Designing with the iPad Pro

I think that it was my love of traditional drawing methods that put me off getting an iPad Pro & Apple Pencil for so long. There’s something about choosing the right pen or brush or pencil that I just love. And I’ve always designed things this way- starting from a super rough sketch- that I then ink up, and scan in to my computer. Then I’d have to enlarge the drawing- and smooth out some of the wonky bits so that it would look good printed out at a larger scale. All of my biscuit cushion started out like this. At the beginning (when I was a brand new screen printer) and I wasn’t precious about my drawings- I feel like this method really worked for me.

But as time has passed- there’s something in me that wants to smooth out all of those wonky pen squiggles more. I’d spend loads of time editing so that things were symmetrical and perfect- and in that time I’ve designed loads of things that I just wasn’t feeling. They were overworked. Trying too hard. It was the quick, impulsive doodles that always turned out best- and it was around about then that I realised that my original process of drawing, scanning and editing could be the thing that was holding me back creatively.

I knew that I needed a quicker way to get ideas into a digital format. I had a Wacom tablet before- but there was something about the disconnect between my hand and the screen that I just couldn’t get on with. So a few months back, I decided to invest in an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Here’s some of the things that I’ve designed with it so far- and a run down of the bits and pieces I got to go along with it to get me started.

Nikki McWilliams Necklaces


Stuff I’ve Made So Far

Itty Bitty Biscuit Necklaces

Last night I previewed the necklace designs that I’d had in my brain forever over on instagram (the designs for these were one of the first things I drew) and it was so lovely to hear your feedback. The first time I drew these (on paper) I made the designs way too complicated for the size that I wanted them to be once they were made- so creating this super simple, playful artwork for these was a breath of fresh air.

And here they are! I’ve added them to our online store now– and I’m so happy with how they turned out. I kind of want to wear them all at once- like a biscuity version of Mr T. The iPad designs are at the top of this post if you want to compare how they looked at the beginning of the design process.


Kraft Paper Packaging Tape

We’re trying to cut the amount of plastic we use at– and packaging materials are one of the things we go through a lot of. We’ve used vinyl tape to pack and coloured plastic mailing bags for all of our cushions up until now- so a more eco friendly update was on my list for this year.

Nikki McWilliams Paper Tape

I doodled some cute versions of my current cushion designs surrounded by some twinkly stars for our ace new Kraft Paper packaging tape. I used a nice simple, round brush to draw these- and I love how they’ve got all of their quirks- and that they’re a wee bit wonky.

We’re going to use this alongside some delightful double ply heavy paper mailing sacks to send our cushion orders in (to the UK for now- we’re looking for something that’ll hold up better for overseas shipping) from now on. The tape is chunkier than our first vinyl tape designs- and comes in at a super satisfying 50mm wide. And I definitely didn’t want to keep it all for myself- so I’ve added it to our store so that you can enjoy using it for all of your biscuit tape needs at home too.

Nikki McWilliams Paper Tape

Screen Protectors & Cases

I chose the 11″ 2018 iPad Pro & 2nd gen Apple Pencil as they were the newest models out at that time. I ordered direct from Apple (and used my Nectar card because that’s a lot of points) and I had my pencil inscribed with my name (that’s free when you order from Apple too).

I knew that I wanted a screen protector (because scuffing all of that really expensive glass gives me the absolute fear) and a wee bit of research told me that the matt finish ones felt more like paper to draw on. I got the cheapest ones I could find on Amazon- and I was really disappointed. They were near impossible to apply without getting dust or bubbles underneath- and then once they were on they made the screen look terrible. It looked almost pixelated to me- so I took it right off again.

I’d seen Lisa Bardot recommend this one– so I tried that out and it was way better. It still has the nice matt finish- it was much easier to apply and it didn’t distort the appearance of the screen as much. Winner! I’ve been using this one for a while now- and it definitely takes away some of the slip of drawing on a gloss finish.

I’ve heard that using a matt screen protector can wear the nib of your Apple Pencil more quickly – but you can buy replacement nibs fairly cheaply and I’ve still not noticed any wear after 3 months of use.

I also picked up this case– which wasn’t pricey but protects the back (including the protruding camera) and front- and has a place to snap your Apple pencil on to charge as well.


My Drawing App of Choice: Procreate!

The only drawing app I’ve tried for the iPad Pro so far is Procreate– and I LOVE it. It works in quite a similar way to photoshop in that you can work in Layers- but it’s super intuitive and well designed for using on an iPad. It’s £9.99 in the app store- and it’s worth every penny and more. You can use the app on an iPad if you don’t have an Apple Pencil too- but I find it’s a little bit tricker drawing with fingers instead.

There’s a tonne of how-to videos on Youtube- but I’ve been following Lisa Bardot’s tutorials– as she has a really lovely way of explaining things and an illustration style that’s super cute. She hosted a meet-up at Alt Summit when we were there earlier this year- and she is a fount of knowledge!

And that’s where I am with the iPad Pro for now. I still LOVE real stationery, and paper and the fun that comes with experimenting with different materials. But the iPad has opened up drawing for me in a way that I feel really excited about. Over the next few months- I want to make some new artwork and prints as this is something I havn’t done for a very long time. So we’ll see how that goes!

Let me know if you have any questions about using Procreate or getting started with an iPad Pro & Pencil for drawing and design.

Nikki. xxx


Just so you know: the links to things to order on Amazon are affiliate links. This means I’ll get a little reward if you order anything using them. 


  • Hi, I use a standard iPad with a drawing pen and Sketches Pro app…. I have looked at the iPad pro but it’s so expensive.
    Do you see the value in the upgrade?

    • Hey Fiona! I’ve never used the original ipad with Sketches Pro (we have one- but have also never tried a stylus with it) I know that the apple pencil is compatible with some of the older gen ipads too. I do really love the ipad pro though- the slightly bigger size gives you a bigger canvas- and it’s just so quick and responsive. I’d defo recommend going into a store to try one if you’re unsure xx

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