My Sketchbook Pro brush set

These are the brushes I use in sketchbook pro. None of them are really 'custom' in any sense that I built a special texture, the set is mainly the brushes I use in SBP. The brushes I use the most are at the top in relation to how I've arranged them in my brush tray below. The top two round brushes are used over 96% of the time. The rest might be used for detailing or blending towards the end.

Download Raph's sketchbook pro brush set.

Use patterned layers to change your brush strokes

When you use a patterned layer as an "Add" layer, your dark brush strokes will receive the pattern of the layer. The strength or visibility of the pattern is controlled by the darkness of the brush along with the opacity of the pattern layer. There are many variations to setting up the effect with different desire outcomes.

Instantly Destroy the Destroyer

Artist Block. The Destroyer.  We've all encountered this nemesis.  The colossal barrier that crushes your creative will.  Well, here's a source that I use once in a while, or whenever I have the opportunity.  As mentioned below, Alchemy focuses on the initial stage of the creation process, so well in fact, that the Destroyer has no way to get a foothold.

Alchemy (

Alchemy is an open drawing project aimed at exploring how we can sketch, draw, and create on computers in new ways. Alchemy isn't software for creating finished artwork, but rather a sketching environment that focuses on the absolute initial stage of the creation process. Experimental in nature, Alchemy lets you brainstorm visually to explore an expanded range of ideas and possibilities in a serendipitous way.

Created by: Karl D.D. Willis & Jacob Hina


How do I get started sketching and painting on tablets

Here is a list of what you will need to get started drawing or painting on tablets.

  1. A tablet with a screen at least 7 inches (or 17.78cm for the metric.)
  2. A Stylus. I strongly recommend a stylus with a rubber tip.  If you happen to spring for a tablet with a pressure sensitive pen, then you will have to research on your own about those.  All the digital art from my tablet was made with a regular rubber tip stylus.
  3. Purchase a sketching / painting app.  Don't use the free versions unless you are only planning on doing this art thing for a week.


You can go Phablet if you like, but you asked me, so I'm saying 7 inch tablets minimum.  I do use my Nexus 4 for thumbnails, but for thumbnails only, which get bluetoothed to my nexus 7 for enlarging and developing.

I use a Nexus 7 (previously 2012 model and now 2013 model.)  It is super portable, powerful, versatile (emails, documents, movies, games, and Google's services,) well built, with the best screen for it's size at 323 pixels per inch. I will repeat that... 323 pixels per inch.  Yes, it is also amazingly affordable.

I am open to investing into a larger tablet which means 10 - 12 inches, but nothing currently on the market appeals to me in terms of value.  In other words I won't drop half a grand+ on a large tablet.

Tablet Stylus

I use low cost styluses that I can find anywhere from corner drug stores to dollar stores.  There are higher end styluses like the Jot, which I have not had success with.  The kind I use have a rubber tip.  With the amount of sketching I do every day, these last about a month before the tip gets mushy or sticky.  At that point they still work, but they are not so fun.  Recently I have had success in prolonging them by dipping them in a jar of hair gel.  I heard hair spray works too. I think it is the stiffening property of hair products that makes the rubber firm enough to use again for a short while.

I suggest not to smash the tip into the tablet while using it, but glide it on the surface.  Smashing the tip will kill the pen in less than a week for sure, probably days.  After all, it is not pressure sensitive.

I have heard a few artists who swear by the Jot.  If you are looking for something more high end, you can try those.  I will have to say I did not have luck using one.  For myself, it constantly left my lines skipping and breaking.  Finally, there will be the pressure sensitive styluses, but those will come with your tablet, so no need to worry about their performance.

Sketching and Painting Apps

I am an Android user.  I use Sketchbook Pro, Sketchbook Ink, Sketcher and Pixlr Express to name a few.  Autodesk's Sketchbook series can probably be found in Apple's App store.

I have also heard Android users praising ArtFlow.

I know Apple users have championed an art app called ProCreate or something similarly named.

A good function to look for in your main art app is the ability to do layers.  Another feature, exporting the canvas to your device as PNG and JPG is a must.  Bonus, if the app can export to PSD to bring it to desktop with layers, but this is all about tablet sketching and painting, so PNG and JPG are a must.  Brush selection might be important to some people, but if you come from a Desktop Wacom background you are probably familiar with how powerful the basic round brush is.  It is really the only brush anyone needs.

When you find the painting / sketching app you like, I recommend paying for the full version, so you can use the full functionality.  If you are not in the mood for guessing and really just want a recommendation, then I recommend Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro.  It's streamlined and powerful, and the UI gets out of your way.  From there, you may invest in other apps as you become comfortable operating on the tablet.

Wrap up

To recap what you need for sketching and painting on a tablet, you need:

  1. A tablet screen at least 7 inches.
  2. A stylus.
  3. A paid version of a sketching / painting app.