Sharing between Mac and iOS

Atom Code Editor
There are a couple of different applications you can use to share information between your Mac and your iOS devices. There is Push bullet, Desk Connect, Dropbox. How good and useful these applications and services are, depends upon exactly what is you want to move from one place to another. Dropbox is an old-favourite because all you need to do is to drop your file or just save it into a dropbox folder. Then hey presto, you can get that file from wherever. We also have iCloud and iCloud drive and similar offerings from Microsoft One Drive and Google Drive. So there are no end of services and applications for moving files from one place to another. The thing is though, it's not just documents you want to move from place to place. It’s also very useful if you can send a snippet of text, a little bit of code or anything you might have on your clipboard. Within the applications like PushBullet and DeskConnect you can send both files and also clipboard items quite easily. The only thing is, is that you need to open up these applications and actually think about doing it. So now l

I've an found application called Copied which has applications for both Mac OS X and also for iOS. I’m pleased it has a synchronised clipboard. The application does this automatically via iCloud. You don’t even have to think about it. Whatever you save on your iPhone, iPad or on your Mac will immediately (usually immediately) be available on every device in your Apple computing life. It’s really very handy indeed.

Horses for Courses – The Best Tool for the Job

The reason having a synchronised clipboard across your all devices is useful is because not all of us are post-PC. Most of us will sometimes be sitting at a desk completing a task on the desktop iMac and at any time, get up to get mobile and have the need to complete the task on an iOS device. Or the other way round! There are things you can do much faster and more conveniently on iPad than you can on your Mac. Sometimes an app will get more development on one platform than it does on the other. Perhaps the reason is it can be easier or is just that a task is more suited to the touch environment. There are also times when you’re doing something on your iPad and maybe you just want to have a much larger screen to work on. Occasionally there will be application more suited to the task available on OS X. So this is what we do, chop and change moving from one device to another for various reasons. This is why we have applications such as Pushbullet, DeskConnect and now the application Copied to help us keep the data we're using in sync. Moving files from place to place we have our Dropbox type of applications. Really what we need is something which works the best for the clipboard end of things. Seeing as information in the clipboard is moved automatically by Copied, that application is the best for this task of clipboard management. There are other advantages to using this application.

Clipboard Lists

Copied - List of Clips
Even though I have the application Text Expander it's occasionally useful to have certain clips of text available in all places. Not every application runs Text Expander, whereas you do have copy and paste in just about everything. There are certain things which we have to post in over and over such as email addresses or web URLs. The facility within the application Copied to create lists is incredibly useful. Whenever you find something you are constantly copying and pasting why not just save it to a specific list. I have a list of the different email addresses I use and I also have another list for certain web addresses. Within the application on your iOS device you can open up the pane showing the lists and easily add a new clipping. You can also take something already added to Copied to add it to the list you have already made or add to a new list. Tap on the clipboard item in the pane to the left and slide your finger from the right to the left. This is where you get four main options. The first icon takes you to the list of things you can do with the text within the application itself. You can keep it as original, set it as plain text, set it to paste the source URL or the source title, create a HTML code as a link or as a markdown type link. You can then go to whatever application you want to do your pasting and post it in, in whatever format you’ve chosen.

The next icon out of these choices is to send the clip to a list. The icon is four horizontal lines, tap on it and then choose the list you want to put your clip into or click on New List. Then we have the standard share icon, so from a you can send it to whatever applications you have set up within your iOS sharing. So the sky is the limit regard sharing on iOS. The only other option available is to delete the clipboard item, just tap on the icon that looks like a trashcan/dustbin.

The settings for the Copied application on iOS

It’s good to have a clipboard manager on iOS and one of the best reasons for that is the history of clippings. Within the app Copied you can set it to save your history from one of the seven choices, giving you a range of between 10 and 1000 copies items. I think that anything over 250 could be unwieldy and cumbersome and difficult to manage. Some people even might think that 50 items would be too difficult to manage and would be better off staying with either 10 or 25 items will stop it really depends upon a you use your iPad. I set mine to have a copied history of 100 clipboard items.

Copied App Settings
Duplicates not required! It’s just a waste of space in your clipboard history to have duplicates and the default in the settings is to not allow duplicates. You may also set to have a plain text mode. This could be useful if you copied in text from a WYSIWYG type of application and you really only need to have the plaintext. Most of the work I do is in text mode type applications such as Byword, Drafts or Ulysses, so I don’t even need to think about this setting.

Templates in Copied

Markdown TemplteSetting up templates within the settings of the Copied application. Depending on what you have copied you get different options in the form of templates. If you have something with a URL it will be in there as The Title, the URL and you can use codes within the templates to set up the output from the application. This is where you get the option of pasting as a markdown link. Within the template setting for markdown you get the square brackets and the title goes within to create the link text and the URL goes within the opening and closing round brackets. If you are using a different type of markup syntax in another application you could set a template specific to that.

Posted in iPad Apps.

Creating a Caricature using iColorama and Pixelmator for iPad

With the process I used to create the caricatures, it comes in as more photo manipulation rather than digital drawing and painting. I am using the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil and I did do some painting of colour on top of the image to make it into a caricature. I started off by using iColorama, but I could have just as well started in Pixelmator for iPad. The controls for liquefying and warping the image to change the shape of the face in the caricature, are more controllable in Pixelmator for iPad. It’s possible to set up the size of the distortion tool and also the strength of the tool. That’s the case when you’re using the warp tool, the twirl tools or the bump and pinch tools. There is also a restore tool which you can use on an area where you’ve gone a little bit too far. It’s probably more likely you will just do an undo if you spot something you’ve overdone. I suppose if you have only spotted something five minutes or 10 minutes later then using the restore tool will be just perfect.

IMG 0291

Using the warp tool in Pixelmator for iPad

When you are using the warp tool, you drag pixels around to change the shape of objects. Previously when trying to do this sort of thing you would destroy the image around what you are trying to change. The way that these tools work now are really very intelligent allowing for extra levels of creativity. The warp tool allows you to drag pixels off in one direction so you can squish things together or make them wider. It’s just a case of pulling and pushing after you’ve set up the size and strength of tool.

