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Top Sketching Apps for iPad Pt. 2

Now that we’ve sampled two great iPad sketching apps [1] in the form of Sketchbook Ink and Sketchbook Pro, we take a look at two more apps likely to draw comparisons to Autodesk’s offerings: Adobe Ideas and Procreate:

Adobe Ideas

Similar to Sketchbook Ink, Ideas is Adobe’s resolution independent sketch app with an emphasis on simplicity. For those who have not yet read our first installment, “resolution independence” is another description for vector based drawing; a process which allows you to zoom in on your lines virtually infinitely without any loss in resolution (pixilation.) this is a great feature once you get used to the nature of vector lines: which automatically “smooth” themselves out to varying degrees once you lift your stylus/finger. Of course, Ideas includes the usual standard features for drawing apps: eraser tools, color picker, undo and re-do, along with a few features sorely missing from other “simple” drawing apps.

For starters, color selection in Ideas is leagues beyond that of many other simple drawing apps; with an inkdropper tool to sample colors on the canvas, a color palette selection that includes RGB and HSB color sliders for precise color selection, and the “unique for this segment” color Themes. Themes allow you to save a color palette of up to 5 different colors for quick selection of your most useful color selections. In addition to these selection tools is the ability to change the opacity of your selected color to create some very nice transparency effects in your drawings.

Another way to create great transparency effects: via the included Layers palette! That’s right, where other “simple” drawing apps cut corners (*cough* SketchBook Ink,) Ideas includes the ability to create up to 10 layers to draw on, as well as the option to change each layers transparency and top to bottom order as needed. Additionally, Ideas includes a tool which allows you to reposition layers anywhere on your canvas.

With all these great features, you might be tempted to name Ideas as the best drawing app currently available for iOS; however there is one significant drawback to Ideas: the brush selection, or lack thereof. Despite all the features packed into Ideas, Adobe saw fit to only include a single brush style, with the only option available being one to change the size of its stroke. Were it not for this single significant omission, Ideas would possibly be the best “simple” drawing app out on the App store today. As it stands however, thanks to its wealth of features, native layer support, and easy to use interface, Ideas is a top contender for best drawing app for your iPad: if given the choice to only have either Sketchbook Ink or Adobe Ideas on your iPad, choose Ideas.  


On the other end of the drawing app spectrum, Procreate by Savage Interactive features a huge variety of options for the serious doodler and fine artists alike. Taking a more traditional approach to drawing, Procreate shares more than a few similarities with its higher end iOS completion, as well as desktop art apps. Unlike Ideas, Procreate uses a resolution dependant drawing engine, which means no infinite zooming in on drawn lines. However this also translates to a much more exacting brush stroke on the canvas, as there is no automatic smoothing of lines as seen in the aforementioned apps. Speaking of brush strokes, Procreate offers many to choose from; 48 to start with, with the ability to create your own custom brushes  included as well. Another plus: no matter how complex your brush stokes get, drawing remains smooth and consistent with virtually no lag.

In addition to a fantastic brush stroke and drawing engine, Procreate offers up all the standard features one expects from a “serious” drawing app: Multiple layer support, advanced layering with multiple layer modes, easy to use color picker with support for saving of swatches, a handy inkdropper color capture tools, standard eraser and smear tools which, along with your paintbrush tool, can be adjusted for size and opacity on the fly via 2 conveniently placed sliders on the side of your canvas. Another nice feature found in Procreate but not many other drawing apps: the ability to rotate your canvas real time with just two fingers. While you could simply rotate your tablet manually, that would mean rotating your interface as well, which can hamper workflow.

So, are there any flaws in Procreate? Unfortunately, yes. When creating a new canvas, you only have the choice of two canvas sizes:  960x704px or 1920x1408px. Why the canvas size has been so severely limited is not quite clear, but does place a major ding in what is otherwise one of the very best drawing apps available for your iPad.

Watch for our final installment: iPad Drawing Apps – The best of the rest.

~J. Conboy