We’re big fans of drawing on an iPad with an Apple Pencil, as it handily recreates the feel of drawing on a sketch pad. Truth be told, we know more than a few folks who have traded in their Wacoms and laptops in favor of the iPad as their digital drawing tool of choice. If there’s any downside to working on a tablet, though, it’s the lack of keyboard shortcuts, as something that would usually take you a single keypress would now require multiple taps on onscreen menus. The PenPad changes that.
Designed for ProCreate users, it’s a small keyboard tailored specifically for the app, allowing you to use tactile buttons to quickly bring up shortcuts, macros, and other functions without having to fiddle with the menus. Whether you’re a design pro, an artist, or just some dude who draws on an iPad to relax, this thing will streamline your workflow immensely.
The PenPad is a wireless keyboard that pairs to your iPad to give you a handy set of buttons for quickly bringing up functions in ProCreate, eliminating the need to tap on onscreen menus and buttons, which can often disrupt your flow while you’re drawing, painting, or storyboarding. From switching between brush and pen to manipulating layers and adjusting brush sizes, you can launch a whole lot of functions without taking your attention away from the artwork you’re doing onscreen.
It comes with 22 buttons, each one with a specific preset function that’s labeled accordingly. Unlike many keyboard controls, by the way, this isn’t programmable, so you can’t remap keys or reassign the functions, as it’s been designed specifically to streamline the most common ProCreate workflows. Based on the function layout, we can’t imagine any users not finding this useful, as it covers all the most frequent functions people use when working the app. Since there’s no way to remap buttons, the outfit promises to provide firmware updates over USB any time ProCreate updates its macros.
The PenPad is a small accessory, similar in size to the separate number pads you see some PC users type on when they’re working strictly with numbers. It’s designed to be set down next to your desk while you work on your iPad, with the keyboard titled slightly by six degrees to ensure a convenient typing experience. They also threw in four rubber strips at the base to ensure it doesn’t slide on the desk. The device pairs with the iPad over Bluetooth 5.1, by the way, so there’s no need to run any cable, with an onboard 100 mAh battery that should last for around 36 hours of use between charges. Charging fully takes just two hours, too, so you can replenish it in short order.
Will it work with other apps? According to the outfit, some functions will carry over, although they don’t recommend it, as it’s been designed specifically for ProCreate. It should be compatible with any iPad running iPadOS 14.4 or higher.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for PenPad. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at €63.