Below are some tips that I use with my iPads Pro (9.7in and 11in versions). I like to work with small tablets (because they are easier to carry outside) so I have developed a set of settings to help with the smaller screen sizes; however they can be applied to other mobile drawing tablets as well.
* Models that can apply:
- Most iPad models (Pro, Air, other non-pro version like iPad Mini) - use CSP for iOS
- Samsung Galaxy tab models - CSP for Android
- Microsoft Surface and Wacom MobileStudio models - CSP for Windows
As for the mobile versions (the iPhone and Samsung android phone versions), the interface tips won't work. The touch and keyboard tips may still be applicable on some models.
1. OPTIMIZE THE INTERFACE - WORKSPACE
How do you draw with your tablet?
In most poses, the stylus is held in one hand (in my case, my right hand). The other hand (ex my left hand) is free and can be used for touching the (on-screen) buttons with your index finger and/or your thumb, so you should leave those buttons to that side.
Your dominant hand (my right hand) may need some space to rest, which is fine with some iPad models. But the new iPad and the Galaxy have very small screen borders, so unless your tablet lays completely flat on a surface, you may want to leave some palettes to the dominant hand's side (at least for horizontal mode).
(some models can be very sensitive to touch so when you rest your hand on the palette you can accidentally click something. Wear an artist's glove if you want, or just bear with it/put all palettes to the other side)
The way you organize CSP's palettes and canvas can be saved as a workspace. Workspaces are located in the Menu Bar > Window > Workspace > [name of the workspace].
1A. The default workspaces
This is one of the default workspace, Illustration:
It's rather clean to look at, but there are some utility spaces that you can use for drawing instead.
Touch a button with your index finger/thumb to open a tab. It will automatically close when you touch the drawing area, which may or may not be useful to you.
Another layout, the Comic:
I guess this is primarily for black and white comic drawing. Click the >> icon (circled above) to collapse the palettes for more drawing area.
The last one included, the By Category:
Like its name, almost every function is shown on the screen, but I doubt you'll need all of them at the same time.
1B. Customize your interface
* If you have more than one workflow (for example drawing comics and animating) I recommend making different workspaces and switching to the appropriate one before working.
I don't need to see the time on the Status bar so I close it. Click the CSP icon on the Title bar > Preferences…
Uncheck Show Status bar then press OK. (By the way, if you uncheck the Switch to tablet interface checkbox, the workspace will turn into its desktop variants, which are too cluttered for tablet use in my opinion)
Go to Windows to turn on/off any palette you want. Personally I always turn off Command Bar and Always Show Tab in Canvas. Don't Hide Menu Bar unless you have a keyboard connected to your tablet (Shift + Tab to hide/unhide the Menu Bar) or have an on-screen shortcut to recall it back.
You can move a palette around by dragging its name (for pop-up palettes, you may need to drag their buttons or expand them before dragging). It can be docked to the left/right/bottom side of the screen, beside other bars/palettes, or you can stack it onto other palettes/pop-up buttons - look for the red color to know where you can dock. Resize the palette by dragging one of its sides and hide it by clicking the "x" button on the upper left.
I settle for the workspace below which contains my most often used palettes. When I need more space to draw, I'll collapse them by clicking the << or >> icon on the top of each column.
Save your workspaces by going to Windows > Workspace > Register Workspace, or Register workspace as material so you can use it on another device/share it with others. Its name will appear in the list below.
1C. Customize Quick Access
Quick Access is a palette/bar that you can put as many shortcut buttons on as you want, and put it anywhere you please. It's kind of like the Command bar or Toolbar but without any restriction. In fact you can even put Menu bar's commands on it, so you can hide the Menu bar and gain more area to draw!
At first your Quick Access can look like this:
Drag and dock it wherever you want. Click the button on the top left > View > then choose how you want to display the shortcut from the list, then resize the Quick Access palette/bar as you see fit.
Click the top left button > Quick Access Settings... to add/remove shortcut buttons. If you run out of space, create more set with Create set...
Add by selecting from the list and clicking [Add], delete by selecting with Quick Access Palette and clicking [Delete].
The Main menu contains nearly all from the Menu bar.
Options contains many useful commands like switching brush's size and switch between color and transparent.
Tools lets you choose down to individual brush/tool, or a set of tool if you like.
Auto-Action to work super quick.
You can even choose individual color and more.
Long-press on the Quick Access bar itself to open the pop-up menu to add/remove buttons and more.
You can also drag-and-drop the tool and sub tool directly onto Quick Access.
Drag the buttons around to arrange them as you wish.
2. TOUCH OPERATIONS
2A. Touch Settings
You can set up tool for different gestures in Preferences > Touch gestures. If you don't draw with your finger, for Single Swipe choose Use different tools with fingers and pen to avoid accidentally drawing on your canvas.
More settings for Single swipe and Long press in Modifier Key Settings... (Since Single swipe often creates accidents, I assign an operation that is usually not available to it. If you wear an artist glove this won't be an issue though.)
2B. Edge keyboard
Edge keyboard contains modifier keys and custom shortcuts keys (T1, T2 etc). They are helpful if you do not have a physical keyboard around to access features such as holding Shift key while drawing with a brush to draw a straight line.
Go to Preferences > Edge keyboard to choose how to access the edge keyboard.
- Button: Press the on-screen button (shown below) to show/hide the edge keyboard. You can drag the button to the left or the right side to indicate where the keyboard will appear.
- Swipe: Depend on the swiping length, the edge keyboard will appear on top of other bars/palettes or will push them away. If you swipe from the left edge it will appear on the left and vice versa.
