The iPad Morgue
Today’s post was generously contributed by Adam Casalino of The Wizard of Quippley.
Having an extensive collection of images is invaluable for an artist. Whether you need to know how to draw a convincing background for a panel, or you just have to brush up on your anatomy, having the appropriate images at hand saves time and headaches. In the past we were forced to scour magazines, newspapers, and even textbooks to find what we needed. The term “morgue” was used to describe our flat folders filled with these cut-outs. It was a messy, tedious and sometimes dispiriting endeavor. That’s all over. With Google Images we merely have to type in a few key words and were inundated with more pictures we could hope to examine.
Now with the various smartphones and tablets available, we have even greater tools at our disposal for collecting and managing reference images. There are several apps I employ when collecting and organizing my images. The sheer myriad of apps on the App Store means that for each I mention, there is probably an alternative with similar uses (or lower price). These are the ones, though, I’ve used and find particularly effective. Those of you with iPhones may also find that these apps work on it as well.
The core app you will need is called “Stash Pro” ($3.99, although there is a free version). This is an image/file management app. You can import photos and video from iPad’s default Photos App, plus download directly into Stash’s library from an in-app browser. Why is this app useful? Well, you can sort all your photos into separate folders or tag them with keywords (something you cannot do in the default iPad app). This is an invaluable feature and will save you time, once you have collected several hundred images. Just simply type a keyword into the search box and every appropriate image will be filtered. File types are also automatically sorted (Images, Video, Documents).
“Okay, that’s great,” you may be thinking, “What else?” How about “Photoshop Express”? This free app by Adobe is particularly snappy on iPad (ie, it loads very fast) and can handle a variety of photo manipulation tasks. I often find I found just the right picture, but the dang dog is facing the wrong way! I export the photo from Stash Pro into iPad’s default Photos app. There it can be opened from Photoshop Express where I can quickly flip the image. I can save it back into the Photos app, or just use the reference then and there.
With these two tools your iPad will no longer be used simply to play Angry Birds on a larger screen. I can now convince your wife it is a valuable part of your comic creating process.
For those of you asking, yes I’ve messed around with a few drawing apps on the iPad. While they’re just not ready for prime time yet, I’ve found ArtStudio ($2.99) and SketchBook Pro ($4.99) particularly useful. They aren’t great, and to my knowledge, you have little control over your dpi and such, but they’re a start. Maybe one day we’ll have an art-creating app as robust as GarageBand.
DropBox is also extremely useful for quickly transferring those reference images on your hard drive to your iPad.
Notes: Please understand I am endorsing using images as reference, not incorporating someone else’s photo into your artwork.
Also, the large file capacity of the iPad and other devices means you can carry thousands of images with you.