Taking Some Time Away From Social Media by J. Logan Carey

Got this  Rustic Lantern with an Edison Bulb  for next to my bed. It kicks ass. The vintage embalming fluid crate is our cat Bradbury’s bed.

Got this Rustic Lantern with an Edison Bulb for next to my bed. It kicks ass. The vintage embalming fluid crate is our cat Bradbury’s bed.

One of the hardest things we have to do in terms of our digital content intake these days is decide when it’s taking too much of our time and energy away from the things we really want to be doing.

Certainly, for creative people, it can be invigorating to see all the other work that other artists are doing. It can be a lot of fun to converse with talented people and cheer them on. But there comes a time when instead of getting inspired, we’re just feeling like we’re not measuring up.

We have to remember, people aren’t sharing all the pages and pages of sketchbooks before showing that finished piece. We start to think that maybe everyone else can just hammer these amazing pieces of art on the daily, but it’s a curated image.

If you start feeling that you aren’t doing good enough, remember, you are, and maybe it’s just time to take a break from the never-ending timelines of margaritas and masterpieces (new band name).

That’s kind of where I’m at these days. I’d just much rather sketch and finish stuff and post it on my blog where it exists for longer than the 15 seconds of spotlight you get on social media in the hopes of grabbing a few precious “likes” so you can tell yourself you’re good enough. Let the site autopost the links and just forget about it. Hell, I’ve even deleted my social media apps from my devices to make it just a little bit harder for me to check back in on the roaring tide of…nothing much at all.

So back to sketching and working on new things to share on this art journey of mine. If you want to say hi where I’ll see it, leave me a comment below.

Best Vector Apps for iPad by J. Logan Carey

A quick note for iPad artists,

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about if wearing an artist glove with your iPad makes a difference. IT DOES. Mainly it helps the side of your hand slide more easily across the screen and prevents smudge marks from the natural oil of your skin which saves you time wiping it off. I wear mine all the time.

They’re all kind of flimsy, but personally I recommend the Huion Artist Glove as they’re a good name, it’s simple, and inexpensive.

Also, if this post has been useful, you can support me by checking out my comics that I've created with these apps on Gumroad by clicking here! Thanks!

When most people think of Vector-based apps, they typically think of the apps running on desktop computers. Well the iPad is changing all of that kind of thinking, especially with the release of the iPad Pro. Paired with the Apple Pencil, these apps are powerful, capable, and enjoyable to use. So here’s my list for the best Vector apps for iPad

While these are all Vector-based apps, there is a separate post for Raster-based apps called, Best Drawing Apps for iPad, please check those out too.



Free | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Concepts is an app that I don’t think gets enough love. Whereas Autodesk Sketchbook blends an app that can work for artists and designers alike, Concepts steps further and farther into the designer field. The most common use-case scenario I’ve seen is people using the app for technical sketching and industrial design. The developers have been continually pushing out improvements in the overall design of the app and adding new features on a regular basis. Concepts can handle creative artwork reasonably well, but it is exceptionally well-suited to architects, home renovators, and landscape designers.


Key Features:

  • Infinite Canvas

  • Snappable grids

  • Shape tools

  • Text

  • Copic Color Library

  • Dynamic Color Palettes

Tools are nested in an intuitive wheel design which takes a little getting used to, but is pleasing to use. The app itself is free and that gives you a lot of things to play with. There are also a few things you might potentially spend money in the Pro Shop. You can purchase a variety of extra features so as Infinite Layers and extra export formats like PSD for a few bucks. Not bad at all.

Concepts also stocks it’s own Marketplace which supplies a variety of clipart-like objects, many of which cater specifically to industrial and product design as well as extra brush sets. Should you wish, you can subscribe monthly or yearly to get access to every brush, object, palette…everything they offer in the Marketplace and the new stuff as soon as it releases.



Vectornator Pro

Free | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Vectornator Pro is about one thing and one thing only: graphic design with vector images. While Affinity Designer only just recently appeared on the scene, Vectornator Pro has been around for a while. I’ve seen the app continuously improve and become a viable competitor with any other desktop vector software that’s out there.

The current iteration of the app has a gorgeous UI design that takes advantage of iPad Pro’s touch capabilities.

Vectornator Pro.png

Key Features:

  • Desktop class performance

  • Complete suite of features you would expect from a professional vector app

  • Prefab library of standard user interface elements for UI designers

  • CMYK color space

  • Supports external keyboard shortcuts

  • Supports’ iOS’s Drag and Drop

  • Custom font support

  • Unlimited layers

Besides all the features the app has, probably the most compelling thing about the app is that it appears to have gone permanently free. The original price of $7.99 wasn’t much to get in a tizzy about anyway, but considering that the big name in vector software on the iPad is Affinity Designer that sells for $19.99, anyone looking to test out the iPad’s capabilities for graphic design should definitely give Vectornator Pro a try first.




$8.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

A little background on Graphic; it used to be called iDraw, and then was called Autodesk Graphic and now appears to be owned by a different developer and so is called just…Graphic. Now that we got that out of the way…

Graphic is an impressive and affordable vector-based design app that’s actually available for both of Apple’s platforms: iOS and macOS alike. Most graphic design applications can have a pretty big learning curve, Graphic does an exceptional job at trying to bridge that gap in knowledge by providing a 116 page User Guide and Tutorial section for free. That may be compelling for those comparing it to the $19.99 cost of Affinity Designer and the $49.99 cost of the Affinity Designer workbook.

Graphic App.jpg

Key Features:

  • Syncs with iCloud

  • Exports to DropBox

  • PSD import / export

  • PDF and SVG import / Export

  • Available on both macOS and iOS platforms

Where I think Graphic might work particularly well where others are lacking is if you want to use the same application on your Mac as well your iPad to work with vector illustrations and get used to one particular type of workflow. The macOS version is $29.99, so it’s definitely not going to run you too much to pick up the app on macOS and iOS. To be sure, you can also do this with Affinity Designer, but Affinity’s versions are slightly more expensive, so you may want to take that into account.


Affinity Designer Icon.png

Affinity Designer

$19.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

The Affinity suite of apps from Serif are incredibly impressive and seem to get more so all the time. They are quickly becoming many artists and graphic designers alternative to the expensive Adobe Creative Cloud as they are pay-one-time applications and are very reasonably priced for apps that are so fully-featured and capable.

