Adobe Ideas. A good idea.

Matthew Watkins

Adobe Ideas is a snappy mobile sketching app. It is a well designed with a simple and clean user interface but not loaded with features like many apps we use.  Ideas is vector based, giving it almost unlimited canvas and no limits on output size. This is not a small thing considering that many great mobile apps output only at screen resolution. And of course it seamless integrates with Illustrator, Photoshop and other Adobe products.

You can download the app for free, but you will have to purchase “layers” as an in app add on (€3.99 $4.99). I tested the 1.2 in beta, just before it was released on Valentines day.

The new release will permit you to switch the navigation from left to right. It gives you VGA output from your iphone or ipad, though I haven’t had an opportunity to try this yet, but it makes for a great way to present an idea (pun intended). It has also considerably boosted performance, zoom is very fast.

The football Confession, Screenshot

My favorite feature is the colour management. Adobe borrowed this from their site Kuler, a slick web-hosted application for generating color themes, sharing and discussing them. I also like the fact that being a vector app with near endless canvas you can keep multiple drawings on a single page. Like having an endless sketch book page.

The Tools

Ideas has a great drawing engine. The drawing correction has been toned down a little from the last release and works well. I would like to see this as an option to be controlled, tuned down, but most people seem to like this just the way it is.

Does exactly what an eraser should, cutting your vectors just where you don’t want the. It has no indication of your eraser size, which can make it a little hit and miss at first.

Helps navigate the canvas or in the new release this allows you to move the layers also. Resize and rotate would be nice.

Size and opacity
The control is a clever slider. A little tricky, since your finger may be over the numbers, but it works.  Micro adjustments may require a little practice. Opacity works the same way.

If you haven’t used Kuler you are in for a treat. It allows you to import colour schemes from your old paintings or photographs. If you are not happy with the five colour palette it has generate you can tweek the colours.

Adobe Ideas colour management

There are two export options. You can save you picture, or just the portion visualized, to you gallery. Or you can send the vectors in PDF format by email.

What’s missing?
An eye-dropper tool is essential for resampling your colours as you go. I would like to see resizing and rotation of the layers. There are no shortcuts, but that doesn’t bother me. I love the fact that when you double tap it leaves two dots.  Under the organise menu is a NEW button. I think we will be seeing a lot of changes coming our way.

You can download the app here

There is a flickr group here


9 Responses to “Adobe Ideas. A good idea.”

  • Dex Craig Says:

    I love Ideas for quick sketching, but with the layers functionality, it certainly seems to be getting more and more useful. (I bought the layers functionality on my iPad, but it doesn’t seem to have also updated on my iPhone. Anyone know if this is a standard part of in-app purchases?)

    One thing I’d love to see is variable width lines. I’m sure Adobe could figure out an algorithm to make lines start thin, get wide in the middle, and end thin. But even without, it’s a great app — even the unexpanded free version.

  • David Macy Says:

    Thanks for the great review Matthew.

    Dex, if your iPad and iPhone are on the same iTunes account, your layers purchase applies to both. You may want to check for new app updates on the iPhone.

    And, if you had originally installed the 1.0 iPhone only version (before we released the Universal version), then you’ll need to install the Universal version of the app – it won’t just come through as an automatic update.

  • Paul George Says:

    If you bought layers on the iPad you should be able to get it on the phone by restoring the purchase. Go into settings (the gear icon at the top of the organized) and choose to recover your purchases.

    Layer content can be rotated and resized using the move tool… use two fingers and pinch to resize, use two fingers and rotate in order to rotate.

    You can get variable width lines by adjusting the pencil size with one hand while drawing with the other. Obviously it’d be nice to have some automated width variation. But this can be handy on occassion.

  • Dex Craig Says:

    Wow! Thanks for the detailed answers! Really good to know I’ll be able to get the layers functionality on the phone, too!

    Also, it never would have occurred to me to adjust the brush size with one hand while drawing with the other. Great idea! (And I would still love some kind of automated solution.)


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  • Caryl Says:

    Just downloaded and played with Ideas (iPad) for a half hour. Fabulous for quick sketching! And love the colour theme. One thing…Is it possible to turn off, or vary, the “smooth line” function?

  • Matthew Watkins Says:

    Hi Caryl, thanks for commenting. No you can’t currently change that. I would be interested to see this in future releases. I find that the smoothing is really helpful in technical drawing, visioning and some doodling. But other times I miss my natural line.

  • David Macy Says:

    Caryl and Matthew,
    We have heard a lot of people asking for smoothing control and it is one of the things that we (Adobe Ideas team) are looking to add into a future release. Thanks for the great feedback.

  • Rebelpapa Says:

    I also found changing the size and opacity tricky. But I found a trick to get precise. You tap the slider and then while still holding down move your finger away from the slider so you can see the number. Then you can move your finger up or down for the micro adjustments with no problem (since your finger is no longer covering the numbers).

    I’m really surprised how much I like this app. I have a few ideas that would make the app even better.

    1. The ability to draw with shapes.
    2. A few different brushes and not just the solid circle (maybe a rake).

    Those would be awesome additions.

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