How beneficial is an iPad Pro for a Freelance Illustrator?

iPad Pros have been around for a good couple of years now, but there are still people out there, especially creatives who are in two minds as to whether to get one or not, and with good reason, because they obviously have a bit of a hefty price tag! It was one of the things that put me off getting one at first, but I must admit, as soon as I actually got to play around with one, I knew I had to have one instantly and ended up buying one on the spot. Initially I just used it solely for sketching new ideas, sometimes developing them into final pieces. Slowly the iPad has become more of an essential piece of kit in my business so I thought I would share some of the ways I use mine, that might be beneficial to other freelancers and how they run their business.

Split Screen

The first thing I feel like I should talk about which I think is probably one of the best features of the iPad Pro is the ability to split the screen, so you can have two apps open at the same time. Sounds kind of pointless at first, but when you’re a creative it can be incredibly helpful. So for example, the main way that I use it is when I’m sketching in Procreate, I always have my reference open at the side, either in Safari or Pinterest. That way, I can always look over and make sure I’ve got everything right without having to constantly go from one app to the other. It’s also nice to be able to watch videos while I’m working sometimes!

Sketching in Procreate

So for starters, and I’m sure a lot of creatives who sketch on an iPad Pro would agree with me on this, there is no other digital tablet and program that feels as close to traditional sketching as Procreate and probably Sketchbook Pro on the iPad Pro. Sometimes it can be difficult for someone who sketches traditionally (even if they’re a digital artist in general) to get used to sketching digitally, which is why before I got an iPad I still always sketched traditionally, but with this there is no need to adjust to anything because it already feels so natural.

The main advantage of sketching digitally is that it’s easy and quick to manipulate or adjust a sketch if it’s off, or you want to change parts of it. I still like to sketch traditionally on a daily basis aside from the sketching I do on my iPad, and the fact that the iPad itself has a built in camera makes it super easy for me to take a photo of my traditional sketch, throw it into Procreate and make changes where needed. Obviously you can do this on a computer in Photoshop, but it’s a so much more convenient to be able to do it from one device.

Procreate in general

Procreate in itself is by far one of the best art programs that I’ve ever used. When I first heard that there was a new iPad coming out and it was going to be perfect for artists, I didn’t even pay attention to it because when I’ve tried these sorts of programs or apps previously they’ve been laggy, with extremely limited features, but I can safely say that Procreate is far from that. My illustrations can be quite complicated and usually end up being big-ish files, but I can easily do at least 90% of my work in Procreate, depending on what it is I’m working on, I can often complete the full thing in Procreate, it’s just that sometimes I jump onto Photoshop on my computer to add some final effects. It’s got to the point where I actually prefer to work in Procreate these days and only load up Photoshop when I need to, purely out of convenience.

One thing that really stands out to me about the Procreate team is that they actually listen to their community. When Procreate came out it had a lot of features but there were definitely things missing that a lot of digital artists use to speed up their workflow, but Procreate have added a lot of updates since it first launched which have brought a lot of new features to the software, and that in itself is constantly improving the user experience for creatives.

File Sharing

My personal life involves me doing a lot of travelling, meaning I can be away from my computer for a good 2-3 days at a time, and sometimes work still needs to be done. The fact that there are numerous art programs on the iPad (I mainly use Procreate but I know others have this functionality too), that let you export and import PSD files means that I don’t even need to be at home to work on client projects or to be able to make changes or updates where needed. As long as I have Wi-Fi I can upload my PSD file to my iCloud, download it onto my iPad and work on it, layers included, and then send it off to my client for feedback. Running your own business does involve a lot of work and if people are paying you for something and there’s deadlines involved you can’t always have days off when you want to, so being able to work from wherever without being limited is super helpful.

Video Content

I absolutely love making videos, I’ve always particularly loved time lapses of people creating their art because I feel like you can learn a lot from it. Making time lapses on a computer is pretty easy, but it does take a bit of editing and cutting unwanted bits out if you need to work on something else, or reply to email etc. while your screen is recording. Procreate completely eliminates this work as it has a built in time lapse function which only records your strokes on the screen. So when you’ve finished a piece, you simply just export the time lapse video and that’s it, it’s done! iMovie is also available on the iPad Pro and although it has very limited functions it’s enough to produce a complete video. So it’s extremely easy to use your iPad to create video content for your social media or Youtube channel. You can also live stream to Youtube from Procreate, something I’ve never done but I imagine it’s really beneficial you already live stream to Youtube!

Using it for other business tasks and content creation

Aside from creating art, I also use my iPad for other things such as writing blog posts, communicating with clients and planning my social media. This is made easier by all of the apps available for the iPad and all of the options when it comes to using images. For example, I usually plan my social media out a week in advance using an app called Later for Instagram and Buffer for Facebook and Twitter, both of which are available for free on the iPad. I can create illustrations in Procreate, save them as a JPEG to my iPad, import them into Later and Buffer, write the relevant information for each image and then schedule them to post throughout the week. The same goes for blog posts too which I share through Squarespace (which also has free apps available). I also use Google Sheets and Google Docs on a regular basis to keep track of my finances and to note down any new ideas or plans etc.

I hope that this helped anyone thinking of getting an iPad Pro and maybe opened your eyes to some new ways that you could potentially use it if you do get one. Photoshop is also due to be released for the iPad later this year which is going to be a real game changer!

If you have any other questions about the iPad Pro, Procreate or just want to chat about something in general, feel free to get in touch!