One thing I am always on the lookout for are new ways to experiment and play with graphic designs before I commit them to clay. I believe I have found a solution in an iPad, an app called Procreate and an Apple Pencil.  Now I can work out my designs without hunting for an eraser and know whether a graphic will work or not.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

For the last few months I have had this insatiable need to upgrade my techy equipment. My laptop is at least 11 years old and as slow as molasses. My iPad was pretty old as well and starting to feel her age.

Plus, I just wanted something new. Not being a fashionable kinda of person, I don’t spend much time or energy buying clothes. With my house being tiny I have no need for furniture or “things”.

I tend to go overboard with books and computers. That’s my “thing”

So the thought that I needed some new equipment got into my head and it just wouldn’t leave.

Of course, I had to justify (in my head) this “need” for a new, top of the line, I am out of my mind, totally unnecessary and expensive purchase.

Eventually I found that justification when I discovered an app called “Procreate”.

Procreate and the IPAD will work well for my Sgraffito Art

One of the things I struggle with, as a sgraffito artist, is working out graphics before committing them to clay.

We learn to draw with a black pencil on white paper. Our minds are trained that way. With Sgraffito I lay down a solid layer of black underglaze first and then draw (scratch) it away to reveal the white clay underneath. You can read more about Sgraffito here Sgraffito – Scratched in Clay

It is sometimes very hard to determine where to scratch and remove the underglaze when you are just working with a pencil and paper drawing. At least for me.

I wanted something that would allow me to see my design before I committed it to clay, just to make sure it would work.

Sgraffito Carved Butter Keeper in Black and White
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Meet Lily (short for Lil-iPad)

In exploring my options, I came across graphic drawing apps. After doing some research and testing out some of them I decided that Procreate ( was the one for me.

Procreate is designed for use ONLY with an Ipad, which I had, and works best with the Apple Pencil, which I did not have. Unfortunately, my current IPad was too old and did not support an Apple Pencil. Procreate was ONLY for the IPad. I could “draw” with my finger but how clunky would that be. I needed an Apple Pencil and a New IPad to go with it.

I had my justification

As soon as my head said “Do it” I ran out and bought it!

New Ipad Air with Apple Pencil for art drawing
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Lily is a robust IPad Air 5th generation that virtually kicks ass!! The overall size is just a tad bigger than my old IPad Air2, just enough to not fit into my IPad Case (way to go Apple, smooth marketing move) but the useable screen is much bigger (a lot less black border).

The Apple Pencil  (2nd Generation) that works with this model is outstanding. It attaches, charges and pairs by magnetically attaching it to the top of my iPad. I can write in any text box and it automatically converts it to type. It’s really comfortable to hold and feels like a pencil.

Procreate is a “two-time Apple Design Award winning digital art studio you can take anywhere” and it seriously rocks.  You have a slew of pens to choose from, every color on the rainbow, and layers so that you can work on one element without ruining other elements. There are a ton of free Tutorials available so getting up to speed on how to use the program was fairly easy and it was quite intuitive too. Even Procreate offers 4 “beginner” lessons to get you started. She talks very fast and I couldn’t follow it at normal speed but since you can change playback speed in YouTube, I was able to slow her down enough to follow along on my ipad. She sounded drunk at that speed but that was part of the fun!

It’s incredibly affordable as well. Right now, its $12.99 for life (take that Adobe….. you overcharge). It may be low on price but its not low on features. I think Procreate and I will become very good friends.

And one of the best things is that I never have to hunt around for a pencil or an eraser. I double tap on the Apple Pencil and it changes to an eraser. Its a miracle!!  And since the Pencil magnetically attaches to the iPad It will be hard for me to lose it either. Losing stuff is my superpower.

 My First Picture in Procreate

Since I bought this to help with Sgraffito it was fitting that the first thing I attempt in learning it was creating a picture that would work in sgraffito. I decided to use Dragonflies as the main graphic since I can draw them in my head. I needed to learn how to manage and manipulate the pens, change colors, make layers…. all that stuff.

This was my first attempt and if I must say so myself, its pretty cool.

Two dragonflies fluttering around a colorful background
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I probably did it the hardest way possible but I did it. Now the trick will be to refine how I did it so I can do it again!
Wouldn’t that look pretty on a mug?

You can use it for drawing all kinds of things. There is an extensive Brush Library, Unlimited Colors and you can create your own color palettes. There are at least a million videos on YouTube on how to use Procreate but I have found it pretty intuitive and easy to use. A quick Google search turned up every answer I needed.

Screen Shot of Ipad and Procreate with a hand drawn frog and the Brush Library drop down
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I am sure I will find this new toy of mine to be very instrumental in moving my sgraffito forward and trying out new designs. As I learn more I will post more.

Until Later.


Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter
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My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Apple Ipad Air 5th Generation

Apple iPad Air (5th Generation): with M1 chip, 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display, 64GB, Wi-Fi 6, 12MP front/12MP Back Camera, Touch ID, All-Day Battery Life – Space Gray
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The iPad is a great solution for organizing your pottery or art life. Couple it with an Apple Pencil and an art App like Procreate and you can also work out design issues before committing to clay. Plus its a whole lot of fun.
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Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil (2nd Generation): Pixel-Perfect Precision and Industry-Leading Low Latency, Perfect for Note-Taking, Drawing, and Signing documents. Attaches, Charges, and Pairs magnetically.
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This is the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Air 2 5th generation. It easily pairs and draws beautifully. You can even write in text boxes and it will change it to type.
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Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze

Amaco 402800 Velvet Underglaze, 1 Pint Capacity Jar, V-361, Jet Black
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Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze is my base color for Sgraffito Work. I apply 3 coats on a Hard Leather hard piece to give a lovely opaque palette to work with. When Bisque Fired it turns a deep matte dark grey. Applying clear glaze brings out the shine and makes it very black.
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Pottery Rasp for cleaning up clay

Mudtools Small Clay Shredder Rasp for Ceramics Artists, Pottery, Clay - Yellow
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Phone Arm for Overhead Videos

I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great.  The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won't fall out into my clay water!!
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