I’ve been searching for the ultimate digital workflow for some time. The tablets I’ve used are serviceable (Wacom Graphire, Intuos 5 and Intuos Pro), but I’ve always wanted to use a kind of tablet that feels more like traditional media experience. None of these tablets have a way to angle them or give you the ability to draw directly on the screen for improved accuracy.

Wacom, seriously.

I seriously looked at Wacom’s Cintiq line of tablets, but the larger models have been out of my price range, considering that I could buy a new computer at that price, and some reason it’s hard to find a good used one, for me. I’ve never used one, but based on what others have said about it, it doesn’t have a natural feel, it’s big, bulky, not portable and takes up a lot of space. There are many who do enjoy using these tablets, so I have mixed feelings about these. Because of the cost, I’m priced out financially for one of these, except maybe the  13″ HD Touch tablet, starting at $999USD ($799USD for the non-touch version). While the basic is ok for price, I’ve also looked at the specs. It’s bulky for being a “portable” tablet(plus bringing along a laptop!). Also, expensive for doing one job: digital drawing.

Enter the iPad Air. 

Previous generation iPads, including the iPad Air 2 and any generation of iPad Mini were not designed to create art, though many have made fantastic art on them regardless. I have experienced creating art and sketches on the iPad Air with a pressure sensitive stylus. The experience and performance of the tablet/stylus was rather lackluster. It may be barely acceptable for sketching, I found the screen to be too small for much else. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad Air has all but replaced my laptop for a lot of things, and is an amazing device for what it can do. The multitasking feature added to iOS 9 is an added perk for quick research reference and replying to tweets.

Enter the iPad Pro (and Apple Pencil)

Last fall (November 2015), the iPad Pro was released. It had many great reviews even before it was released, so I had my doubts on how good a mobile device could really be at creating art, or how much of my writing/blogging could actually be done on one. The screen is large enough to increase speed, as far as my brain will work my fingers to touch type on a screen. This entire opinion post was actually typed on an iPad Pro! 

While I currently don’t have one in my possession, I have used the Pencil at a couple stores, and I can safely say that this tablet is capable of my current graphics tablet with the AstroPad app now available for $20. I’ll still continue to use my old one until I can adapt an iPad to my comic-creating workflow. Can’t wait to get my hands on that Pencil!

While it was a fairly expensive investment($949 for the 128GB wifi only model +$100 for the Apple Pencil), but compared to the Cintiq 13″ HD tablet, an iPad can do more than act as a second screen to your computer just for drawing. In the future, I plan on purchasing a keyboard to make writing go a little easier than tapping on the screen.

My Current Setup 

I use an Intuos Pro medium tablet with dual screens on my iMac. Pictured in the background is the MacBook Pro I once used to do all my comics. An amazing feat, but it was all I had. Anyway my chief complaint and took forever to get used to was, what I’ve heard someone refer to as “blind drawing”. I don’t think there is a real reason for artists to even have to adapt to such a crazy method, but it’s what one has on a budget.

Here is what I plan to do:

(iPad Pro size comparison to Intuos Pro medium pen tablet)

I plan to try to replace my current tablet with the iPad Pro. It give more drawing space than what I have right now. Although I am hesitant to replace the Wacom tablet altogether yet since the iPad is still fairly new. (Not a bad idea to have a backup anyway!) it’s a lot more streamlined than the Wacom, though it doesn’t have the shortcuts on the side. Again, not a major issue since AstroPad makes it easy to switch tools, not to mention easy setup and connecting either via wifi or USB.

What about the Windows tablet, Surface Pro? You left out a tablet.

While I am familiar with the OS on Windows, I never could consider going back to a PC because all my software is now Apple. If any readers have insight on this particular tablet (Surface Pro 4), please leave a comment in the comments section of this post. 

Mobile devices have replaced about 90% of my general browsing the internet, but not completely for my digital art, at least not yet. Here’s to hoping the iPad Pro will be a great graphics tablet in addition to a nice portable sketchbook!