My Creative Process + Tools Of The Trade

Hi there. Chad here. I want to give you a glimpse into my creative process and I’m going to start this off with I love my iPad Pro!

The first 80% of the work to create a piece is done on the iPad — and when Adobe releases Photoshop for iOS, it may become possible to completely finish the piece on the iPad too.

Why the iPad?

I get this question a lot (or “are you an Apple fan boi!?”). But the reasons I use the iPad are technical.

The Screen

The screen is amazing. It’s vivid, sharp, and most importantly it can reproduce a huge gamut of colors. This is something I’d have to spend thousands of dollars on special monitors for.

The color gamut is crucial because I love tweaking my Lightroom presets to make sure I get the exact look I’m striving for. A poor quality screen would severely limit my capability here.

The Pencil

The Apple Pencil 2 is extremely precise and lag-free when drawing. It’s an incredible tool when I need to get way down into the details and make the perfect strokes.

I hear this is going to get even better when iPadOS is released.

The Performance

The latest iPad Pro is a beast. I’ve literally never had any wait times when launching apps and making changes in my artwork — even at the highest resolutions.

This is a breath of fresh air. On my desktop, some Photoshop tools lag a bit when working at super high resolution (such as the stamp tool).

The Apps

With Adobe bringing Lightroom to iOS (and soon Photoshop too), it became a no-brainer to use. Combine that with ProCreate and I have a match made in heaven.

I know it seems unlikely. ProCreate and Lightroom? Yes. Here’s why. Lightroom does my lighting, coloring, sharpening, etc… and then I port into ProCreate to do the handwork.

ProCreate’s interface is so minimal and smooth to use. It gives you incredible brush tools and then gets out of the way. The app does its job perfectly and then doesn’t try to add hundreds of extra features for no good reason.

Mobility

Finally, another remarkable reason for pushing as much of the creative process into the iPad Pro as possible is the mobility of it. I can be out and about and when I’ve got some spare time, flip out the iPad and get to work.

It’s super convenient and really improves my productivity.


The Process

Okay, enough about the iPad Pro. Let’s start looking into my process.

Everything starts in Lightroom

As I mentioned above, I use Lightroom for lighting, bringing out details in shadows, sharpening, coloring, and more. The ability to create presets helps improve productivity too.

And moves into ProCreate

After Lightroom, I move into ProCreate. I use it to clean up dark areas, paint over noise and debris, add texture, smooth, etc… all using the Apple Pencil.

It’s super smooth working in ProCreate. Zooming in, making smooth strokes, smudging the tinest details… it’s fluid, fast, and simple.

And then finish up in Photoshop

After I’m done in ProCreate I port the piece into Photoshop on my desktop computer (this may change when Adobe brings Photoshop to iOS, we’ll see).

In Photoshop I’ve developed a super-secret technique that removes halos from over-sharpened photos. That’s a big part of my style. In Lightroom, I “blast” a photo to produce a sort dot-grid texture.

Then using my special technique I remove the haloing and produce a sharp, but smooth appearance.

Next, I’ll burn and dodge the areas I want to highlight and add depth to the piece. This is where things really start to look finished.

Finally, I use the clone stamp tool to clean up the piece even more and remove parts that don’t lend to the overall image I’m shooting for.


Craftsmanship through and through

I pride myself on only working for quality and realizing I’m never done. I’m always learning, practicing, and striving to do better-and-better with every piece I craft.

That’s the heart and soul of craftsmanship. The inner-circle secret if you will.

I’m humble and understand there is always room to improve, no matter my skill level and decades of experience. There are A LOT of pieces I don’t publish because after working on them for hours I realize it doesn’t meet my standards.

It’s just how I work. I’m not going to show you artwork I wouldn’t buy myself.

And that’s a wrap

And that’s about it. I “finalize” a piece by saving it to my network storage and then export for my print lab and upload to TokyoSpark so you can buy it.

It may sound like a long process when reading these steps, but it really is a smooth, efficient pipeline — and it ensures I produce incredible artwork for you to show off your personality and taste to the world.

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