First look: Autodesk's SketchBook Pro 7 for OS X

Posted:
in Mac Software edited August 2014
Autodesk on Wednesday launched SketchBook Pro 7, the latest version of the company's easy-to-use -- yet feature-rich -- desktop drawing app with new tools, animation options, layer editor enhancements and more.




We had a chance to go hands-on with the new SketchBook Pro and found the OS X app to be a solid step up from the previous version 6, offering simple and intuitive controls with an array of advanced features expected of a full-blown desktop application.

Of the new features added to SketchBook Pro's palette of tools, we found Perspective Guides to be one of the most substantial. Developed with input from designer Scott Robertson, the function with 1 point, 2 point, 3 point and Fisheye perspective guides that let users quickly and accurately draw three-dimensional objects.

Magnetic horizon lines make for quick layouts, while a dynamic cursor tool lets you preview perspective on-the-fly before putting down digital ink. In addition, a selected guide's vanishing point or points can be adjusted for more flexible drawing options.

In use, we were able to lay down the skeleton of a building in less than a minute using only SketchBook's three-point perspective guide. Drawing from anywhere on the canvas will force strokes to snap to an invisible grid that corresponds to the horizon lines. Users can quickly switch between grid-based and free-form strokes via a toggle button.




Next up is a new Flipbook mode that includes an animation timeline for scrubbing through an animated sequence. We aren't animators, as evidenced by the stickman waving project seen below, but we have used other animation apps with timeline features and found Autodesk's solution to be on equal footing. We were surprised to find access to layers, frames and ghosting options for quick layouts, features sometimes reserved for dedicated animation software.

According to Autodesk, the mode was developed in cooperation with the company's Maya team, which explains the high level of integration and polish. For a drawing-first app, Flipbook is extremely well done and can help artists create rough drafts or storyboards without leaving the SketchBook environment.




As for layer enhancements, the app builds in a number of new features including layer grouping and multi-layer selection, which come in handy when applying universal changes or modifications to a number of layers. A new background layer has also been added with a dedicated color selection tool.

Also new is a dynamic fill tool that can be used to apply solid colors or gradients to selected areas. Both linear and radial gradient types are supported and boast slider controls for easy tweaking of colors and direction. Selection tools have been buffed and now include multi-line selections, a magic wand tool and add/remove functions. We found selection algorithms to be on point, though gradients were at times problematic when using the automated wand tool.

Finally, a new Distort Transform tool lets users change perspective or skew selected layers or graphical assets through the use of anchor points, center bias and bounding lines. Like most image editors, the transformation tool is fairly straightforward and can be applied to multiple layers or groups with the new layer editor options.




While we used a trackpad for testing, SketchBook Pro is designed for use with specialized stylus setups like Wacom's Intuos and Cintiq products. Support is also offered for Windows tablets.

With the launch of SketchBook Pro 7, Autodesk is introducing a new pricing program that allows anyone to try the app for free before deciding to sign on to a paid membership. The "starter edition" includes basic tools, while a free membership will net users the more comprehensive SketchBook Essentials, which unlocks layers, a full color palette, brush customization, dynamic symmetry and ruler tools.

To unlock the complete toolkit, paid memberships are available for $2.99 per month or $24.99 per year, while a standalone license grants perpetual access for $65.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25

    This article seems to assume some pre-existing knowledge on the part of the reader of what Sketchbook is and who would use it.

  • Reply 2 of 25
    This article seems to assume some pre-existing knowledge on the part of the reader of what Sketchbook is and who would use it.

    I just saw this on the developer's web site for the app:

    'The all-new SketchBook Pro is a powerful and easy to use drawing, painting, and sketching application for everyone who loves to draw.'
  • Reply 3 of 25
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,540member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

     

    This article seems to assume some pre-existing knowledge on the part of the reader of what Sketchbook is and who would use it.


    Really?  The first line calls it a "feature-rich ... desktop drawing app"

     

    And the screenshots are pretty illustrative about what sort of thing it would be used for.

  • Reply 4 of 25

    Can´t find the perpetual license anywhere in the app or page.

  • Reply 5 of 25
    What does this do that Google Sketchup doesn't? I am using sketchup and I am not really missing any features (not being a pro)?
  • Reply 6 of 25
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,200member
    The last truly easy to use draw app was MacDraw. It lacked a lot of features, but was intuitive and allowed me to do floor plans as a scenery designer without reading a thick manual or taking classes. It got better over the years until Apple stopped supporting it. Pity. I have tried all the substitutes that people recommend, including this one, but all leave me frustrated and longing for the ease of use and simplicity of the original. Sometimes all you want is straight lines and measurements, not flyovers and 3D.
  • Reply 7 of 25
    For me, SmartSketch was the bomb of intuitively easy to use in a casual and free form way, and that's why I always keep a copy of Flash installed (since SmartSketch was completely absorbed into FutureSplash Animator, which became Flash), even when I might go a year without using it. But I just downloaded the free trial of this to check it out. I'm no artist though.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    Really?  The first line calls it a "feature-rich ... desktop drawing app"


     

    Yeah. Isn't that how Adobe describes Illustrator? This is obviously a different species of animal.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    And the screenshots are pretty illustrative about what sort of thing it would be used for.


