SketchBook Ink

Let me tell you about one of my favorite drawing apps for the iPad. While it's bittersweet to bemoan apps that just cannot find a place in my heart, I love to celebrate the ones that I can somehow accept despite the glaring, painful flaws. SketchBook Ink is one of those, boasting the same Autodesk flawed brand of mobile spit shine that offers a unique drawing experience that Procreate, ArtRage, or Paper can't quite emulate. Only Adobe Ideas practices the same bold line execution but SketchBook Ink has a better streamlined interface which feels more like a free spirited tool. iPad artists looking for something new and interesting should read onwards to see if they want to get Inked.

Compatible: iPad Only (Android too)

Price: $7

The first thing you'll notice upon starting up is that Ink is quite barebones in the gallery organization department. Much like its bigger brother, all you can do is view previous works thumbnails, duplicate or start a new piece. Exporting options unfortunately are only available when the piece is open which an annoying and fundamentally flawed way of doing things. While I'm at it, exporting options range from photo library, iTunes, Dropbox and e-mail, a healthy selection which could be broader but the essentials are here. A disappointing start to the review but I promise it gets better.

Weak Autodesk gallery makes a return

Once you start a new piece, users are simply offered the choice of landscape or portrait and away we go! Inks interface is very similar to SketchBooks, with a wide variety of pen nibs to the left, colors to the right and a toolbar on the bottom that houses undo/redo, gallery and layer options. There's not much else to say in this department since more options would probably hinder what makes this app so effective. Select a pen style, toggle the thickness and color and let your mind run free with the smooth line strokes Ink creates naturally. Bold lines, tapering strokes and an impressive smoothing intelligence allows users to create unique artwork that's outside of the box which stands out.

I'm happy with this work in progress

It has the potential to be a professional graphic app but unfortunately several things hold it back from being anything more than an experiment or entertaining doodles. There's not much here in the way of canvas sizes, layers or even exporting options. It's possible to save to the photo album or copy layers to use in other apps, but other than that your work is forced to stay within the app with very limited options to help see it through to a high level of polish. Another annoyance other than the lack of free canvas rotation to help get into the nitty gritty areas is coloring in. In order to color, you'll need to use a super wide pen brush which is tedious and inaccurate enough (and that's not even the real problem.) When up close, you may think coloring is complete and set in stone but when you zoom out to regular canvas size, there will be missing spots that still need to be dealt with. Sadly zooming back in only reveals that it really is filled in so you'll have to tediously make the alteration from a birds eye view.

Simple lines with effective and bold results

Shit. I've said nothing but garbage about SketchBook Ink so far. But I honestly really love it. The effects it gives are fun to try and never get off the ground but Ink does something other apps hardly do. A lot of the artwork I can make is impressive and I find myself going in bold new directions (no pun intended) that has me coming back for more on a biweekly basis. It's not the best graphic app by any stretch but it is worth a shot!

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