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Creating Digital Artwork with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – An Interview with Marco Pedrosa

Today I sat down with my buddy Marco Pedrosa, who, as long as I’ve known him, has been drawing.

We met when we were about 11 years old in junior high school, and he was always known as the guy who could draw cool cartoon pictures and stuff of that sort.

Now, about 20 something years later, he’s still drawing stuff, but he’s got a few new toys to play around with.

Namely, he picked up an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, which he has been using to draw / paint stuff digitally, yielding some pretty cool results.

I decided to pick his brain a bit about these drawing utensils, and see how he’s putting them to use. Enjoy our chat!

Marco Pedrosa, digital artist / painter / illustrator

DF: Heyyyy how’s it going buddy?

MP: Goood

DF: Nice. So, you got some kind of new fangled art device thingie?

MP: I guess so. It’s an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. It’s pretty sweet.

DF: Is that a new thing, or maybe I just live in a cave?

MP: It’s newish. This is the second hardware revision so it’s only been out for about 1.5 years. But before the iPad Pro you could us a Wacom cintique to do similar things but those are super expensive.

They’re basically a flat monitor that sits on your desk that you can draw on..It’s what all the comic and graphic design pros use. But the iPad Pro costs a lot less and performs almost as well so a lot of people are digging it.

DF: That’s cool. So why’d you get it? To draw, I presume?

MP: Well I do a fair amount of graphic work (mockups, icons, posters) for my day job so I actually got them to buy me one. It can make certain types of drawing faster and more accurate than using a non screen based pen tablet so they agreed.

On the side I’ve also been using it to shore up my digital painting skills since the apps for that are so awesome these days.

Artwork by Marco Pedrosa using iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

DF: Ah, I gotcha.

MP: It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious painting but this tool lowers the barrier and is faster and less messy. It’s kind of the best of digital and real painting without any of the downsides.

DF: So it’s a less messy sort of painting program app type thing?

MP: Well you don’t wind up with charcoal all over your hands and paint on your face so yeah. Plus you have access to many different brush styles and the layering and limitless undid that you can only get from a digital format and it’s great!

DF: Yeah the stuff looks really cool! I’ll have to share some of it with my readers.

MP: Usually I’ll start with a sketch layer to capture whatever the idea is, then I’ll do a basic color layer to figure out roughly what hues to use where, then I’ll often do an ink layer over top before getting into the real painting.

There can in that every app has its formats but they can all import jpgs and pngs so it’s not usually an issue. If I had to move layers between programs that might be an issue but I usually stick to just one app.

DF: So are there no issues with file formats or what have you? That’s awesome. It does look very painterly.

MP: Yeah! The neat thing is that if one painting attempt isn’t working out you can just hide the layer and try again in another style with some other brushes.

Artwork by Marco Pedrosa with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

DF: So it’s got a bit of photoshop layer-y stuff happening? How much is this stuff costing btw?

MP: For sure! I like to use layers as insurance. If I’m about to try something I’m not sure about I just put in on a new layer and get rid of it if it doesn’t work out.

DF: Specifically, how much is.. the app? The device? The pen? Is the app just free?

so wait.. are you starting off importing some pre-existing pic or you just make it up? I’m not just playing the part of the clueless guy here, I am that guy! lol

MP: I just make it up of course! I’ll often use pics from the internet for reference on colours and details but I’ll always try to compose something from scratch and take it from start to finish.
I’ve never been into tracing or replicating exists no work through I’m not above trying to understand a style.

DF: Yeah so you grab a Ralph McQuarrie pic and just sort of use it as a reference? Well i notice your style is your style, really. It’s not like you’re copying the artist’s style..
maybe the composition a little bit?

MP: So an iPad Pro goes for around 800$ I think? The pencil is another 120$ and painting apps can go from 5-80$ or some of them require monthly subscriptions.

My fav at the moment is Procreate, which is fairly inexpensive for what you get. I think it’s only 20$ or something. There’s also clip studio paint which is 10$ a month but you can actually make a comic from start to finish with it! Yeah my style is my style. I can’t seem to escape it.

DF: That’s cool.. and it’s super portable yeah? Like you go on vacay, you can just toss this shit in your bag and go. Also, battery life?

