I LOVE Procreate for the iPad. I love the way it works, how quick it runs and it's the PRIME example of what apps of this caliber should be striving for. I've stopped buying others to test against it other than the main ones when they go on sale. So why do I choose to open Procreate and keep using it rather than expanding my horizons to check out what the competitions doing? Here is a complete breakdown of my thoughts on Procreate, point for point and tit for tat where it shines the most, can use a little polish and where it stands up against every art app on the market.
First and foremost before you even get to the canvas, there has to be a tolerable save system for your artwork. However when other apps have these terrible galleries with gaudy wooden frames, swipe to browse, endless thumbnails or even confusing layouts, it's extremely difficult to take seriously. Most, if not all don't even give you the freedom to rearrange your works in progress. The order you create them in is the order they stay. How does that make sense?
Main Offenders: Inspire Pro - Sketch Club - SketchBook
So how does Procreate stand out? First off, it does fall for the wall of thumbnails look but this was rectified several updates ago with the 'Stacks' function. Holding a thumbnail not only gives you the chance to rearrange your gallery, holding one over another piece creates a Stack which is a nameable folder arranged to your liking. Finished works, works in progress, sketches, whatever categories you want are at your disposal. It sounds like something so very basic and it really is but Procreate deserves praise for creating a gallery that functions and declutters the mind, leaving only paintings to focus on.
I've been working my way up from regular iPad dimensions to iPad retina and obviously other artists see the potential in going even further. Procreate answered in their most recent update with a robust canvas creation function that goes up to 4K pixels. Ambitious, I know but if there's any app out there that can pull it off, it's Procreate. What I find astounding is that these canvas sizes and the amount of layers it's capable of maintaining isn't just on the latest and most powerful hardware either, the iPad Mini also reaps the benefits of having a larger than its own resolution canvas size.
Main Offenders: Every One Out There
I'm half and half on the interface but it's clearly a source of frustration for myself. The three main brushes (color, smudge and erase) are always within reach as well as size, opacity, undo and redo. It's when I have to change each individual one that gets to be a hassle. Changing brushes is not quick and is the leader in demolishing the creative flow. There is a brush organization system in place, I can create groups of brush types, make my own and name them if I want and this does help somewhat however it does lead into a different problem entirely.
Who does it right: SketchBook!?
SketchBook gets this right with the custom sidebar + tool wheel. A great deal of pencil, brush and eraser nibs can be assigned to the palette on the left side or tool wheel. Switching up tools still takes two taps but the options are expansive and more accurate. However you'll have to deal with the weak choice of brushes but it's a great example of how Procreate could change it up in a future update.
+Pinch to Rotate/Zoom:
You can pinch to zoom, move about the canvas to your liking and rotate to make it easier to make adjustments. Simple (and obvious.)
Main Offenders: SketchBook?
SketchBook was my first and favorite for a very long time. Attempting to return made something abundantly obvious. I can't rotate the canvas and it's a huge setback especially when I set the iPad down, leaning against the smart cover. Hence the biggest reason why I never looked back.
-Lack of an Export Video Option:
There are a few apps out there that make it possible to record paintings in progress and export it as a video. These videos can be modified, editted, have music added, and uploaded to YouTube or Facebook with iMovie or a similar app. Procreate unfortunately has no such feature which sucks cos I don't ever use Sketch Club as much.
+Layers!: TONS of layers that I don't even have to worry about being restricted to the 6 layer limit like I did way back on the original iPad.
+Brushes!: Tons of awesome brushes, the ability to make your own brushes, and the possibility to download other users brushes from the Procreate forums and upload them into the app via Dropbox to negate the use of messy syncing.
+Gestures!: Swipe to delete, alter, and protect layers. Two finger tap can alter the opacity. There are more that can open up the layers, brush selector, undo, redo and more.