Affinity Designer is akin to Adobe Illustrator, it is a complex and quality vector-based application. Where the Affinity suite of software really shines is modern user interfaces designed for simplicity and ease of use. A vector app like Designer can do A LOT, the program needs to not make you toggle down into endless menu windows to find what you are trying to do. I think they’ve largely found many innovative was of solving these types of problems. The app though, to be sure, can be complicated, and is certainly not as intuitive as something like Procreate. But to be fair, it is a professional level design app that can do a hell of a lot more than Procreate.

Key Features:

  • iPad version is optimized for touch and Apple Pencil

  • Fluid shapes, extremely customizable

  • Stabilization allows excellent freehand drawing

  • 1,000,000% zoom

  • Pixel Persona

  • Over 100 built-in brushes

One of the standout features of Designer is the Pixel Persona, which is a raster mode built right into the app so you can sketch out your ideas before working in vector. This is genius.

I swear, Apple should just buy Serif, the company that makes the Affinity programs and build them into iWork and then they could include Adobe competitive software with all their hardware out of the box. But I digress…

Another great thing about Affinity Designer is that there is a large and growing userbase so the app is very well supported with extra tools and user tutorials. There are a lot of quality official Affinity tutorials on their website as well and they also have created the well-reviewed Affinity Workbook which teaches the program through a series of projects. I’ve ordered this myself since it was on a 20% off Christmas Sale so I’m excited to start working on some pieces.




$6.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Inkpad is a simple and easy-to-start-using vector app. It has a very nice minimalist user interface that is probably more well suited to those just starting to work with vector design. I don’t mean that the app is incapable, just that the simplicity lends itself well to beginners. It might be the perfect choice for that burgeoning graphic designer in your family. I think it would be an ideal choice as an app to teach high school students vector design on the iPad.

Inkpad UI.png

Key Features:

  • Simple interface

  • Unlimited layers

  • Dropbox import/export

  • SVG, PDF, PNG, JPEG export

There aren’t any in-app purchases to unlock more tools, something that I can really appreciate. Interestingly, Inkpad is Open Source. It is well maintained and updated frequently.



Didn’t Make the Cut:


Assembly was built on a neat idea: have a vector design app where the shapes were already pre-created and users just picked and manipulated an extensive list of objects to create their design. The result being a really clever little app that has virtually no barrier of entry for simple graphic design. The app was severely hamstrung when it was changed into a subscription model to use the full features of the app. They want a laughable $3.99 a week, $4.99 a month, or $29.99 a year for an app that is kind of a novelty at best.

Adobe Illustrator Draw

Adobe Illustrator Draw is another in Adobe’s line of extremely dumbed-down apps for iOS so they can say they actually develop for the platform. Draw is essentially a vector-based scratchpad for jotting down quick ideas and then exporting them to a desktop application where you could do more work on them. Of course they design the app so this pretty much has to be a Creative Cloud app. So if you have a CC subscription and had an iOS device and didn’t understand the other options you had like the aforementioned apps, then I guess I could understand using this. Other than that, not really.


Those are my picks for the top vector-based apps for iPad. I think we can safely say there are some extremely high quality apps that are worthy of professional graphic designers. Pair them with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and you have some fantastic options for design work. Thanks for reading!

Best Drawing Apps for iPad by J. Logan Carey

A quick note for iPad artists,

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about if wearing an artist glove with your iPad makes a difference. IT DOES. Mainly it helps the side of your hand slide more easily across the screen and prevents smudge marks from the natural oil of your skin which saves you time wiping it off. I wear mine all the time.

They’re all kind of flimsy, but personally I recommend the Huion Artist Glove as they’re a good name, it’s simple, and inexpensive.

Also, if this post has been useful, you can support me by checking out my comics that I've created with these apps on Gumroad by clicking here! Thanks!

No secret here, but I am a HUGE fan of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil and what it can can do for a person’s creativity. The suite of art apps available for the iPad is impressive, affordable, and improves all the time. With that in mind, I'm posting this rundown of what I consider to be the top drawing apps available and what they can do for you. There will probably be more than you realize.

The standouts are judged on their quality, usability, level of continued support, and price is also a concern. Part of the benefit of going with iOS as your platform is getting away from the expensive subscription model of Adobe, but that decision is largely one of preference and perhaps how deep your pockets are. All these apps will also work on regular iPads, but where they’ll really shine are on the iPad Pro and the new iPad with Apple Pencil support.

While these are all Raster-based apps, there is a separate post for Vector apps called, Best Vector Apps for iPad, so don’t worry if they’re missing here.

There's a lot to choose from so here we go...



$9.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

I mean…it’s Procreate…for anyone who has used the app, that’s almost all you need to say. Procreate is game-changing and there couldn’t be a more appropriate use of the phrase than in this instance. I’ve seen comic book artists, graphic designers, and illustrators of all styles making the jump from their Cintiq’s to iPad solely because of this app.


In the simplest terms, Procreate is a drawing/painting app that was developed to specifically to be just that and designed solely for the iPad. It is minimalist, easy-to-use, and requires almost no instruction to start creating. It is intuitive as HELL and has a huge, ever-growing following. Improvements and additional features have come quickly down the pipeline for Procreate users and many of the tools digital artists would consider essential in apps such as Photoshop have made their way into Procreate as well.

Key Features:

  • Over 130 built-in brushes, all editable

  • Custom brushes, see my post “Best Brushes for Procreate”

  • Multi-touch gestures

  • Built-in Gallery that supports iOS’s Drag and Drop

  • Time-lapse video

  • Perspective Guide

  • Warp, Liquify, and Symmetry tools

They also appear to be the tide that raises all ships in the mobile art app world. When an excellent new feature appears in Procreate, it’s not long before that feature pops up in many of the other top tier art apps for the iPad. I could write an entire book-length post about all the things Procreate does and does well, but honestly the best way to find out is to download it and start playing with it yourself. At $9.99 for a ONE TIME PRICE, how could you really not give it a try?