Bump and Pinch

The bump tool is great when you want to make something like an eye to be larger. Just tap the stylus or finger in the middle of where you want the area to grow. The longer you hold on the area the more the pixels are spread away from your centre point. The pinch tool is the opposite of that and pulls the pixels inwards. One thing to be aware of when you are using the pinch tool near to the edges of your digital painting, is that it will drag in the edge. This will expose the background which could be transparent or it could be whatever you have on a lower layer. You will have to redraw, paint or use the clone tool to repair the edges of your image. If the side of the images only been pulled in just slightly at the edges then you could possibly do a crop. It’s most likely though if you have been working that close to the edge anyway copying will not do what you need.

Warp tool Pixelmator for iPad

Choosing colours in Pixelmator for iPad

There are good colour selection tools within the application, including a colour picker. It can often be easier to pick a colour from your image using the colour picker tool than finding something in the swatches. A couple of times I found it easier to get just the right colour by picking the approximate colour and then going back into make it either lighter or darker. It all depended upon what I was doing at the time, whether I wanted a highlight or a shadow.

It’s not just about distorting

Comic Life 3Apart from changing the shape to make the ears bigger or the nose large and bulbous to find the humour, it’s good to make it more like a painting than a photo. Using iColorama and also with Pixelmator for iPad I was able to do this by increasing the saturation and reducing the number of colours. Reducing the number of colours makes the image more comic like. The whole idea of a caricature is to try and make an amusing picture that somehow still captures the essence of the victim (happy subject) while making them look ridiculous at the same time. This process will also be great if you are just making a character for a comic book to using an application like ComicLife 3. Within comic life you would be able to add other filters such as a half-tone to make it more suitable.

Don’t forget the background

With the image I was working with I had to use the clone tool to remove certain elements over on the left-hand side of the image. If you don’t use something like the cloning tool you could just paint the colours in that you want. By doing that in iColorama you be able to make use of the varied sets of brushes available to achieve texture and pattern to make the image more interesting.

iPad Caricature

Having fun drawing and painting with the iPad drawing apps

When you make images like caricatures it’s easy to see that you don’t have to take making art to seriously. Have some fun, play with the applications and the tools contained within and see what you can come up with.

Here is the previous version of the caricature.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Posted in Digital Art.

Getting started with Ulysses writing app on iOS

Ulysees App
The Ulysses writing app for iOS is a good addition to the iPad Pro for someone who wants to do writing on both the iPad and also the Mac. I’ve looked at Ulysses despite being a user of the writing app Scrivener, which is a super application. When you are using it on your Mac you will soon see that it does just about everything, apart from make the tea. It is possible to export projects out of Scrivener and to bring them back in again to use on iOS. It’s not the same as having a system which will work on both platforms. I tested Ulysses on the Mac and I thought it was incredibly simple. I decided it wasn’t going to do all I would need from a writers app. The thing is, is the simple view is somewhat deceptive. In this Ulysses app review I think I’ll be able to confirm that the pairing of Ulysses for Mac and Ulysses iOS will be good for my writing workflow. Initially, I thought I would just get the Ulysses writers app for iOS and move the words into Byword to move them across into my Mac. It didn’t take me long to realise that there is an advantage to having a pair of writers apps working together. So despite being a happy user of Scrivener for Mac, I stumped up the cash to buy the Ulysses writing app for OS X. My first impressions are positive and I like the way it is working so far.

Ulysses app review – The writers app for iOS

What you have is a three pane view. Starting with the pane on the left, which is where you choose the library you’re going to work with. In this area you’ll see that you can use iCloud or you can bring in external files. There’s a good range of places you can bring documents in. This includes the application called Documents by Readdle. You may also use Google Drive and One Drive or bring in PDFs from PDF Expert. It’s good to see that you can also bring in files from Bitsync and also from the FTP application Transmit. Strangely, with Dropbox it doesn’t support opening files. My preferred method of connecting the two applications, the Ulysses writing app for iOS and the version on the Mac is with iCloud.

Even though the application is quite simple it’s useful in this library area to see two sections of help files. You have some documents in a section called First Steps to help you get started. Then there is another group of documents in Details and Tips to get you past the basics. When you finish setting up and reading through the introduction in this first pane you can dismiss it by sliding your finger to the left. Now you can see two panes and you’ll see your selection of files you’re working on in a group. Going back into the left-hand pane to look into the iCloud area you’ll see that you can look at all your files in a list. So if you can’t remember which group you put a file into, look at all of them in one list. Then there is a view which will show you the last seven days of files. If there are certain files you work on regularly then you might want to put those into favourites. Sheets can be favourited via a sheets ‘More’ menu. To get that More menu, you need to be looking at your list of files. Select the file, choose Edit from the menu at the bottom and then you will see More. From here you can add or remove from favourites, make a duplicate, copy, export, move, share or move to trash.

Organising your documents in the Ulysses writing app

When you delete a document it will first go into the Trash. You need to go into this trash area if you want to permanently erase these items. It’s possible to organise your work into projects – groups. There is a default group called Inbox. I suppose you will start by putting things in there if you’re not quite sure where you want your sheet to go. If you’re working on a novel then you’ll have a group and it’s easy enough to give the group a title and to assign it an icon. With the group selected you hit the edit button at the bottom of the screen. Then you can choose which one you want to edit, within this editing area, you set a goal for the number of words you’d like to complete. You have the choice of ‘about’ a certain number of words or you can specify that it should be ‘at least’ or ‘at most’. If you prefer to have it set by the number of characters or the number of characters without spaces, you can. The number of words is what most people want count, but you may also count by sentences, paragraphs, lines or pages.

Ulysses on iOS

Sheets as chapters in Ulysses iOS.

So you’re looking at the list of sheets, which is what they call each document within Ulysses. You’ll want to move them around to have them in the correct order ready to export them. Tap on the edit menu item at the bottom of the screen to start organising. Within this view you can use the icon with three lines to the right, to move the sheets up or down within the stack. Over on the left-hand side you have a circle which you tap on to select and this will give you a check mark within the circle coloured blue. Within your stack of sheets you might have sections devoted to research. These will be notes you don’t want to export to the book format. So it’s really useful to be able to select just what you want to send out as a combined document. Choose all your chapters for the novel and select Export. Your choices for export are as text, HTML, EPUB, PDF or Word document. If you choose EPUB it’s easy to copy to iBooks. This is handy if you want to have see what your book is going to look like in an e-book reader. Before you send it out as an EPUB you can choose a style for it and there are three built-in styles. Give your blog a title and fill in the section to say who is the author. It’s also a good idea to use a cover image for your book. When you got everything set right, export it out to iCloud Drive or one of your other locations. It doesn’t have the option to export directly to a file for Kindle, but I think it’s possible to send to publish on Amazon as a EPUB file. There are other applications available if you need to do a conversion to .mobi.

