“Masters” Painting on the iPad Pro


I have been doing quite a bit of painting on the iPad lately, testing my ability to control layers of paint like I would with real wet media, or controlling the stylus being used as a pencil. I even mix up and combine different painting techniques which I can’t do as easily with real media. Oil and watercolor for instance…  Just for fun, I tried to see what I could do with a real artists work.

In my former life as an artist and fashion illustrator before going into architecture, I enjoyed doing portraiture and life drawing, usually creating them very realistically. Using a famous artist and his studies …


… I wanted to replicate (sort of) a famous drawing, The Study for the Angel in the ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ by master, Leonardo da Vinci. I wonder if da Vinci would be spinning in his grave knowing an iPad was used, or the inventor in him would say this is so cool? Da Vinci had so many diverse talents in various disciplines. What intrigues me with his drawing is how it reminds me of the allure of the facial expression like in the Mona Lisa. It is almost enigmatic.

I so admire the great masters and marvel at each work I see when traveling.

In Europe this past November, I visited a lot of art museums, seeing these master’s works in person. In Philadelphia, also last year, I visited the Barnes Museum too. A lot of amazing art to take in…

Painting on the iPad is taking some getting used to, trying to “master” the special technique, but I plug along. Eventually, although a fast producing media, it will become much easier to make a “real” work of original art at some point. Did you see the hummingbirds I did?

I think the iPad would be a great way to produce cartoons. Fast and convenient, like having a better sketchbook. It is easy to take it anywhere too.

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: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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28 Responses to “Masters” Painting on the iPad Pro

  1. johnvic8 says:

    So lovely. I can’t imagine how you can do that.

  2. Those are beautiful! You have so many talents!

    • Thanks Connie. The actual study (the second one), I prefer my art to the original in one way. I could paint rather than draw, thereby putting my one spin on it. I started it as a “pencil/charcoal” drawing (and was not as happy), but then worked it into an acrylic/watercolor painting making most of the drawing disappear. That is one way I meant by combining media. I have a book on Leonardo with all his works and used his works for reference.

  3. Victor Ho says:

    Very interesting. How the senses make out the nuance is the difference between technique and art. I’m technical but not an artist. Da Vinci would indeed be fascinated. I wonder how his work would look. Could Mozart write rap? I think your first work is quite interesting and good.

    • Technique is so important to personal style too. Being an artist then later an architect, I have a tendency to keep a lot of technical in my work. Some of what is nice about the iPad (or computer) is that I can be so free in use of color and a less rigid style. When painting with wet media, I have a tendency go more with how I learned, computer drawing is “new” so anything goes for me. I have been drawing with computers since 1987, so there is a lot of “technical” in that.

  4. How do you actually use the iPad to do this? Is it a special program. I just traded in my iPad, the second one Apple made, but I got a mini. I love it. Takes great landscape shots and I can easily carry it anywhere.

    • Yes, it is a special app used with Apple’s new Pencil. Procreate is only $5.99 in the app store. Not any iPad can be used with a stylus though. One needs an iPad Pro. Since it is software driving the use of the stylus, maybe one day Apple will allow updates that include it for those with newer iPads with capacitive touch screens like yours. You traded it in? They would not take my iPad 3S as a trade for cash, saying it was too old.

      There are different apps and pens/pencils too. Paper53 is a simple app which I also have, and it has a nice pencil that I have yet to get. I may get the pencil from them to use with Procreate. It has a soft tip like my Wacom drawing pen for my Mac Pro.

  5. Wow – excellent! Thanx for sharing.

  6. swo8 says:

    Donna, I’m blown away at what you can do with an iPad! Will you show some of your earlier work too?

    • Thanks, Leslie. I have shown the first images I did with the iPad in the link in this post. I started first with hummingbirds and cherry blossoms. Some of the original work of the cherry blossoms with robins I did not show because they are really nice and I could offer them for sale. I only show work I would not sell on the blog.

  7. Great what you did with the iPad! I didn’t know that it is possible to create art in this way. I really can imagine that this is a good way and very useful in case of producing cartoons
    But apart from this interesting (technical) work I really would love to see more of your previous (earlier) pieces of art (drawings, you mentioned).
    Donna, I hope you enjoyed your visits to museums and art exhibitions during your holidays end of last year! Last week I visited the fully renovated and redisigned local art gallery (“Hamburger Kunsthalle”). Since end of May they show a collection of works of Édouard Manet in a special exhibition. They collected many different paintings and even some litographs and brought them together in Hamburg. Impressing!