$7.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Linea was the first sketching app designed for Apple Pencil. It’s super simple and has just enough of the necessary things you’d want to use in drawing app without the complexity of additional tools designed for creating fully-rendered images. The suite of basic brushes you have to work with are simple, which means you’ll focus more on getting your initial idea down in a visual form than worrying about a finished image.


The app really shines as an easy way to visually brainstorm your ideas or just mindlessly sketch without much concern for finished artwork pieces. It is the app that I would say most closely resembles physically tools right out of the box without much tweaking of brushes or settings. There are several default background textures to draw on such as Paper Grain, Butcher’s Paper (brown), Gray Bristol, Black Construction, and my favorite…Blueprint. A couple of white pencil lines on the blueprint background and I feel like some kind of futuristic industrial engineer. It’s just incredibly fun to play with.

Key Features:

  • Move / Transform tool

  • Image Import

  • ZipLine

  • Supports iOS’s Drag and Drop

  • 5 Layers total

  • Touch Eraser

The iPad version has recently changed name from Linea to Linea Sketch and they’ve just released a version for iPhone called Linea Go. Additionally, you can get Linea Link from the Mac App Store which will allow you to import your Linea sketches into any desktop art app to render the image further should you wish.



Autodesk Sketchbook

Free | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Autodesk Sketchbook, or just “Sketchbook” for regular users, is a powerful entry to the iPad art landscape. The software has been around for a while in the form of two versions; Sketchbook and Sketchbook Pro. “Pro” had a variety of extra features for a yearly subscription price. Well, since the beginning of 2018, Autodesk has made the total suite of features found in the Pro edition, free for everyone! The updated app is now simply, “Autodesk Sketchbook”, the “Pro” having been dropped from the title.

Autodesk Sketchbook iOS.jpg

Now that we got that bit of background out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks which sounds like it hurts. Sketchbook is excellent at a variety of artistic uses. It has a very minimalist UI and even the minor toolbars that you see you are able to hide with the touch of one button which gives you a true 100% drawing field that takes up the whole screen. It’s fantastic at sketching (sure hope so) as well working on completed art. It has had useful features such as Symmetry for a long time before Procreate got them. It also has a couple of key features that Procreate still lacks, a basic shape tool and Predictive Stroke. Both are very pleasing to work with on the iPad. In addition, it also includes the Copic Color Library which is absolutely wonderful.

Key Features:

  • Scan Sketch, imports line art via camera with transparent background

  • Incognito UI

  • Over 190 built-in brushes, all customizable

  • PSD compatible

  • Predictive Stroke

  • Copic Color Library

Sketchbook excels at creating art AND for more “practical” applications such as industrial design, something very few apps can say. The best part of all? It’s FREE. So there really isn’t any excuse to not give it a test drive.


Artstudio Pro icon

Artstudio Pro

$11.99 | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Artstudio Pro looks and functions a lot like if someone had redesigned Adobe Photoshop for the iPad with an increased focus on drawing and simplified the interface. For those who have used Photoshop in the past as their primary art creation software, Artstudio Pro may make for an easy transition to working on an iPad. It’s even fully compatible with Photoshop brushes.

Artstudio Pro.png

Key Features:

  • Photoshop brush compatible

  • Multiple open documents

  • Unlimited layers

  • Non-destructive layer effects

  • 27 blending modes

  • Customizable brushes

  • Professional photo editing capabilities

  • iCloud integration

  • Screen recording

At $11.99, it’s not the cheapest of the top tier art apps for iPad, but it’s only a couple more dollars than most others out there and may make for the easiest transition for those going from Photoshop to the iPad.


Medibang Paint.JPG

MediBang Paint

Free | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

I’ll admit, I’ve kind of been sleeping on MediBang Paint and forgot it was around. When it came time to dive into again for this blog post, I remembered that there are some genuinely great things about this app worth looking at. It’s a very capable drawing and painting app that is built with creating manga or comic books in mind.

MediBang strikes me as a cleaner version of Clip Studio Paint (which I talk about later) as though someone figured out what the issues of the CSP interface was and fixed them. Oh, and then gave you the app for free. The UI of MediBang isn’t perfect though, there are occasionally issues with certain tools just not being intuitive enough to figure out without experimenting with almost every tool.

medibang paint ipad.png

Key Features:

  • 800 premade tones and backgrounds

  • Easy comic panel creation

  • Comic book fonts and word bubbles

  • Free cloud syncing

  • Transform tool

  • Tutorial video section

  • Shape tool

Cloud syncing is done via MediBang after registering for a free account, so I’m not quite sure about the reliability without testing it more extensively, but so far, so good. The app hasn’t seen much in the way of updates over the last year, but I don’t think there’s anything glaring that needs to be fixed, except I would love to see the small ad banner they display on the menu page be removed, blah, and of course the never-ending quest to make the simplest and most intuitive menus out there. It’s a worthwhile addition to your digital art tool set.


infinite painter icon.png

Infinite Painter

Free / $7.99 for Full Version | Developer Website | Tutorials

I love Infinite Painter if nothing else than their spunkiness. They describe the app on their website as “the most advanced painting app on mobile”. You have to admire the confidence.

The UI is probably the most minimalist of all the art apps on iPad, it’s very pleasing to look at. The default brushes are all very impressive as well as customizable. You can also create your own brushes from imported images which opens the doors for all kinds of possibilities. Like Procreate, Infinite Painter gives you a choice of Light or Dark mode which I always enjoy.


Key Features:

  • High quality default brushes

  • Export to PSD

  • Gorgeous minimalist user interface

  • Perspective guides

  • Symmetry tools

  • Shape guides

  • Fill tools

  • Cropping

The app is free to download and you’ll get all the extra tools and features for an in-app purchase of $7.99. I like what Infinite Painter has done so far and I’ll be following future developments to see where they go.


Tayasui Sketches.JPG

Tayasui Sketches

Free / $5.99 for Pro | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Sketches by Tayasui is another quality entry to the growing field of simple, but capable art apps for the iPad. It’s comparable to Adobe Photoshop Sketch in terms of the layout and tools. It even has the ability to share right to Creative Cloud from the app. You can create sketchbook folders to hold your drawings akin to Paper by 53’s style of sketchbook organization. They’ve taken their time making the tools very life-like and the result is impressive. Olivia de Bona coloring book.

