My Honest Thoughts about Lettering on the iPad Pro
I have had my iPad Pro for a while now and I love it! After using it in countless branding, typography & lettering projects, I’ve had a good chance to see what I like and don’t like about the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil so I’m sharing those with you in case you’re curious about purchasing them yourself!
My Lettering Tech Upgrade
In order to objectively review these latest pieces of tech, it’s important to compare it to what I was working with before. Prior to this purchase, I was doing analogue hand lettering with pens and pencils, and also had a Wacom Intuos Draw tablet for doing digital drawings.
The Intuos Draw was handy for being able to draw straight into Illustrator, but there were a lot of things that I didn’t like about it: you couldn’t see what you were drawing on the tablet itself, it had a limited space to draw and required constant repositioning to continue drawing outside the tablet’s limits, the pen wasn’t the most ergonomic or easy to draw with, and so on. This tablet was cheap, handy and I think great if you’re doing lots of work with vector points and can get the hang of using it, but it just wasn’t what I was after.
I still do a lot of analogue work with pens, pencils, paint and markers so while the iPad has upgraded my digital drawing, it hasn’t overtaken my analogue work.
My iPad Lettering Tools
Here are the tools and accessories that I purchased:
I debated getting the larger, 12.9 inch iPad but I eventually chose the 10.5. I think that having the extra space would be nice, but the 10.5 works perfectly for me. It fits in my laptop bag and handbag and it’s great for reading, writing, working or watching tv on as well.
I went with gold because I wanted the white face with something a little different and I honestly love it!
The perfect pairing for hand lettering is the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I had used the pencil before because my partner has one, and I fell in love. It is so easy to use, feels so nice in your hands, and interacts with the iPad really well. So adding that to my cart was almost a no-brainer and it now comes with me everywhere!
When I first purchased the iPad and Pencil, I didn’t pick up a case or cover because I just didn’t need it immediately and it was an additional cost that I couldn’t justify at the time. However, I recently purchased one of the Apple Smart Covers. I originally bought one in white, but unfortunately it was for the older 9.7 inch iPad which I didn’t realise (Apple should definitely make their packaging clearer!) so I returned it and they didn’t have white in the correct size, so I just got what was there - Charcoal Grey.
While this isn’t my ideal colour choice, it does mean that it doesn’t show dirt or marks and it does the job at protecting my iPad. It covers the screen when it’s not in use, but also functions as a stand for the iPad. This means that when I’m lettering, I can have the iPad on a slight angle which is perfect ergonomically! I can also stand up the iPad on my desk if I’m using it for reference, so this accessory was a great addition that I would definitely recommend.
My Favourite Apps for iPad Lettering
There are lots of amazing apps for hand lettering and design on the iPad Pro, but the two that I reach for the most are definitely Procreate and Adobe Sketch.
Procreate is possibly the most popular iPad app for hand lettering. Some of my favourite hand lettering artists like Ian Barnard, Stefan Kunz, Will Paterson and others all use Procreate for parts of their hand lettering processes. It’s only a one-time purchase of $14.99 USD and you will definitely get your money’s worth with it.
It’s built to use with the Apple Pencil, has hundreds of pre-installed brushes for you to use and has endless scope for creativity. People honestly do the most insane work in Procreate and it’s amazing what you can do with it!
I wouldn’t say that Adobe Sketch is quite as good as Procreate and it seems to have a lot of limitations, but it is super handy for one major thing in particular.
With Procreate, if I need to send things to my computer or phone, I export the project to my iCloud files and then open it on whichever other device I need, which is super fast and handy. However, Adobe Sketch takes it one step further. When I’ve completed some lettering or drawing, I can send it straight to Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and it automatically opens the file for me on my computer. It’s like magic and I love it! So if I’m doing any quick lettering that I need to pop into a Photoshop or Illustrator file, Adobe Sketch is my app of choice!
IPad Lettering Struggles
While this lettering combo is almost perfect for me, there are a couple of things that can sometimes grind my gears.
I don’t know if this is something I’m doing wrong by keeping my iPad on when I’m not using it or something, but I do sometimes feel like my iPad is always needing to be charged. It’s not too bad most times but there are some days where it dies very quickly!
To be honest, now that I think about this, there are probably some settings I could change to fix this problem, but it’s been an issue until now anyway. In Procreate, one of the ways that you can undo something, is to use a gesture with your hands, and I seem to do this accidentally all the time while I’m working! It’s the most frustrating when it happens in the middle of something I’m working on, I don’t realise fast enough, keep drawing, and then I can’t get back what I had already done.
Because the iPad is touch screen and I obviously use my hands to select and do things on it, fingerprints naturally occur. This wouldn’t be so annoying if it didn’t interfere with my lettering. Sometimes when you are creating a stroke, you’ll feel on the screen where a fingerprint or smear on the screen is. This disrupts your stroke and can make it waver at times.
I’ve heard that there is a screen protector that makes your screen more matte which can help with this and also make your iPad feel more like you’re drawing on paper which helps some people feel more natural, but until you’ve got that, this is something to be aware of.
These are very minor issues that are mostly just mild annoyances, but annoyances nonetheless! They definitely don’t stop me from loving lettering on the iPad Pro though!
All in all, I am a massive fan of and advocate for the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil for digital lettering. It offers endless and rapid creativity, iteration and ideation with super smooth integrations with your other apple products which is one of my favourite things about it. I now don’t think I would ever go without these products as part of my design & lettering tech setup!
Have you got any other questions about the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil? Drop them in the comments below! Also make sure to follow me on Twitter so that you don’t miss my upcoming articles including one with tips & tricks for hand lettering with the iPad Pro!