Monday, August 3, 2009

New Gear

I'm trying out some new drawing apps these days. Most of the existing content of this site was made with Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro, but I'm also liking the look of ArtRage, a very similar looking program which has some awesome paint blending features:

An ArtRage Test Image

From my first (really quick) impression of ArtRage, it seems to be a lot more focused on emulating physical media and painting in particular than Sketchbook is. Where Sketchbook is super streamlined and optimized for a quick workflow, ArtRage is teeming with features -- it's almost difficult to draw anything because it's so much fun just to whirl paint around.

The user interfaces for both programs are both extremely intuitive with a tablet PC and are miles ahead of the ones for Photoshop and the GIMP (although, to be fair, those programs are in a different class in terms of features and intended use). Both programs are reasonably priced, although ArtRage is significantly cheaper.

This second image was created in Sketchbook. Naturally, I did spend more time on this then I did on the rainbow at the top of this post because it's a fair bit more complicated (to Sketchbook's credit, the second image was still a very fast sketch). It doesn't really help ArtRage that its trial version, while functional, non-expiring, and very cool, doesn't enable the layers feature which I depend fairly heavily on in Sketchbook. Also, the 2010 version of Sketchbook has raised the bar slightly with the introduction of rulers of its own and an interesting looking mirroring feature.

I've yet to try Sketchbook 2010 and I still have a lot of testing left to do with ArtRage, but ultimately I think it will be hard to beat the type of productivity I can get out of Sketchbook which has all the tools I absolutely need and nothing else. On the other hand, it's a little bit ridiculous how cool ArtRage is, so I might eventually get that as well.

I can't help but wish for a miraculously free or open source program to appear. I know some exist, such as GIMP and Inkscape, but these really aren't particularly good as sketching programs.

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