Tayasui Sketches iPad.png

A slightly hidden feature in the sketchbook library section of the app are free coloring books for you to play with. One is filled with intricate illustrations by acclaimed artist Olivia de Bona and another is the kid-friendly “Carl’s Coloring Book”. Tayasui also has a coloring book app that focuses and just these for those interested.

Key Features:

  • 20 realistic tools

  • Incredibly realistic watercolor brushes

  • Import and export PSD files

  • Folders

  • Export to Creative Cloud

The basic app has a lot to play with for free, but you can also upgrade to the Pro version for only $5.99. That’ll give you unlimited layers, more tools, gradients, color palettes, color mixing, brush size and opacity customization, collapsible UI, screen recording, paper textures, lined and grid paper.




Standard $29.99 / Studio $79.99 yearly | Developer Website | Official Tutorials

Astropad, simply put, is the app that allows you to use your iPad like a graphics tablet for your Mac. This is a great way to go if you want to utilize the same art creation software you are used to on your Mac with the added convenience of the iPad’s sleek and minimal design and the excellent Apple Pencil.


There are two flavors of Astropad: Standard and Studio. Both work incredibly fast and smooth. You can use your iPad either via USB or WiFi to your Mac and enjoy working from your couch with battery life that isn’t diminished by using the app.

The differences…

Standard: Standard is pretty much just that, a standard way of broadcasting your Mac’s screen to your iPad.

Studio: Promises more customization, frequent updates to the app, priority customer support while also offering gestures and other unique controls Astropad has created specially for their platform.

The other major difference that stands out is that while any iPad-compatible stylus can be used with Astropad Standard, Astropad Studio is Apple Pencil only. Honestly I don’t think that’s that big of deal as after using a variety of the styli available, Apple Pencil is the one you’ll want to use for serious creative work anyway. I think Astropad Standard is more than enough for the majority oof users and it’s absolutely worth the money if you want to use the convenience and quality of an iPad Pro and Apple pencil with desktop software.


Honorable Mentions:

Comic Draw

Price: Free for 14 Days, then $9.99


Comic Draw is the only app I’ve seen that focuses specifically on creating comic books from start to finish. It may just be the perfect app for the budding comic book artist. The app itself is divided into three sections: script, artwork, and lettering. The script portion is pretty handy as you can pull from it easily when you get to the lettering step. The art creation portion of the app is relatively simple, honestly it can’t complete with most of the other top tier drawing apps out there in this regard. The lettering portion is really cool since it’s the only app I’ve seen on the iPad that does this.

The app is an excellent example of the possibilities of an app focused on creating one type of thing only; comic books in this case. However, updates are few and far between and I haven’t seen any significant improvement of the app after its initial release. I’d love to use it more if it was refined as other apps have been and the art and lettering capabilities improved.

Clip Studio Paint

Price: Free for 6 months, then $4.49 or $8.99 per month

Clip Studio Paint.jpg

The desktop version of Clip Studio has a huge following worldwide. Comic book artists and illustrators have enjoyed it as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop for artwork and the app itself is focused on comic and manga art. When CSP announced that they would be releasing a 1-to-1 translation of the software for iPad, it was met by much fervor by the devoted fanbase. For me, I found the desktop version to be a clunky user interface without much in the way of any design aesthetic and since the iOS version is identical, it brings over all the same issues. That may sound pretentious, but in the age of clean, minimal mobile apps, CSP looks like something that was designed for Windows 95.

On top of all that, the makers of Clip Studio Paint have decided to go with a subscription model to use the app. That’s a non-starter for me personally. They won’t even allow you to sync your work to the cloud unless you subscribe and even then it’s the proprietary CSP cloud which I have read numerous complaints about. If you’re 100% invested into Clip Studio, then hey, this probably is awesome for you, but if not, there are cheaper and easier-to-use options out there. I would honestly give it more of a try if they just dumped the subscriptions and went with a one-time purchase price, but what can you do?

Tayasui Memopad

Price: Free, $1.99 for all tools

Tayasui Memopad.jpg

Memopad is another slick, minimalist drawing app from Tayasui. It’s probably the cleanest and simplest drawing app that’s out there for iOS. If you just want to doodle or you are looking for an app for children to play with, this is a great option. It’s also free or only $1.99 to unlock all the tools so it’s not much of an investment.

Inspire Pro

Price: $9.99

Inspire Pro was one of the first painting apps that I can remember coming out for iPad. It really gave us a glimpse of the awesome possibilities of the iPad as the hardware and OS improved. The current version of the app still works well, but it may lag behind some of the other art apps out there like Procreate or Artstudio Pro in terms of tools and user interface, but not by much.

For an app that has been created by a small group of developers from Ottawa, Canada, there’s a lot to play with here and enjoy. They’re promising a larger update in the future as well, so time will tell what the future of Inspire Pro looks like.


Price: $4.99


ArtRage is one of those apps that most artists haven’t run into even though it was one of the original art apps for the iPad. I really only see people using it in Europe or advertisements in the English magazine ImagineFX. It focuses primarily on recreating the effects of physical materials and textures almost to a fault.

The app itself seems like it’s still stuck in the skeuomorphism of early iOS apps. It’s an interesting option and pretty cheap at only $4.99, but it may only appeal to certain artists going for a certain look. ArtRage might also be a good option to give to the kids to play with as it resembles natural media so much. The app is updated frequently, but it doesn’t appear they are going to update the basic look and function of the app anytime soon so it’s hard to recommend to most users.


Price: $3.99


Forge is an interesting app that focuses on brainstorming, ideation, and prototyping. You are able to start a “project” which can include imported images or drawings created within the app.

The drawing tools are limited, but they’re designed that way so you focus more on the raw creation of your idea. It’s probably the closest thing I’ve seen to a whiteboard in app form. You can touch, move, and reorder images all around your project space like they were post-it notes on the wall.

It’s pretty impressive actually. For cloud syncing you can link with Dropbox or Creative Cloud. For a purely artist use, it doesn’t make much sense to use it, but for creative teams, it could be pretty amazing.

