If you type the phrase ‘iPad comic art’ into Google, one of the first names you come across is Kyle Lambert. Now he may not be a household name like Jim Lee, but he must be doing something right as he is ranking higher than the erstwhile publisher of Batman, Superman et. al. Kyle’s digital paintings have caused a stir all over the Internet not just because they are incredibly detailed but because of the videos that accompanied them that let you into his world of digital artistry. Whether it’s his portraits of celebrities like Beyonce or Stephen Fry or the awesome pictures of Dr Who and the Hulk I was fascinated to find out just what inspired this finger painting phenom and just how he created such fantastic works of art with just an iPad.
What inspired you to pick up an iPad and start drawing on it. Were you an earlier adopter or were you inspired by other artists online? Had you been drawing on an iPhone already for example?
I had been experimenting sketching with a few apps on my iPhone when the iPad was announced. I was naturally curious how much better finger painting could be on the iPad’s larger screen and how much more powerful the apps could be with the faster processor. I purchased an iPad day one in the UK and began experimenting straight away. It was only after I uploaded my first video that I started to see what other artists were doing with the same tools which inspired me to continue exploring what is possible.
What apps do you use and what are their various pros and cons as far as you’re concerned?
The first app I used was Brushes which is a nice and simple app with the added bonus of being able to export your painting as a video afterwards. I have also used ArtRage, SketchBook Pro, Adobe Ideas, ArtStudio, ProCreate, and many more. There are too many pros and cons to list, but the great thing about iPad apps is that they are very affordable, which means that you can have a number of them on your iPad and use the app most appropriate for the piece that you are working on. I often work on the same painting across different apps to achieve the look that I am after.
How does painting on the iPad compared to other digital painting techniques you use and/or traditional painting techniques? How do you adapt the way you work to accommodate the iPad?
The main difference is the way in which you are interacting with the art you are creating. Sketching with your fingers is a very fast and direct way of working, but this does take some getting used to and isn’t for everybody. Sure, there is a lack of pressure sensitivity on the device which can be a challenge for artists who are used to working in this way and the simplified applications available right now force artists to work in a slightly different way, but it is important to remember that these are early days in tablet art.
Are you still favouring finger painting for the iPad or have you started using a stylus? If so, which one? If not, what has stopped you so far?
95% of the time I use my finger to sketch with because I find it quicker to sketch and navigate using multi-touch rather than alternating between touch and a stylus. I have used a couple of stylus types though. The NomadBrush is really something special and takes away the friction between your finger and glass. For me the only reason to use a stylus is if it adds something beyond what I can do with my finger.
You manage to get an amazing amount of detail in your work, how do you do that with just your finger?
The key is to work loosely and zoom in to add detail. If you aim to draw details at the size of your finger, by simply zooming in until the area you are working on fits the display. Once you get used to the technique, it becomes a natural way to work.
How long do you take on an iPad image or does it depend on the amount of detail you are looking to produce?
It is not much different from working in any other medium. Sometimes a painting will take a long time to perfect, whereas other times it will happen much quicker. Obviously if the painting is very detailed or for example if I am trying to capture a likeness in a portrait it will take much longer.
What are the current limitations of the iPad that you would like to see changed and do you think there will ever be a time when you are producing work exclusively on the iPad?
Like I said, there is currently no pressure sensitivity which would help speed up painting with opacity and ease the creation of tapered outlines. Also as the processor of the iPad continues to improve, developers will be able to add more powerful and desktop like tool sets to their applications. I think that tablets will never replace a full desktop setup but instead will be an additional tool that will eventually blend seamlessly into artists creative workflow.
You’ve been something of an internet phenomenon thanks to your amazing images being posted online, which painting are you most proud of and have you had any particular feedback from any of your subjects?
The Beyonce portrait stands out for me because it was my first attempt at creating something on an iPad and I was blown away at how well it turned out. The reaction to the video, which documented the process was incredible and it opened up some great opportunities for me. My second choice would be The Toy Shining project where I took 25 key scenes from the movie The Shining and painted Toy Story characters instead of the actors. This is my favourite piece because of how challenging it was to complete and how well the idea worked out. I was really happy when I got to deliver a poster version of the project to the director of Toy Story 3, who loved it.
What other digital artists inspire you?
I get inspired by numerous digital and non digital artists. Having trained as an oil painter, I love the work of Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville and Chuck Close. In terms of digital, I admire the work of many of the concept artists that work on the big blockbuster movies, including Dylan Cole and Ben Procter.
As well as your iPad paintings what else are you working on at the moment?
Plenty, I always have about 4 or 5 projects on the go that I work between. I have a story/illustration project that I have been gradually writing for the past few months which I am starting creating the artwork for. I also have a couple of really cool digital painting projects that I can’t really talk about at the moment. But be sure to follow my work on Facebook or Twitter for updates on my newest work.