Tag Archives: ios

Luna Display Review

Last year, I backed the Luna Display on their Kickstarter campaign and I’ve had a couple months to use it. In case you’re unfamiliar with the Luna Display, it’s a dongle that allows you to wirelessly use your iPad as a second monitor for your MacBook. It’s available in USB-C and Mini Display Port models depending on your hardware needs. As of the time of this writing (10/17/2018), only MacBooks and iPads are supported.

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Since I have a 2012 MacBook Pro, I needed the Mini Display Port model. I typically use my Wacom Cintiq 21UX as a secondary display for my MacBook, but I recently took that into my office for a project, so the timing of receiving the Luna display was perfect since I no longer have a graphics tablet for my home office.

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In order to use the Luna Display, you’ll need the Luna Display, Astropad Standard, and/or Astropad Studio apps installed both on your iPad and MacBook. I have both the Luna Display and Astropad Standard apps and will cover the pros and cons of each.

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The Luna Display app is for anyone who doesn’t already own or want to buy Astropad Standard or Studio. It’s the standard app they suggest using with the Luna Display and you’ll need to run it on both your iPad and MacBook Pro at the same time. All you have to do is plug in the Luna Display, start the apps ,and everything auto connects. You’ll then be prompted to choose where you physically want the iPad to act as the second monitor (i.e. to the left, right, top, or bottom of the MacBook). It also asks if you’d like to use it as a retina display, but my MacBook Pro was released just before the retina MacBooks and doesn’t support this feature. Yes, my MacBook is that old.

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One benefit of using the Luna Display app is that you can use a 3rd party keyboard to control your apps. For instance, sometimes I want to go out on the porch to work on a project in Adobe Animate CC, but I don’t want to have to lug my MacBook around with me. This allows me to just grab my iPad, iPad Keyboard, and Apple Pencil, and I can control my MacBook from anywhere around the house. The keyboard is great for shortcut keys and full typing. The downside is that it doesn’t support pressure sensitivity while drawing. This can be problematic if that’s primarily what I’ll be doing.

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If I’m going to be relying heavily on pressure-sensitive drawing, I’ll boot up Astropad Standard instead. Astropad Standard is more geared for digital artists and supports full pressure sensitivity when used with an Apple Pencil. You’ll see the options for brush pressure-sensitivity and tilt appear in Adobe Animate CC when Astropad is running.

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The downside to using Astropad Standard with the Luna Display is that the 3rd-party iPad keyboard no longer works. Instead, you’ll need to use one paired to the MacBook if you want a physical keyboard. That being said, Astropad Standard does supply a soft button that brings up a list of customizable shortcut keys, which can eliminate the need for a physical keyboard.

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There is just a slight delay when using the Luna wirelessly, which you may not even notice if you’re not using your iPad to draw on and only want it as a second monitor. This seems to go away when it’s connected via lightning cable, which is my preferred method anyway so that way my iPad gets charged as I’m using it. It is something to consider, though if you’ll always being using your Luna wirelessly for drawing.

Overall, the Luna Display is a great addition to anyone with an iPad and MacBook Pro who wants a secondary monitor with which to travel. Also, any digital artists looking to use Photoshop, Animate, Toon Boom, etc. on a drawing tablet that can be taken with you will benefit from this. I like having it as a Cintiq substitute and I’m glad I was one of the first Kickstarter backers.

Procreate Inktober

Yesterday I wrote about Inktober and how last year I exclusively used the beta Procreate to participate. This year, I was considering alternating days between Procreate and Affinity Designer.

Coincidentally, hours after I published the Inktober blog post, Procreate announced that they’re going to be having their own version of Inktober this year.

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Procreate’s Inktober List differs from this year’s regular Inktober.

The rules are very similar, each day of October you’ll draw a black and white illustration based on a daily theme. The difference for Procreate’s version is that you’ll use Procreate for iOS and tag your drawings on social media using @Procreate and #ProcreateInktober.

In which Inktober will you be participating? I may try to do both and use Affinity Designer exclusively for Inktober since I’ll be using Procreate for the other.

Affinity Designer

A few years ago, I was commissioned to create an online course about Affinity Designer. This was when Affinity Designer was still fairly new and not a ton of illustrators used it. Fast-forward three and a half years, and it’s become one of the best graphics applications for both desktop and iPads.

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Affinity Designer for Windows interface

Truth be told, just based on the work I had after creating the course, I stopped using Affinity Designer for awhile. When I heard they were debuting a version for the iPad, I quickly regained interest and bought it on its release day. It immediately became one of my favorite iOS apps that I own and I’ve used it almost every day since.

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Affinity Designer for iPad

The iPad version is full-featured and not just a watered down version. Also, sticking to Serif’s business plan, there are no subscription payments involved, everything is buy-once, keep forever. It’s definitely worth your time to watch their tutorial videos about using gestures to control the app, as they’ve done a great job translating mouse clicks into finger gestures.

Since the iPad version release, I’ve been drawing in Affinity Designer so much that I had to update my website to display all of the new illustrations I’ve completed. Everything from t-shirt designs, concept art, and final products that I’ve used for my day job have been done all on my iPad.

