Creative software

3/28/2012 7:01:18 PM

Creative software

Griffin Crayola ColorStudio HD



System requirements (OS 3.2 or later; 73.4MB available memory)

Description: Griffin's Crayola CoforStudio HD iPad

Griffin's Crayola CoforStudio HD iPad app allows your children to create and add color to endless pictures. The app itself is free, but for £24.99 you can purchase an iMarker, a digital stylus that can be used instead of your finger. This is comfortable to use, but offers little more precision than your fingertip.

The app has three modes: Makes coloring page, Coloring pages and Free draw. It also offers six categories of coloring pages, as well as five pen types: brush, pencil, marker pen, wax crayon and felt-tip. Each pen creates much the same stroke texture, but the choice of colors available varies.

To make a coloring page you drag in backgrounds, as well as clip art, text bubbles, visual effects and songs. The clip art is resizable and can be rotated or flipped, brought to the front of the image or deleted. Once a page is finished, it can be saved and then drawn on in the Coloring pages option.

Free draw mode is in essence a blank piece of paper. You can use whichever pens and colors you like. Once finished, young kids will love the fact that some of the picture elements become animated.

Settings let you choose between a tap-to-fill function for speedy effects, a no-overwrite option where colors don't exceed the delineated area, and freehand coloring in which colors are laid down just as your pen dictates. Color mixing isn't possible, but the app includes a large number of pens, several stroke weights and a range of textures.


This is a great app that will keep youngsters busy for hours on end. However, we found the stylus unnecessary and its cost too high.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

Price: $5


System requirements

iOS 4.0/Android 3.0 or later; 14MB available memory

Description: Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

If you ever wanted to ditch the old pen and paper, and use your tablet to draw, sketch or create complex multi-layered collages, Sketchbook Pro is the app to use. The interface is very slick, but hidden behind its clean white canvas is an abundance of features to satisfy even the most demanding artist.

At first, you're presented with a tiny doughnut-shaped button to access menu items, but this can easily be changed in the Settings menu. There's also a clever shortcut panel to allow quick access to your drawing tools. Pens, brushes, fill and erase tools are displayed in the middle of the screen around a circle. To adjust the brush size and opacity, hold down the middle of the panel and drag up/down or side to side.

What sets this app apart from the competition is its support for multiple layers, each of which is transparent. This means you're able to move them in front or behind the previous layer, without obscuring the layer below. We were also impressed with its ability to shuffle them in any order, and to adjust opacity and apply blending modes to each individual layer.

Importing and resizing images is a breeze, but accurate transformations are less easy to achieve. Another poor element is text handling: fonts are immediately rasterized and no longer editable.

However, other visual elements are preserved as editable layers and PNG support lets you save them as such. Saving as a Jpeg image flattens an image once and for all.


While we found the actual drawing process cumbersome in Sketchbook Pro, it's still great for on-the-go drawing and far superior to many equivalent apps we've tried.

Drawing Pad

Price: $2.0


System requirements

iOS 3,2/Android 2.2 or later: 22MB available memory

Description: Drawing Pad

Drawing Pad falls somewhere between the sophistication of Sketchbook Pro and the simplicity of the Griffin Crayola app. It's about freehand drawing rather than coloring in, but has a number of scalable 'sticker' designs and a selection of virtual paper backgrounds that you can use.

The stickers make good use of the pinch to zoom - it's easy to pull, stretch and rotate them. Dozens are included, so you can build up a picture. You can also select various decorative elements such as stars and bubbles, and create streams of them. We were pleased with some of the results, given the unpromising interface with which we were presented when launching this app.

As with Crayola's ColorStudio app, you get a selection of pens, highlighters and pencils with which to draw freehand. There are around 50 shades on offer when using a pencil, felt-tip pen or crayon; more if you use a paintbrush since, unlike the other implements, you also get to choose one of four brush sizes. Manipulation by weight and pressure of touch isn't supported, but there are three eraser size options.

Once you've finished, iPad users can save their creation to iPhoto, Android owners can export it to their Android Gallery, and both can save it to the Album within Drawing Pad itself. It's also possible to share your artwork on Picasa or over Bluetooth, Gmail or another email client, as well as to save it to SD Card. Press the USB thumb drive icon to save and bring up the Share menu. Choosing an option brings up your contacts list and instantly shares or sends it.


Text support and layer preservation are both missing, but there's plenty of scope for getting creative with this app.

Adobe Photoshop Touch

Price: $11


System requirements

Android 3.1 or later; 36MB available memory

Description: Adobe Photoshop Touch

Photoshop Touch brings many of the editing program's most popular features to Android tablets, and offers many popular Photoshop tools, filters and effects for a touchscreen format. The app also connects to Adobe's Creative Cloud, so you can move your work back and forth between a tablet and a PC.

The interface is located around both the edges and top of the screen, and includes selection toots, adjustments, effects and other miscellaneous items. The icons and menus are large and finger-friendly, and double-tapping a layer will take you into a 3D view of all the layers in the current project.

The selection tools are limited by the accuracy of the tip of your finger, unless you happen to have the Lenovo ThinkPad, which has an active digitizer. Working with selection tools takes some getting used to, but we were able to replace a colleague's head with a cow's in just a few minutes.

Drawing or painting backgrounds with your fingertip isn't always ideal: a stylus would be useful. Manipulating images using two fingers to pinch and zoom, or pan around is more effective, with just a hint of lag.

The app uses a new file type called PSDX, which can be imported into Adobe CS5 with a plug-in. PSDX files are limited to 1600x1600 pixels and 16 layers. Text is rasterized once you finish adding it, so it can be deleted - but not edited - afterwards. Effects don't remain live and, while they can be undone, they can't be changed.


Overall, we were impressed with Adobe Photoshop Touch. It provides a wide array of useful and easy-to- use tools for manipulating images on the go.

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