Didn’t Make the Cut:

Paper by FiftyThree

Paper was one of the original sketching apps created for iPad back when all we had to play with were those awful rubber stylus’. It wasn’t great, but it was better than nothing. Paper has retained the skeuomorphism style of that period of apps which can sometimes be disorienting. The basic app is free, but the real reason I can’t recommend it is that they’ve put the advanced tools and iCloud syncing behind a subscription paywall that costs $11.99 for a year or $7.99 for six months. Bad, FiftyThree. Bad

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Adobe Photoshop Sketch…what a ridiculous name. It’s not Photoshop, and it’s sketching capabilities aren’t that impressive. The main selling point here is it’s a way to quickly get some ideas down and then have those ideas accessible to your suite of Creative Cloud apps, providing you’re a subscriber. Without being invested into Creative Cloud, there isn’t much reason to use it compared to all the other great options.

Morpholio Trace

An app designed specifically with architects in mind. It’s an impressive app in the vein of Concepts, but unless you’re an interior designer or an architect, it’s nothing that you’d really need. It also uses a subscription model for unlimited access to all the tools which is why I couldn’t recommend it. You guys are killing me with these subscriptions. Knock it off.

That’s all my reviews of the standouts of drawing apps for the iPad. I’m working on another post that will discuss all the vector apps worth talking about. I left them out of this post because vector apps are typically used for graphic design purposes rather than freeform drawing or painting. Plus this post was getting crazy long if I included those. Until the next one…

My Online Art Education by J. Logan Carey

I am getting serious about art later in life. Having already gone the university route to get my Bachelor's in Anthropology with the loans to prove it and not the job to make it worth it, I am very opposed to the idea of returning to a traditional college environment to learn art.

I've listened to a lot of artists that have already been through art school and most seem to be riddled with debt and many claim they were never taught the skills necessary to obtain a real job anyway. Many recommend learning through online programs because of the convenience and the much lower cost. I couldn't agree more. 

Now, although I am on a steady diet of YouTube videos on art because there is a TON of excellent material there, I think there is still value in learning with guided instruction (even online) in a traditional class style format.

Lesson, lesson, homework, repeat. That kind of thing.

It seems like even just a few years ago, online art courses were in their early stages and people were pricing them at pie-in-the-sky levels. We're talking hundreds of dollars per course that lasted a few hours. I think they were using the old college model to price courses, not realizing how overinflated those prices are to begin with.

Things have really come down to reasonable levels these days. With constantly growing online art learning platforms to choose from like Schoolism, The Oatley Academy, and Society of Visual Storytelling populated with industry professionals teaching focused and valuable material for $200 to $300 for an ENTIRE YEAR of access to courses, there really has never been a more affordable and more convenient way to learn art. There are even more options with platforms like Udemy and Gumroad and niche websites like the iPad & ProCreate focused Art Study Online, any of which offer huge courses for $12-13. And I'm barely scratching the surface.

I'm piecing my own online art curriculum together through a variety of sources and will probably be creating a standalone page just to track the courses and materials I've learned from. It'll create a tangible place to look back and see all the foundation that has been laid for whatever future projects I do. 

Off to class!

Productivity for Artists by J. Logan Carey

Working a full-time job and trying to find time to draw, write, and practice art can be really challenging for me. I'm sure most people run into the same issue whether it's balancing school, family, personal life, or whatever. At the end of the week I always seem to feel like I haven't put enough time into my work and I start thinking I'm not progressing at all. I tell myself I'm going to come home from work and get out my sketchbook and sit down for hours, but it is just so hard after a day of job stress to do anything much more than make dinner and collapse on the couch.

Time just seems to go by and I'm not really sure where it went. So I've been gradually adjusting my habits when it comes to the time I put into art in a few major ways and have seen some success so I thought I would share it with y'all...

1. I've started getting up earlier

Yes, I knoooow. This cliche old gem from motivational coaches and even your grandma. I am the absolute definition of NOT A MORNING PERSON. It has been tough, but I've been getting up an hour or more earlier to have dedicated time to work on art.

This has really helped me be more productive because when I sit down at my desk, I know have a set amount of time to work until I have to leave for work and I'm groggy enough that it feels like I'm wasting time and energy getting up early if I don't draw.

This time in the morning, I have discovered, is also the best time for me to draw because I'm relatively fresh-minded after a night's sleep and am able to concentrate and focus much better, even being groggy. There isn't any commotion about making dinner or running errands or any of the hundreds of other things that seem to fill your evening agenda. It's time reserved for only me and I actually feel more refreshed after the fact because I feel like I've already invested time in my own passions before doing work for other people.

2. I accidentally discovered the secret to beating creative block

WHOA. This probably sounds nuts, but stay with me.

A common issue many artists and creatives have is when they sit down to draw, or write, or make whatever...nothing happens. They stare at a blank page and then...the panic sets in. No ideas come to mind, they don't know what to draw, what to write. They are an empty abyss from which ideas should be magically springing forth. Creative Block has reared it's ugly head and now you're screwed.


Well I decided that I didn't want to spend much of my precious morning time thinking about what I wanted to draw because I knew I'd be too sleepy to figure that out. So I started deciding in the evening prior. Then...something kind of magical happened. I actually drew that thing. Even if I wasn't very inspired to draw that particular subject or even if I thought it was above my skill to do so, I did it anyway because I had already made the decision to do it.

What I discovered is that when I sit down in front of a piece of paper to write or draw without knowing beforehand what I want to write or draw, I get totally stuck. I get stuck because when I think of things I should draw because I need the practice or whatever, I don't want to. I don't want to because I feel like those things are above my ability as an artist and I'm afraid to try and then when I suck it will confirm my belief that I can't draw those things. Or, I don't want to draw certain things because they're not the fun part, the exciting part.

Everyone wants to draw Spider-man, but no one wants to draw fire hydrants on the sidewalk underneath were ol' Spidey is swinging on a web. But you have to draw those fire hydrants, because without them, it's just a character with no context, no background, no story. In order to tell the story, I'm going to have to learn how to draw the million other things that aren't my main characters. Even if it's frustrating right now because of my skill level.

When you sit in front of a blank page and try to come up with an idea, you make safe decisions. You choose to make things you're already comfortable making, things that will not push against your limits, things that feel like they will be satisfying to make and show off. This is why you get creative block. Because you know that you shouldn't be making a safe decision, but you can't push yourself to make the scary one. You don't draw fire hydrants, you draw Spider-man. Over and over. This is what separates artists from people who are on shows about stupid human tricks. You can do one thing well because that's all you ever have tried to do.