    • Thank you so much. Procreate is a very versatile app that is similar to Photoshop in how many ways to make and style brushes. It also has layers like Photoshop which makes painting like this possible. I use layers liberally, meaning I layer the paint on different layers. If I don’t like how something comes out, I just drop the layer completely. If I think I was too heavy handed with lines or color, I can soften the layer and make it more transparent. It is endless in Photoshop what one can do, but Procreate offers so much for so little cash investment.
      Oh I loved my trip to Germany, Austria and The Netherlands. I visited museums in all the countries. I have to say the architecture captivated me too. I wanted to go to Munich and Poland this year, but my friend has been to Munich. It looks like we may go to Italy if we travel this year. I love the work of Édouard Manet. I did see his work on my visit too.

      • Thank you very much for explaining the technique and this special layer procedure to me!
        And should you go to Italy this time, Donna, I’m sure that you will find a lot of very interesting architecture and art. Munich and Poland might follow later, who knows …

  8. David says:

    I think da Vinci would have thought the iPad was so cool and probably would have come up with a dozen or so used for it, and the iPhone, that no one else has thought of. I am to some degree envious of people who have talent and skill to draw/paint whether it’s people, landscapes, or buildings. I hope you enjoy your new found fun in the iPad.

    There are quite a few sites in the internet devoted to art (drawings and paintings) people create using the Wacom tablets to interface with their PC and desktop software. I ran across them some time ago when I was investigating if using a stylus with PaintShop Pro would make my photo editing any easier or more efficient. Lots are fantasy images but there are quite a few of traditional portraits and landscapes.

    • I have used a Wacom tablet on the computer for maybe 10 years or so. Too long to remember. I use it for everything and it is invaluable for photo editing, although after learning Photoshop in and out, I hardly ever photo edit photos for the blog, except for cropping. I suppose I should rather than putting up images less than what they could be. You are right, Cintiq is used by almost every illustrator in the industry, especially fantasy. I bet my favorite TV show, Game of Thrones has a big staff of illustrators using Cintiq. They have architects on staff too. I should have applied!!!! I may trade in the tablet for Cintiq if I get a new computer. Working directly on the screen is so much easier than drawing on a tablet. It is why I love, love, love the iPad Pro.

  9. Stunning work. I have been painting with acrylics and that is so messy. Your work is amazing.

    • I paint in oil, acrylic and watercolor, but mostly acrylic. I think at some point, painting will go the way of the digital camera over film. People will like the convenience, ease of use, no buying expensive supplies and one needing a well lit studio. Having a computer for art is great, but the iPad is so convenient. A computer is not as transportable with a tablet or Cintiq, even a laptop. If the iPad can be color corrected for print, someday an iPad maybe all one needs. They just have to have it be more powerful. Having the Cloud, all the high resolution work can live there.

  10. You are so multi-talented … I can’t get over this post!! Such beautiful and delicate renderings.

  11. debsgarden says:

    Wonderful! I think Leonardo da Vinci would have all the latest techie devices and would be working away on his own IPad!

    • Thank you, Deb. I think so too that Leonardo would have been amazed at how fast technology has progressed. I wonder what would be different if his inventing abilities leaned toward tech.

  12. Beautiful, but kind of disturbing. Will technology reduce the high degree of human skill for every form of art?

    • Technology only enhances actual skill, not replaces or creates it. It is true more people have access to being creative that never would otherwise, but exceptional skill is not necessarily perceptional skill, remarkable talent is not afforded everyone in everything. Look at photography. Everyone can do it, but not everyone is what would be considered talented or skilled. Consumer cameras do the work automatically, not the shutter clicker. Internet apps make the photos look better in one click or more artistic than shot. In architecture, there are cheap consumer apps for homeowners to design houses, but you would never want a novice designing a house you want to live in. Legal apps the same. I would not trust using one myself in a legal matter. One still needs a high degree of skill and training to do these iPad paintings to this level. I have almost 30 years computer drawing. I don’t think painting this way has reduced skill level. You still paint by mixing colors and select the brushes you wish to use. In that way, it is not much different. The real benefit or difference is when making a mistake, it can be removed, You can’t really do that with watercolors for instance.

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