Apple’s Pencil and Pencil 2 stand out from the rest of the stylus crowd for several reasons. They work with Apple’s iPad displays to produce low-latency brushstrokes, they’re both longer than the average digital pen, and they charge without the need for additional accessories.
And when it comes to drawing or writing with one, there are just a few basic techniques you need to know before you can master your new tool. Here’s what you need to do to learn how to draw with the Apple Pencil.
Download some drawing apps for iPad
Source: Lukas Filipowicz / iMore
It might sound obvious, but one of the best ways to find out how to get the most out of your Apple Pencil is to download a bunch of apps and start practicing.
Apple’s built-in Notes app is a good place to start as it’s already on your iPad and offers some basic handwriting and sketching support, although there are many great drawing apps for iPad and Apple Pencil that you can find on the App Store be able. We recommend starting with some of the free options to learn the basics, then moving on to the in-app purchase or paid app once you get the hang of it.
Familiarize yourself with the functions of your Apple Pencil
As you doodle in your drawing app of choice, it pays to know exactly how to use your Apple Pencil and explore some of the features it offers. Apple Pencil is more than just a stylus; It actually offers some built-in smarts that set it apart from third-party iPad styluses.
use your hands
When you draw with Apple Pencil, iPad’s palm rejection technology lets your hand, arm, and fingers rest on the screen. While previous third-party styluses had variations in palm rejection in certain apps, they never worked perfectly. In contrast, the Apple Pencil is about as perfect at palm recognition as you can get with a digital touchscreen (though admittedly its implementation may vary in some apps).
Due to bad experiences with the stylus in the past, it’s common for first-time stylus users to awkwardly grab it and hover their hand across the screen, but that’s not necessary. Feel free to rest your hand on the screen while you draw. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve done it, it will feel as natural as putting your hand down on paper.
Test the pressure of the pencil
At the drawing end of the Apple Pencil is a beautifully responsive tip for all types of sketching and writing. It’s also pressure-sensitive, so don’t be afraid to press harder and softer on the screen to see how your pencil responds.
One of the best calibration tests with any The new drawing tool – digital or not – draws a series of vertical and horizontal lines to test how different pressure results in different line widths. We strongly encourage everyone to do something similar – not only will it familiarize you with the variations of the pencil, but you’ll also get a better sense of how to hold the tool for optimal control.
We also recommend moving your grip closer to the tip when doing detailed lettering or drawing. It gives you more precision over those fine lines. And don’t be afraid to pinch-to-zoom with your free hand – most great apps support it.
shade with the sides
Source: Lukas Filipowicz / iMore
It’s not just the tip of the pencil nib that works on the iPad Pro’s screen: the entire cone of that nib is responsive. As a result, you can use the side of the pencil to shade with your digital brushes – much like you would use the side of a graphite pencil to paint a shadow on paper. Not only is it a cool effect, but it’s also a feature that you might easily overlook when first getting to know your new tool.
Shading also looks different in different apps and with different brushes – don’t be afraid to experiment to find out which brushes and apps work best for your purposes.
Double tap to switch tools
Source: Lory Gil / iMore
With Apple Pencil 2, you can double-tap the flat edge to quickly switch between different tools. For most apps, including Apple’s Notes app, this defaults to switching to the eraser tool and back to your drawing tool, although you can customize Apple Pencil’s double-tap functionality. Third-party apps can also assign different actions to this gesture.
Tap and scroll
In addition to being a great drawing device, the Apple Pencil can also be used to navigate between drawing programs on your iPad.
It’s surprisingly fun to scroll through lists and swipe between views with the pencil – its precision tip makes typing and selecting specific items a breeze, and if you need to switch to another app while you’re drawing, you don’t have to use the pencil in between file tasks.
Learn to draw from the masters
If you love them idea an Apple Pencil, but your drawing skills are lacking, the old saying is the best advice: practice makes perfect! Constant drawing is the best way to get better.
If you’re just starting out, we encourage you to look at some of your favorite artists, study their styles, and try to recreate them on a digital canvas of your choice. It’s a fun exercise and should get you thinking about shapes and styles.
This might be too complex for you – and that’s okay! If you really want a 101 course, there are a few drawing websites and services that offer great tutorials, videos, and PDFs.
- Drawspace boasts the slogan “now everyone can draw,” and if you follow their excellent step-by-step drawing lessons, that statement is absolutely true.
- Proko has a number of great videos on drawing shapes and anatomical shapes.
- Draw a Box has some great active tutorials for drawing everyday objects, people, landscapes, and yes – boxes.
- Learning in Hand provides a great resource for getting started drawing on iPad, as well as some general tips for setting up your workspace and drawing.
- The Postman’s Knock is a website designed to teach modern calligraphy techniques using a dip pen, but their printable PDFs are also incredible tools for learning letterforms and figures.
Enhance your experience with Apple Pencil accessories
Whether you have the original Apple Pencil or the Apple Pencil 2, there are ways to get more out of your drawing experience with accessories.
For example, the first generation model is perfectly round, which poses some ergonomic and functional challenges. However, with the right Apple Pencil accessory, you can allay any concerns about it rolling off the table with a neat stand, or outfit your Apple Pencil with a special grip for a more comfortable grip.
The flat edge of the second-gen Apple Pencil already solves those problems, and the magnetic charging means you’ll usually rest it on your iPad anyway, although you could still consider an Apple Pencil 2 case to protect it. That would be especially useful if you want to avoid bumping it off the edge of your iPad while traveling.
Beginner to pro
The Apple Pencil and iPad integration is a prototypical example of Apple hardware and software working in complete unison, making drawing and sketching on iPad a pleasure.
Whether you’re totally new to digital art or just getting back to drawing with your iPad after a while, the guide above should get you up to speed quickly.
Updated March 2022: Updated for Apple Pencil 2 and the latest line of iPads.