Why I Haven’t Bought An iPad…Yet.

I’m a big fan of Apple products and, like many digital artists, I see a lot of potential in the iPad. It’s sleek, fun, stylish, practical, and best of all you can draw and paint with it. Quite a few digital artists have already posted work online that was created with the iPad and some of it is amazing. So what’s not to love?

Unfortunately, there are a few things:

Low Image Resolution. The iPad’s screen makes images look amazing but the resolution is currently capped at 768×1024. For me as an illustrator that’s a concern. To create a quality image for print you need at least 300dpi. That means that on an iPad you won’t be able to create a truly professional print-ready image that is much bigger than a baseball card.

Sure, you can create some terrific low-res sketches and then bump them up on your desktop computer. But for me as a professional illustrator it means the iPad can really only be a fancy sketchbook, not a true art-making machine. I certainly wouldn’t be able to create much client work with it.

Lack of Pressure Sensitivity. When you draw on a Wacom tablet or a Cintiq the pen responds to the pressure of your hand. Push down hard and you get a thicker, darker line. Sketch lightly and your lines will stay thin and light. It makes for a very natural way of drawing but unfortunately the iPad currently lacks this feature. When you draw a line on the iPad it stays the same thickness no matter how hard you press. For some artists that might be fine but for my particular drawing style that would be frustrating and problematic.

Lack of a Good Stylus. The beauty of the iPhone and iPad is that all the power is concentrated in the tip of your finger. For most apps that’s terrific but when it comes to sketching I find it awkward. I’ve done some finger sketching on my iPhone and my hand always feels clumsy. Also, my finger tip is too blunt making it hard to be very precise when putting down a line.

There are a couple of companies that make styluses for the iPad but so far the ones I’ve seen are too wide and blunt. It’s like drawing with lipstick. I want something that tapers to a point so I can see exactly where I’m putting down my line.

Also, when I draw I tend to rest my hand on the page. I imagine that the side of my palm pressing all over the screen like that would wreck havoc on an iPad. I suppose I could wear a fingerless glove but that feels to me like more trouble than its worth.

The folks at Ten One Design have written some impressive-looking software to get around some of these issues. Unfortunately the software uses something called private frameworks which is against Apple’s policy. That means you won’t be seeing this in the App store any time soon:

It’s a 1st Gen Apple Product. There’s no question that Apple makes amazing products. When they’ve introduced new products in the past (iPod, iPhone, etc.) the 2nd generation model has usually been vastly superior to the original version. To a point that just makes sense. Technology is always advancing and improvements are to be expected. But with Apple I always have the nagging feeling that they are purposefully “dumbing down” their 1st gen models so that when the 2nd generation model is released it will look so much more amazing that all the early adopters will immediately want to replace their now-clunky hardware. More money in Apple’s pocket.

Of course if the product is amazing enough then even the 1st gen version is worth the cost. I bought a 1st gen iPhone only a week after they went on sale and it was worth every penny. But for me the current iPad isn’t quite in the same league. In this economy I’m choosing to hold onto my cash a little longer until I can get a better value with the next version of iPad. I’m also hoping the next model will address at least some of the issues I’ve raised here. If it doesn’t, I may wait even longer.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not knocking the iPad. Far from it! In a lot of ways its an amazing device and I’d certainly love to have one. But for me the current model isn’t quite awesome enough to justify the cost, especially when I’m sure the next model will be that much better. For now my iPhone does the job just fine.

What Do You Think? Since I don’t own an iPad (though I do own an iPhone) much of what I’ve written in this post is gleaned from other articles I’ve read online. If you have a different opinion, or if I’m flat out wrong on anything, please leave a comment and let me know. Likewise, if you’ve had success drawing on the iPad and want to extol its virtues by all means go right ahead. I’d welcome your input.

This and That

I’m super busy finishing up a client project, so today I’ll just post a few miscellaneous links:

Calling Minnesota Animators. My friend Kelly McNutt is a very talented artist and animator in his own right. Check out his blog and website. He’s currently looking for some Minnesota animation artists to help him out with a client project.

Disney’s Announces Upcoming Animated Films. The Disney/Pixar studio has announced their upcoming slate of animated films. They will be releasing ten new animated films over the next few years. Most are original stories but there will also be two sequels: Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. Normally I’m not a fan of sequels, especially of the Disney variety. In recent years Disney has made quick profits with “cheapquels”—low quality sequels to classic animated films. But now that John Lasseter is running things, this time things could be much different. After all, Lasseter’s Toy Story 2 was (in my opinion) better than the original. No small feat!

New Mac Ads. Apple has released two new ads featuring the Mac guy and the PC guy. These ads are always a treat to watch.

Stuff I’m Selling. I’ve been cleaning out my closets and unloading a few animation-related items on ebay. If anyone is interested, here’s what I’m selling: Disney yearbooks from Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the yearbooks were only given to artists and crew members who worked on the films. I bought my copies on ebay). I’m also selling a copy of the Ken Southworth Animation Program. There’s still a day or two to put in bids before the auctions end.

Mascot Contest Ends Tomorrow! Don’t forget to take your shot at my advertising mascot contest. If you can correctly name the products associated with all twelve mascots, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the new book Hi-Fi Color For Comics: Digital Techniques for Professional Results. The deadline is midnight tomorrow.

Ask Mr. Artist Guy: Should I Buy A Laptop Or Dekstop Computer?


Illustrator Doug Jones writes:

I have always had a tower type computer but now I am wondering if maybe I should go for a MacBook Pro as my main computer. Is there any reason to have the large tower type computers anymore?

A great question. I had to do a little research to answer this one. I’m fortunate enough to own both a powerful desktop machine and a laptop, and I use both regularly. Like many creative types I’ve been a devoted Mac user for several years, so I’m pretty clueless as to what’s available in the PC world. But I’m pretty sure most of what I have to say is just as true for users of either platform.

I’m not an expert on computers, so someone else may give you different advice. But as a commercial artist who works digitally, here’s my two cents. There are several issues to consider:Read More

Sour Apples


I’m a huge Apple fan. I love their products. I drink the Kool-Aid. I sometimes wander in to the Apple store just so I can drool.

But lately the effects of the Kool-Aid are starting to wear off.

My biggest beef is with Leopard, Apple’s new operating system. Leopard’s new features promised to bring a new level of productivity and flexibility to my computer experience. I’m a sucker for anything that saves time or makes me more productive, so I upgraded to Leopard almost immediately. I should have known better. Apple has a nasty habit of releasing operating systems before they are truly ready. I knew the upgrade would be klunky at first and I was prepared to encounter a few annoying bugs. I never expected this much disappointment.Read More

Leopard: A Sweet Ride With A Bumpy Start


Before getting into today’s post, I want to thank the guys over at Drawn! for graciously writing a little blurb about my Schoolism.com posts on October 20. That day I got a lot of visitors to this site–over 3,700–and the following day my blog made #61 in the top 100 WordPress blogs for that day. Muchos Gracias, guys! And thanks to all you new readers who’ve been sticking around since.


Yesterday my copy of Leopard, Apple’s new operating system, arrived in the mail. (I ordered from Amazon.com and saved a few bucks. Their single-user version is $20 cheaper than Apple’s retail price and the family-license version is $10 cheaper. Plus free shipping.) After reading thoughts about the upgrade from the talented and prolific Tom Richmond, I thought I’d post my own experiences.

Upgrading your entire operating system is always a big project, and there are bound to be a few glitches. Most glitches are usually ironed out within a few months of the software’s release, but early adapters take the brunt of it. Since Leopard is only a few days old I knew I’d run into some bugs, but I never expected to run into as many problems as I did.Read More