Using Paper 53 for Illustrations

I have been using Paper 53 now for my illustrations for a couple of years now. I find that although I love the natural look of pen-to-paper calligraphy styles that are then digitalized, Paper 53 gives me a smooth edge to my pen stroke that corrects my handwriting’s natural kinks and broken chain links between letters, and my illustrations simply LOOK better than they used to on paper.

‘Mrs Dalloway’, Pastels and pencil on paper

The many styles of pen that they offer within the app is one of the main reasons I love using it- the pen flourishes with h’s and g’s, creating lovely looped turns, and it is perfect for giving a more natural, graphic edge to my illustrations. I do draw both on iPad and paper, but doesn’t everyone find normal graphic pencil illustrations just a little bit… messy? I can’t believe how many illustrations I didn’t like because I end up rubbing through the paper with my rubber or I smudge my drawing (the bane of being left-handed).


So digitalising my drawings seemed like the obvious choice. I was never really keen on buying a Bamboo tablet (those which hook up to your computer) because they always seemed like an expensive choice. However, when I got my iPad it was just sensible to get a good quality drawing app that would have a smooth pen line, multiple textures/styles of pen and lovely colours that would be perfect for tongue-in-cheek fashion illustrations, like the one below!

As you can see from the illustrations, the line varies depending on the ‘pen’ you choose, and they provide a good variety of colours that you can now mix in any combination you like, ultimately giving you the perfect shade. Previously in most drawing apps, palm rejection wasn’t correctly input, making it very hard for you to lean your hand against your screen, and instead having to hold your pen like a stippler. Luckily Paper 53 were one of the first drawing applications on the iPad which had very good palm rejection, and my left hand was finally able to rest comfortably against the screen with no other problems.

I would definitely recommend the app for anyone who is starting out in drawing and doesn’t feel confident on paper, as the sin-free reversing of all marks you put on the page means you don’t even have to rub everything out. There are also a couple of recent additions to the combined set of tools which I have found very useful- like the shape tool, which lets you free draw shapes that automatically have straight lines when you join all the lines.

The other tools, like the cut and the fill-in tool I have used less often, as I prefer to free-draw without altering my image. The one thing I find a little odd about the fill-in tool is that it lets you fill in everything very well, but it doesn’t offer completely solid colour. So if you are going for a slightly less perfect look, you may want to fill in your shapes yourself, but it really is only a minor issue.

Have you had any experience using the app for illustrations or lettering? If you have, leave a comment below sharing your experiences!


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