- Hide: Do not use the edge keyboard.
To assign shortcut to a T key, open it on-screen. Then press the CSP icon > Shortcut Settings...
Choose the operation you want, press Edit shortcut then press the T key. Press OK when it's done.
* Remember to save your workspace afterward!
3. KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS
Using a keyboard for shortcuts is the epitome of efficient working. And most tablets and phones nowaday can connect to a bluetooth keyboard!
(Please refer to the manual of your keyboard if you want to know how to connect the keyboard with your tablet/phone.)
CSP's keyboard shortcuts are mostly the same as other drawing software, ex. B for Brush, Ctrl + S to Save (Alt + S for iOS). For the full list and to assign/change shortcuts, go to CSP icon > Shortcut Settings…
My favorite shortcuts are Hide All Palettes [Tab] and Hide Title Bar [Shift + Tab] so you can have a wide canvas in an instant.
If you assign enough shortcuts (even layer palette and the like can be assigned as a pop-up palette), you can even hide every single thing save for the canvas, but I'm not as brave so I still leave the collapsed palettes and bars on the sides in case my keyboard runs out of battery ^^;;
* And remember to save your workspace after assigning the shortcuts too!
4. USING AN EXTERNAL DEVICE FOR SHORTCUTS
Keyboards are fine and all but it may not be very portable after all, and you need to practice for a while to press the right key since there are too many and the keys are close to each other. Using other devices like a game controller or the Clip Studio Tabmate is more convenient and much, much more cooler.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any company mentioned in this part.
All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.
(also this is just my personal experience, so it may not work for everyone. Use with caution!)
4A. Clip Studio Tabmate: for Windows, macOS and Android (Galaxy only)
The Clip Studio Tabmate is only available for Windows, macOS and Android, not iOS. Therefore it works with the Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Surface and Wacom MobileStudio, not the iPad/iPhone. Please refer to the official website:
4B. 8bitdo Zero (1 and 2): for iOS
The only game controllers that work with iOS for CSP shortcuts are the 8bitdo Zero (both model 1 and 2), since there are no apps to map the buttons of a controller as a keyboard's (you can still play games with them, no worry!). The 8bitdo Zero can be paired to the iPad as a keyboard right from the start unlike others.
Follow these steps to pair the 8bitdo Zero 2 to your iPad/iPhone AS A KEYBOARD so it can be used for CSP shortcuts.
I - Go to the Settings of your iPad/iPhone. On the left side, go to Accessibility > Switch Control > Switch > Bluetooth Devices… The iPad/iPhone will start searching for bluetooth devices nearby.
II - From when the controller is still turned off:
1 - Press R + Start
2 - Blue LED blinks 5 times per cycle
3 - Press Select for 3 seconds to enter pairing mode
4 - LED blinks rapidly
III - 8bitDo Zero 2 gamepad will appear under Bluetooth Devices... Touch it to connect it with the iPad.
The Zero will behave as a keyboard which only has 12 keys. You'll have to remap the shortcuts to these keys in Shortcut Settings...
- You can map multiple tools to one button (except the pop-up palettes, one palette can only be assigned to 1 button). When you press the button, it will cycle between them.
- Unfortunately there are no modifier keys (Shift, Alt, Tab etc.) You'll have to rely on the Edge keyboard or an actual keyboard for these keys.
- However remapping the key may mess up your normal keyboard shortcuts (for example you map J for the Pen on the 8bitdo Zero but it's P on your keyboard). In that case I recommend making a workspace for when you work with the 8bitdo Zero and another workspace when you only work with a keyboard.
- It will also mess with your typing when you use the Text tool, so disconnect/turn off the Zero if you need to use the Text tool (or use it along with a keyboard).
- Actually making multiple workspaces is a great way to overcome the button limit. I have 3 different set-up for drawing comic, painting and drawing watercolor.
Usually you'll want two buttons for making the pen/brush bigger or smaller. Then some buttons for your most used pens/brushes. The rest depends on your needs. Maybe two buttons for controlling brushes' transparency, or a button for your most used auto-action, etc. I often collapse all the tabs/palettes/bars when I draw so I dedicate some buttons for pop-up palettes.
4C. Bluetooth Game Controller: for Windows and Android (Galaxy)
To use a game controller for CSP shortcuts, we map each button of the controller as a key on the keyboard (example: the Start key will be mapped for the Pen tool, so we map it as the P key).
For Windows and Android, we have many 3rd party apps/softwares to do that, so you can use almost any bluetooth controller.
Microsoft Surface and Wacom MobileStudo are full-fledged computers. Connect your bluetooth controller, then use a 3rd party software like antimicro (this one is free) to map the key as your normal keyboard shortcut.
For Galaxy user, search on the Google Play Store for key mapping apps like GameKeyboard+.
In all cases, read the review carefully before installing any 3rd party software to avoid malicious contents.
4D. Other external devices
You should know by now that anything which can connect to your tablets/phones as a keyboard of short can be used for CSP shortcuts. This is especially true with the Surface and Wacom MobileStudio because as a computer they can connect to practically everything.
Some other useful choices are the number pad (the keyboard consists of only number keys) and Wacom's ExpressKey Remote.
*AND FINALLY, REMEMBER TO SAVE YOUR WORKSPACES AFTER A LONG DAY OF SETTING!!!
Now go and draw with the speed of light!
Hope you can find something useful in my tutorial! If you like my tutorials, visit me at my pages! Let's have a chat:D