Don’t Need a Stylus, I’ll Just Finger Paint

I remember one day wasting hours researching styluses. I read reviews, checked the manufacturer’s websites for specs, and crossed checked on Amazon for prices and user reviews.

I voted against a Bluetooth stylus because it seemed that the technology wasn’t mature enough. I was dying to get something better than what I was using—the generic stylus value pack from The Friendly Swede. I opted, instead, for the More-Real stylus, a firm rubber tip with an aluminum body (to allow for touchscreen conductivity) that replaces the cap on Sharpie. A really cool design.

It failed horribly, on an iPad, that is. It worked great on my Android phone, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I returned it and continued using the generic styluses whose tips are too squishy and weak. I was going to keep using those until the high end styluses got better tech and lower prices.

But, during my wait something changed in me. The result is that I now only use my finger to paint on my iPad. I feel liberated. I have no plans to purchase another stylus.

A stylus became a middleman for me that was not adding value. So, I fired it.

I did not start with that belief. I started out thinking that if an iPad was going to replace paper for me, then I needed to replace a pencil with a stylus. But I wasn’t giving in to the new medium, the digital medium of a touch screen. Instead, I was trying to simulate this medium’s predecessor, paper and pencil, (brush and canvas, etc.)

A touch screen can never be paper or canvas, though, and I’m no longer gong to force it to be a poser.

During a painting session, I was tweaking the controls of Procreate—changing brushes, tip size, opacity, and color—frequently, more than usual. I was coloring in large regions quickly. Imagine a kid with a crayon with their hand flying back and forth as they try to fill the entire page with color.

The stylus tip was causing too much friction on the screen. I couldn’t go fast enough. So, I tried my finger. That rigid extension of my hand had no problem keeping up with the force of my elbow and shoulder and gliding across the glass.

It was satisfying enough that I demoted the stylus to only drawing my outlines. My finger could handle the rest. Strike one for stylus.

The next thing to come to my attention, now that I was using my fingers more, was that I could zoom and pan quicker because I didn’t have to roll the stylus up my index finger to get out of the way of my thumb and second finger. Strike two for the stylus.

I was feeling pretty slick with my new found speed, my fingers zipping around without having to juggle and be slowed by the stylus. I felt more in touch with the screen, hahaha.

I questioned why I needed the stylus. The test would be could I be as precise with my finger as I was with the stylus when drawing. I put the stylus down and made an entire sketch with my finger and it was very sketchy.

A stylus is more precise than a finger.

But it was too little, too late. Finger had become my favorite and I was looking for a reason to fire Stylus.

It was simple. You see, Stylus has a problem with showing up for work consistently. As in, “where the hell did I leave that thing.” Finger, on the other hand (lol?), never goes home, he sleeps at the office. Strike three.


About precision, I believe it’s just a matter of practice. My last 3 1/2 paintings have been sketched and colored with only my finger and I’m enjoying it.

I like the minimalism. I like the novelty of saying that I made a finger painting. I like the uniqueness of the art form. You know, digital finger painting, it’s an oxymoron.

And this sounds a bit new-agey, but I feel more connected to my art by making the strokes with my fingers even if I am just moving electrons around.


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  1. Pingback: Styluses suck, but I might get another one | Bradberry Spread

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