Writing in the Ulysses app for iOS.

I like using markdown for writing. With the Ulysses app for iOS and also Ulysses for Mac you’re going to write using markdown or markdown XL. There are two other possibilities Textile and Minimark. I’ll be looking forward to seeing an update to the application to make it compatible with the iPad Pro. As I write this it is still showing the old-style keyboard which is too big on this device. It’s not too much of a problem though, as it is still workable. There is an extra row of keys at the top of the keyboard, giving you easy access to the markdown syntax and one or two other handy keys. There is a search key which brings up a search bar which you can also use for search and replace. The paperclip key gives you access to an area where you add keywords for your document. This would be handy during writing a novel so you can set a keyword for the point of view for that chapter. You might also set a keyword for a location as another way to help you find sets of documents within your novel at a later stage. There is a tab to set a goal for the number of words, sentences, pages or whatever for just that sheet. A tab to add notes and other tab to add images. If you have added a goal to that sheet the paperclip icon changes to a circle showing you how far you are towards your goal.

In iOS 9 it’s cool to use the two fingers on the screen to turn the whole of the screen into a trackpad. This little trick makes it easy to position the cursor exactly where you want it for your writing. If you quickly want to move one character to the left or to the right you also have arrow keys available on the extra row of the keyboard. Starting from the left-hand side of this extra row you get a word count. This is followed by a button to set the level of the heading. It’s better to select the text you want as a heading and then choose its level. The next icon gives you a number of choices – outdenting and indenting, setting text as a Block Quote and two options for making a list.
The next icon looks like the icon you get for making text into right justification, but that’s not what it does. From this icon you can set a line break, a divider, raw source block, code block or a comment block. For your usual straightforward writing of stories you won’t need to use these very often, if at all. The next two icons give you the options to mark, italicise and bold the text as well as a few other odd syntax markings.
Then we have an icon which is a square of four squares and this one is going to be quite useful. This is where you will add links and images to your sheet. You can also add footnotes and annotations as well as video. Some of these things are not in the standard markdown syntax, but are useful for using within the Ulysses app for iOS.
There is a section with six icons on it starting with a button to add a tab in the text. The next one is to add opening and closing rounded brackets, followed by a quick access key to a colon. The next two icons are a bit weird, giving you double or single quotation marks. Weird because the initial mark is at the level of the bottom of the words rather than in it’s usual place. A bit like in the Spanish language where at the beginning of a sentence which is a question they will put an upside down question mark.
There is an icon next, which is three circles making a small triangle. This gives you a redo and an undo pair of buttons. With a section of text selected, hit the Clear Markup in the menu and it will remove the markdown syntax in what you have selected.

With all the extra keys and settings available for when you’re writing in this iOS writing app, it is a pleasant writing experience. The default font is Menlo, but you have a whole range of fonts to choose from in the settings. Menlo is a monospaced font which is good for general text editing. Change it to a different font that is not a monospaced, such as Arial or Baskerville for reading through.

More settings to play with in the Ulysses writing app

Aside from changing the font you can change the layout, such as the line width than the line height. It is also possible to change the paragraph spacing and the first line indent. There is a switch which will swap it to dark mode if you want to have light text on a dark background. Then there are four built-in themes and the one called Solarized is quite popular with some people. You may also add custom themes by going to the Ulysses style exchange. Within the settings you can choose to have smart lists and smart tags. There are also switches for auto capitalisation, auto correction and checking of spelling.

Verdict on Ulysses writing app for iOS

I was getting on fine with a writing app for iOS using Byword. A good writing space and a connection to OS X through iCloud. Ulysses gives me something extra on top of that with the range of export possibilities, in particular the export to e-book. Ulysses probably has more settings for organising the writing experience. The main difference is the ability to keep documents in groups, such as you would do when putting a book together. It’s for this reason that I am very happy with the decision to go with Ulysses as a pair on the iOS platform and the Mac. A lot of people when talking about the iPad like to see it as an either or scenario with it and a desktop or laptop computer. Many of us work on both platforms and want to have the ease of use given to us by having our documents everywhere. All our text documents in one place organised into groups so we have a one-stop shop. This is possible with using the pair of applications from Ulysses. Its easy-to-use and all it needs is an update giving compatibility with the iPad Pro.

One more thing

There is one extra bonus with the connection to the Daedalus app on iOS. This is a notetaking application for iOS and it will also sync across to Ulysses on the Mac. If you want to write something on your iOS device, rather than opening up the full iOS writing app Ulysses, just take a note in Daedalus. This keeps your simple notes separate while on iOS that makes them fully available to you when you’re working in Ulysses on your Mac. If you don’t have Daedalus app then I suppose you could put notes like that into the group called Inbox in Ulysses. A thumbs up from NoStylus.

Posted in iPad Apps.

The Best Pro Tablet With an Apple Pencil

The Apple iPad Pro has to be the best pro tablet out there. Does the tablet as computer make any sense? With the fantastic applications available on iOS, is it any wonder you can indeed use your tablet as a computer. Yesterday I downloaded an application called Painterly and I’m thoroughly impressed with what is possible with it. In some ways it is a little bit like the application PaintCan in that you can take photos and turn them into pieces of digital art. As with many of these best pro tablet applications for photography and digital iPad art, you get a range of filters you can apply. It’s not a huge range compared to other applications with filters, but they seem quite cool to use. You also get the Splash effect, which is where you turn a colour photo to black-and-white and then just paint on the areas where you want to have the colour applied. With that you have Free Colour and you colour in whichever colour you like. Then you have Smart Colour which I found to be really good to get the blue of a sky that had a tree in the foreground. The tree stayed as black and white while the sky was all turned into blue colour. There is much more to the app than that. It’s called Painterly for a reason – Paint images on to your digital canvas to make a collage and have plenty of brush controls to do a great job of it. A good app to use alongside iColorama.
Best pro tablet

Learning to use Painterly

There is a good quick reference guide which pops up when you first get started and which you can return to any time you wish. It gives you a quick six step guide to using the application.

