Welcome to another Medium Moment!
Over the years, I've tried painting with layers of melted plastic, painting with oil on plexiglass, and making large works of art with ink on mylar. Every time I experiment with mediums, I have to ask:
Does this medium make good art?
When it comes to the Procreate update on iOS 11, yes, the new iPad iOS combined with Procreate 4 makes good art better. Here are some highlights on how:
This piece above would not have been possible to produce without Procreate 4. I drew a male figure in ‘The Thinker’ type pose and was about to call the piece finished with just the drawing...
... however, I decided that the figure needed something more. Just fading the figure away wasn't enough. The drawing wanted to be better.
The blue currents/flames rushing through the figure are made with the water category brushes, and erased with the dry brush/oil paint brush. I’ve found the oil paint brush makes for a dramatic eraser and is great for textures like fast water, flames, or otherwise active shapes.
I made the piece below using the same principles (water: wet glaze brush as the paint applicator, oil paint brush as the eraser) just with the bright green color from the drawing above carrying over to what appears to be a recycled drawing paper background:
As for what I think of the new water tools and water blending in general - I see the water brushes as a great way to mix and achieve colors that normally hover out of reach.
You just can't play with water IRL in the same illuminating way you can play with it in Procreate. Procreate's home on a tablet already makes it feel more natural, but these water effects are also just really good. They don't feel like a splatter brush, or a brush that slowly reveals a grid of repeating water patterns. The edges of the brush seem to bleed, as if the brush - the little pillar of code - knows it is on paper. Truly, I hope you get to try it.
Another aspect to enjoy about Procreate 4 is the simple-but-relaxing update to the brush selector view.
It is just nice to see one brush on its own in a dedicated row, at length, instead of in a cube next to another brush. The brush-by-brush isolate layout feels more objective and fair to each brush's capabilities.
Now, as for using Procreate 4 on iOS 11 ... What stunned me most was the file management capabilities of iOS 11 - no longer do artists have to hustle PSD files to and from Dropbox. We can store files right on the iPad itself!
Giving the iPad Pro a file directory is one of those things that sounds pocket-protector boring, but turns out to be an exciting feature that gives artists versatility that was absent from the core OS all along. It's an iPad, and now it has a Finder/Documents folder.
Before the file management system, my file backup system had all of 7 steps. Yes, 7 steps just to get a file from Procreate to Photoshop. That's a lot of time where I wasn't making art, executing the digital equivalent of sorting canvases in and out of storage. Part of the job, but managing processes like this more quickly and efficiently always allocates more time for art production.
Since backing files up to Dropbox quells my worries about losing years of work to theoretical iPad thieves, I won’t be cancelling Dropbox any time soon. But boy the built-in iCloud file management system makes everything so much better.
Circling back to the question I posed earlier in this blog:
Does this medium make good art?
I can't help but recall the days when digital art was seen as 'not legitimate' or as a passing fad. To be honest, many mediums are just that - passing fads that do not always serve the mission of art.
That said, with every update to Procreate, it becomes more and more true that digital art is here to stay and is every bit as legitimate and real as painting with oil. If art sometimes seems sur-real, or below reality, what digital art is pointing us towards is a place above reality.
Hope you enjoyed this Medium Moment! Catch you soon :)