago

      Thanks for the hub! I have some of the apps that you posted in my Ipad. However, I suggest you try Jot! It's a collaborative whiteboard app that allows you to share ideas together through its Live Sharing feature. Try it out...

    • Greekgeek profile image
      Author

      Ellen 4 years ago from California

      Heh. Now if I just were better at collaborating with other people! But I'm sure many creative people do, and would find that app useful. Thanks for the rec!

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

      Excellent list of apps for creatives.

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      I love these! I'm going to get the Bamboo paper one right now. Thank you for this hub.

    • ceejay1980 profile image

      ceejay1980 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tip on taking a screenshot with the iPad...let me give Nebulous a shot! :-)

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! I don't have my own iPad yet… it is my Wife's - I only get to play HayDay. Perhaps, one day, I'll get to have my own… or, more probably, this one, when she gets a new one… then I'll get do do really creative stuff like this neat hub shares. Thanks!! ;-)

    • Greekgeek profile image
      Author

      Ellen 2 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment! It's a wonderful toy, but also a handy pocket computer. I should update this article — I've discovered wonderful new apps since I wrote it. (Let me sing the praises of DuoLingo, a free app I'm learning to learn Spanish and brush up my German!)

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 2 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      I wish I had a tablet but I'm still using an older laptop. Great article (as usual!)

    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      I'm thinking of taking up drawing on the iPad, but some people don't consider any work done in a digital medium to be "real" art. Maybe I will take up artwork in both digital and traditional materials . I'm wondering on the iPad if the small size makes it feel somewhat constraining. There are rumors of apple coming out with a larger iPad soon.

    Click to Rate This Article