  1. Choose ground (canvas)
  2. Select source image from photo library or capture using built-in camera.
  3. Choose mode
  4. Start painting
  5. Apply enhancement filters to artwork
  6. Save and share your work

As you follow the process through, you’ll also be changing the source and the opacity of it as you need it for your painting. You’ll be choosing your brush patterns, configuring the brushstroke settings and selecting the filters and blend mode.

Within this informational/learning area you’ll also find tutorials and videos to help you get up and running. As with a lot of these iPad drawing and painting applications it’s good to experiment and play. You always have the undo button, so you can’t completely destroy your work. Sometimes things will work and sometimes they won’t. Your creative goal is to make choices and decisions about your image as you go. As you get more familiar with how any of these applications work you’re able to work faster and know which tools are best to use. There will always be a mixture of deliberation, deciding beforehand what you want and how you going to do it, mixed in with a certain amount of serendipity. That’s the joy of creativity!

Starting a Painterly project

In the top right corner there is a small icon that looks like a canvas on a tripod or easel. Tap on this to get a list of 15 types of background to use for your drawing. There is quite a range from the Dark Grey Canvas to the Bright White Rag Paper. You may also choose from your Photo Library to have one of your photos as a background. It is a two tap process to choose your image when I think only one tap should be needed. Then it brings you into a window where you adjust the image before using it in Painterly. Here you change lighting, colour, sharpness as well as draw on it if you wish. The drawing capabilities are not very good, but the blemish removal tool works very nicely indeed. The white tool doesn’t appear to do very much, while the focus tool gives you a choice of a radial or a linear focus that does what it is supposed to. You may also add text if you wish and crop or change the orientation of your image. The next thing to do is to add another image over the top of your desired background, whether that is the textured effects or whether you have used one of your images from your photo library.

Daenerys 2015 11 29 8

Move it where you want it

You bring in the image you want to work with by using the plus symbol in the top left corner. You get the chance to enhance the image before you finally start working with it. At the top middle of the screen there is the word Compose which shows you, that at this point you can move the image around screen, resizing and turning it, to get it exactly where you want it. Make all the adjustments to get the picture in the right place, tap on the word Compose and then choose Paint. Use the Apple Pencil or whatever stylus you use to draw over the image to painted onto your canvas. You may need to adjust the opacity of your source so you can see it better. Wherever you paint using your Apple Pencil on the best pro tablet for artists you will get your source image appearing on the screen. I’m finding that there is a certain amount of lag, and more so when the brush is larger and the problem is not due to the Apple Pencil. I tested other styli and I just got the same amount of lag. To see what your image is looking like you’ll see there is an icon looking like a pair of spectacles in the bottom menu, tap on this to get a full-screen view of your work. In the settings for the brush you can choose from 66 different brush shapes and you may also choose the size and opacity. There is another setting area for the brush in the left pop-up menu called Stroke. In this setting you can change the shape and size of the brush with more finesse. You can tell it to randomise the scale of the brush as well as choose the rotation of the brush shape. There is a switch on there to have a brush cursor and I think that is best left on, so you can see where it is you are painting. If you have chosen to randomise the shape and size of the brush you will see the oval of the cursor changing as you move it across the screen.

Creative ways of using Painterly

Painterly ipad art

The application is really very good if you want to make a collage from various images. Just set your background and then bring in the images one at a time to paint them in. You have enough control with the brush despite its lag to get images positioned correctly. Painterly is useful where you’d like to overlay a texture on top of a photo or painting. You can set the Render with two filter positions and a blend mode. You will get different effects by changing the settings for the brush and you can change these effects as you go.

Careful using the eraser mode

There doesn’t seem to be a way to protect an area you have already completed. Because of this you need to be careful if you are having a second session of painting a source into your canvas. If it’s right next to something else you have already drawn and you go over you might think you can erase. You can erase, but it is likely you also remove parts of your previous drawing. It is a pain to have to reset up the image again to redo an edge you’ve rubbed out. The first option is, to take caution and be careful when drawing next to areas you have been working on. The second option would be to save your painting you’ve done so far to the camera roll and bring it back in again as a new starting point background.

Overview of Painterly On the Best Pro Tablet

Painterly is a useful application to have in your artist toolbox on the iPad Pro. When in use with the Apple Pencil you’ll find it’s easy-to-use your tablet as computer. When brushing with a larger brush it can be a little bit laggy. It is still usable despite this and it is when you’re using a smaller brush that you really do need to have it more accurate. I’m hoping that this is a part of the application that will improve over time. Painterly is great for making a collage of images. You see a reduced opacity of the image you want in your painting on the screen and you paint it in. There is a lot of room within the application for iPad art creativity and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Posted in iPad Creativity.

One week with the iPad Pro

I’ve been trying to do much more with iPad Pro this week because it is new and I’d like to use it as a main computer. The only thing is, is that when I’m at home I seem to be sitting down in front of the computer and it is much easier to use DragonDictate to do the dictation of whatever I’m writing. For example, I was at my desk and opened up Byword on my Mac ready to start this post for NoStylus website. It is true that I will get much better dictation service from the proper dictation application, but I really do want to try and put together more website posts using just the iPad Pro. So I stopped what I was doing and picked up the iPad Pro which were sitting next to me on my desk and I began again. I can also use Byword on the iPad, but because I want this to be a journal entry as well as a blog post and I had Day One open, I started to write there. So far, it’s not going too badly, but I do have to acknowledge I could work slightly faster using DragonDictate.

Made with Procreare

iPad Pro for digital art

Last night I spent a couple of hours with the iPad Pro using the application Procreate. Procreate is an amazing application for drawing and painting on the iPad. I had a photo of some Street Art and I wanted to turn it into a cartoon style illustration. I used layers to draw various parts of the design. I have the outline on one layer and the background colour on another with other layers containing shadows and highlights. The best thing about the layers is you can decide it’s correct and doesn’t need to change and lock it so that you can’t destroy your work by mistake. The default inking bushes didn’t give me the width I was looking for, so I used painting brushes which were wider. It might be possible to make a wider ink brush because there are all sorts of settings for the brushes in Procreate. On this occasion I was too busy drawing to stop and have a look. Here is the speed drawing video of what I was doing.


