Kia ora! I'm Blair. I design fun, educational tools that help people take action.

How to draw on your iPad

Blair wrote this on 13 Nov

If you take notes at conferences, give presentations, have to explain things at meetings, or write proposals or reports, drawing can be an extremely valuable skill.

The two main mediums you probably use to draw are:

  • your notebook
  • a whiteboard

One of the best things best things about drawing in these two mediums is that they aren’t great for creating works of art.

Why is this important? Well we’re all pretty comfortable writing words and bullet points say on a whiteboard during a workshop. But as soon as someone asks you to draw you can get nervous and think that you aren’t good at drawing (whatever good means). It’s important to remember that in the business world only the people who work in marketing or design actually need to be amazing artists. The rest of us don’t really want to create art at all.

Whiteboard drawing

When you write or draw, your goal is probably to communicate clearly. To do this you can simply use what we call whiteboard drawing. Whiteboard drawing is all about big shapes, chunky strokes, not a lot of detail, and colour is optional. Shading and shadows and 3D perspective are very, very optional. Just like drawing on a whiteboard.

Whiteboard drawing is perfect for whiteboards and notebooks. However in this lesson we’ll take a look at why drawing on your iPad is a good idea.

Adobe Ideas / Adobe Draw

Adobe released Adobe Ideas shortly after the iPad came out. I’ve used it for over four years. Adobe recently announced they are phasing out Ideas and want everyone to switch to their new app Adobe Draw. (Both apps are free and you can import you drawings from Ideas to Draw so it doesn’t hurt to switch.)

Here is a list of some things you can do using Adobe Draw (and many other drawing apps) and how they compare to drawing in a notebook or a whiteboard.

Undo / redo

Hard to do in a notebook. You can undo, but can’t redo on a whiteboard.

Draw in any colour

You can only have so many different coloured pens or whiteboard markers.

Draw with different sized pens

Again, you’re limited by the pens or markers you have available when using a notebook or whiteboard.

Draw with opacity (it’s see through)

Not a deal breaker, but can be helpful if you want highlight something. You can use highlighters in a notebook but not on a whiteboard (well you shouldn’t use them on a whiteboard).

Draw on different layers and rearrange them

This is a key difference between a digital canvas and a notebook or whiteboard. Being able to draw a face on layer one and then draw the facial features on layer two means you can erase, redraw and even move the eyes around the face without affecting the face itself. Notebooks and whiteboards are canvases with only one layer.

Draw on top of a photo

You can print a design (of a room, a network, an organisation, a process, etc.) and mark up changes using a red pen. However, if you want to change what you’ve drawn or explore other options, you’re limited if you’re using actual paper. A digital canvas allows you to add, remove, show and hide multiple layers of mark up on top of a photo without affecting each other or the original photo.

Of course there are many more features that an iPad drawing app provides like sharing and exporting your work and editing or resizing it in another app like Photoshop. The list above should give you a good idea of how valuable drawing on an iPad can be.


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