Painting Hummingbirds on an iPad


Hummingbirds are coming, not the Antillean Crested Hummingbird above, but the Ruby-throated hummingbirds are on the way.

Photographed Ruby-throated hummingbird shown in the gallery. Camera filter used and with soft focus.

According to the 2016 map, they are very close to us. Since they are not here yet and I can’t photograph them on the way, painting hummingbirds in Procreate has to do for now.

Procreate is a digital painting app I have on the iPad. The first image was painted with Procreate (with the use of a stylus “pencil”) of a hummingbird I saw in St. Lucia.

I can draw more detail, paint it as a watercolor, or do a quick rendering as above, just about anything that comes to mind. The very versatile app is similar to Photoshop with layers, editing abilities and opacity adjustments. But for $5.99, the similarities end there. Photoshop is much more professional and far more powerful. To see how I paint in Photoshop, see this post.  Using Photoshop is a bit more labor intensive, but gives a more professional feel to the art.

I prefer the first image, so I gave it a better frame made in Photoshop. In the other images, the frames are made in a second app, PS Express (Photoshop tablet app). Other iPad apps I have on the iPad are free subscription mobile apps because I am an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber. Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix and Lightroom are cool apps that I can use for photography edits if the need arises.


Painted on the iPad with Procreate.

What is rather amazing to me is how the iPad is becoming a more and more creative tool for artists and photographers. There are even CAD apps to use, but they are very rudimentary at this point. There may come a time when the iPad becomes the only tool artists need. They really are great for schematic presentation work.

The iPad is useful for photographers too. My camera can connect via bluetooth or the internet to the iPad so I can see what I am shooting in a much larger format on the iPad. I can work in a hidden blind for instance and snap the image from the iPad. The iPhone can play a part too as a hot spot for internet since my iPad is not cellular. This whole post was made on the iPad.

More practice will make better paintings in time using Procreate. I just have a lot more experience in Photoshop. It really is hard to put the iPad down having this much fun though.


Painted on the iPad.

I will be in Seattle next week and the Rufous hummingbirds are flying about. It will be nice to see them again. Spring has sprung.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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32 Responses to Painting Hummingbirds on an iPad

  1. I cant wait for ours to come back either! Been watching birds out the big window all day…eating all the seed I set out – ha ha! Nice paintings!

  2. johnvic8 says:

    I saw one ruby throated about a week ago, but none since. The sugary fountain is ready for them.

  3. swo8 says:

    That looks so neat, Donna. I’ll have to give a try.

    • It takes some getting used to working on slippery glass. I use a Wacom tablet on the computer and it has a soft pressure sensitive stylus and drawing surface. Drawing on glass is a bit more unnatural. The Apple Pencil is very accurate and can draw a fine line, but I am planning on getting the Wacom stylus made for the iPad. I will have better control with that stylus. It has a rubber tip too. So does Paper 53 have a nice rubber tipped pencil.

  4. aussiebirder says:

    Love your Hummingbirds, we don’t see them down here Donna.

  5. Thanks for this as I tap on my iPad. I saw David Hockney’s iPad work and have tried using one of the apps. Perhaps this is my way to capture the birds I can’t photo! Or the wild boar family so close to me and no camera! But it would have disturbed them, I guess.

    • There are many artists using the iPad now. Photographers too. While the file size presents a problem in many cases for reproduction, some apps have a workaround. I can save these as PSD files for Photoshop. I have not done that yet, nor have I printed any. I think the ones I did not put on the web may print OK, but not as large as I would like.

  6. Pretty! I have to get out those artist’s coloured pencils my daughter gave me for my birthday. Old school methods for me, I need a break from the screen!

    • Thank you, Heidi. I love using colored pencils and even have sold a couple of large drawing/paintings done with mixed media and Prismacolor. Funny thing about painting or drawing on the iPad and computer, I am working on screen quite a bit. Quite a few presentation drawings for architecture I did used to be done with Prismacolor and airbrush before computers became a common way to draw.

