Digital sketches made with a free iPad app | Laura Kranz
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This set of iPad sketches was originally posted in January of 2015, but I reposted it with new artwork.

I invested in an iPad several years ago mostly for travel.  You can do a lot with an iPad, and it doesn’t take up much space.   When I made that investment, I didn’t realize that I would find a sketching app that could turn my iPad into the most expensive sketchbook ever (because regular sketchbooks cost, like, $5).

In case you want to check it out, the app is called Paper—this isn’t an affiliate link, I just think they made a cool thing (that’s also free).

Here are a selection of the best sketches I’ve made using the app exclusively; most of them were made absent-mindedly, either on an airplane or in church.


Surreal sketch creature "Land Starfish" by Laura Kranz

“Land Starfish”

Creatures are one of my favorite things to sketch. I imagine creature faces constantly in miscellaneous objects.  There’s a relatively standard human tendency to see humanoid faces when they are suggested by shadows and shapes in non-living objects. I have this tendency to an extreme degree—though many of the faces I find aren’t exactly humanoid.

You’ll find a random variety of them, including a brontosaurus-looking guy inspired by a sock puppet, and an Ent-like face inspired by the little tray-table handle in front of me on an airplane. There’s a little creature family I drew on the plane—being cute didn’t make them happy.

There’s a bird whose eye is made of a broken egg, and a land starfish. I think I laughed out loud in church drawing him;  I was looking at the back of the guy’s head in front of me, then suddenly imagined his ears as eyeballs looking toward me and the contrast between the back of his neck and the collar of his shirt as a nose. The land starfish was born mid-sermon.

You’ll also find an amphibious dramatic teenager, a melting human torso, and a two-legged frog king (who, incidentally, is quite pleased with himself.

You can find a more comprehensive collection of all of my creature artwork here.

Life drawings

Geometric face surreal life sketch

Geometric Face

Often I’ll start a sketching session by warming up drawing the people and objects I see around me. These sketches tend to take a surrealistic turn while I’m drawing, as you’ll see with geometric faces, deconstructed body parts, and discolorations.

My favorite subjects when sketching from life are hands and faces, which you’ll see several of below. Some drawings were made in meetings, many on airplanes (one of the portraits is of a flight attendant), and some in church.

The app I use has various line settings which are great for different sketching styles. Drawing with thicker lines encourages a more gestural drawing, which is great for warmup sessions.

Landscapes, surrealism, and random

The Goo surreal ipad sketch by laura kranz

The Goo

The limited selection of tools that come with the app presents some interesting art challenges. You can only make so many types of lines with so many colors. I used the limitations often as inspiration for my subject matter, making more abstract sketches.

“The Goo” is a recurring motif in much of the sketches. I explain more of what the creepy substance means to me in this post about my series, The Drink of Death. Another common motif in my drawings: machine parts that look somewhat biological. Most of these drawings are made when I’m spacing out or thinking about something else, so it’s interesting to see what shows up, and especially what tends to recur.

You’ll find all my surreal art collected here.

See my analog sketches

You can check out the collection of my hand-drawn sketches if you’re hungry for more of the weird side of my art. You can also check out all my surreal drawings, or a collection of my creature art.

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