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http://www.GPAnimations.com

I love that if I’m on the go, I can just grab my iPad and take the project I had open on my PC or MacBook and open it in the iOS version of Designer. It’s really as simple as just opening the file from Dropbox or Google Drive and finishing your work on the go.

I also have the PC, MacOS, and iOS versions of Affinity Photo, but I haven’t had a chance to use them extensively yet. I did play around with some of the features for some quick photo editing and it seemed pretty intuitive just like Designer.

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Affinity Photo interface

Overall, if you haven’t tried Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo and you’re tired of paying for Adobe Creative Cloud, you really should check them out. If you’re an Adobe InDesign user, they’re also making Affinity Publisher, which is currently in Beta as of the time of this writing. Now if I could only get them to make an Adobe Animate CC replacement, I could completely drop all Adobe products…

CartoonSmart: Netflix Style

CartoonSmart recently announced a new subscription plan to their iOS and artwork/animation courses. This is a great way to learn all you want to learn about those topics for a really affordable rate.

Unfortunately, the Construct 2 tutorials aren’t included in the plan, but they’re still offered at a heavily discounted rate compared to Udemy.com.

Thanks to everyone who has already taken the Construct 2 courses. If you haven’t checked them out yet, go to CartoonSmart and have a look!

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Maddie Bear in Space

It’s been quite awhile since I last released a game for myself. The other night, I decided I would try to push out a game in 3 hours or less. The result is Maddie Bear in Space.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Android TV and requires a simple touch or button tap interface. You collect as many moons as you can and avoid the spikes to gain a high score.

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Construct 2: Space Pinball Tutorial

I’m very pleased to announce that my new video course, Create a Space Pinball Game in Construct 2, is now live on Udemy!

It’s priced at $59, but I want to offer it to my loyal blog followers at a special discounted price of $20. The first 50 readers to use promo code BLOGFOLLOWERS or click this link will save $39 off the normal price.

Thank you for continuing to read my blog and have fun making the pinball game!

PlaceIt.net

Last year, I wrote a tutorial about creating screenshots for app stores for RayWenderlich.com. In the tutorial, I mentioned using a website called PlaceIt.net because they have a great variety of options and pricing to fit every budget (yes, even Free). Today, I want to take you through step-by-step on how to fully utilize their site to create amazing promotional material for your apps and games.

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PlaceIt.net lets you upload app screenshots, images, URLs, videos, or screen captures (using RecordIt) into beautiful photographs and videos to help advertise and promote your product or brand.

Still Images

You can sort by devices, interactive video, still shots, video, multistage, etc. and then it will list the require resolution needed to fill the stage. You can choose to drag and drop an image, upload it, or even just provide the URL to the image you’d like to insert. If your image doesn’t fit perfectly, you can adjust the cropping to completely fill the area.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office

Once you’re happy with the result, you can choose to Add Effects or Download. When you click download, you’re given the options for the Small Free Version, the High-Res Commercial, or Super High-Res Extended Commercial versions.

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Depending on your desired use, you’ll have to determine which version you’d like. If you’re unsure of the differences, you can click the “Not sure which license is the best for you?” link and it will explain each license in detail.

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Videos

There is where PlaceIt.net really shines. Sorting by Video, I chose a panning video that would show my children’s book app, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, running on an iPad. I didn’t have a pre-recorded video handy, so I clicked on the Record Your Screen option. This allowed me to download RecordIt, and record the iOS Simulator running on my computer.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video

Once complete, the video uploaded and I was able to view and download it. Here you see the free version that I downloaded, which has a watermark on it. Paid downloads do not contain watermarks.

Pricing

Pricing on PlaceIt.net varies depending on the type of media, license, and if you choose a subscription plan or single purchase. Still images range from Free to $59 USD for single purchases and videos range from Free to $189 USD for single purchases. If you you know you’re going to need to download a few pieces of media, it’s worth signing up for a subscription plan. Plans range from $12 a month to $299 a month depending on how many you’re going to need on a monthly basis.

Since they have pricing ranging from free for casual users through $299 a month for corporate users, it really feels like PlaceIt.net is trying to accommodate every user and every budget.

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The sheer number of images, interactive videos, and videos along with flexible pricing, makes PlaceIt.net unparalleled to any other service I’ve tried. In the past, Promotee software was my go-to when I needed a quick promo image of my apps, but it is very limited in the devices you can show, and there’s no option for video. I can’t recommend PlaceIt.net enough for promos and advertising your products.

Tutorial: Affinity Designer

I recently recorded a complete video tutorial series on Affinity Designer for Stone River e-Learning. You can check out the entire lesson here. The course teaches everything from illustration, logo design, user interface mock-ups, and exporting for web and mobile devices. However, if you’re just wondering how Affinity Designer can help you mock up mobile user interfaces, here is a tutorial.

You can download the entire step-by-step tutorial and the resource files. You are free to use the artwork provided for personal or commercial use. However you cannot sell or distribute the tutorial.

Download the tutorial here.

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