MP: Yeah, it’s the size of a clipboard basically! It lasts about 10 hours which is more than enough for me. I’m pretty sure my hand would fall off if I were drawing that long

DF: Yeah might cause an injury! And we don’t live in the days where artists need to work like 160 hours straight for a piece of bread like in the .. whenever that was

MP: Thank god for that.

DF: So we can actually do stuff for fun if we so choose.

MP: Yup. At some point I’d like to get my skill with these tools to the point where I could whip up an image I’m happy with within a couple of hours.

My first few tries over the summer I would call enthusiastic failures but I feel like the momentum is building and I’ve been pretty happy with the last few things.

It’s important not to get discouraged when you’re just figuring out what a new tool is good for. At this point I feel I can probably do a piece digitally about as well as I could if I were doing it by hand so that’s something.

DF: That’s good! You’re pretty in tune with the thing and that’s a good place to be it’s an instrument.

MP: My next thing I think will be figuring out how to escape my “style” since it hasn’t really changed much in a while but I feel it needs to start evolving.

There are lots of things I’d like to get better at in terms of painting but obviously you don’t get anywhere unless you put yourself out of your comfort zone and fail a few times.

Artwork by Marco Pedrosa with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

DF: That’s for sure. And that’s not easy of course. But this tool seems like a pretty versatile one so i guess you’ll be sticking with it. Will you be getting anything new to go with it? Or just explore the possibilities…

MP: I’ll stick with it as it is for now. I’m really only scratching the surface of what these apps can do. At this point my skill, not the tool is the bottleneck so there’s really no need to jump to something new right now.

Although if an iPad version of Affinity Designer came out I’d be all over that. AF is a vector drawing app, as opposed to all these painting apps that are pixel based.

DF: Ah yes, vectors. Tis a whole other thing.

MP: Yup, they’re good for a different set of problems but I like those too.

DF: Well lots to explore then from here. It’s cool that you’ve kinda got this whole thing going. It’s always good to have an artistic outlet.

MP: For sure. I draw all the time professionally so it’s nice to have an opportunity to do some stuff recreationally too.

DF: Totally. Well thanks for stopping by Marco, good to chat!

MP: Ok ttyl!


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Simple Doodling Techniques – Create Cool Patterns with this Step by Step Tutorial

Just because you’re an artist, doesn’t mean that every time your pen hits paper, you’ll produce a masterpiece. I get it, trust me, I do. Sometimes drawing – even doodling – is just a little too involved, and the process of just simply trying can be exhausting.

Source: Epe @ Deviantart

Except, of course, when you use this neat little method that I’ve been unknowingly perfecting over the last couple of years.

I’ve been drawing my entire life, and also doodling on every scrap piece of paper presented to me. But not every doodle is created equally. Some can be cute! Some are breathtaking! Others are make you squint and tilt your head and – just – no.
The point of doodling isn’t always to use a lot of brainpower. If you wanted to be using your creative mind, you’d be sketching or drawing. This is different. This is doodling. The no-risk, no-strings-attached form of art.

Ever since High School, I’ve been trying to find a style of doodling that’s easy yet doesn’t come out the same way every time. I started drawing simple triangles, all that are connected with each other.
You can make them as small or as big as you’d like. You can fill them in with more triangles. Not only is it ridiculously easy, but it produces mild entertainment and can lead to aesthetically pleasing doodles!


Simple Doodling Techniques – My Step By Step Tutorial

Start with a triangle. You choose how big it is. Keep in mind that the bigger the triangle, the less you’ll be able to fit on your page. However, if it’s too small, then you may not be able to fit other, tinier triangles into it, which will be an option later on!

It can be whatever type of triangle suits your current mood. Use whatever pen/pencil/crayon/marker you feel like. It really doesn’t have to be any fancy equipment you’re using. Today I’m feeling particularly equilateral:

Great! Now – more triangles! Just feed off of what you already have, really.

Sometimes you may feel like making little patterns that consist of longer, slim triangles.

Or not.

And for a bit more texture, you can add inner triangles. Draw three lines originating from the points of your triangle towards an imaginary middle. Voila! Inner triangles.

Another option you have is to draw out a shape and fill it in with these triangles for a really cool geometric looking thing. Here I’ve done a bird, and then re-drawn it on photoshop:

And now you can let it consume your life. Try it out for yourself and have fun with this method! Let it take you to the most mind-numbing, page consuming patterns, while also taking you to some really interesting, dynamic doodles.


