Now that I have the proper hardware to better run apps I already own, its time to finally throw in my two cents on ArtRage. Before using it on the 1st Gen iPad was excruciating because it kept saying I need to close a lot of processes for it to work (which was still very sluggish.) Now that I have an up to date iPad, does it still have trouble keeping up or has this been the app that’s been sitting under my nose all this time?
Compatible: iPad 2+ (Separate iPhone version is available)
First off I’d like to say I’ve had trouble sinking into the physical medium of art. Whether its acrylic, pastel, Copic or what have you, I found it difficult to get colors right and without a real life undo/redo feature, I simply stuck to sketching. Procreate and SketchBook take colors and brushes and simulates a bristle template and smudging but neither does what ArtRage offers.
Classic art enthusiasts will find various mediums in a virtual environment simulated on a virtual canvas. If you have great experience with how colors mix, acrylic, oil, watercolor and more then this is an app that recreates the thick and rich feeling of each. That's the first thing you'll notice about ArtRage, not only does it have a plethora of different mediums but the different methods of each. For example with acrylic you can overload on paint or make it very dry with definition on the bristles. Even beyond that you can control opacity, paint load, brush size, brush shape to have a very customizable experience that delivers what you need, all it needs is your touch.
For digital artists it has layers, layer styles, undo/redo to go back on errors and its these features that appeal to me, someone who appreciates the methods but simply can't. I have my hang ups like making a move in paint that I can't go back on or dealing with the physics of paint. ArtRage isn't close to a canvas feel but it's like virtual reality training. Call it a fun way to experiment. One thing to say is the end result is quite astounding. Smudging in other apps creates a wonderful effect but its nowhere near the amount of realism you'd see here.
The interface is a little clunky to me. Initially I was thrown off by it when I used it on the first Gen iPad and since it complained that it didn't have enough RAM I simply gave up on it (until now). With a little more patience I realized that there was a tracing layer that always has an image in the background to use as a foundation. The interfaces icons don't really clarify what any of these means and you'll find yourself playing about with them in an attempt to find what it is you're looking for. And as customizable as these brushes and pens and pencils and erasers are, swapping between them takes a couple button presses.
If you're crazy about these graphic apps and have one your heart is set on this probably won't sway you since this is for more of a niche artist. However when it goes on sale, it's definitely worth a try. Playing about with paint and the dynamics is an interesting experiment without any of the cleanup. Even if you want to get into paint but want to test the waters, ArtRage is definitely worth your attention. It's one of a kind on the App Store and if I had to find something similar, it'd be Inspire Pro which I do like but for the price difference and the lack of features from that app, ArtRage has my recommendation.