     

    So it's an architectural drafting tool with the ability to skew bitmap images?

  • Reply 9 of 25
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    I really like this program, even have a little Bamboo specifically for it but would love to see the iPad support an active digitizer for the iOS version. Maybe even a 12" inch version of the iPad to go with it, oooh that could also be used as a Wacom board for OSX, that would be killer. Can you imagine what it would do for graphic artists, sure Wacom makes something similar but it costs as much as a MacBook. Anyone use Adobe's pen yet, is it something worth having, can it be used with Sketchbook?
  • Reply 10 of 25
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,540member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

     

     

    Yeah. Isn't that how Adobe describes Illustrator? This is obviously a different species of animal.

     

     

    So it's an architectural drafting tool with the ability to skew bitmap images?


    I think you're being a bit picky.  If you read the review and feel like it went a bit over your head then I'm sure Autodesk have a product page for Sketchbook that you can investigate.

  • Reply 11 of 25
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Yeah. Isn't that how Adobe describes Illustrator? This is obviously a different species of animal.


    So it's an architectural drafting tool with the ability to skew bitmap images?

    Illustrator is a vector based drawing tool. Sketchbook is actually a very neat program, probably the closest you can get to a piece of paper and drawing pens. If you have a half way decent printer it's a whole lot of fun to play with on a rainy day. I like to take pictures of my kids, convert them into greyscale, make the opacity to 20% and trace over the picture with water colors, really neat results.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Autodesk on Wednesday launched SketchBook Pro 7, the latest version of the company’s easy-to-use -- yet feature-rich -- desktop drawing app...

     

    Know what we need? An easy to use, feature rich architectural planning application. OS X, iOS, I don’t care. We need SOMETHING other than the utter garbage on the market today. Anyone know of anything?

  • Reply 13 of 25
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post



    Know what we need? An easy to use, feature rich architectural planning application. OS X, iOS, I don’t care. We need SOMETHING other than the utter garbage on the market today. Anyone know of anything?

    Most of the feature rich architectural design softwares require Windows, but there is a free version of SketchUp by Trimble called SketchUp Make which is a very capable 3D modeling product that is cross platform. It is also one of the few 3D drawing applications that can export as Collada 3D model format which is what you need if you want to import the models into iBooks. As with any 3D modeling application, there is a a pretty steep leaning curve with SketchUp, but it is a very powerful tool. The Pro version is BIM compatible and costs $590.

  • Reply 14 of 25
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,345member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    I think you're being a bit picky.  If you read the review and feel like it went a bit over your head then I'm sure Autodesk have a product page for Sketchbook that you can investigate.


    Not only do they have a product page: www.sketchbook.com, one can download a free trial version.

  • Reply 15 of 25
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

    Most of the feature rich architectural design softwares require Windows, but there is a free version of SketchUp by Trimble called SketchUp Make which is a very capable 3D modeling product that is cross platform. It is also one of the few 3D drawing applications that can export as Collada 3D model format which is what you need if you want to import the models into iBooks. As with any 3D modeling application, there is a a pretty steep leaning curve with SketchUp, but it is a very powerful tool. The Pro version is BIM compatible and costs $590.

     

    Oh! That good thing that used to be Google’s which they made terrible and which is now apparently independent from them again! Very nice; I’ll have to take a look. Thanks!

  • Reply 16 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    I think you're being a bit picky.  If you read the review and feel like it went a bit over your head then I'm sure Autodesk have a product page for Sketchbook that you can investigate.


     

    Of course, and you're right, I'm mostly just making a point. The content of the article didn't tell me anything about what I might do with it or why I might want it, or if I don't, who would. It didn't capture my interest enough to motivate me to look into it further.

     

    (EDIT: Maybe the point of the article isn't to get me interested! ;))

  • Reply 17 of 25
    Oh! That good thing that used to be Google’s which they made terrible and which is now apparently independent from them again! Very nice; I’ll have to take a look. Thanks!

    TS.......10 yrs ago during my last year of architectural school, I primarily used SketchUp for my final thesis project. Fantastic program. I pushed it to the limit, and maybe others would've used a more intense modeler to manage complex geometries. What kept bringing me back to SketchUp was how quickly someone can model AND frame great perspective views of whatever you're designing (complete with shadows, fog, sky, etc., all while staying in the same program).

    Not sure what you'd be using SketchUp for, but nonetheless you should checkout a website that's got some good inspiration. A few years ago I found a blog run by a guy named Alex Hogrefe. He does really great graphics/visuals, most of which are born out of SketchUp. Super talented guy.

    http://www.alexhogrefe.com
  • Reply 18 of 25
    Autodesk on Wednesday launched SketchBook Pro 7, the latest version of the company’s easy-to-use -- yet feature-rich -- desktop drawing app...

    Know what we need? An easy to use, feature rich architectural planning application. OS X, iOS, I don’t care. We need SOMETHING other than the utter garbage on the market today. Anyone know of anything?

    Judging from the acute ugliness of almost all new buildings of the past fifty years, I couldn't agree more.
  • Reply 19 of 25
  • Reply 20 of 25
    While I'm sure this is a cool application, I really am fed up with companies that charge a subscription to use software. This is a no-go for me.
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