When you decide what you are going to create before you ever sit down to create it, you choose the right thing to make, not the safe thing because in this moment you absolutely know what you have to do. You have a voice inside you telling you exactly what you need to do, even if it's scary. This is because you're kind of dumping it on your future self to do the heavy lifting. Or so you think. The real heavy lifting is just making the decision. The rest is just following through.

3. I started tracking my time

As Jacque, my better half, can tell you, I don't enjoy making detailed schedules. In fact, it gives me a lot of anxiety. I just don't like nailing myself down to specific amounts of time to do some activities. I feel like it robs my life of spontaneity. What if I want to spend MORE time doing a thing, what if I want to spend LESS? I can't be tamed! Or something.

But what is very clear, is that unless you get control of your schedule to make progress on your creative goals, your goals will get buried under a mountain of work, errands, and time-killing activities like scrolling social media and watching whatever is on TV. So I decided I would track my time for a week and see how much of it I was putting into creative stuff. Not tracking EVERY SINGLE ACTIVITY mind you, just the art related stuff. I don't care how long I spend in the bathroom.

Now there's probably a million ways to track your activities and I won't tell what the PERFECT way is because it's different for everyone. But I'll tell you what I use: Toggl.

Toggl is a free time-tracking tool available on the web and all major platforms. It's designed for teams tracking how much individual people are working on certain tasks, but it works great as a way to track how much time you're really spending on your projects.

What I've discovered is that even if I feel like I haven't done enough at the end of the week, which is what usually happens, looking at the time I've put into drawing, or watching tutorials actually adds up to be quite a bit. More than I thought really. Toggl will display your total tracked activities in a pleasing infographic so you can see what you're really doing.

Here's my last week from Monday until Thursday:


You can change the day you want your week to start on, but I just left mine on Monday. Now, you track Activities and those activities are assigned to Projects. So you can have lots of different Activities in one Project. You can see from the infographic above that my main activities are Drawing and Studying Art (reading art books, watching YouTube tutorials) that I've decided to file under a project called Art School. I'm teaching myself and making my own curriculum so it's really helpful to see how much time I'm actually putting into it as the week progresses.

I also have a project called Feed Your Imagination. This will be anything from reading to watching some of my favorite sci-fi television shows. After all, you get ideas from everywhere and if feels good to think I'm just added more to that library of ideas in my head for future stories.

Toggl's mobile app is a very simple affair and it is a quick open-and-on to start tracking an activity. Your frequently tracked activities will be at the ready with one tap. One of the best benefits of tracking my time this way, besides realizing that I'm not totally wasting time like I previously thought, is that when I sit down to do something and start Toggl, I feel like I am really focused on that one activity, after all, I'm tracking it. When I'm tracking the time I'm sitting down to draw, I get distracted less, pull my phone out less, daydream less. It's a subtle, yet powerful way to tell yourself that you are doing one thing and one thing only right now because you're giving yourself credit for it, so you'd better be honest.

Give it a try for week and see what it can do for your productivity.

That's it for this verbose post, hope you enjoyed it and it offers some helpful tips for making progress on your creative projects!

Live Streaming for Artists by J. Logan Carey

Lately I've been playing with live streaming some drawing sessions. I've enjoyed sharing the process and have experimented over a few different apps and thought I would give my review of the streaming services available. 

Facebook Live

Streaming on Facebook Live for artists goes kind of like start streaming, a random assortment of friends and family that have notifications enabled or are on the site get alerted that you're streaming and some trickle in to see what you're doing. About thirty seconds later they leave to get back to watching reality tv.

Using Facebook Live for artists will probably not gain you any new followers or fans because the people that would be able to see it already are friends with you. If you want to show people you already know your work, then there you go. If you are trying to find a new audience to share your work with, it's probably not going to do much for you.

Instagram Stories Live

Streaming live on Instagram will probably get you better traction then on Facebook. Chances are that you have a lot more followers on Instagram that are fans of the art you're posting rather than people you actually know in real life. That will help you interact with an audience that's more interested in your work. Once your stream ends, your video will get prominent placement in Instagram Stories for 24 hours.

If you have your Facebook account linked from Instagram, go to the Story Setting in Instagram called "Share Your Story to Facebook", your video will then also appear as a Facebook Story in the app as well as in Facebook Messenger. For what it's worth.

Twitter Live

Within the Twitter app, inside the Tweet window is a button called "Live". Pressing this will start the live stream window. Before the stream goes live you'll be able to title the stream for viewers to give them an idea of what you're working on. Pressing "Go LIVE" will start the stream. The feed will be posted like a tweet and show viewers that it is live.

Now, if you have this connected to your Periscope account, a live streaming only app owned by Twitter, then your live stream will also appear live on Periscope. By this method, your stream will be publicly (depending on your privacy settings) available to all users of both Twitter and Periscope at the same time. From my experience, while these services have a smaller user base than Instagram, that user base is more engaged and I've seen significantly higher viewer numbers on Twitter and Periscope than any other services I've used. 

Find me on Periscope here!

After your video ends it is available to replay on your Twitter feed and your Periscope account. On your Twitter feed, the video will auto-delete after 24 hours, although you can click on the video and change this to not delete. On Periscope, your video will be available permanently to anyone who looks through your archived broadcasts.

Twitter Live also has a couple of benefits absent from Instagram. One is the ability to hide the chat from viewers or even turn it off completely. Also, when your video is posted on your feed, you can view your "Broadcast Details." This will show you detailed information such as how many viewers you had, who they were, the ability to view the profiles of your viewers and averages of time watched.

All in all, Twitter Live with Periscope integration seems to garner a larger audience of new viewers with more features such as sharable links and statistics. Periscope can also be viewed in app and via website as well, so for me, it's probably the best option.