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Artemisia Gentileschi – Famous Women Artists In History

Susanna and the Elders by Gentileschi

By virtue of the excellence of her work, the originality of her treatment of traditional subjects and the number of her paintings that have survived, Artemisia Gentileschi was the most important woman painter of Early Modern Europe.

She was both disdained and praised by contemporary critics, recognized as having genius, but also seen as monstrous, for she was a woman exercising a creative talent thought to be exclusively male. She “has suffered a scholarly neglect that is almost unthinkable for an artist of her caliber’’ (Mary D. Garrard).

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1638-9
Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1638-9

Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome on July, 8th, 1593, as the eldest child of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi and Prudentia Monotone Gentileschi. Her mother died when she was twelve.

Artemisia was introduced to painting in her father’s workshop, showing much more talent than her brothers, who worked alongside her. Her father trained her as an artist and introduced her to the working artist of Rome, including Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, whose chiaroscuro style greatly influenced Artemisia Gientileschi’s work.

She had little or no schooling, other than artistic training; she did not learn to read and write until she was adult. Orazio was a great encouragement to his daughter; during the seventeenth century women were considered lacking the intelligence to work.

At the same time, Artemisia had to resist the traditional attitude and psychological submission to this brainwashing and jealousy of her obvious talent.

Susanna and the Elders by Gentileschi
Susanna and the Elders by Gentileschi

By the time she was seventeen, she had produced one of her best known work, a stunning interpretation of Susana and Elders, from 1610. The painting shows how Artemisia assimilated the realism of Caravaggio without being indifferent to the language of the Bologna school, which had Annibale Carracci among its major artists.

It is one of the few paintings on the theme of Susanna showing the sexual accosting by the two elders as a traumatic event.

Among those with whom Orazio Gentileschi worked was the Florentine artist Agostino Tassi, whom Artemisia accused of raping her in 1612, when she was nineteen. When her father found out, he filed suit against Tassi for injury and damage, and, remarkably, the transcripts of the seven-month-long rape trial have survived.

According to Artemisia, attempted to be alone with her repeatedly, with the help of family friends, and raped her when he finally succeeded in cornering her in her bedroom. He tried to placate her afterwards by promising to marry her, and gained access to her person and her bedroom repeatedly on the strength of that promise, but always avoided following through with the actual marriage.

She was examined by midwives to determine whether she had been ‘’deflowered’’ recently, or a long time ago. The trial followed a pattern familiar even today- she was accused for not having been a virgin at the time of the rape and of having many lovers.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Esther before Ahasuerus (detail) (c 1626-9)
Artemisia Gentileschi, Esther before Ahasuerus (detail) (c 1626-9)

Probably more galling for an artist like Artemisia, Tassi testified that her skills were so pitiful that he had to teach her the rules of perspective, and was doing so the day she claimed he raped her.

Tassi denied having had sexual relations with Gentileschi, brought many witnesses to testify that she was ‘’an insatiable’’ whore. Their testimony was refuted by Orazio, who brought countersuit for perjury. Artemisia’s accusations against Tassi were corroborated by a former friend of his who recounted Tassi’s boasting about his sexual exploits at Artemisia’s expense.

Tassi had been imprisoned earlier for incest with his sister-in-law and was charged with arranging the murder of his wife. He was convicted on the charge of raping Gentileschi and he served under a year in prison and was later invited again into the Gentileschi household by Orazio.

During and soon after the trial, Gentileschi painted Judith Slaying Holofernes (1612-1613). The painting is remarkable for its technical proficiency, but also for the original and impressive way in which Gentileschi portrays Judith, a pretty popular subject for art; her first Judith beheading Holofernes painting, clearly a cathartic expression of her rage and violation.

She drew all faces of Judith as hers face and Holofernes are Tassi on her painting. Unlike other ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’, Judith looks like a strong woman and she has a tenacious grip.

Judith Slaying Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi
Judith Slaying Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi

In November of 1612, after the long trial, the pregnant Artemisia was married to a Florentine artist and family friend Pietro Antonio di Vincenzo Stiattesi. They moved to Florence and Arthemisia gave birth to a daughter named either Prudentia or Palmira.

In Florence, Gentileschi returned to the subject of Judith, completing Judith and her Maidservant in 1613 or 1614. During this Florence period of her life, she became the protégé of Michelangelo the Younger, nephew of Michelangelo, who favored her and paid her well for her work on the life of Michelangelo for the Casa Buonorotti.

