Review: Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile

Review: Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile—$2.99 SketchBook Mobile
Also available: Sketchbook Mobile Express—Free SketchBook MobileX
Genre: Entertainment
Released: August 29, 2009
Developer/Distributor: Autodesk
Version 1.0 tested on a 16GB iPhone 3GS


I am loving this drawing application. In the past, I’ve used Layers ($4.99; direct iTunes link), Brushes ($4.99; direct iTunes link), and Colors! ($4.99; direct iTunes link), but with a robust feature set, the experience of Autodesk Sketchbook behind the application, and priced at $2.99, Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile clearly leaves all these other options in the dust. Colors! offers video playback of your drawing process in the app, but lacks layers, and Layers itself offers video playback of the drawing after it is exported to your desktop, but Brushes, although popular because of its use to draw the cover of a New Yorker magazine doesn’t really offer any features to set it apart from Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile. The price is really a smart move on Autodesk’s part to leave these other (now seemingly over-priced) drawing applications in their wake.

My only complaint about the application is that every time you launch it you are presented with a pop up offering to take a quick tour of features or to skip the tour. Ideally, I’d like a preference via which I could disable this notice. UPDATE: If you go all the way through the tour and at the end select “Hide This” then it never comes up again. Yay! The controls, as can be expected from a program with this one’s pedigree, are very well thought out and easy to pick up. Double-tapping in the upper left corner clears the current layer, the upper right corner fits the image to the screen, the bottom left corner undoes actions, and the bottom right redoes options (10 levels of undo and redo are supported). Tap and holding brings up the color picker. All other controls are brought up by tapping a small circular icon in the bottom middle of the screen. Doing so brings up access to controls to dynamically resize the brush, to access color swatches (that are customizable) or a color wheel, a pencil tool, airbrush tool, paintbrush tool, eraser tool, and layer controls.

This control also brings up two other features that really make Sketchbook Mobile jump out ahead of its competitors. The first, is a dynamic symmetric drawing mode, which means that if you draw something on the right side of the canvas, it’s mirrored on the left side of the canvas and vice versa. The second, and the thing that really makes this application, in my opinion, the first professional level drawing application for the iPhone, is a diverse collection of 25 preset brushes and a brush editor so that you can create your own custom brushes to fit your needs.

Zooming in and out of images is done via pinch and zoom multi-touch and supports up to 2500% zoom for detail work. Images are 600×400 on the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G, but 1024×682 on the iPhone 3GS (which I would imagine would be the same for the newer iPod touch models). The application supports up to 3 layers for non-3GS models, and 6 layers on the 3GS, but you can merge layers down to continually add new layers as you work on an image, and toggle visibility on all layers (to make variants of an image). The app even features brush fade off to imitate pressure sensitivity, an offset drawing mode so your finger doesn’t cover the actual point of drawing, the ability to save to Photo library or email the image, and import images from the camera or the Photo Library as a layer.

At $2.99, if you like to draw, you should get this app.

Review Rating: YAY YAY YAY!!!

A quick doodle I did with one of the 25 included brushes can be seen after the break. You couldn’t make this image with any of the other iPhone drawing apps mentioned in this review.

Adrenaline

And here’s two more quick doodles:
Two faces

Doodle dude

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the Chief Product Officer for YouEarnedIt. This site has no comments. If you want to talk to me, send me an @cksample on Twitter. If you like this post, feel free to buy me something off of my wishlist.
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4 Responses to Review: Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile

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  3. marc cardwell says:

    this looks like a really cool app, and i’ll buy it w/o question. the thing that keeps this from being used for professional print illustrations is the lack of a means of making a high res image. watching the illustration play back is fun, but after one view, i’m over the thrill. i’ve been using “brushes” for a while now and export images at 1920×2880, that’s a 15 mb file that i can easily up-res more in pshop if needed.

    on mu 1st gen touch, i can export at 600×800. wa-wa-waaahhhh.

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