Not just for gamers, there's a section of Twitch called "Creative" for artists of all kinds even cooks, crafters, and really anything you could think of. Admittedly, I haven't used streaming on Twitch. This is mainly because you have to have a computer setup to run it (annoying), people have to be Twitch users to view your stream (that's a hard sell), and frankly I find the video graphics people have customized for their streams to be so much visual barf (see for yourself). Also, since most people on Twitch are hoping to make money out of streaming, they tend to be nonstop shilling for donations, subs, or whatever the hell. It's like watching a telethon from a high school kid's basement. Not a fan. Moving on.

YouTube Live

Here's another one I haven't really played with much. It's possible this could be very cool, YouTube having such a large user base. It could also lend well as an addition to those artists who post videos to YouTube. There certainly are some very high profile artists on there that seem to have made significant headway in their artistic careers by teaching and sharing art there. But having not played with it much, I couldn't really say. Perhaps I'll give it some more attention in the future as eventually I am planning on uploading more content to YouTube.

Camera Setup

I'm a big advocate for using what you already have and keeping technical setups very simple. With that in mind, the easiest way to stream your work is from your cell phone. The best method for this is to get a mount that is made specifically for holding a cell phone over a desk or work area.

The mount that I chose is the Aduro Solid-Grip 360 Adjustable Universal Gooseneck Smartphone Stand. WHAT A NAME. It's a highly adjustable mount that easily secures to a desk and stays out of the way. There are lots of other options out there so I may find a better one in the future, but that's my top pick for right now.

I'll you guys out there on the live stream!

Social Media for Artists or Not? by J. Logan Carey

So Vero launched over the last week and artists from all walks have been clamoring to get on the app and start posting their work. Hell, even I joined it.

A chronological timeline! We're saved!

And maybe for the handful of top tier Instagram artists, this might help their exposure, but for the rest of us, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Sadly, I think this is not going to be the savior everyone is hoping it will be. Social media isn't working for the vast hoards of artists out there, not because of algorithms, but because of people.

The truth is, social media is...disposable.

People breeze through it on the toilet or ignore it altogether. They post things on social media thinking everyone will be awed, but in reality, people just kind of want to look at their own posts.

I don't think this is evil or bad or anything. It just is what it is. Social media can be a useful tool for casting a line out into the world, but when you reel them in, you need to have some place for them to land that works for you, not for a company.

Services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now Vero are designed to get users to use their services, not dive deeply into your work.

People wonder why the profile sections of Instagram and Twitter are very limited...that's why. They don't people going off of their sites, they want them to stay right where they are so they can categorize them and monetize them.

The truth is, it's hard to build an audience for your work.

But that's exactly what you have to do. I think for anyone out there looking to have the world take their work seriously, you're going to have to carve out your own little area of the internet. This most commonly will look like creating your own website. Don't get scared. You can do this and you'll have to if you really want an audience for your work.

People will casually breeze through their social media feeds and hardly pay attention to anything unless it specifically has to do with them personally.

It's very...very hard to get someone's attention on these platforms.

That's whey everyone is having to pay to promote their posts to get any interaction at all. Most quality websites will have some cost associated with them. This can vary from reasonable to outrageous. But it's typically going to be worth what you put into it.

By putting your faith in people finding and appreciating your work on social media, you are placing all of your hopes in someone who is on their phone on a coffee break or something and just looking for a momentary distraction and not looking to become a true fan of your work. You also cannot control the method by which that platform will actually even show your work, as we are seeing with the rise of the ominous algorithm. Established, bonafide self-employed artists with huge followings are having difficulty on these platforms, imagine what those just starting out are competing against.

By creating your own website/portfolio site, you are creating a sectioned off corner of the internet where if someone enters, it means they actually are interested in your work. That's something you can work with.

Social media can be a valuable tool in your career, but you can't drive a tool to your destination.

You need an actual vehicle to do that and your own website is that vehicle.

Now, to be fair, we see stories of people who have full-blown artistic careers just posting their stuff on a "free" social media platform. Those people are the exception of the exception of the exception. They are also the people those platforms give the most attention because it creates the idea in our heads that we can all do it too and hence we all sign up and start posting like mad. But statistically, these people are a fluke. You shouldn't put your hard work into trying to become a fluke, you should put your hard work into your thing.

Now go and start building it already!

Best Brushes for Procreate by J. Logan Carey

A quick note for iPad artists,

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about if wearing an artist glove with your iPad makes a difference. IT DOES. Mainly it helps the side of your hand slide more easily across the screen and prevents smudge marks from the natural oil of your skin which saves you time wiping it off. I wear mine all the time.

They’re all kind of flimsy, but personally I recommend the Huion Artist Glove as they’re a good name, it’s simple, and inexpensive.

Also, if this post has been useful, you can support me by checking out my comics that I've created with these apps on Gumroad by clicking here! Thanks!

Procreate is quickly becoming the go-to drawing application for digital artists making the transition to an iPad Pro and an Adobe-free life. The simple interface, intuitiveness, and mobility have been game changers for me personally. I'm making art digitally on a daily basis whereas a few years ago I barely had drawn a few things on my computer because the software was just too hard to grasp or too expensive to use.

Another fantastic feature of Procreate are the excellent brush packs that artists are creating for it and with the new features of iOS 11's drag-and-drop, installing them is a breeze and won't break the bank either.

Here's a few of my absolute got-to-have brush packs...


Space Noise

If you’re looking for some quality aged and organic textures of noise brushes, the Space Noise brush set from Iconutopia is all you’ll ever really need. You’ll get five fantastic looking noise brushes and free lifetime updates. I’ve written about them at length including an example of my own work using the brushes here.

Price: $9.99, until March 4th, then $14.99

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DAUB Brushes

DAUB brushes are all about recreating the textures and nibs of real paint, ink, watercolor, chalk, etc which they do exceedingly well. One inexpensive set will give you 142 high quality brushes which is why the DAUB set is a MUST HAVE for any Procreate user.

Price: €5.99 (Accepts all currencies)

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Eric Merced

Eric's ProInker and ProShapes brushes provide a ton of options for inking and even creating shapes within Procreate! In particular I can't live without his Smooth series of brushes in the ProInker set. The shape tools also come really handy, although they may be a bit difficult to get the exact size you want, they provide excellent guides for drawing your own.

