As a somewhat serious artist, I was excited when I was offered a promo code for ArtRage on my Mac. But it didn’t take me long to realize that with only a MacBook, I couldn’t get the kind of control I needed. ArtRage needs a mouse, or some kind of input device other than the trackpad found on a Mac.
But my interest in working with this app was on high alert, so I headed over to iTunes, and bought it for my iPad. And wow! The iPad’s screen gives you the kind of control that you miss on a trackpad, and being able to zoom and scroll gives you the detail necessary – cause this is serious art, not just another paint program.
Let me show you an example of my first “doodle” on ArtRage. It looks like oil paint. It makes you want to touch it, because you can actually see the texture.
You can almost feel the texture. Other paint programs give you flat colors that layer. But these colors mix – just like they would if you were using a pallet and brushes. You can see the brush strokes, and how they blend.
I tried another.
The 3-D effect is truly remarkable, and so easy to accomplish!
Above you can see the blank canvas that you start with, and the canvas with your tools sitting neatly to one side. (Honestly, I can never keep my physical painting supplies this neat!)
I was extremely impressed with the way you can blend both colors and textures. Again, in most paint programs (especially on the iPad), you may get lots of color and texture options, but all you get to do is layer them. ArtRage gives you tools for serious artists.
When you look at this, you can see blending. This is not merely one color dumped on top of another. While your finger becomes your paintbrush, you still get amazing control over what you’re doing, simply by pinching and zooming.
I’ve added some additional examples at the end of my review, but wanted to make sure I showed off the basic features as these are the important ones. The building blocks of painting, so to speak.
Once you get the hang of colors and blending in ArtRage, you can start using textures. A forensic artist can recognize a Rembrandt from the thickness of the paint and the length of the brush stroke – we don’t want to give these features up just because we’re not using physical paint.
I can use an unlimited palette, with unlimited colors. My brushes never go dry or wear out, and if I get a section too thick, I can easily undo it. And while I prefer the textures of oils, ArtRage allows you to do brilliant watercolors.
Aside from a little lag time that comes from the iPad not being able to process too much movement at once, the overall experience is very similar to actually painting. If you’re working with a big brush and lots of colors, you have to paint slowly, otherwise you get ahead of yourself and there’s a gap by the time you’ve painted a spot and the time that the paint shows up there – that would be my least favorite part, but it’s an iPad processor issue, not the app itself – I think.
My favorite part? It’s the textures. Not only the paint itself, but the canvases too. If you know what you’re doing with paint, you can create something in Artrage that genuinely looks real.
You can get ArtRage for your Mac or pc ranging from $20-$80 depending on the feature level. Since I did not wind up using ArtRage on my Mac (and media on a pc just seems wrong), I can’t speak to the differences in these versions. The iPad version is, of course, available through iTunes.
Full gallery of features: