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Lately I’ve been borrowing the company iPad to do a little digital sketching. Ordinarily I use my laptop and A5 Wacom for this, using a combination of: Photoshop Elements; Gimp; Sketchbook Pro; and Paint.net. I haven’t been Apple’s biggest fan but I’m begrudgingly falling in love with the iPad. It’s just so comforting to see your picture emerge from the end of your “pen” and there is a good variety of apps available – compared to niche market devices like the Kobo Vox. Apps such as:

SketchBook Pro
By Autodesk, inc

I have the PC version of this one and am very fond of it. The device version is quite limited by comparison, which you do expect to some extent. Most limiting is the 16 layers maximum. This doesn’t make it unusable by any means but it does mean you have to ration your reversibility and reusability. The lack of smudge and gradient tools can be a bit frustrating at times but it’s possible to get by without them. It suffers a bit when drawing large, sweeping motions where the drawn line is less fluid than the drawing motion. Having tried to adapt web apps with drawing canvases to iDevices myself I appreciate the obstacles.

Art Studio
By Lucky Clan

This app started quite basic but has recently undergone a complete redesign and can now be considered a contender. Art Studio for the iPhone is quite comprehensive, with up to 30 layers available, a seemingly unlimited number of undos, and a full suite of tools including: gradient fills; blur; smudge; etc… I haven’t yet tried it on the iPad but it’s my go-to app for picture adjustments from the phone now.

Procreate

Kicking myself for not finding this sooner. Big thumbs up to John Conway for directing me to it. This app is very responsive with a heavy focus on brush customisation. It has the largest brush sizes I’ve come across and manages big brushes smoothly too. The way it achieves this is by using strange algorithms which aren’t evident when drawing but, when placing a single point, can leave a blob that looks like an altitude map in a Geological survey. Smooth blurring is easily achieved and the ease with which you can rotate the picture, without compromising the integrity of the image, is unsurpassed. For corner access and tricking the spatial pattern recognition of your brain while drawing, this is vital. One downside: the app strongly emphasises HSV colour mode with no apparent way to switch to RGB. I am happy to be proven wrong on this point.

If you have come across other useful apps I’m always happy to try something new. I usually find that no one app suits all my needs anyway (maybe that’s my cue to write one…)

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