Astropad Maker Spotlight, Maker Spotlight

Astropad and Clip Studio Paint for the Tattoo Artist

Guest Author: Russ Abbott, Owner of Ink & Dagger Tattoo & Founder of Tattoo Smart

Work-in-progress: Tattoo design created in Clip Studio Paint by Russ Abbott
Final design: Tattoo Smart brushes were used to layout the snake scales

About 4 years ago, I completely ditched my sketchbook and bought a gigantic Wacom Cintiq tablet. Designing tattoos that my clients would proudly wear on their skin for life was too important of a responsibility to leave up to a simple sketch. During the course of the next year, I learned to create full color renderings of my tattoo designs using software called Clip Studio Paint.

My clients LOVED seeing a digital rendering of what their tattoo would eventually look like. I LOVED knowing that I had a solid plan in place — and in less time than it would have taken me to generate this level of illustration with my antique drawing devices (pencils and paper). With Clip Studio Paint, I was able to create perfect line art for my tattoo stencils. Then I could take the whole drawing to a full color rendering with all of the freedom to change the colors around until my client and I were happy with them. I even figured out how to make custom brushes that make instant snake scales, chains, ropes, banners, and countless other elements.

iPad Pro brings new trends to digital design

I became so interested in digital design techniques for tattoo illustration that I felt a calling to create a platform for sharing the knowledge and tools that I had discovered. In early 2016, my company, Tattoo Smart,was born. In just a few short months, I had gathered together a community of tattooers, designers, and craftspeople who were also curious about what a digital workflow could offer them.

One of the major trends we witnessed in our community of tattoo artists was the monumental arrival of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. While we were busy developing workflows and products that worked great on computer programs such as Clip Studio Paint, a large percentage of the first-time digital users we were hoping to cater to were buying iPads instead of Wacoms. This meant they weren’t going to be able to use what we were making, since iPads use apps – not computer programs.

We were forced to pivot immediately and we found comfort in an iPad design app called Procreate. We started re-making our custom brush sets in Procreate, which quickly became our most popular offerings. However, we always wished there was a way for our iPad users to take advantage of the power of computer programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint. These are the more professional applications that currently only work on computers.

Astropad saves the day!

About 9 months ago, we got word that there was now a way to connect our Mac computers to our iPads. To be honest, our first impression was a bit disappointing: Astropad worked, but the latency (a slight delay in rendering a brush stroke) was annoying. Not only that, but our favorite software, Clip Studio Paint, was not yet fully supported. We decided to keep quiet about Astropad and wait for future updates to solve the problems.

Well, my friends, I’m happy to tell you that the day has come where Astropad has finally begun to live up to its promises. Astropad is just a small team of five people that have achieved a pretty amazing feat. The latest updates have reduced the latency issues to a minimum and the Clip Studio compatibility is pretty much at 100%. We are happy to tell all of our friends with iPad Pros that they can now reliably connect to their Macs and take full advantage of all of the features contained in Clip Studio Paint.

To our friends with Mac computers and iPad Pros, Astropad does what it promises.

—Russ Abbot
Owner of Ink & Dagger Tattoo & Founder of Tattoo Smart

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