Price: $5.99+ (Fair price option)

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True Grit Texture Supply

Halftone and distressed texture brushes galore is what you'll find from True Grit. You want to get that classic comic halftone look? This is where you're going to get it. Their Distress Press brush set will give you a highly realistic looking effect of high contrast grit, grunge, noise, paper grain, rubber stamp, letterpress and natural woodtype. There's a lot to play with here.

Price: $15 per set or $35 for all three

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Georg von Westphalen

Georg has created a PLETHORA of wonderful brushes for Procreate, but a couple of the stand-outs for me are his ink brushes and his Dynamic Doodler set. You really have to look at his page to see all the fantastic tools he has created. He has such an extensive library, his website is literally: He has a bunch of sets to pick and choose from, but the best value by far is his $15+ MegaPack which comes with EVERYTHING. ZOMG!

Price: $15+ (Fair price option)

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Missy Meyer

While not specifically geared towards drawing, Missy's letter brushes warrants a special mention because she is a cartoonist and maker of fonts of her own and her lettering brushes are just so damned fun to play with. Did I mention they're FREE? They're free.

Price: Free

There are lots more brush sets for Procreate out there to choose from and more popping up every day, but these are the ones I won't work without. If there's any brushes that you want to recommend, feel free to drop me a line!

If this post has been useful, you can support me by checking out my comics that I've created with these brushes on Gumroad by clicking here! Thanks!

Adventures in 3D Printing by J. Logan Carey

This is more DIY project related than art related specifically, but I thought some people might enjoy this one.

So I like to occasionally browse the internet for vintage things that have to do with local stuff. Living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there isn't anything quite as iconic as the See Rock City signs you can still see painted on old barns for miles in every direction and I came across this awesome sign that was formally a functional date keeper. Presumably, and let me know if anyone has more details about this one, it would have been hanging somewhere around Chattanooga in what I would guess was the 60s or 70s, very cool.


When I got it, it was pretty dirty and obviously the belts on the inside weren't being held in place anymore. I noticed it actually was two pieces, the front metal piece with the graphics could just slide up and off. I'm guessing whoever made these made a bunch of different versions for different businesses. 

Here's what was on the inside:


This was really good actually. The date belts were all still intact and with a light wash of warm soapy water they cleaned up very well. The yellowish tint comes from the sun-stained plastic covering the date windows in the front. It became clear that out of the four original spindles (my word, not sure if it's right) used to turn the day, date, and month, only one was complete and unbroken and two were completely missing. There are four holes in the side for the spindles to project out and then anyone could change the date just by spinning the appropriate spindle.

Here's the one good and one bad spindle:


Now this wasn't the biggest disappointment in the world. I figured I could probably tape the belts to the windows in the sign so at least it would appear functional. That's when my ever clever better half, Jacque Nodell, suggested we go to the Chattanooga Public Library. Not to research where to find replacement parts, who knows where you would find replacement date spinners for an advertisement sign from fifty-something years ago, but to check out the library's excellent fourth floor resources which include of all things, a set of 3D printers available to the public.

Now, I pretty much knew as much as anyone off the street about 3D printing. I knew it was cool, and looked complicated, that's about it. We decided to be totally honest with the fourth floor staff and explain how total beginners we were with this project. The staff was super helpful and guided us to a computer where in a few moments I had created a free account on TinkerCAD. Now, while I have a technology background as that's what I do for my day job, I'll say the interface is extremely user-friendly. If you have any interest whatsoever in getting into 3D design, it's worth making a free account and playing with the tools.

After about half an hour spent going through the online tutorial, I decided to give it a try and see if I could mock-up a prototype for the replacement parts I needed. Below is the result:


Not too bad if I don't say so myself. The library staff was duly impressed I was able to learn the software and complete a design in about an hour. Proud nerd is proud. 

After a few test pieces and learning some tricks with the FlashForge 3D printer the library uses like spraying a layer of hairspray on the printing deck so the first layer of plastic from the extruder sticks down enough to not go flying as it moves back and forth, we were able to get pieces that very closely resembled the originals.


Looks aside, the real test was installing them and seeing if they would hold the date belts in place and turn them as well.

Check out the result:


Everything held together fine and turned like a dream! The amount of plastic we used from the library cost us about $1.

After cleaning up the front face of the sign with some more warm soapy water and sliding it back into place, here's the end result we now have hanging on our wall:


We chose to leave it on May 20th as that's our anniversary which fit nicely with the whole "Make a Date" graphics on the front. 

I am super happy with how this project turned out and will love looking at this piece on our wall for years to come. The whole thing has made me start looking around our place for other things we could 3D print to fix or organize better. The library of already created designs in TinkerCAD is really worth a look, people have already uploaded thousands of ideas for things from Apple Pencil holders to gaming dice. 

Thanks for reading!

Looking for inspiration? Try Instagram Collections by J. Logan Carey

I tend to save a lot of images all over my computer. I use them as inspiration for writing and drawing ideas. Having some visual reference around can really spark my imagination, but I'm always trying to track down where they end up and the folder sizes can start to really get huge. Well I found a super useful alternative courtesy of the latest update from Instagram: Collections

Now when you see an image you really love and want to hang on to, you can select the ribbon icon on the bottom right of the image. Tapping it once will place it in your Saved images, long press and you can create or select a specific Collection to place it in.


This is great considering you really can only save Instagram posts by taking screenshots as they do not support image downloading in the app or on the web and lots of great pictures get lost over time when there's so many to comb through. It's basically a bookmarking tool for images, kind of like Pinterest, except better, and I'll explain how. 

Pinterest is, obviously, a huge digital pin board where anyone in the world can take images, usually someone else's, and dump them online and then sort of get credit for organizing the images together. Now, people can repost other people's images on Instagram too, but it's much less prevelant and typically credit is given to the original poster.  

On Instagram, when selecting an image from you Collection, not only can you easily go to the entire feed from the creator who made the image you really love, but you can personally interact with them via comments or even direct message. It's akin to Twitter in that there's much more of a one-to-one relationship with the person creating the images. 


I have quite a few Collections going and it has really helped kickstart my inspiration levels when I'm stuck and just want to breeze through a stream of images. 

Collections are currently private only which is kind of nice, so you can't see mine, but you CAN connect with me on Instagram at @jlogancarey. Come on over, build some Collections, and gimme some emojis, you might just get some back. 😉👋