The world looks better in watercolor


Using an iPad to Paint Better

A New 21st century Imaging Technology for Artists - the iPad

As an artist... it seems odd to think of a time “Before Photography”. It’s such a basic daily fact of life for us today that it’s hard to even imagine a time when there were No Photographic Images... of any kind! Yet today... we are entering a period that is no less revolutionary than the mid-1800’s when photography was first invented. But the revolution that is taking place today is in the basic digital technologies that drive virtually everything in our daily lives... especially for Artists!

And in the same way the ability to “capture” photographic images back in the 19th century revolutionized how artists worked and saw the world... so have these new “digital imaging technologies” of the 21st century revolutionized how we artists see & work today!

Incorporating 21st century imaging technologies with traditional skills

In the fall of 1849 two Frenchmen... Gustave Flaubert and Maxime DuCamp... set off on an artistic expedition to “photograph” the exotic landscapes of North Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East... what was at the time referred to as “The Orient”.

What was historically unique about their exploits was the fact that they are now considered to be the first to use the newest state-of-the-art imaging technology... Photography... to record what they saw as they traveled.

They used one of two new types of competing photographic imaging technologies. One was called Daguerreotype... and the one Du Camp brought along was called Calotype.

In 1849... both types of photographic imaging technologies created the first photographic images... but they worked differently. The Daguerreotype created a single sharper image on a metal plate. The Calotype used regular writing paper for its negatives... so the images it produced were a bit “softer” than those created by the Daguerreotype process. But the Calotype was much easier to travel with and they could create multiple images from the negatives.

Upon their return to France... In 1852 DuCamp printed the images on heavier paper and in then created actual bound booklets and albums which he sold. And they are now recognized as the first Travel Books.

Their photographs from their harrowing travels became instant sensations. This new “imaging technology” became a standard part of both ordinary travels as well as artistic travels. And the photographic image became sought after by many artists as a way to increase detail into their paintings.

The early type of Calotype camera they traveled to Egypt with.

Flaubert                        Du Camp

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Egypt 1849

From 1839 and the rest of the 1800‘s and 1900’s... up to this present day... the photographic image has had a profound effect on the artwork painters create.

In the 1800’s, the famous landscape painter of the American west, Albert Bierstadt, travelled all over the west sketching, doing painted studies... and taking photographs... all of which he used to create the massive canvases depicting the beauty of the American west.

in the 1800‘s... Albert Bierstadt not only used photos to help him get more detail in his huge paintings... he actually owned a Photographic Store with his brother.

David Rankin and his iPad

On the front edge of these exciting new imaging technologies is David Rankin, well known professional watercolor painter & wildlife artist.

In March of 2012 a new app came out. It was called “Paper by 53”. And almost overnight it became the hottest app in the Apple iTunes App Store... with over 1,500,000 people downloading it in the very first week... one of whom was David Rankin.

And since that time... David Rankin has become one of the top artists in the world working with this amazing new app. He has now worked with well over 1000 artists and numerous Art Organizations to assist artists in utilizing this new technology in artful ways.

Learning how to use it...

The first thing... is to learn how to use this app. And David will walk you through each part of the app and show you how to use it. This is all new technology... so yes... it can be a bit frustrating as we work our way through the various pens, brushes, color palettes, and techniques. But this is so cool... that it rapidly becomes fun!

Drawing on an iPad

In order to have this iPad become a valuable tool in your artist hands you need to learn how each pen & brush work.

This is where this new way of working gets really enjoyable as you see the different ways the various pens work when used together.

Color Values

Working from the basic drawing... to something like this with a dramatic light source, gradations, shadows & highlights... and done in 30-40 minutes! That’s what’s so cool about this. It’s fast.

See what else you can do with your iPad

Now that I’ve got your attention... check out this short video...

Click the YouTube button to play it Full Screen.

Going from Idea... to Pad... to Paper

Using very traditional artistic skills... on an iPad

The trick is to develop & refine your traditional artistic skills of drawing, painting, mixing colors, designing and composing subjects. You might normally do this working in a sketchbook or on sheets of paper. But this is different. This is drawing on a piece of very expensive glass!

It’s rather odd in that you’ll use a “stylus”... a special type of drawing implement that is kind of like a pen or pencil. But not really! It somehow works with the “touch sensitivity” of the iPad’s cool technology. And it’s fun!

As an artist... when you learn how to actually use this app... “Paper by 53”... on your iPad... using all of your existing traditional artistic skills... it’s pure Magic!

And in this workshop... David Rankin is not only going to show you how to use this amazing app... he’s going to show you how an artist uses it... and...  how to make it an integral imaging tool in your artistic skill set.


Morning sessions are devoted to developing precise imaging skills on the Apple iPad using the Paper by 53 App. The idea here is to rapidly learn how to use this cool new app in very artistic ways. As David emphatically states… "The iPad is capable of far more than just email, youtube, games, reading books, and shopping online."

Using this amazing iPad application… "Paper by Fifty Three"… David will show you amazing new ways that artists can now use this app to create a very wide array of visual images. But more importantly, David will train you in a whole variety of new skills that will actually streamline your abilities in ways that support & enhance your painting skills.

Try your ideas out first on your iPad. Start with a simple line drawing...

Then develop the image much like any painting.

In this way... you can try your ideas out quickly

to see if this would make a good painting subject.


While morning sessions are devoted to learning the amazing new imaging procedures on the iPad… Afternoon Sessions build upon the iPad Training and blend directly into very traditional Watercolor Painting Skills.

This is a very dynamic new way for water media artists to rapidly improve all aspects of their painting method. By the end of this unique week's training you will have a whole new method for evaluating & painting better color values in your paintings. You will have a whole new range of imaging skills… from extremely fast 30 second sketching procedures to 20-30 minute design, color palette, & composition studies that prepare you for painting far better & faster than ever before. This is quite frankly a revolutionary new way of working that will streamline & enhance all of your painting methods… making you a better more productive painter.

Creating great images on your iPad...

that you then paint in watercolor...

that’s the goal of this workshop.

It’s not one new skill... it’s a whole set of dynamic skills that will revolutionize your creativity and inspire better paintings.

Since it came out into digital life in spring of 2012 “Paper by 53 has won virtually all of the highest awards in the industry

•    2013 Gold IDEA winner, Industrial Designers Society of America

•    2013 Interaction Awards Winner

•    iPad App of the Year 2012

•    TIME Top 10 Apps 2012

•    TechCrunch Crunchies Award, Best Design

•    AIGA Design Award Winner

•    Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual, Official Selection

•    Apple Design Award 2012 Winner

David’s 45 Tutorial Watercolors on Facebook