Since its release, Brushes has pretty much owned the “art on iPad” niche. Does it deserve to be labeled best? Maybe. It comes packing 19 brushes, and lets you paint over six layers, one after another, without significant slowdown. You can export your pictures in a variety of different formats and ways, including uploading straight to Flickr. But now Matter how good Brushes is, by now it’s old hat. Besides, its far from the only option on iOS, and its possible that brushes is just the kind of gateway to get you interested in other mediums—you know, besides the iPad.
If you’ve been looking for a desktop solution to your doodling needs, or are looking for a way to take quality drawing with you on your iPhone we’ve got answers. Even if all you want to do is make pixel art or art out of typography, we know the apps that you might just discover you actually do need to become the next (first?) famous digital artist.
Adobe Ideas is probably the best vector-based option for iPhone users, but it’s universal so once you’ve purchased it you can open files on your iPad too (or email them to yourself and open them in Illustrator). It’s a fairly simple app, at first only giving you access to five colors (you can customize the palette), and a handful of tools that you’ll know what to do with the second you look at them. Adobe Ideas originally started as a free app, but since then features have been added and added until it’s become a pretty rich vector-drawing program—likely the absolute best on iPhones and iPod touches.
But be warned, Adobe has snuck in a deceptive and completely bogus in-app purchase. If you want to work on layers (everyone will want to work on layers) it’ll cost you an additional $.99. If you’re serious about illustrations just add it to the front-cost, and you’ll still get an adequate iPhone-operated vector art creator for under ten bucks, which ain’t half bad.
TypeDrawing is the only art app we know that is almost impossible to be bad at. You simply pick a font (or set it random) and use your finger or stylus to draw with the text. You can write which words you want TypeDrawing to paint with, making all sorts of cool symbolic art about Shakespeare or whatever.
At one point or another, you can see past the type entirely and just see the image (the reverse is true in simpler images with less text). The app will warn you when you’re nearing the limit for a PDF (3000 characters of shadow text), but even if you go way, way over that, you can simply take a screenshot of it and email that to yourself. The possibilities for this app are limitless, but it definitely requires a bit of imagination.
Drawing sprites (those tiny little dudes made from drawing with single pixels) is hard work. There are handfuls of ways to do it, including hopping into PhotoShop, changing your brush size to a single pixel, and zooming in like nobody’s business, but nothing we’ve seen has been simpler than Sprite Something. Whether you’re trying to make an 8bit videogame or just dabble in the medium, Sprite Something will help you do everything from create to animate.
Sprite Something is singularly devoted to creating sprites (hence the name) and it does so by supplying artists with a customizable grid. Tapping a single space in the grid colors it in. There’s no confusion over where your brush is going to paint (a frequent problem with super advanced programs zoomed in as far as they need to be to make sprites), and SS gives you dozens of other helpful features, including onioning (which layers a semi-opaque layer over yours so you can change small details of your animation without starting from scratch.
SketchBook Pro is a better sketching app than Brushes, hands down. The layout and toolbars is always out of your way (a small dot/ring-thing must be tapped to bring up any toolbars) so you can focus on your sketches without the distractions. Once you do click on it, however, you’re greeted to a wealth of options, that are (fortunately) pretty much self explanatory. Pencils, pens, paintbrushes, splatter tools, an eraser and more tools line the left. The top has options for layers, and more niche stuff, while the right has colors. It’s undeniably simple.
Whether you’re looking for a serious Brushes contender or just a faster way to get your sketches down without all the noise, SketchBook Pro might just become your favorite new drawing app.