Inspire: oil-painting app on the iPhone

creature, by Thierry Schiel

creature, by Thierry Schiel

(This is a review by fellow fingerpainter Thierry Schiel, creator of the beautiful iPod and iPhone Art ebooks (App Store). Thanks a lot, Thierry!)

Inspire is a new graphical app aiming at reproducing oil painting on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

When I first tried version 1.0, I liked the feeling of it but was quickly made aware of a serious memory problems. A recent upgrade to version 1.1 solved this. I used it for two days and did various paintings without any crash.

serial killer, by Thierry Schiel

serial killer, by Thierry Schiel

Finger-painters using other painting apps will quickly notice that there is no transparency available. This is deliberate as the app is meant to mimic real oil painting. I have spoken to the folks of Kiwipixel and he mentioned that as it was a popular request they will integrate that option in a future release.


The main problem I found was in the interface. There are two different screen menus to control the brushes and another one to chose the colors. To go from one to any other, the user must go back to the canvas. This leads to unnecessary tapings on the screen to set the pressure, the size of the brushes and the colors. I mentioned this problem to KiwiPixel and they confirmed this would be worked on for the next version.

What remains is pure finger painting joy! There are four different brushes and they reproduce very nice oil brushes or palette knife.


The blending of the colors works remarkably well and in two different ways:

1: With the Paint load amount slider. If set to a low value, once the paint has been all used with a stroke, it is possible to continue rubbing and the blending will occur, depending on the pressure value.

2: With the Dry Brush set to ON (painting will not work in that mode) . The blending will then be activated and will blend according to the pressure value.


I liked the option to have the menus only appearing when taping the corners of the screen. It allows for short strokes without the menu suddenly popping while in the middle of your work.

There is an offset option but not quite useful right now as there is no way to see where the brush tip is before painting and it sets the brush too far from the finger. This will be addressed too.


Pros: Very enjoyable painting app. The blending feature is awesome.

With a bit of patience and substantial screen tapping, great results that would be hard to reproduce with other popular painting apps can be achieved. The development team at Kiwipixel is very reactive and open to suggestions. Next version will probably be ready in August.

Cons: It is still a young software and it currently suffers from some interface imperfections but they should almost all be resolved in the next version.

To anyone looking for a similar to Painter painting experience on the iPhone, I strongly recommend Inspire.

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