The iPad Pro Wireless Accessory for Visual Artists gives you full control over all your Procreate tools

The iPad Pro Wireless Accessory for Visual Artists gives you full control over all your Procreate tools

By putting the most common tools and functions at your fingertips, PenPad hopes to make using the iPad’s most popular sketching/painting app much easier by eliminating the hassle of navigating the Procreate interface. Instead, much like how a Numpad makes it easy to access numbers, the PenPad gives you access to 22 different functions you’re most likely to use while sketching in Procreate, from zooming in and out brushes, access the color wheel, switch between brushes. and eraser, or simply by bringing up the color wheel or eyedropper tool. Being a compact hardware accessory means you can paint with one hand while pressing buttons intuitively with the other to make your workflow faster.

Designer: PenTips

Available in Black and White variants, the PenPad connects via Bluetooth to your iPad and automatically starts working with the Procreate app right out of the box. The 22 concave buttons on the PenPad are arranged in a way that makes them easy to use, and pressing the buttons allows you to actively perform tasks such as view your layers, switch the selection tool, cut, copy, paste , etc. The buttons work seamlessly, almost like a wireless keyboard, resulting in faster workflows because your mind is focused on creating rather than navigating the user interface.

What the PenPad actually does is reduce the time it takes for your eyes to wander and your hand to follow it around the Procreate UI. More than 90% of the Procreate screen is the drawing canvas, which means that other elements (buttons, menus, etc.) are placed in a way that gives the canvas the main importance. Drawing on the canvas is easy, but using the other features involves moving your focus off the canvas to find the right toolbar, drop-down menu, etc. It only takes a second, sometimes up to 10 seconds, but it all adds up pretty quickly when you’re working with large, multi-layered files. To avoid this, PenPad simply puts common functions at your fingertips. That way, your dominant hand can sketch on the screen while your non-dominant hand rests on the PenPad, away from the touchscreen. Once your fingers get used to the PenPad layout, it becomes even more intuitive and faster!

The small wireless device comes with a format that looks more like a calculator. It’s relatively flat, barring a bump on the top that makes the PenPad rest on the surface at an angle—a feature that actually helps make it more ergonomic. The accessory is still pretty flat and slides right into your backpack, tablet/laptop sleeve when not in use.

PenPad works seamlessly with iPads running iPadOS 14.4 and above, although there are some drawbacks. For starters, it doesn’t work with any other sketching apps – so you’re really limited to Procreate. It doesn’t work with Android tablets either, given that Procreate isn’t available for the operating system. The buttons aren’t reprogrammable either, so you can’t set them to work in other iPad or even laptop software. It is strictly associated with an app for a device category. Another user also pointed out that the PenPad lacks the three most popular actions performed during digital sketching – pan, rotate and zoom. To be able to perform them, you have to take your hand off the PenPad and grab, tap, slide on the iPad’s touchscreen.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that PenPad still speeds up your workflow. It’s a must for most digital artists who use the software for work (or even for recreation). The PenPad comes with a built-in 100mAh battery that gives it a 5-day lifespan, but unfortunately, it charges via MicroUSB (unlike the USB-C charging on the iPad Pro), so you’ll unfortunately have to carry an extra cable with you wherever you go.

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