Movie Making on the iPad Pro

Procreate records the work you do with your drawing and will save it as a video clip. I saved everything with this drawing I made and decided to put it into iMovie to do some extra movie editing. I used a good microphone to record a voice over and there were a couple of parts of the video that were better speeded up even further. I added some titles at the beginning and at the end and it was easy it was using iMovie. Next time I do some editing I will give Pinnacle another try. I have used previous versions of Pinnacle and was very impressed.

Different ways of looking at the iPad Pro.

I was listening to a podcast today when somebody who normally uses a Mac Book Pro was finishing up a week of using the iPad Pro instead. The guy did a lot of complaining about how it was unlike his MacBook. He was able to complete his tasks, but was very finicky about how the images were being rendered when posted from the iPad. There was another blog post from John Gruber earlier in the week in which he comes at the iPad Pro from the point of being a desktop or laptop user. Both of these people are entirely different from Federico Viticci. Federico has the mindset of using his iPad for everything and is not hamstrung by the old ways of thinking. I suspect that many times much of what he does, he does quicker than these other people do with desktops and laptops. I think that only using the iPad Pro for a week and then making a judgement based upon such a short amount of time is a mistake. When you spend more time with it, it’s going to be easier to find workarounds and even better, improved ways of completing tasks. Only then can you give a proper assessment having given it sufficient time to build up muscle memories and you’ve worked out good workflows.

My impressions

The device is phenomenal in terms of the quality of the product. It’s going to be even better when I get my Apple Pencil. As I am writing this, I know that my new stylus is in Milan and tomorrow morning will be in Barcelona being put on a truck ready for delivery to my house. I have a iPad Pro case on order from Amazon and I’m not sure when that’s going to be arriving. The sooner I get that the better, because I like to carry my iPad Pro around the house. I’m really scared of dropping it and either breaking the glass or putting a dent in the case.

I am still sitting in my office chair in front of my Mac, but I have my feet up on the desk and I’m leaning back as I dictate all of the words of this article. I moved the article into Byword which I should’ve done right from the start because it is the best text editor for iOS. Overall it hasn’t taken me much more time to work on the iPad Pro than if I was working using my Mac. The accuracy of the Siri dictation is not bad at all! My next trick will be to open up an application for blogging, either the WordPress application or I might use the other one called Blogsy. In the process of posting to my website I will add a picture. I will also add the video I made with Procreate and iMovie. I am enjoying using the iPad Pro for this purpose and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in doing my work in this way.


Posted in iPad.

The New iPad Pro

Getting setup with the iPad Pro

IPad Pro Surprise

I am quite delighted with the iPad Pro, even though it doesn’t have the same portability that I had with the iPad Air 2. It is less portable than it will be after I’ve got a cover for it. It seems like a big slippery bar of soap to carry around without having a cover. I have carried it around the house a few times already, but it does sometimes feel a bit precarious. I know I would certainly hate to drop it and break it. On account of having my mother visiting when the iPad Pro arrived I haven’t spent as much time with it as I would have liked to. I just know that I would have been using it constantly around the house and maybe even taking it with me outdoors. Perhaps I would have gone to the local store to buy a cheap neoprene cover to put it into for a little bit of protection.

Setting of the iPad Pro as a new iPad

In some ways it would have been easier to set it up from a backup of my iPad Air 2 and I pressed the button to see about it a couple of times. I didn’t go ahead with it because it wanted to do a download of the operating system which I didn’t think was going to be necessary or even a good thing to do. It’s probably the case that the iPad Pro iOS operating system is a little bit different from the version for the iPad Air 2. So I don’t know what was being downloaded, was it the version for the iPad Air or was it the version for the iPad Pro. In any case, I didn’t go ahead with it and decided to set up as a new iPad. Obviously, this takes longer and requires going into iTunes and specifying which applications I want to get loaded up onto the new iPad. The other thing which would have saved time is the organisation of the icons on the device. It would be nice to have had all of the icons set up just the way I had them before. I did some organising of the icons on my iPad Pro and I had its connected by cable to the iMac. I was also trying to do some organising of icons using iTunes and after doing a sync I lost all of my organising time as it reverted back to how it was before. So there was a lot of cursing and I started again!

iPad Pro Unboxed

My mom holding up the iPad Pro to show just how large the beast is

First impressions of the iPad Pro

Blood hell, it’s a complete and utter beast of an iPad. It’s enormous, massive and decidedly huge. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time, in fact a couple of days later it already seems quite normal. There are some apps that have been optimised for the iPad Pro to properly take advantage of the extra space available. At this early stage, a good number of applications are still just blown up larger versions of how they are on the smaller iPad. That doesn’t really bother me too much as having things bigger is helpful to my older eyes anyway. It’s one thing for applications to be optimised for iPad Pro in terms of how it fills the extra space available and then there is the other question of the Apple Pencil. It’s going to take some time before some of the applications are fully updated to use on this device. So my first impression is mostly based on the size of the beast. In terms of what you can do with it it is not hugely different from the smaller iPad. Certainly, it does make a difference having the extra space so you can better run more than one app at a time. There are some applications, such as Safari you can put to the left side of the screen and then pulling another one from the right-hand edge. After you’ve pulled in the second application from the right-hand edge as you can with the latest updated applications pull across further so you have the split in the middle and the two applications showing equally. This is really handy if you’re using one application for research and the other application for taking notes or writing. It’s going to be a big improvement when there is a better way of choosing the secondary apps. At the moment all we have is a long list and you might have to scroll quite a long distance to get to the app you want. This is all iOS 9, but it has the space to do it properly on the iPad Pro.

Using two applications side-by-side

iPad Pro apps side by side

At the moment I have Safari sitting on the left side of the iPad screen and I have Byword to the right. It is really easy to copy some text and then to paste it into Byword on the right-hand side. There is a good range of applications you can use in this way, writing apps such as Drafts, mind mapping apps such as iThoughts, social apps such as messenger for Facebook, Twitterific and Whatsapp, notetaking apps such as Notes, OneNote and Evernote and you have applications like Buffer, Omni focus and 1Password. So there are plenty of available applications to use side-by-side on your iPad Pro. Switching from one to the other is a seamless operation. Another possible use would be to have your photos on one side and the drawing application on the other if you wanted to have a quick reference for your creative work.

