Sketching With Astropad

nelson-monumentThis image is a sketch I made of the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.

I wrote about the Nelson Monument and about the folly on the hill in an article on the Quillcards Blog.

Here I want to talk about how I made the sketch.

I have a Macbook Air for when I am traveling, and the only reason I might be tempted to buy an iPad is for the reduction in weight.

Against that there is the loss of a real keyboard.

For a longish while the only option for connecting between Photoshop on a laptop and some kind of stylus was the Wacom range of touch-sensitive boards and some competitors who made similar boards.

Then a little while ago I saw a review of the Astropad. It is an app that links between the iPad and a laptop.

So, no more need for the Wacom because the iPad takes its place. That sounded very good and gave me reason to want an iPad.

In a nutshell, Astropad enables you to open Photoshop on the laptop and sketch so that the effects appear on the laptop while you draw on the iPad.

The big attraction is that you have the full range of tools that are available in Photoshop. That’s because Astropad is effectively just an extended link between the iPad and the laptop.

Now fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Astropad for the iPhone came out. Yippee!!!!!!!

I think Astropad can link via Bluetooth or wifi (not sure), but why bother when you can just pop the USB into the port on the Mac? Astropad for Mac is free (here’s the download link for iPhone to Mac) so all you need to buy is the $5.00 iPhone app.

So that is what I have been doing and it is great fun.

Strangely, or perhaps not, it has given me more reason to get an iPad so I can take advantage of a bigger screen area than I get on the iPhone.

REMs and EMs

Website designers can set type absolutely or relatively. Absolute measurements don’t take into account the size of the browser viewing the web page. So text will be the same size on a phone as it is on a large screen. Relative sizes take into account the device on which they are being viewed.

Assuming a designer wants to make the type relative – to what should it be relative? I have been setting font size with ’em’ for a while.

But a couple of days ago I came across the ‘rem’. I came across it when I changed the font for block quotes in the Make theme from The Theme Foundry.

As an aside, the Make theme is free and there’s a child theme on The Theme Foundry site. I like using child themes so that any changes are not overridden on an update.

Also on self-hosted sites you can ‘install’ a ‘custom CSS file by using Jetpack. Either way, you can make changes at will and that’s what I wanted to do. I thought the font for blockquotes was too big, so I used Firebug in Firefox to track down the setting. And that’s where I saw that the font was 2.4 rem.


This article Confused About REM and EM? explains it. In a nutshell, em is relative to the font size of its direct or nearest parent and so on in a series of steps from the base font size, while rem is only relative to the base font-size and jumps the intermediate parents and grandparents.

There’s a link in the article to Type Scale. If you like messing about with type, take a look.