Zen Brush 2

Can this draw­ing app bring you some Zen-like calm?

Mac Format - - RATED -

Zen Brush 2 lets you cre­ate stylish Ja­pane­sein­spired art­work by repli­cat­ing the strokes of an East Asian ink brush. It has three weights (dry, stan­dard and wet) that mimic cer­tain fea­tures of Ja­panese brush work, from ‘ka­sure’ scratch­i­ness to ‘ni­jimi’ blur­ring.

Ink strokes look beau­ti­ful on screen, and in tests on our iPad 3 we found the brush re­spon­sive and quick to ren­der, with it ta­per­ing and bleed­ing in very be­liev­able ways. Our favourite thing is that if you leave the brush in one place, the ink be­gins to pool as if left on the pa­per, which looks lovely! This gives you a fan­tas­tic range of strokes which can be fur­ther am­pli­fied with the use of a pres­sure-sen­si­tive sty­lus like the Adonit Jot Touch.

Un­for­tu­nately, the app’s other op­tions are some­what lim­ited. There are only three lev­els of opac­ity (Deep, Medium and Light) and only one colour avail­able other than black (a red tint). Within this lim­ited func­tion­al­ity, opac­ity and trans­parency be­have in un­ex­pected ways. For ex­am­ple, when you paint one stroke over the next, the colours do not blend into each other as wet ink should. While on one hand this makes cre­at­ing im­ages much eas­ier as you do not have the prob­lem of con­tam­i­na­tion be­tween lines, it can also be quite frus­trat­ing for more sea­soned users if that is what you are want­ing to do.

With its lim­ited op­tions, this is not a re­place­ment for apps like Pro­cre­ate or Sketch­Book Ink. How­ever, Zen Brush 2 is fun and easy to use and thus well worth a try, as it may give your art a new Zen-like ap­proach. Alex Thomas

Zen Brush has a li­brary of 92 dif­fer­ent back­ground tex­tures to give your art­work some added depth.

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