Waiting to be creative with an Apple Pencil


Apple Pencil

It is without a doubt absolutely terrible and hard to believe that Apple sent out the iPad Pro without having made enough units of the Apple Pencil. I am going to have to wait one or two weeks before I get my Apple Pencil and this is a very poor showing by Apple. They knew how many iPad Pros they had for sale you would have thought they could have matched that number with the Apple Pencil. The pencil/stylus is a huge differentiator and selling point for the iPad Pro and it is obvious that anybody buying the iPad Pro is going to want to get their hands on an Apple Pencil. Maybe many people bought multiple Apple Pencils for fear of losing one. Then again, perhaps Apple just got it wrong and cocked up. I could be one of the lucky ones in only having to wait one or two weeks, because there are some people who have a delivery date at least one month away. We can only hope that Apple will get their finger out now that they have some definite numbers and get those Apple pencils that we have ordered quicker than presently stated. I think it may also be the same case with the Apple iPad Pro keyboard. I’m not really interested in getting one of those for myself at the moment. The keyboard end of things might not have been so bad because Logitech have made a keyboard called Logitech Create and customers have been tempted by those when the Apple keyboard wasn’t available. I prefer to dictate as much as possible and the software keyboard is not bad if you make full use of the predictive text. Sometimes you often only need to do one tap to put in a complete word, which makes typing quite fast.

Amazon com Logi CREATE Backlit Keyboard Case with Smart Connector for iPad Pro 920 007824 Computers Accessories

Changes to the software keyboard

On account of there being extra space available, there have been some changes to the keyboard. There is an extra row of numbers and from these numbers you can also get to some other symbols. If you tap and hold down on the number 7 you’ll get a pop-up which will allow you to insert the & instead. Another way of doing this is to do a tap flick on the key to quickly get that other symbol. On the main keyboard itself, on the top line of the letters you get access to square brackets and a backslash. The tap and hold and the flick tap doesn’t work with these, you have to use the shift key to get at the curly brackets and the pipe symbol. That probably makes sense, as you will be more likely to do a flick tap by mistake on the letter keys than you would on the number keys. You still have a full set of numbers and symbols accessed by the .?123 key in between the key for the smiley’s and the dictation key with the microphone symbol. Another extra on the new keyboard is a caps lock key and I’m not sure that is a good idea. I have the caps lock key turned off on my physical keyboard connected to my Mac. Is it going to be too easy to hit that key and end up with all capital letters by mistake, only time will tell.

Am I happy with the iPad Pro?


Absolutely, yes I will be even more happy when I get my hands on the Apple Pencil. The developer of iColorama has said she’s going to be updating it for the iPad Pro quite soon. Procreate is already pretty amazing on this new large iPad and ArtRage is looking pretty good too. I can’t wait to get into the swing of creating many more creative pieces with the iPad Pro. I have ordered an inexpensive smart cover from Amazon. This is where I usually get my covers from for my iPads. There were one or two that were advertised were not available until the end of the month, so I didn’t have a lot of choice. The one I shall be getting for €15 will do the job just as well as the expensive ones you can get from Apple. At least I won’t be so squeamish in carrying the iPad Pro around the house, scared I might drop it and break it. I love the iPad Pro and I’m going to do as much as possible with it and give the iMac a rest.

Posted in iPad.

Photo manipulation on your iPad with iColorama

Starting with a good photo and taking it from there.

A perfect sunny day in November with excellent light for taking photos with the iPhone 6. It has an excellent camera and you really can’t go wrong when there is plenty of light. Visiting old fishermen’s cottages by the sea and there is even more light bouncing up off the flat Mediterranean. The place is quaint and cute with white painted houses and boats, decorated with bright primary colours. So here is the first image directly out of the camera and with nothing done to it.

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Castell Beach Fishermens houses

So let’s turn it into something special with iColorama

As soon as the photos were downloaded into the iPad from the Photo Stream I was able to open it up in iColorama. There are lots of different effects to choose from to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something a little bit special. My favourite effect lately has been to use the Flat preset number 18 and take the opacity down to get some pastel colours. I thought I would try something a little bit different today and dive straight into the Coherence effect. This effect gives it a little bit of a dreamy sort of look and like it’s a little bit out of this world. You can find the Coherence effect in the Style menu.

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With the Style/Coherence effect in iColorama you get four different blend modes to choose from, starting with Normal, Multiply which makes it darker, Screen to make it even darker and Overlay which will make it all light and bright. You may then adjust the opacity to further set how you want it. There are also 11 presets you can choose from each giving a slightly different effect. Some of these presets don’t allow you to change the blend mode and with preset number 4 is better if you don’t use the normal mode, at least not at 100% opacity. With one of the other blend modes it will give you a nice textured effect. Don’t forget that you can use the brush mask to remove the effect in certain areas of your image if necessary. So for example the textured effect you get from the preset 4, might not look so good when applied to a sky. Unless your name is Van Gogh. Let’s see if we can make the dream image look a little more like a scary dream or even a nightmare.

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Make it glow

Don’t forget to apply the effect before moving onto the next tool you’re going to use, otherwise you’ll have to go back in again and reset it. Let’s go to the Effects menu and choose Glow. The opacity adjustment slider controls how strong the effect is overall. Then there is the contrast slider and the more you move it to the right the more of a glow you will get. The next slider is for temperature, move it to the left to make it colder with a blue cast appearing on the image. Moving to the right of the centre point and it goes more towards a sepia colour. The last slider controls the overall colour hue and saturation. If you would like to have a different starting point for these controls have a look at the nine presets to see if anything takes your fancy.

Add distortion to turn it into a nightmare

An easy way to add distortion to the image is to change to the Form menu and choose Waves. Adjust the two sliders – Feature and Direction to get the effect you are looking for. What I wanted for the image was for the buildings to look like they were coming out at you in a nightmare style. Scary like you were walking down the main street and suddenly realised you were naked, that sort of dream. It was easy to set up this effect in iColorama by moving the Feature slider to the left so it wasn’t too wavy. Then moving the Direction slider control to set it up just right. It soon starts to look like something you might see if you were out of your head on hallucinogenic drugs.

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It doesn’t have to end there

You can also go back to the original image and put it into other applications first such as Glitché or Glaze. I put it into Glaze to get some painterly effects even though it is possible to do painting type of things within iColorama. Glaze doesn’t have so many controls available and you have to just take what you’re given with each of the different effects you are able to choose from. You might still want to use it sometimes if it gives you that affect your looking for and you want to get that effect with just one click. Still you’re able to take that image and drop it back into iColorama to tweak it further. Sometimes, if you’re feeling particularly creative it can be hard to know when to stop as the so many choices that you can use within the application iColorama. Then there are even more choices you can have when combining with effects you get from other art applications on your iPad. At least you can save images as you go and maybe even end up with five or six versions of your digital art at the end of the day. Maybe you’ll choose one of them that you will present to the world. Maybe there will be multiple versions you like for different reasons and you can put them into different places, such as the Facebook page for iColorama, The Google Plus Community or just save them all into a Flickr album.

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Posted in Digital Art, New Category.

Three non-mainstream iPhone apps that you may want to check out

There are loads of apps to find on the mobile market, overflowing with user favorites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but the App Store actually has more than just the obvious ones to explore. It lists hundreds of thousands of apps that are extremely useful for everyday tasks, albeit not as popular as the aforementioned. If you want to play with some new apps that deliver fantastic usability, here are three apps that you may want to check out.


Don’t you just hate it when you take videos and you forget to take it horizontally? Watching videos on vertical is just disappointing as it is 10x smaller than what it’s supposed to be. With Horizon, however, users will never have to worry about taking vertical videos by accident ever again. The app works with the iPhone’s internal gyroscope to instruct it to always take shots on vertical. It supports a variety of resolutions and aspect ratios, as well as 8 built-in filters. Horizon can be downloaded for free but shots will have watermark on them. To remove it, users will have to buy the premium version.

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image credit:


RockMyRun is an app for those who want to listen to consistent, upbeat music that can help them stay motivated throughout their workout. The app runs mixes of a variety of genre, from Hiphop to EDM. One of the best things about RockMyRun is that the beats can be adjusted to fit into the pace of a user. It can run in the background so that people can use other apps such as Runkeeper while running. The free version of the app lets people add mixes of up to 45 minutes. The premium version removes this restriction as well as the ads that come along with the free app.


If you’re a frequent traveler, LoungeBuddy can be beneficial for you. It helps users locate airport lounges at over 400 airports around the world, complete with details on amenities and operating hours. There are also user reviews on the app to help alerts users which ones are good and ones that not worth paying for.

These apps may not be getting a lot of support compared to the popular ones but they’re still quite profitable. Take for example the first app, Horizon, which has over 500,000 downloads. If even ¼ of that downloads purchased the premium version, it means this simple app has garnered around $124,000. Gaming Realms, host to a variety of recreational gaming titles, says that the boost in mobile sales can be attributed to the advancements of Internet capabilities of smartgadgets. Almost everyone uses a smartphone, which explains why even the non-popular apps can garner a decent profit.

Do you use a non-mainstream app that you’d want to share to the rest of the readers? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments section!

Posted in iPad.

Creating art with iColorama on the iPad

I have fallen in love with the application iColorama. There isn’t a perfect art application on the iPad, but iColorama has such a lot in it. It is more than just an application for applying filters to photos. In the Apple App Store there are a huge number of photo filter type of applications of varying quality. Some of them just apply a single filter which works over the whole of the image and doesn’t have any adjustment. While there are other photo filter applications for iOS that are more capable with layers and masks. iColorama will let you make the basic adjustments to photos, such as exposure, contrast and will even let you work on levels and more. There are other applications that will do that part job easier or better, but there is enough in there to improve your photos ready for doing the real artistic work in iColorama.

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Creating photographic art with iColorama

Take a photograph using the camera on your iPad or iPhone and get it into the iColorama application. I can also use Wi-Fi on my mirrorless Sony camera to import photos and work on them on the iPad. You can start with a blank canvas if you want to, but often it is easier to start with a photo you have on your photo roll in your Photos app. When you bring your photograph in, choose which resolution you want to use and in most cases you just might as well choose the highest resolution. I’m working with the iPad Air 2, but if you have an older model you may need to choose a lower resolution. Here is a photo I worked on in iColorama and posted to Facebook.

The application only works in landscape mode, which is okay even though it is not optimal when you’re working with a portrait shaped picture. In the first menu Tone you have a number of menu items you can choose from to enhance your photo. Depending upon the adjustment you wish to use, you get a number of sliders, switches and presets to work with. With some of the adjustments you’ll be getting blend modes, allowing you to get a particular look with that specific effect. One such effect is Duotone and as well as the blend modes, you also have 40 presets. You get all sorts of weird and wonderful looks for your photos, mixing and matching the settings for the controls for these effects. There is a menu item for converting your photo to black-and-white and another one which will do the black-and-white plus one colour. So, the first step is to use these basic effects to improve the starting point for your photo artistic endeavours.

Going crazy with the artistic choices in iColorama

IColorama Tunnel

It’s possible to go directly to the Form menu and choose something which is going to deform and alter your image so that it looks nothing like the original photo. For example you might use the Escher filter and make everything in the image spin. Same sort of thing if you use the Tunnel effect or the one called Deforms. Who knows, you might be just looking to create a fancy pattern using the colours available in the photo and you’re not bothered if it’s going to look completely unrealistic. We are talking about making art after all.

IColorama 2

In the Texture menu what you are doing basically is to overlay an image containing a texture. It’s possible to change the size and contrast of texture as well as choose the blend mode , rotation and hue. There are 170 different textures to choose from, some of them more useful than others. In any case, there is something in there for everybody, whatever your artistic temperament.

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No layers – No problem

With these sorts of applications it’s quite likely you’re going to want to combine various effects and processes as you create your artwork. When you have an application like Procreate, Art Studio or Pixelmator for iPad, it is really useful to have layers. Change the look of your image merely by reordering the layers in a stack. You’re able to keep the various processes and masking separated onto a specific layer with applications such as these. Unfortunately, with iColorama we don’t have layers. Not really a problem as you have workarounds allowing you to blend one image on top of another and use masking tools to specify where the effect is going to go. You do need to kind of know which order to use the iColorama effects in your process to get to your end point.


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Applying and saving as you go

Because there is so much with these effects to configure and try out it’s a good idea to experiment. Try out a few of the different presets and see what they do, if you like something you can use the Save button. Bring the image back in later either to start fresh or to blend over something else you’ve done. Or what you can do, is to use the Apply button which will create a step in the process you can go back to at any time. So if you’ve applied something to the image and it’s not really working out with the next stage of the process, just go back to a previous point.

