Painting apps and clovers

September 2, 2013 at 23:42 (Blog, Drawing) (, , , , , )

I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a larger tablet and been experimenting a bit with it. I’ve been trying out several drawing apps with varying degrees of satisfaction. Until a few days ago the one I’ve used the most has been Sketchbook Pro, and I’ve gotten fairly familiar with it as well. But, while it is a good program, there’s still things about it that bothers me.

So, I’ve been trying out other apps as well. One is Infinite Painter which is actually pretty good, particularly for painting. The major feature in this app is that you can create your own brushes. Another good one is ArtFlow, who’s has a decent amount of tools and options.

Then there’s all the apps that really scrape to bottom of the barrel. Ranging from the horrible Fresco to the merely middling Watercolors, I’ve quickly stopped using them.

But, six days ago I came across an app that really piqued my interest. The app in question was named Clover Paint, and looked like no other drawing app I’d ever seen. Buttons and sliders everywhere in complete chaos, with a UI that looked about as user friendly as a steering wheel with thumbtacs glued to it.
Still, I gave it a try, and damned if it isn’t the very best drawing program on a tablet that I’ve ever used!

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Here you can see the UI in all its bewildering glory (along with one of my not so glorious drawings), sporting dozens of buttons. Here, let’s take a closer look on the interface:

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1 – The green and gray buttons along the side are the default tools available. They can be deleted, modified or added to as you see fit.

2 –  This is the main drawing area. By default this area is blank, and as soon as you start drawing the canvas is created. As you draw further and further out,  the canvas is expanded. There are options for having a fixed canvas instead,  but I really love this feature!

3 –  The buttons along the top are shortcut buttons that I’ve made and placed myself. These are set to remain visible even with the UI minimized (explained a little later). You can add as many shortcuts as you like,  and drag them around to where you want.

4 –  Along the right side you control the layers. These panels can be minimized by hitting the small blue icon in the upper right corner. Here you get pretty much all the features you’d expect, along with opacity control, blending modes, merging layers, etc.
By the way,  you can export files as PSD files, thus preserving layers.

5 – Color management. Hit the button on the left to access the color wheel, and long-established any of the buttons on the right to store a color there for lat use.

6 –  Below the colors you control the pen width,  opacity and flow. Fairly standard stuff.

7 – This blue Clover control your navigation window. Just tap it and a small window appear showing your entire picture, as well as there you are zoomed in.

8 – This is the main toolbar. Hold down on any of them for a list of options and tools. You can also tap the View tool to horizontally flip the canvas.

9 – The menu button is used to minimize the UI, allowing you to see more of your drawing at once. Here’s an example:

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With the exception of the few buttons I had added manually you have a completely bare drawing area.

So, apart from the highly customizable user interface, what’s to love about Clover Paint?
Quite a lot, actually. As far as I can tell, it’s the single most powerful drawing app on the Google store, and is in fact so complete that I’m thinking more of it as a full fledged drawing program than a simple app.

The first thing you’ll notice is the canvas itself and the way that it expands as your drawing keeps getting bigger and bigger. As per normal for drawing apps you can pinch and stretch two fingers to zoom in and out, but you can also use the same two fingers to rotate the canvas.
Both drawing, zooming and rotating the view is done seamlessly, with no slowdown or shutting.

Another small detail out the UI… There’s an option in the settings that allow you to resize all UI elements to either fit nicely on a smaller tablet or to be larger and more easy to read. Not a huge deal, but a very nice touch.

One huge advantage Clover Paint has over its competitors is the selection tools. Just as in PhotoShop (for the PC or Mac, not mobile) you can select areas of a layer, either though a magic wand or manual selection, allowing you to manipulate parts of a layer without affecting the rest of the image.

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And you can add shortcut commands to your devices physical buttons too. My tablet has an ESC button that I’ve set to deselect selections when I press it quickly, and to add a new layer when I hold the button down. You can add similar shortcuts to all your buttons if you so choose, even the power button.

And if you prefer to sketch on your tablet and refine it on your computer you’re in luck. With just a few presses on the screen you can export your drawing as a PSD file, allowing you to import it into PhotoShop with layers and blending modes intact.

But, there’s a few negatives as well, though the don’t truly bother me much.
First is the fact that you can’t create your own brushes, like you can in Infinite Painter. The creator has stated that this is on his to-do-list though.
Far more annoying is a complete lack of instructions or manuals. There’s quite literally hundreds of options to choose from, and you have to actually TRY them out to figure out what they do. A bit intimidating at first, though hardly impossible.

Do i recommend this program? If you’re serious about drawing on tablets, the HELL YEAH!

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