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ArtStudio Review

ArtStudio is a simple and fun to use painting app for the latest versions of the iPhone and the iPad.

Being an avid oil painter as well as a regular Photoshop and Wacom tablet user, I can appreciate both traditional and digital painting methods for different reasons.

The advantages of digital art are obvious, and painting on the iPad in ArtStudio takes digital painting even one step further, allowing painters some new freedoms that even Photoshop CS5 doesn’t allow. Omnidirectional brushstrokes act more like traditional drawing or painting in that the brush tip shapes actually rotate with the direction of your brushstrokes as you paint. This results in a much more natural looking sketch or painting. Picking colors on the fly is fast and effective in ArtStudio. By pressing and holding your finger on the canvas area you can bring up the color picker – brilliant. The undo and redo buttons at the corners of the workspace are well placed. Since the iPad doesn’t have pressure sensitivity built in, ArtStudio has intuitively made the brush size and opacity sliders easily accessible at the top of the page which allows painters to adjust them manually by increments. This acts much like the quick buttons or adjustment wheels on Wacom Intuos 4 tablets. Not ideal, but subtle shading can be achieved by building up semitransparent brushstrokes. All in all ArtStudio is a great app capable of achieving subtle effects with a little practice and its extremely fun to use.

There are some kinks in the ArtStudio program, for example the files are .dat files by default and the thumbnails are .png. When exporting to the ipad2 you have to convert the files into .psd files and for some reason the file names are not able to be edited from the export menu until you get them into a folder on your computer. Working with the lasso and layers was next to impossible. This could be much more intuitive. Painting on one layer is one solution. Also I thought there could be a more intuitive way to cut and paste. A “multiply” function like in Photoshop would also be nice for painting beneath line-work. The color gamut may be off? Not sure if it is the software or the ipad. It could be my Cinema display, though I color calibrated it about a week ago with a Colormunki Design Spectrophotometer.

This color sketch was done on the iPad 2 just as the sun was peaking through the window at dawn on New Year’s Day. The shadows were changing fast but I managed to capture the mood and light pretty much exactly as I saw it. Of course this is an ipad not a Wacom tablet, so detailing does take some getting used to – but not much. I did this with my fingers. Detail was done by zooming in and out quickly. Writing a letter with finger paint isn’t quiet as nice as using a pen.

Excellent job guys at ArtStudio. Given the parameters of the ipad and the fact that Apple refuses to allow developers the framework to make pressure sensitive styluses, I give this program 5 stars. Looking forward to updates. We live in exciting times. Apple please if you are listening, we need pressure sensitive stylus capabilities. Software can only go so far. And seriously my iPad 2 was covered in finger grease after this was finished. Pretty gross. I have since picked up a stylus and have noticed improvements in accuracy already. Digital painting is only going to get better from here.