Knowing iColorama and using serendipity.

It’s a good idea to spend a good long time playing with application trying out all of the different effects. There is so much in the application it’s going to take you a long time. Start off with your favourites and gradually build on your knowledge of what the application can do. Join the iColorama Facebook page which is a community of artists in itself. You’ll find other digital artists using the application and quite often they will say what they’ve done in order to create the image they are showing off. You can take one of your own images and try to replicate the effects and learn as you go. You will often find there will be slightly unexpected effects happen with the combination of two or more iColorama effects. Sometimes it’ll just make your image look terrible and then other times you’ll think it looks fantastic. I think it’s great to find these serendipitous creations in your artwork and keep them if they look good. Keep on learning.

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Brushwork in iColorama

Within some of the effects you can use brushes. There is a huge range of brushes available and you can also import extra brushes into the application. These brushes will also work with the masking tool. There is a brush menu giving you a number of brush tools. When you choose a tool like Bristle, it starts off with a completely white canvas covering your photo underneath. Choose one of the presets and start painting onto this white canvas for your painting to emerge. It’s possible to get a painterly effect and it is just like you are smudging the paint around on the canvas. Change the brush size, opacity and if you click on the icon with the word Set underneath it, you’ll find even more controls to play with. If you fancy going expressionistic with your painting, dial in some colour variation and size variation to the brush. It’s fantastic what you can come up with.

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 Making Adjustments to the brushes

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Using with other applications

To use with other iPad drawing and painting applications it’s quite easy. Simply use the Save button and save the image to your Photo Roll and then open up in the other application. Another way to do this, is to use the share option on the menu and then use the button for open in other app. The applications you can send your image to will depend on what you have available on your device. On mine I could send it off to ArtRage, Pixelmator for iPad, Graphic by Autodesk and a whole range of other applications. I tested this out by sending it off to ArtRage, I applied some paint, saved the digital painting to the Photos app and then I brought it back into iColorama. It all worked out okay, except that it didn’t come back in at the same resolution as it went out. The painting came back in at a lower resolution which depends upon the maximum resolution available in the other application you’re using. In some cases It’s not going to matter too much. With some artwork you’ll need to keep it at the full resolution so you have to be careful which other applications you use. Either that, or just keep all of your artwork within iColorama.

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The special effects of iColorama

There are a few possibilities within iColorama which will give you special effects. From the Style menu you could go into Style/Sketch and use one of the 12 presets to give you something looking a bit like a crosshatched pencil sketch. There is a switch in the bottom menu which will put some of the colour back into your image, or use in conjunction with the opacity slider to set up your picture. You can turn your image into just the blobs of colour by using the Style/Tensor effect. The Style/Flow effect is interesting with 11 presets each allowing you to change the level of highlight, shadows and bleaching. Within the Style/Painterly effect you have presets which will give you the Van Gogh starry starry night effect with the swirling of the colours. You have to be careful with many of these special effects of iColorama, as it is quite easy to completely destroy and obliterate a perfectly good piece of digital art. If you use them in moderation, then it could be just what you’re looking for, for your image.

IColorama StyleFlow

iColorama is fantastic for digital art

This application is quite marvellous in the right hands. I have seen some super examples of digital drawing and painting in the iColorama Facebook group. I’m very happy with what I’ve created myself working with my photos using iColorama. It’s a hugely flexible and capable application and just about any creative person could have a lot of fun creating digital art with iColorama. When I’m using the application to create my photographic art images, I’ll often end up with six or seven images I’ve saved along the way which I like for various reasons. It can be difficult for me to choose which one is the image I consider to be the finished one.

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Getting better with each update

I would really like to see the addition of layers within the application at some point in time. The brush settings are not bad but could probably be improved upon, for instance the developer could make it easier for choosing the size of a brush. These are minor inconveniences in an excellent application. The developer is active in improving the application showing off evidence of art creation using new tools in iColorama. The application can only go in leaps and bounds getting better with each new iteration.


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Posted in iPad.

Learning to use applications on iOS

More art applications on my iPad

Yesterday I spent a lot of time working with various iOS drawing and painting applications. I bought a couple of new ones and I quite like them. I got one called Glaze which gives some very interesting effects that look quite painterly. I’m still trying to work out how to use the application. With some of the effects available I think it’s better to make some adjustments to the photo beforehand to boost the colours as the effects can make the picture go quite muddy looking. It’s quite a complicated interface and I need to have a look at the help system built into the application to find out how to make it work. It does this auto thing where it is scrolling through various styles and I’m finding it’s possible to swipe through the history. I do like to have an application that gives me layers I can work with, so I can put one effect across the top of another. I don’t seem to have layers with this Glaze, but what I can do is to save out an image and put into Procreate or Art Studio. So then I’ll be able to do any blending of images I need to do. There is a masking system which would be more useful if it was possible to change the size of the brush. I like the way that in Procreate it’s possible to get a marker on the screen showing the shape of the brush which makes it easier to do the painting, whether it is a mask, paint or an eraser.

Learning to use applications on iOS

The conventions we use for working with a touchscreen are still evolving. Designers of applications are working out what works and what doesn’t work in terms of touching the screen. There are some things like the pinch to zoom using two fingers that are now baked into the vocabulary of working with the touchscreen. There are other things that are new and untested and when you pick up a new application on the iPad you might have to read the user guide to find out how to use it. In this application Glaze there are five zones at top of screen and you can drag images into the zones. When you have one of these selected, you touch and hold on your main image. It is then possible to drag and adjust the region displayed in the saved styles. I still haven’t fully worked out exactly how this works, but I suppose if I spend more time with the application I will work it out eventually.

A strange application called Glitché


I found the Glitché application mentioned in a tutorial on a website all about creating mobile artwork. It really does have some extremely weird visual effects. The application is even more strange with some of the effects being three-dimensional in nature. After the effect is applied you can touch the screen and move the image around in 3-D space. Even when you’re not using it, it kind of moves around by itself. The effect called Scene with the Glass setting is like looking at a photo through constantly moving molten glass. When you click on Done at the top of the screen you can then go to a share screen to send to the usual social networks or to save to your device. The application is quite impressive in a funny sort of way.

Posted in iPad.