SketchBook Pro 2011 full review

What with OS X Lion making everything all swipey and tablety – isn’t it time your programs were too?

SketchBook Pro feels like it’s been designed for graphics tablet or touchscreen input from the ground up, not as an additional bonus. It does this, primarily, by giving over the majority of the screen estate to drawing. It’s like having your screen transformed into a big, clean sheet of paper or canvas. The tools are cleverly secreted in a selection widget Autodesk calls the Lagoon. Click and hold any of the icons on this discreet gadget and icons pop out, enabling you to choose brushes and pens, change colours, access tools and make selections.

The Brush properties widget is similarly optimised (and identical to the same feature in the iPad version). You change brush size and opacity by clicking and dragging on a dedicated icon. It’s much less clunky than drilling through assorted options menus, nudging sliders and entering numbers.

The finished results are absolutely spot on. You can use a range of natural drawing tools, from ink pens, to markers, brushes and pencils. Built-in presets enable you to get going quickly or you can design your own new settings for full control. And with both wet and dry brushes you can smudge and mix the results directly
on screen.

SketchBook Pro is worth tracking down in both its OS X and iPad incarnations for its natural style of drawing and painting

With the addition of Layers support too, it’s better than real life. Layers can also be used to import photos or scans for reference, by the way, which is great for when you’re painting freehand.

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