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Tablet As Canvas: 13 Tablet Artistry Apps, Tested

Software for iPad: Brushes, Art Studio, iPocket Draw Lite, iDesign

Brushes became a popular app after it was used to create several New Yorker covers and we’ve seen some amazing artwork created with it. It has a clean and simple interface (the way you can press and hold to select a color from your painting is particularly welcome) - and some excellent brushes for drawing with) and it’s a great simple app to start with, but it’s missing many of the features in ArtRage and Autodesk Sketchbook Express (available for iPad, Windows Tablets, and Android, which is the format we reviewed on the next page) – in particular there are no tools for blending or smudging colors. The $7.99 price isn’t exactly expensive, but ArtRage and the similar Art Studio are both cheaper.

If you want to work with regular shapes rather than freehand drawing, vector art software is ideal – and remember that you can move an image from one app to another on the iPad (even if you can’t open a file directly, you can usually import it from the photo galley to work on it) so you can draw those straight lines and regular shapes that are so hard to do freehand and them move them into an art package. iPocket Draw Lite is a free vector drawing app on the iPad that’s better for drawing shapes than it is for doing real CAD work; you can’t save but you can always grab a screenshot with the iPad of course.

As well as basic lines and shapes, iPocket Draw let you create polygons a point at a time, with straight or curved lines; you can add multiple layers, and type in text (you can also add labels for various measurements – this is confusing if you're trying to be accurate but gives you a rather nice artistic effect if you’re creating the blueprint look. You couldn’t create much just in iPocket Draw but it’s handy as an extra tool. If you want a more professional approach, buy a copy of iDesign ($4.99); this would be much better if it had a freehand tools, or options for aligning and distributing objects, and we found the gesture interface quite confusing initially, but you can draw shapes on multiple layers and open anchor points in lines to edit shapes once you’ve created them.

It’s nowhere near the power of Illustrator, say, but if you’re used to creating vector drawings you can get accurate and detailed images.