Is the iPhone quietly becoming a serious mobile illustration platform? That’s the question I asked myself after seeing news this morning that yet another drawing and painting program has been released for the device. Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile is available now in the App Store.
Those of you who’ve done professional illustration work on a Mac will probably recognize the heritage of this latest addition to the field. Autodesk is the company that acquired Alias, the makers of Sketchbook Pro. Sketchbook Pro has long been one of the very best digital painting programs available for the Mac platform.
I’ve tried both Layers and Brushes, and while I’m generally pretty useless with both, I do see my ability slowly growing, and more capable artists than myself have been able to generate pretty stunning images using only the limited toolset these apps and your finger provide. Recently introduced features, like the ability to export to .PSD in Layers, have elevated the game from idle play to a serious outlet for digital art on the go.
Sketchbook Mobile doesn’t export to .PSD (it uses the .PNG static image format), unfortunately, but it does bring a UI tailored for a touchscreen interface that’s been developed and refined for many years in the desktop version of the app. The result is an uncluttered working space that still allows quick access to all of your tools in a unique, radial menu design.
Like Layers, and more recently, Brushes, Sketchbook Mobile offers standard painting tools like layers, different types of brushes, color and media pickers, and so on. That said, Sketchbook Mobile still manages to feel like the most underpowered of the bunch despite its pedigree. The full version (iTunes link) is $2.99, but you can get a free Express version (iTunes link) to try it out first.