Painting Without Paint

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Just for a change I’m not reviewing crime, romantic or contemporary fiction today.

I’m sure there are many tablet and iPad users out there who haven’t really considered drawing or painting with their tablet.  This is your opportunity to unleash your inner artist!  It’s amazing what you can do using free painting/drawing apps.

A few weeks ago Search Press sent me a copy of Painting Without Paint – Landscapes with your tablet by Matthew Palmer in exchange for a review. When the book arrived I was keen to get started.

This is well laid out book with good illustrations and clear explanations.  I spent a very enjoyable weekend trying some of the examples in the book and I felt I learned something useful.

Matthew Palmer starts by explaining what you need to Paint Without Paint (an iPad or an Android Tablet), painting tools (finger, rubber tipped stylus or brush tip stylus) and your preferred app. The instructions in the book are demonstrated on an iPad using the Brushes app (a free app).

I don’t have an iPad but that wasn’t really a problem. I use an Android tablet and the Brushes app isn’t available for android.  I tried Artrage for the first couple of exercises but ended up using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. These are paid for apps but there is a free version of Sketchbook.   Matthew mentions a few of his favourite apps and gives their pros and cons.

I found the sections very helpful.  I really liked the section on Creating your brushes. Every app usually has a few preset brushes but you can alter these to give different effects and textures. He lists the settings for a default round brush and 9 other brushes. Each brush has a picture of the brushstroke and the tip plus the settings to get that particular brush. The clear explanations and illustrations meant that I was able to create something similar (but not identical) in the app I was using.

After reading the next section on colour basics I was ready to get started with the first couple of exercises. The exercises all have clear step by step instructions and good illustrations.

The next day I managed to borrow an iPad for the weekend and I downloaded the Brushes Redux app (free). I must confess I did find it easier as I could follow the instructions in the book and change the brush settings as directed. I began to understand what would happen when I tweaked the brush settings. That was a revelation. It also meant I got through the next couple of exercises fairly quickly. However just as I was getting the hang of it I had to return the iPad. Even using it for a short time really helped when I went back to using the android tablet. I even tried a couple of simple paintings without reference to the book! I’ve included some of my first attempts with this review. They wouldn’t win any prizes but I had fun ‘painting’ them.

I haven’t worked through the whole book. I’ve flicked through it and it looks really interesting. The next section is ‘Layers”. I know a little bit about them but have never really learned to use them properly. I’m looking forward to learning more.

The last section of the book builds on the simple earlier exercises and takes you step by step through four landscape paintings that combine the techniques featured earlier in the book.

The book is great value. It is packed with useful information and although I only got to page 57 of 128 pages, I’ve learned quite a lot.

Painting is one of my hobbies (acrylics and sometimes soft pastel). I get very messy. Digital art is different. You can take it anywhere. There is no mess! (With practice I might even improve).   I think it would also be a very useful and practical book for beginners.

Painting Without Paint

Publisher:  Search Press

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