Brushes on the iPad: first impressions


(This is a guest post by fellow fingerpainter Joey Livingston of Tilted Symmetry)

Foggy Night
Foggy Night by Mike Miller

Brushes for iPad (App-Store) is as much of a delight to use as the iPhone version ever was, without the restriction of the small screen. For a long time, we finger painters convinced ourselves that the iPhone was the answer to mobile digital painting, because it was the only solution that worked elegantly and simply, and didn’t cost thousands. But now we have the iPad, with a far bigger screen, and the same elegance and simplicity, and (oddly enough) for almost the same price, and the difference for finger painters is night and day. Only time will tell, and I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t know if this artist will ever paint on his iPhone again. I feel like I’ve been painting through a periscope for the past couple years.

New features

The Brushes gallery is far more interesting than I expected. Being able to browse through your artwork as if it was all framed and hanging on a gallery wall is pretty relaxing, and then being able to watch a replay of every stroke of your painting right there on the iPad, on that gallery wall, is magical for both me and my friends.

The swatches on Brushes for iPad are invaluable, and I really hope that Steve Sprang makes a way to get that feature onto his iPhone app.

And finally we got blend modes for layers, which should make it easier to color your line-art.


The interface adapts to landscape mode, so that your tools are always at the bottom of the screen. Far better than the iPhone app. It may seem like a small thing to some, but seeing that Brushes would be kind to me while doing a landscape oriented painting, really put a smile on my face.

Also my tests indicate that the redraw is now done in a precision stroke order. This makes the redraw useful for tutorials now.

Anything missing? Photo imports are not there yet, but will come with the next update. And judging from this piece, the developer also works on simulated pressure sensitivity:

Experimental Brushes


For me, Brushes and Sketchbook Pro are neck and neck. They stand out as leaders in painting and sketching apps, by leaps and bounds. Both have incredible interfaces, Brushes is so simple and unobtrusive, and SBP is so versatile and cutting edge. But for me Brushes wins for one simple reason: high resolution redraw. This feature was impressive on the iPhone, but now that we can put so much more detail into our paintings on the iPad’s larger canvas, just imagine what our high res redraws will look like now.

If either one of these apps comes out with support for a larger canvas than the screen size (like SBP did on the iPhone), it’s going to be killer.

Brushes – iPad Edition is available on the App-Store (9.99$/7.99€).

(This is a guest post by fellow fingerpainter Joey Livingston of Tilted Symmetry)

The update is under review, this is how photo import/placement looks like.

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