Artemisia and her husband worked at the Academy of Design, and Gentileschi became an official member there in 1616. It was a remarkable honor for a woman of her day, and probably made possible by the support of her Florentine patron, the Grand Duke Cosimo II of the powerful Medici family.

During her years in Florence, he commissioned quite a few paintings from her, and Gentileschi left Florence to return to Rome upon his death, in 1621.

Afterwards, she probably moved to Genoa that same year, accompanying her father who was invited there by a Genovese nobleman. In Genoa she painted her first Lucretia (1621) and her first Cleopatra (1621-1622), the impressive pieces of artwork.

Artemisia Gentileschi. Lucretia. 1621
Artemisia Gentileschi. Lucretia. 1621

She also received commissions in nearby Venice during this period and met the great Anthony Van Dyck, a very successful painter of the era, and Sofonisba Anguissola, a generation older than Gentileschi and one of the handful of women who worked as artists.

Gentileschi soon returned to Rome and lived there as head of household with her daughter and two servants. Evidently, she and her husband had separated and she eventually lost touch with him altogether. Gentileschi later had another daughter, and both are known to have been painters, though neither their work nor any assessment of it has survived.

During this stay in Rome, a French artist, Pierre Dumonstier le Neveu, made a drawing of her hand holding a paintbrush, calling it a drawing of the hand of “the excellent and wise noble woman of Rome, Artemisia.”

Her fame is also evident in a commemorative medal bearing her portrait made some time between 1625 and 1630 that calls her pictrix celebris or “celebrated woman painter.”

Forever in search of patronage, she lived again in Florence and Rome during the 1620s, and then moved in 1630, to Naples, the second largest city in Europe, where commissions were available. During this time, she was struggling to reconcile her own artistic preferences with the preferences of her patrons, who made her livelihood possible

She collaborated with a number of the male artists while in Naples. In this period, she painted her great Self-Portrait- the Allegory of Painting (1630), a work unique in its fusing of art, muse, and artist, than another Lucretia, The Annunciation (1630), another Cleopatra, and many other great works.

Artemisia Gentileschi / Артемизия Джентилески (1593-1653) – Minerva (Sapienza) / Минерва (Мудрость) (около 1615)

Around 1637, desperate for money to finance her daughter’s wedding, Gentileschi began looking for new patrons. And she found him, eventually. It was King Charles I of England. She was in residence at the English court from 1638 to 1641, among the many continental artists invited there by that art-collecting king Charles I.

She may have gone specifically to assist her father, Orazio, in a massive project to decorate the ceilings of the Queen’s house at Greenwich.

For that commission, Artemisia painted the Allegory of Peace, including most of its Muses – and most notably, Clio, Muse of History. Her ailing father died in 1639, but Artemisia continued to work in England until 1642.

Artemisia returned to Naples, around 1642, where she lived until her death. She remained very active as a painter there, producing at least five variations on Bathsheba and perhaps another Judith.

Artemisia Gentileschi - Bathing Bathsheba
Artemisia Gentileschi – Bathing Bathsheba

During her last ten years, her primary patron was Don Antonio Ruffo; more is known about these years than any others because 28 of her letters to him which still survive.

The timing and the cause of Artemisia’s death is not known, but she most likely died in 1652.

Unfortunately, the rape trial, her unconventional life as a female painter, and her numerous paintings of powerful women struggling against male dominance did not endear her to the male aristocracy.

The only record of her death are two satiric epitaphs–frequently translated and reprinted that make no mention of her art but figure her in exclusively sexual terms as a nymphomaniac and adulterer.

Those derogatory epitaphs were published about her in 1653, such as: “By painting one likeness after another/ I earned no end of merit in the world/ While, to carve two horns upon my husband’s head/I put down the brush and took a chisel instead.”

According to Art historian Charles Moffat, Artemisia may have committed suicide, which would explain why the cause of her death was not recorded.

Thirty four of her paintings survive today, as well as the transcript of the rape trial, published in full in Mary Gerrard’s ‘’Artemisia Gentileschi, The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art’’.

Today she is regarded as one of the most progressive painters of her generation; an artist who fought with determination—using the weapon of personality and of the artistic qualities—against the prejudices expressed against women painters; being able to introduce herself productively in the circle of the most respected painters of her time, embracing a series of pictorial genres that probably were more ample and varied than her paintings suggest.