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£14.99 FROM Tayasui, tayasui.com needs OS X 10.10 or higher Don’t be fooled by Sketches’ simple layout – its tools cater for just about everything you could need
Tayasui’s Sketches is a popular art app – but can this version deliver on the streamlined, versatile experience the iOS app offers? In a word, yes. This is one of the cleanest, slickest and most intuitive apps you’ll find, and eliminates the need to break from your creativity to wonder how to do something.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of its layout – the selection of tools caters for just about everything you could need. Each has a variety of options, such as a round or square tip. The app is smart, too. Select a watercolour brush but don’t have a watercolour layer active? Sketches prompts you to create one. Wet layers act as they do in real life, enabling you to blend strokes together for a very realistic result. Even smarter, if you’re using one of the app’s watercolour papers, you can paint a stroke and then click inside that stroke to add extra details. This constrains to the initial stroke, unlike a normal paper, where a single click would add a random splat or daub (which, incidentally, is also very useable).
Each tool has some element that makes it feel special, from the thickness and opacity controlled by pressure to the wonderful fill tool, which opens a pop-up library of useful patterns, all of which have a handcrafted look to them. Choose one and then draw a shape, and that shape is instantly filled with the chosen pattern, for beautiful cross-hatching and print effects. The selection of patterns has been well thought out, and if you want to use one to fill an entire layer, then a quick drag with held does it for you.
Essential to any art app is colour control, and Sketches Pro doesn’t disappoint here. A thin menu of swatches lives in its own tool palette (all palettes can be moved around to suit) with a selection of presets, to which it’s a simple job of adding more. The standard Photoshop
click combination for on-the-fly colourpicking works here, too.
These days, having a good layer system is almost as essential as colour controls, and Sketches offers an elegant solution. It has a simple palette, with controls for adding layers, and adjusting layer opacity and visibility, but
click and you’ll see a few less-used options, including a (small) range of blend modes.
In use, every tool is responsive, smooth and ultimately fun and productive. You can
click to access pop-up size and opacity sliders for each tool, plus simple zooming controls, and you use standard Photoshop shortcuts for just about everything. Sketches is simple but powerful and very easy to use.
The only criticism that can be aimed at the developer is the occasionally buggy save dialog, which crashed now and then for us. Otherwise it’s stable, no matter how complex your drawing, and huge fun. That’s without even mentioning the brilliant smart ruler, the knife tool or the excellent blender brush. If you’re a digital artist, this is definitely an app to check out. Adding a tablet to work on the go makes it even more indispensable.
Illustrations for kids’ books are a natural fit for the app, but Sketches Pro covers every style with ease.