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3 Free Art Apps (a TeachHUB Review)

TeachHUB.com

With art classes being cut from curricula and budgets being cut across the country, we know it’s tough to put together a full arsenal of art supplies (let alone a whole art curriculum). Some schools seem to be trading their traditional art supplies in for more in-class technology, and as we’ve seen nationwide, tablet computers are being introduced to classrooms at an increasing rate.

So with that in mind, we took an in-depth look at three popular art apps for tablets to help you decide which is right for you and your classroom.

Artist Corner - Kids Drawing Playground - Jian Li (Free)

3 out of 5 Stars

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First up is a kid-friendly app called Artist Corner. As you may expect, this app looks and feels like a kids’ art app – the menus are kid-oriented (although we wouldn’t quite call them simple), the tools are basic and easy to navigate and the interface is relatively intuitive.

Now obviously, when you’re trying to make an app simple enough for younger children to use, you’re going to limit some functionality. This app does a good job of giving the user a variety of tools and possible textures (four total), although it’s missing some functionality the intermediate-to-advanced user may want (like the ability to zoom in and out of a canvas, create different sized canvases, draw in layers, etc.).

This app is free, so we do recommend giving it a try, and other features in this app like the coloring book and mask creator (both of which include optional purchases for added variety) make it versatile for young users. However, we do feel that the missing “layers” in this app limit its potential as even young digital artists should learn to think in layers.

Paper - Contradictory (Free, kind of)

4 out of 5 Stars

If you’re looking for an app with a simple interface and beautiful brushes, Paper is the app you’re looking for. The app itself is “free”, but don’t let that fool you. If you want any kind of versatility in terms of brushes and colors, you’ll need to spend $8-$15.

That said, the line character, responsiveness and simplicity of this app go unmatched. Upon first opening Paper, it’s easy to see why Apple named this the 2012 App of the Year. We love the ability to create new sketchbooks, surf through old drawings and open up new pages (it really feels like paper!).

This app certainly has its shortcomings, though. The inability to zoom into a drawing seriously limits the user’s ability to create detailed, customized drawings. This app is also missing the layers functionality. But if you’re looking for a simple app that can turn your iPad into a sketchbook, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Brushes 3 - Taptrix, Inc. (Free, kind of)

3 out of 5 Stars

This is the third iteration of an app called Brushes, which was touted early in the life of the iPad as a premium art app. Now cross-generational users are torn as to whether or not Brushes III was actually an upgrade from Brushes I and II. Among the more controversial changes is that in Brushes III, in order to unlock the use of layers, you need to “purchase” the feature for $2.99 – a feature that was free in both previous generations of the app (and even after you purchase the layers feature, you can only work in four layers).

Brushes III certainly has the big functionality of a premium art app. However, the interface isn’t as intuitive as we think it could be, and some of the actual menu functions seemed to get in the way of actually drawing in the app. The brush customizer is definitely a strength of this app, so if you can get used to the interface, you’ll be able to create some great iPad art with this app.