MAC soft­ware

Does the pop­u­lar iOS app live up to its rep­u­ta­tion on the Mac?

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Rob Red­man

Apps to make emails look bet­ter, paint a mas­ter­piece, and more

£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.

Pre­set per­fec­tion

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.

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