Learning the flow of iPad artistry: Illustrator Don Low gives his pointers

How the iPad Pro changed the professional artist's approach to his work

Apple is hosting a series of Sketch Walks happening all over the world, including one in Singapore today with illustrator Don Low. Sketch Walks are brief experiences where you can see just how the iPad Pro works as a medium for on-the-go drawing.

Artists have embraced the mobility of the iPad, with artists as established as David Hockney embracing the move to digital. How has the journey been for Low? We had a chat with him to find out.  

What got you into the iPad Pro in 2015?

I had been looking for something to work with my first-generation iPad and iPad Mini, but nothing worked out for me. I had no luck with all the styluses acquired over the few years since I bought my iPad. I was going to purchase the 3rd-gen iPad when a friend of mine from Hong Kong told me to wait for a new version of iPad, which we know now as the iPad Pro.

When I saw a video demonstration of the Apple Pencil in 2015 I knew that it was the solution to my problem. I actually waited six months before I bought the iPad Pro at the airport and got a bit of a discount, and another two months before the Pencil was made available at the retailer's.

I have always wanted to draw and sketch digitally just for a change, after having drawn on more than 60 sketchbooks and accumulated a huge stack of papers [since starting out], and realising that I might be running out of storage space. I needed something that offers the same effects that I can get from traditional mediums and more without too much hassle. Most of the time you just want to get into the drawing process straight away without having to worry about technical stuff, and so far the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil coupled with Procreate work like a charm.

What do you think the advantages are for an iPad Pro over traditional sketching/pencil and paper?

The main advantage to using the iPad Pro is the mobility that I get when I am sketching or drawing on location, especially on a bus or on trains. With the right application, I get versatility and flexibility from the Apple Pencil which gives me very sensitive pen pressure - almost close to how I would use my dip pens and performing even better. No ink leak, no colour or water spillage while painting, and most important of all, I am not carrying too much stuff in my backpack, yet almost all the tools I need are there in the tablet.

Of course, some would say that I am losing the tactility of using paper and traditional pens and brushes. After all, I'm drawing on a glass surface. Conversely, using Procreate on the iPad Pro allows for quicker experimentations that I am not able to do with traditional pens and brushes, that result in me drawing and painting more with the traditional mediums. Now, I have the best of both worlds.

I have been producing pre-visualisation work for my commercial work on the iPad Pro too. It saves me time and effort drawing on paper, and I can scan the sketches to be sent to my client for approval. I can work anywhere without the confines of a studio.  There are also times I would take a picture of what I had done traditionally with my iPhone and then port it over to the iPad Pro to add colours or make some image corrections. That is really a time saver for me.