Fantasio´s Apple Pencil Review

It is hard to get an apple pencil in time before Christmas with 4-5 weeks estimated time of delivery. There a many rumors about the lack, it might be that users of an iPad air or older believe it could work with it. But that is unfortunately not true, so they become angry and sell if for twice the price or even more on ebay. True story.

It could be argued why apple didn´t deliver it with the iPad pro if it is useless with other devices, but the reason for that have other bloggers covered most likely.

Let me explain why I have to write yet "another" review about the pencil or the iPad pro:
To make it short: opposed to many other bloggers, I´m one of the "few" who can make 100% use of it. You find some artists like PJ Holden giving it a try here and Stanley Lau aka Artgerm here. Also another good review from an illustrators point of view.

The main reason for getting the iPad Pro + pencil combo was to be able to get away from the desktop. What can I say, that much is definitely true; for the first time ever, I never felt the urge to finish something on my desktop. It requires a bit to "think different" but since there is nearly an app for everything, the need for sending a piece to Photoshop to finalize, seems to get extremely rare.

Now to the apple pencil itself: Who is it for?

Rubber band from an old biro works ergonomic wonders

It is useless as a finger extension for designers or consumer who are used to a mouse. It is what the name says and it is targeted at people who know how to use a traditional pencil, how hard is it to comprehend that?

If you don´t use traditional pencil, you won´t use the apple pencil much. Simple as that.

I always was more of a drawing artist than a painter, I learned painting with digital painting but only because Wacom styli allowed me to use an input device like a pencil. Even if it had to simulate oil paint or acrylics.

There are many people out there who rather want a brush in their hand and the smell of wet color. If that is you, you probably never understand what gift the apple pencil really is.

The good:
The main reasons I love it is: it never wears off or needs to be sharpened (time saved)
and it does not smear your lines or freshly drawn shadings. I can´t count how often my hand has destroyed a painting underneath and don´t mention gloves, I hate them.

The wonderful:
Palm-rejection: The biggest reason I skipped other input devices and iPads. It worked somewhat with a standard stylus without bluetooth, but every once in a while you zoomed in or accidently moved your screen completely. And that somewhat was at least 1 time in 2 minutes. With the pencil that happened not one time. So palm rejection works wonderfully, no other words.

The bad:
Now for the bad part, and obviously that is true for all matter of digital paintings, not just the pencil, Wacom toys and other products suffer a lot from it too:

The surface; to safe time from sharpening, it is necessary to have a glossy surface. While the result looks a lot like rough paper with procreate or other tools, the actual drawing experience is like working on a car or better said a "glass surface".

Personally I really like that and even use a glass plate on my 27" Wacom Cintiq.

If the Cintiq has no use, it is still perfect as a light table.

The main reasons for that choice is that I never ever feel that I press too hard. I heard people get wrist pain or even finger pain because of pressing too hard - with glass that never happened to me. But I understand that it can take time to get used to that feel.

I also use a tempered glass foil on the iPad pro and it works quite nice with the pencil.

Is it possible to complete a whole painting on the iPad?

I doubted it, really, but...Working with procreate takes some time. I´d say it depends on how fast you can get used to it. On the other hand it is important to think about how complex your painting will be. Many effects and layers are supported already and I bet many new ones will be added over time.
For $6 on a painting tool, that is not that shabby.

The painting below was done completely in Procreate using the apple pencil - it is a simple holiday card - but it was the first piece I completed on an iPad. Ever.

What can I say, it makes fun. It is addicting. The pencil is pressure sensitive and it does what you expect from it very much like a Wacom pen on a Wacom device.

I never used a pressure sensitive stylus on the ipad before. But from what I´ve heard nothing beats the pencil in many regards. And especially the tilt functionality is a huge plus that now I´m starting to miss on my wacom pen and device.

Working in Procreate takes some time as well. Getting used to gestures, swipes and hidden menu bars seems odd at first, but once getting used to it, you understand how intuitive it really is. If you follow me on Patreon, you will be the first to get my procreate brushes.

What about latency?
Nearly not existent. And that is where apple plays safe; with a pencil in procreate or inks on Photoshop sketch, you will not. Experience. Any. Lags.

Thats it. If you want more sophisticated brushes with lots of textures, you feel a lag. But to be honest - that kind of lag throws me in the realm of my everyday Wacom 27" reality and I´m where I always was. And to be honest I do not recognize much of a difference. It is there, but it is tiny.

There is lots of good to say about the apple pencil as it is right now. In fact there is not much that can be done better for a "pencil II" except for a button or two to change brush sizes immediately or an eraser on the rear-end.

However for the eraser, you can use your finger input as eraser in the procreate-pencil settings, how cool is that?

Other than that it is perfect. If you want to draw on the road or with a pad on your lap, the pencil is the best investment ever!

The iPad Pro and thus the pencil is a combo that had an evolution behind it and many enthusiasts have waited for the iPad to be exactly what the iPad pro has become. And it is totally understandable that apple used consumer products to enforce this evolution. Now apple is in the game to be a producer for creators once again.

It can be argued why it took so long, but I understand that they did not want to sell a halfbaked product as a solution. So anyone who claimed the iPad to be an artist tool prior to the pro version has done so self proclaimed. And even if it performed OK so far, the standard was pencil on paper and that is where apple sees the iPad and the pencil now. Can´t wait for the ibrush and icanvas ...just kidding.

One last thing:
The shell I use is this one from Moko

Get yourself a Shell that has a holder for the pencil, you´ll hate to have thinking about where to put it;)

Special thanks to Spiridon and his secret agent for working some magic to get my pencil in time;)

What is your experience with the apple pencil or the iPad pro? Any great apps you could recommend?

Have a nice and safe holiday season!

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


  1. thats a nice looking case, i may have to get one. right now its going for about $6 on amazon!

    one cool thing i did w/ my apple pencil was attach a clip onto it check it out here:

    1. thank you! The case is awesome, I have it since I got the iPad and still no sign of weary. They also send me another one without even asking, when I looked into the order, they mentioned there was an issue with the smart-cover function, not it puts the iPad to sleep by closing the cover. For this little money you can´t go wrong.

      That is also a nice option with the clip, really like your works +followed ;)

      Cheers and have fun!

  2. thank you very much! +followed you too, your work is great!

    one other question i forgot to mention the first time. did you take that finger grip you have on the apple pencil from any certain pen? if so, what pen did you use? so far the pens i have laying around the house haven't fit the pencil.

    thanks in advance

    1. You´re welcome! The rubber grip is from a biro, not even a particular brand, It just happened to lay around with the matching thickness. Maybe this guy is a help in the comments are some hints, cheers



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