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PenPad Review: A Handy Shortcut Panel for Procreate

Published Dec 3, 2023
Includes affiliate content

In this review, we’ll take a look at the PenPad, an intuitive shortcut panel designed specifically for Procreate artists.

PenPad is a product from the folks at PenTips, a company dedicated to creating tools that help digital artists and designers streamline their workflow and enhance their creative process.

This little device aims to enhance the Procreate experience by providing a variety of convenient shortcuts in a familiar keyboard-like interface. PenTips was nice enough to send me a review unit to play with, so in this article I will go into the product features, design and performance, to help you decide if this could be a useful tool for your own creative arsenal. Let’s get started with a quick look at the specs.

PenPad’s dimensions are similar to a standard numeric keypad, with a width of 3.5 inches (89mm) and a height of 5.2 inches (132mm). It’s also quite thin and light, weighing just 3.4 ounces (96g). Its 100mAh battery can be fully charged in under 2 hours and provides approximately 36 hours of continuous use, or roughly 5 days if you do the usual 9 to 5.

The PenPad, placed next to two popular compact mechanical keyboards (Keychron K3 and K4) for a quick height/size comparison.

What’s in the box?

Inside the nice yellow and black packaging we’ve come to expect from PenTips, you’ll find the PenPads shortcut panel, along with a USB-C cable that can be used to charge the device.

Design and build quality

I like the simple and stylish design of this device, with smooth rounded edges throughout, a textured matte surface on the front, and glossy accents on the sides. The front shell and keys are made of a high-grade ABS material, and the back panel is crafted out of zinc metal, which is cool to the touch.

The circular buttons are silent and responsive, featuring easily recognizable icons and labels that will feel intuitive to anyone familiar with Procreate and similar creative apps. The device is also equipped with a set of indicator lights positioned at the top, which provide information on power status, battery level and Bluetooth connectivity.

The power switch is located at the back (or bottom) of the device, and on the left side you’ll find a USB-C port for fast charging. This is a welcome update, considering that the previous version of PenPad used micro USB.

In terms of ergonomics, the pad is well thought out, with a raised back area that lifts the top section and angles its keys slightly, similar to a regular keyboard. I have found the device to be incredibly comfortable and haven’t had any issues using it for extended periods. The fact that it’s so lightweight and compact also makes it highly portable, so you can take it with you anywhere. Overall, PenPad is a product that looks great and feels high quality from the moment you pick it up.

Performance

Getting started with the PenPad is incredibly simple. There are some quick instructions right on the box, but essentially you just need to turn it on, go into Bluetooth settings to pair it with your iPad, and you’re ready to start using it with Procreate. It’s that easy.

The device has 22 keys that provide access to various useful shortcuts, such as undo and redo, brush size adjustments, eyedropper tool, cut, copy and paste functions, opening and closing panels, Procreate’s quick menu, and more. Speaking of the quick menu, that is the only way to customize some of your shortcuts, since there are no programmable keys on the pad itself.

The two buttons that are used to increase and decrease brush sizes are programmed to jump between predetermined increments, which is perfectly fine in most cases, but won’t give you a ton of granularity for finer adjustments out of the box. However, if you hold the PenTips button and press one of these keys at the same time, the jumps between increments get a lot tighter. It would be really interesting to see if PenTips can come up with a different implementation in future versions of the PenPad, perhaps in the form of a small dial, or a touch slider that allows you to swipe up and down to adjust brush sizes with finer control.

All other shortcuts work great, and everything is very responsive. I haven’t noticed any lag while using the device. Battery life is quite good too and PenTip’s claim of 36 hours of non-stop use seems to hold true. I only had to charge the device for the first time after using it for about a week.

Depending on your creative process and how set you are in your ways, this is the type of product that might take a bit of getting used to. I’ll admit I was initially skeptic, but it really surprised me to see how seamless it was to integrate this little panel into my workflow. The more I used it, the better it got. Once I got the hang of it and became familiar with the placement of my favorite shortcuts, everything just clicked and the process of using this Procreate companion became second nature. It’s something that can definitely speed up your workflow if you give it some time.

Pricing

PenPad’s price point of $88.50 USD is certainly higher than other similar products currently on the market, but aspects like build quality and durability may justify the additional investment. I’ve learned the hard way that “you get what you pay for”, so when it comes to professional tools I tend to invest in products from reliable brands I trust, rather than trying to save a few bucks. PenTips is one of those brands in my book, but you’ll have to experience their products first hand to see if they work well for you too.

Pros & Cons

Now that we’re familiar with this handy shortcut panel for Procreate, let’s review its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • More than 20 useful shortcuts
  • Very responsive, with no discernible lag
  • Good battery life
  • Great design and build quality
  • Light and portable

Cons

  • Can’t be used with any other apps apart from Procreate
  • Brush size controls could be more granular
  • No programmable keys

Verdict

The PenPad shortcut panel is a great iPad accessory for serious Procreate artists. With its intuitive design and convenient shortcuts, it makes working in Procreate smoother, faster and more efficient, allowing you to focus more on your creativity and less on navigating through the app.

If you’re interested in picking one up, you can use this link or enter the code InspirationGrid5OFF at checkout on PenTips’ website to receive a 5% discount on your purchase.


This post contains affiliate links to partner brands. We earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. There is no extra cost to you, so it’s just a nice way to help support the site. The products included in this article were provided by their manufacturers for review purposes, however, the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

POSTED BY

Flavio Argemi

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