Digital Apps for the Traditional Artist: Part One

Photos and Grid

My plan is to share with you here some of the digital apps that I use on my IPAD to assist me in my traditional art work. Although I do use my Ipad (2018 IPAD Pro 12.9 inch) for creating digital art, I have also found that many of the apps are becoming vital to my traditional art pieces as well.

This will be a series of posts, starting here with just two apps: Photos and Grid.

The Photos app I am talking about is the standard OS Photos app that comes with your Ipad of Iphone — meaning you do not have to pay for it. Of course, I use the camera app to take lots of (some might say too many) pictures, but then I almost always do the framing of my piece in the Photos app.

The picture on the left is a photo that I downloaded from either Pixabay or Unsplash. Both have tons of photos available in the public domain (i.e., not copyright issues). This is the picture I started with for the current painting I am working on. I knew I wanted a boat, and I had an idea of the color palette, so I downloaded a bunch of boat photos , and this is the one I was drawn to the most. But I did not want my painting to be landscape, so I knew I would need to edit.

So I opened the photo on my Ipad, hit “Edit” and got to work cropping the photo to frame the part of the photo I wanted to use for my reference. I knew I wanted to focus to be more on the boat than the sunset, and change the orientation, so there was not too much to do to get here (though I did try out a few different variations)

I did not do anymore editing with this photo, but usually I do some adjusting with color/ sharpness,/shadows, and orientation/straightening/skew etc. I also like to look at and print the photo in black and white so I can see the lights and darks easily. But with this one I felt pretty good with where I was at. Since I was not doing a “portrait” and did not intend on doing too much detail, I did not need a lot of editing.

Once I had my photo, I moved on to an app called Grid# – Add Grid on Image. I just have the free version, so I am only going to talk about that. In Grid, you upload a photo, and then set either a Square (columns and rows the same size) or a Rectangle (different size row vs. column) grid that is laid over the image. I almost always use the Square, and then just set either rows or columns. Sometimes I play with different settings to figure out what size canvas or paper I am going to paint on, and sometimes I crop the image to meet specific dimensions. For this painting, I wanted to use a 16 x 20 canvas, so I set the rows at 20 to see how that looked. This size actually worked pretty perfectly for the image I had, but sometimes I go back to the Photo App and crop down the picture to meet the dimensions I want. Again, for this piece I did not need a lot of detail, so I just made a few gridded images to help me lay out the right proportions on my canvas. Here are the 3 grids I created:

Now, when I am doing a smaller ink or watercolor piece, I almost always draw a pencil grid right on my paper, and then follow that to get my initial placement of the image. But again, for his one, I could just eyeball it based on the above grids. Very occasionally I may draw a pencil grid on the canvas, but normally I only use pencil grids for works on paper.

So that is my start! In the next post I will talk about the apps Be Casso and Photoshop Express. I use these to try out different mediums, styles and colors to find the “mood” of the painting I am looking for. More on that soon.

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Eileen Backman
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Fine Art America Portfolio:

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