Hi all! I thought I’d share a wonderful app I stumbled upon a little over a year ago to allow me to paint and draw again. And I’m not getting paid anything to write this review, I’m not getting anything from the company, I’ve just found it to be a really helpful app and I wanted to share the information about it. Because of my neck injury, I can’t paint and draw on real canvas or paper – I can’t move my head much, I have to look straight ahead, and I can’t move my shoulder or arms too much as my muscles fatigue really fast. When I first got injured and slowly learned the extent of my limitations, I thought I wouldn’t be able to make art again. That was pretty devastating for me as I’ve always made things and created. Eventually I started looking into whether I could paint and draw on my iPad, as I could zoom in and out and hold the iPad propped up on my knees at eye level. I looked through a few apps, and I settled on ArtRage, as from the documentation it seemed to be able to replicate media very accurately without it looking digital or like a graphic design. It cost me $5 for the iPad app. I’m using my “Pieta” painting (on the home page) as the sample for this post, and you can see more of my digital paintings using ArtRage in my gallery post.
The first thing I noticed was the wide range of media you could create art on. You can select from a variety of textures and colours of canvas, paper, metal, etc. You can adjust the texture and colour (and size and layout) of the canvas before you start your piece. I started to play with the app, and this is my first painting I did on it, I was just having a quick experiment with some of the features. I did this one with my fingers on the screen, but later on I switched to using a stylus as it felt more like using a real paint brush to me.
I’m not going to go step-by-step through the creation of an entire painting as each one is different, but I’ll show some of the features I use. One neat function the app has is the ability to record your painting being created – I believe you can only view it on the desktop version, but I thought that was kinda cool to be able to watch your painting or drawing come alive.
Some of the tools I use a lot are the oil paints, the pen, the palette knife, and sometimes the watercolour and chalk pastel. They all have a huge range of settings, below are some screenshots of some of the options. Even though it is just an app and it can’t 100% be as accurate as working with the real media, it’s pretty close. The paint brushes run out of paint after a long stroke like a normal brush would, and you can set the paint to dry immediately or you can have it still be wet for blending. One neat function that is very different than using real media is you can layer different techniques over each other, like you can lay chalk pastel over “wet” oil paints and it doesn’t end up a giant nasty mess like it would in real life.
Some of the other functions work very similarly to Photoshop. You can have either a thumbnail reference image that’s movable around the piece, or you can underlay a reference image and adjust the transparency. You can also have multiple layers so you can work on each layer individually. The colour palette is also very good, it has several ways of showing various colours and you can save your most-used colours so you can keep going back to them.
So all in all, ArtRage is very much worth the whole $5 (or less or more depending on which device you’re putting it on). The images I’ve done on textured “canvas” print up almost as good as if I had used real canvas, and for an app that’s pretty amazing. According to their website it’s available on Mac and Windows desktops, Android, iPad, and iPhone. You can share the finished images in several ways, I usually just email them to myself then download them to my desktop. If you just want to play on the go or want another way to create art, give it a try. I’d love to hear your feedback, or if you use other apps or services to make your creations.