  7. It’s fascinating what tools are available now. It still helps to have some talent!

    • I suppose, but the apps are also marketed to those that just want to doodle around. What is so much better than traditional art media is the undo feature in all the apps. No undo in watercolor. Oil and acrylic are a bit more forgiving since you can go over or rework a mistake.

  8. A.M.B. says:

    Yes, spring has sprung! I love the digital paintings.

  9. There is also Remix and Aviary is another favourite of mine. For watercolours I use Waterlogue. Beautiful work

    • Thank you, Raewyn. Since I use Photoshop and all the Adobe apps, I try to stick with those that I can export the work to them. I often use a variety of apps on any given project. Plus as a Creative Cloud member, the iPad apps come free to use with the membership. What is nice about Procreate is how convenient it is to use. On my trip, I plan to be drawing for those long plane rides all the way across the country. Usually I am on the internet, but I usually fly Delta and internet is free for me, but this flight is United to use my free miles, so no free internet.

  10. Beautiful paintings, Donna! Any day now, the RT hummers will be here. Yay!

  11. Oh, how brilliant, Donna and what an excellent and creative use of the ipad!
    Only disadvantage -to me- [other than not having the pleasure of feeling the color and getting colored fingers!] is the small screen [even a 17″ laptop screen is small to me nowadays!].

    • Since so much of my professional work has always been on the computer, large drawings being produced from that, working on any size tablet or screen is doable for me. Many architectural drawings are larger than the common 24″x36″ ArchD , like ArchE at 36″x48″. You just zoom in for the detail portions of the drawings. The hand drawn/painted presentation renderings I have done have been up to seven feet. They can start on a small screen, just printed big. I still paint traditionally, yet I have to admit, the convenience is hard to beat of using a computer. No cleanup and easy undo. I compare it to having a film camera and printing in a darkroom. I still have my SLR camera but do not miss working in a darkroom. The smell always bothered me. Photoshop and Lightroom are heaven compared to that.

      • I agree with you on the ease of working on a computer and, yes, the undo has been a life changer! However my eyes are having a problem following me lately and working on a small screen doesn’t help them much as I zoom in and out a lot! Also, most of the times I do get to see ‘missed spots’ on my 27″ iMac display afterwards! Btw, the photo chemicals do smell bad – I agree, not to mention how bad for the skin they are too. Photoshop or digital painting is just another medium really. At least that’s how I treat it. Same way one can’t make a water effect with oils! You are a great example of an artist making excellent use of this medium – which comes as no surprise being such a multi talented person! 🙂

  12. rose says:

    Beautiful, beautiful! You are so talented, Donna! I can’t wait for the hummingbirds to appear here; as warm as it has been, it might not be long. I can’t draw anything other than stick figures, so even an app wouldn’t help me:) But do you know of a good app that could help with landscape design? I have a very simple one I downloaded long ago, but it is very limited. I would love to have something that could help me visualize my ideas better before digging away.

    • Thank you Rose. I have never used a homeowner app for design before. I use Vectorworks for both architecture and landscape design and presentation. I have also used AutoCad in my professional work. They both have tablet versions, but are only available to the owners of the actual computer programs costing thousands. Many have used SketchUp (for home building and landscape design) or iScape. Both require downloads to add to your library of useful components. I can not vouch for either since I never had a need for these apps. There is an app called Tracing Paper that can be used to sketch over a photograph. That is similar to the old school methods architects do when doing freehand preliminary concept drawings before the idea becomes more concrete. I also never used that app either, but still do concept sketches on actual tracing paper to explore ideas.

  13. These are very nice! It’s amazing how technology and creativity have merged, isn’t it?

    • Thank you. Technology and science, medicine, engineering, commerce, and all forms of media, the list is endless how much depend on technology. Maybe too much it seems. Not much is done the way it was when I was growing up.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Great artwork Donna! I am still discovering new ways to use my iPad. Already I can’t imagine being without it.

  15. Karen says:

    Your art work has always amazed me. Now I’m even more impressed at your many talents.

  16. Brian Comeau says:

    Amazing Donna. You are very talented.

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