Drawing on a whole new level of pro-ductivity

He isn’t about to throw away his laptop just yet, but Noel Campion says the new iPad Pro has put the personal back into his computing – not to mention the artistry of a €6 app...

Noel Campion at work on his Apple iPad Pro and the portrait of Ian Dempsey printed on canvas. Pic: Larry Cummins

I HAVE been using the iPad Pro 12.9 since it came out at the end of 2015 and have loved using it until I got the newer iPad Pro 12.9 for 2017 with Apple’s new Pro motion display, and super-fast A10X processor.

I’ve been using iPads since the very first one, but the iPad Pro was the beginning of me seeing it as more than just a device for media consumption and games to a serious ‘Pro’ level machine for productivity.

I’m not saying that the new iPad Pro will replace everyone’s laptop. That said, for the first time, I now use the iPad Pro to do things for which I used to use a laptop or even desktop. The new 2017 model of the iPad Pro comes in two physical sizes -- 12.9-inch display and a 10.5-inch display. Apart from the size of the screens, both models have the same hardware under the hood. I’ve been using the 12.9-inch model since it came out this year.

Apple announced that it would roll out iOS 11 later this year and I’ve been testing it in beta form for the last month. It’s clear that they want people to use the new ‘Pro’ iPads as laptop replacements and the new OS, along with the powerful hardware found in the 2017 iPad Pro’s will narrow the gap.

I spent most of my time using creative apps like Procreate, LumaFusion and Affinity Photo — in part because I consider these near desktop level apps. Of course, I also ran lots of other apps to test things like split screen multi-tasking, video and sound, etc.

Right from the very first use, I got to see ProMotion and its 120Hz adaptive refresh rate in action. For me, this is a game changer and it’s hard to go back to other devices that splutter out a mere 60Hz refresh rate. The overall effect is that everything moves buttery smooth — from swiping home screens to switching between apps.

The screen is also 50% brighter than the 2015 model and now supports HDR. The upgraded screen now has DCI-P3 wide-gamut colour for more accurate colours and True Tone, which automatically adapts the display based on ambient lighting conditions to make colours appear consistent in different environments.

And, of course, there’s the new camera, which is the same camera found on the rear of the iPhone 7, capable of capturing 4K video and stills at 12MP with optical image stabilisation. Some might feel that a camera this good is wasted on an iPad, but Apple has big plans for it and the upcoming release of iOS 11 and Augmented Reality software.

I used a €6 app called Procreate to paint the portrait of Ian Dempsey. This is an incredible app that many professional digital artists use; with the new lower latency of 20ms when using the Apple Pencil, lag isn’t noticeable. This, coupled with the 120Hz refresh rate and faster processor, made using this app even better.

This is the most realistic drawing and painting experience that I’ve had the pleasure of using in a digital format. Many artists use a pencil and paper to simplify the creation of original sketches that go on to be the basis of larger projects and for once, the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo offer a similar experience where the technology isn’t a hurdle to get over and circumvent, but rather a powerful tool that can broaden your realm of creative possibilities.

The fact that the screen has DCI-P3 wide-gamut colour is essential for creative work including video, photo editing and using apps like Procreate. For example, when I got the portrait of Ian printed onto canvas I had confidence that the colours I was seeing on screen would reproduce correctly.

I also tested the new Affinity Photo app (€20) on the new iPad Pro and was blown away by just how powerful it is as a fully-fledged alternative to the industry standard Adobe PhotoShop and thanks to the power of the new iPad Pro, it blazed through everything with ease.

Similarly, video editing large, 4K files using LumaFusion (€20) on the iPad Pro, I could see how fast it was able to render transitions and effects in real time.

I don’t see the new iPad Pro as a laptop replacement because my laptop has software for which I just can’t find an alternative on the iPad. However, I take it with me everywhere and often use it instead of a laptop for taking handwritten notes, for writing articles and emails, browsing the internet, listening to music or watching video on the incredible four-speaker setup, draw, paint, edit photos from my camera or smartphone, edit videos and so much more.

For me, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) has put the personal back into my computing.

The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at €919 for 64GB, €1,019 for 256GB, and €1,239 512GB. The Wi-Fi + Cellular models, cost €1,079, €1,179, and €1,399 for the same capacities.

Portrait of Dempsey took 25 hours to complete

Drawing portraits is such a subjective thing for me and who I choose to paint or draw has to mean something, on a personal level. When in art college back in the ’80s, I mostly did portraits of family and friends, but once I had to do a portrait of Charles Haughey, for a landlord who was a fanatical follower. I didn’t enjoy getting up close and personal with our then Taoiseach, but hey, it paid the rent for a few weeks.

I started listening to Today FM, years ago, but more specifically to Ian Dempsey in the mornings. Ian is such a positive start to my day and it seems that no matter what’s going on in the world he always has a kind word or encouraging thing to say to his listeners. He has an infectious laugh that cheers you up and you can hear that he enjoys the interactions with callers and the people he works with.

The portrait of Ian took me 25 hours to complete and, though I can see lots of flaws in my technique, I’m satisfied I’ve captured the unassuming personality of this Irish icon.

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