Jul 26, 2023

Rock Paper Pencil is the new iPad accessory I need

Finally, a realistic pen-on-paper feel.

A realistic pen-on-paper drawing experience on iPad Pro has been a goal ever since Apple launched its tablet, and Apple Pencil 2 comes close, but the experience is still a little slippery. Now Astropad has announced Rock Paper Pencil, and it promises to be the ideal solution.

Rock Paper Pencil combines a new Apple Pencil tip with a paper-texture cover and has been designed to be the perfect pen-on-paper feel for iPad Pro or iPad Air. Often I'd raise an eyebrow at yet another iPad accessory that promises the perfect drawing experience, but Rock Paper Pencil has been created by the same team behind the Darkboard stand for iPad, my favourite iPad accessory released this year.

Traditional ways to create the feel of drawing on paper digitally have either been from a textured screen protector placed over the iPad display or by offering special nylon tips that tend to wear down fast. Rock Paper Pencil mixes the two approaches; inside the box is a magnetic screen protector with nano-textured tooth to replicate the feel of paper, and a special customised ballpoint-like Apple Pencil tip that won't wear down.

Working together the screen protector and Apple Pencil nib promise to come close to replicating the sensation of drawing on paper. Magnetic strips ensure you can peel off and store the matte protector when not in use, and the tip can be replaced back to the Apple Pencil standard nib for general use.

The upshot is, the nib won't wear down and suggest sensation close to drawing with a ballpoint pen. The drag and slide you can get from using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro should be ditched, enabling greater precision and control of each pen stroke.

There are of course other screen protectors for iPad but they tend to not have the same magnetic strips to remove and reuse the sheet, likewise they don't come with a special Apple Pencil tip to compliment the protector's texture. Rock Paper Pencil promises to be "bubble free" for perfect use and able to "preserve the colour" of the art beneath.

I've yet to try the Rock Paper Pencil but I hope to have a review up very soon, when I can judge if the reality matches the potential. After using Astropad's excellent Darkboard stand for iPad Pro I'm willing to think this new iPad drawing accessory will be very good.

The Rock Paper Pencil comes in two sizes, to fit 12.9-inch displays - for example 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation and newer) - and a version to fit 11-inch displays - designed for the 11-inch iPad Pro and the iPad Air.

Priced $39.99 (but with a special 20% discount for early bird buyers) you can order the Rock Paper Pencil from Astropad directly, with worldwide shipping an option for UK readers.

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Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

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