If you have an interest in hand lettering and you own an iPad or tablet, there’s a good chance at some point you will have tried lettering on your device. You may have written the idea off quite quickly too if you tried to letter with your finger as this can be a bit awkward to do. In the past there also weren’t many places to learn how to letter digitally on your iPad or tablet.
Recently though within the lettering world iPad and tablet lettering has gained a lot more interest, and this is most likely due to the release of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil towards the end of last year. There have been and are other tools available for drawing and writing on an iPad or tablet, but the Apple Pencil is designed in a way that works really well with hand lettering. The Apple Pencil has an incredibly sensitive pressure tip so it feels pretty similar to working with a traditional pencil or pen, and it is shaped like one too so there is no unfamiliarity. The Apple Pencil also senses when you’re tilting it, so you can achieve clear definition between thick and thin lines, perfect for lettering! It is important to note that the Apple Pencil is only compatible with the iPad Pro due to the technology involved.
Professional lettering artists such as Ryan Hamrick, Dominique Falla (Typism Founder), Ruth Rowland and Ian Barnard have all been experimenting more recently with iPad lettering in some form or another, and there are many more artists that have been doing the same.
Where to Learn
If you want to become an ace at iPad lettering I highly recommend you visit Karin Newport’s iPad Lettering website. Karin has created an excellent resource for beginners to learn iPad lettering through the use of digital guides, free tutorials and free brushes. The website isn’t just for beginners either as it hosts a shop stocked with helpful tools for artists to return to time and time again.
Karin’s free tutorials are clear, and easy to follow along with. They are usually between five and ten minutes long, and get straight into teaching you something useful, be it how to set up Procreate on your iPad or how to practice lettering on your iPad. I’ve shared one of my favourite tutorials by Karin just below so you can see how easy to follow they really are!
Lettering on an iPad is quite different to lettering on paper, and can take a bit of getting used to, it is a skill you will need to develop. Karin provides you with the basic skills you will need to learn, so as long as you put the practice in you will be well on your way to becoming truly skilled at iPad lettering. The previous image and the following image are both examples of Karin’s iPad lettering. Her work gives you a good insight into the beautiful type of lettering that you can create, you can also view more of Karin’s delightful work on Instagram.
The guides Karin offers in her shop on the iPad Lettering website are well designed. It’s really easy to choose what letter you want to work on and practice, or you can easily hide the letters altogether and just work with plain guides if you want to. The guides are intended specifically for the Procreate App, so probably won’t work with other software.
Like most people in the lettering community Karin is really friendly. So I’m sure if you have any questions specific to the process of iPad Lettering or that relate to her tutorials or products, I’m sure she will be happy to help you.
What to Use
Karin works primarily with the amazing Procreate App mentioned above, which you may have already heard of or come across.
I worked within the technology industry for quite a few years, and I remember the launch of the Procreate App. It was an amazing piece of software that really helped to set a high standard for design based Apps, and still continues to do so. I was an early adopter of the Procreate App as I enjoy creating digital portraits from time to time, and I was blown away by the potential the App offered users for creating art. I never foresaw how helpful it would end up being for hand lettering, as at the time I was unfamiliar with the art.
The good news is that you don’t need an iPad Pro to use the Procreate App, it works on any Apple iPad capable of running iOS 9.3 or later. So as long as you have an iPad you can get started exploring Procreate right away. At present in the US the Procreate App will only set you back $5.99, and in the UK it’s £4.49 to buy. Unlike a lot of other design based software there’s no monthly subscription, there’s just a one off payment which makes the App even more great as it’s so affordable.
As mentioned above Procreate works on any iPad that is able to run iOS 9.3 or later, but if you want to get the full experience of using the Apple Pencil you’ll need both the Pencil and the iPad Pro. If you feel like treating yourself or finding out a bit more about the iPad Pro and Pencil I’ve shared some links below, so you can find them quickly and easily on Amazon.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch – Amazon(US)
Alternatives to the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil
I know that not everyone is a part of the Apple ecosystem, so the following are a couple of alternatives to using the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil if you’d like to give this type of lettering a go. Lettering artist and illustrator Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn makes some really fun and creative lettering with a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet, and Adobe Creative Cloud which requires a monthly subscription. Adonit have created a stylus called the Pixel which isn’t quite the same as an Apple Pencil but does a great job still at offering precision. The Pixel is only compatible with Apple devices but does give you options if you have an iPad but not a Pro. I own an older Adonit stylus and I found it to be pretty intuitive. I also believe all but the Adonit Pixel stylus are compatible with Android devices, so could make good alternatives if you are an Android user. Sketchbook by Autodesk tends to be a good alternative digital arts App which is available for both Android and iPhone users, but similarly to Adobe Creative Cloud it does require a subscription to get the most out of it.
There has been a lot of information in this article, so here’s a quick recap to summarise some key information:
· The Apple Pencil is only compatible with the Apple iPad Pro.
· The iPad Lettering website by Karin Newport is a great place to learn how to letter on your iPad.
· Karin’s guide resources are intended for Procreate only.
· The Procreate App is only available on the Apple iPad, but any iPad as long as it can run iOS 9.3 or later (there’s a companion App for iPhone too).
· There are some competitive alternatives out there if you don’t want to use an Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
Header image with thanks to Karin Newport, taken from the iPad Lettering Practice tutorial.
Procreate® logo used with explicit permission from Savage Interactive Pty Ltd.
Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. If you end up purchasing anything through the provided links, at no extra cost to you I could earn a little. I will only ever recommend products and resources that I have either tried myself or have researched thoroughly, and will only recommend things that I think will offer you value.