ZeusMobile Draw – App Review


"Surprise" by Deb McMillion using ZeusDraw Mobile

Since our recent post on Deb McMillion’s “Sounds Like Art” exhibition in Phoenix,AZ, we’ve noted increased interests in her “app of choice”, ZeusDraw Mobile (ZDM). A few questions have come up surrounding a “review”.  Though many have experimented in the app, we thought it a wiser choice to invite feedback from the ZDM master herself.  Deb McMillion (“Hotel Midnight” as we know her on Flickr) joins us to share an in depth review of the underrated app.  Does it stand up to the “big guys”? Seems it has some very promising attributes (which are well-supported by an amazing stream of work)…read on!

by Deb McMillion

ZeusDraw Mobile—or I swear I’m not a baby duck!”

I began my “fingerpainting career” using Scribble, of all things, just to jot down ideas, but the app quickly proved to be too simple, so I switched to Brushes.  Coming from a paint tube background, the Brushes layout overwhelmed me. The whole color disc/eyedropper interface was alien.  I have no photoshop experience either, so the mention of “layers” discouraged me from using some of the other art programs.  And then some of them felt too much like what I was already doing with real paint.

After exploring several programs, I eventually settled on ZeusDraw Mobile (ZDM) because of the visually simple interface, intuitive color picker, flexible shape-fill, and the placement tool.

I started out very simplistically, using just the colors given in opaque tones in a very graphic poster style. I like to move slowly into new mediums and ZDM was easy to take one step at a time.  I began by doing shape-filled cartoons and emailing them to friends.

Later I discovered the Placement Tool! (OK, it was in the instructions—but written instructions are sadly wasted on me.  Show me or let me discover it on my own.)  The Placement Tool allows you to expand, contract or move and place the last thing you drew.  Suddenly, I could put lips where they belonged or create and adjust the speculum in an eye!  Things began to get progressively better.

"Dream Trajectory" by Deb McMillion (one of her first ZDM paintings)

Next, I began “modeling” the figures using a spray paint brush.  As amusing as that was, it was the discovery that I could create semi-transparent colors (adjusting opacity) that finally changed my work into something resembling what I did in oils.  But, why bother trying to mimic oils when I wanted something new? I was more fascinated with the offerings that made ZDM different from my studio work.

Next up were the shapes–either outlines or fills. You can create patterns, martini glasses, signs, captions, and so forth with the different shape tools, precisely and layered (if transparent).  I also started to play with text.  I am not a good letterer, so the font feature was a terrific addition for me.  Using the Placement Tool, you can use them in endless ways.  I’ve had no end of fun with the half circle and atomic star!

"Trolls" by Mary Martz ("Flick Chick2" on Flickr) using ZeusDraw Mobile

With regard to other great tools, there is a Vector Drawing feature I have used to create patterns as well as an eraser that I use to tone and shade. Finally, importing photos allowed me to bring in my own drawings or patterns to augment through the application.

With the placement tool I never felt the need to magnify more than the original 3X, but I do admit the 18X magnification (found in newest update) is really nice.  ZDM also has multiple undos—which I never seem to use. I’m too used to painting to think in terms of “undo”—there is no “undo” in oil paints. If I mess something up, I just draw over it.

My only “complaint” is waiting for the iPad version of ZDM. So far the 2X mode as well as the extra font options offered on the iPad have been very usable, but I feel like it could do so much more.  My greatest ZDM wish is to paint using the full resolution of the iPad (and maybe a boomerang shape while they’re at it?)  Drawings done in the current (iPhone) version of ZDM are always 320×431.  You can export them by saving the image to your camera roll or e-mailing them as JPEG, PNG, or PDF documents.

"Daisy Gathered an Enormous Bouquet" by Mary Martz ("Flick Chick2", Flickr) using ZeusDraw Mobile

Deb McMillion (Hotel Midnight) is an avid fingerpainter as well as traditional oil painter from Phoenix, Arizona.  To see more of her fingerpaintings, you can visit her stream on Flickr.  To review or download ZeusDraw Mobile, click here.

There is also a ZDM group on Flickr. Try it out and tell us your thoughts!

2 Responses to “ZeusMobile Draw – App Review”

  • suzi54241 Says:

    What a well crafted and informative review. Kudos HM. I tend to be of the other side of the app fence, liking undo, layers and mimicking painting. But I’m also an adobe illustrator user and the vector app holds a lot of appeal, in that exporting as a pdf you can open it in illustrator and make it any size you wish. ALSO I use it to set type… It handles type quite well and if I need a quick message, ZDM is where I create it. You on the other hand use it for masterpieces and I love that we have all these apps to use so we can all find our own best workflow.

  • Sandy Schmidt Says:

    Great article. I love the evolution story. The discovery process, when natural and organic (not textbook — boorrriinng) is lovely and enjoyable and you have perfectly described that process.

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