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Customer Review

70 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent drawing/illustration tool for all skill levels, October 31, 2010
This review is from: Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2011 (Software)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
AutoDesk SketchBook Pro 2011 is a drawing and sketching application designed for creatively-minded people. For those with artistic ability, SketchBook Pro is a powerful and productive tool, but for those with less talent it is a tool that allows even the most unskilled user to produce results with a small learning curve.

Installation is a painless and effortless undertaking. I was able to install the application with no issues at all and had a working installation in 5-10 minutes.

When Sketchbook Pro opens, rather than fill the screen with bunches of toolbars, widgets and other clutter, the user is greeted with a wide-open canvas, the "lagoon" toolbar in the lower left of the screen and a tool palette. The tool palette is easy enough to close and retrieve, but one thing that disappoints me is that is it not dockable. It is well-designed for docking and that it is either floating or off with no other options is a design decision with which I disagree. Hopefully AutoDesk will reconsider this and will change this in future releases.

For the uninitiated the lagoon is an arched toolbar that is parked in one corner of the screen and provides access to various tools and functions such as a color wheel, brush palette and more. It can be moved to either the lower left or lower right, and it can also be used to completely remove the menu bar from the top of the screen if desired. To pick a tool from the lagoon, the user clicks and holds on a lagoon icon, which opens a radial menu of icons to which the user drags the mouse to select the desired choice. This is a very different way of working and requires a little getting used to it, but it becomes second nature after using it for a while.

I observed that when the menu is removed from the canvas via the lagoon, SketchBook Pro inserts a wide band of unusable area across the bottom of the screen, and as a result there was no real space gain. The one advantage I found in this is that I can park the floating toolbar window in this unusable area which got it more out of the way, but otherwise I do not understand why the application works in this manner. If the idea was to give a maximum of workable space, it doesn't (at least, not directly).

SketchBook Pro is not the most advanced or powerful drawing program out there but it is packed with a surprising amount of features and tools to make even people with limited artistic talent productive. It has a variety of pens and brushes and each of these can be tweaked for size and intensity (as well as color, of course), but there's a lot more than just drawing implements. The ruler is an especially useful tool that I have not encountered in other applications, at least in the same way SketchBook Pro's works. It is more of a straight-edge tool rather than a ruler and allows the artist to make straight, precise lines with no worry of slipping or overshooting the distance. My favorite set of tools in the tool box is the reflectivity (symmetry) options, that create mirror images of what you draw as you're drawing. This can be a time saver.

The help system is top-notch and is arguably the best help system I have seen with an application of any type. It is a browser-based help system, very easy to follow and very well-designed with lots of eye appeal. Searching and finding information is straightforward and easy, and the overall system is very responsive.

AutoDesk has done a nice job with SketchBook Pro 2011. It is powerful and very easy to use and is well suited for the casual doodler as well as professional artists. There are a couple of design decisions in the interface that are puzzling but these are matters of personal taste, and overall the clean, uncluttered canvas gives the artist more room in which to work than most other applications of this type. At the price point, SketchBook Pro 2011 is an excellent application for drawing and sketching and is worth serious consideration if you're looking for such an application.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 9, 2010 1:05:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2010 1:09:36 PM PST
S. Jenkins says:
Thanks for your review, well written and easy to follow. Thanks for mentioning that part about the "unusable" area. As an artist, I'm also puzzled by that design.

I also used previous versions on a tablet PC and laptop. It's "Sketchbook Pro" for a reason as you kind of want to get the basics down, and I'm glad to hear they upgraded it to make it a bit easier with layers, but I have to tell you - I hate sketching in Photoshop - it takes too long. This is why Sai Paint, Open Canvas, Art Rage and Sketchbook pro shine in just getting sketches done. Photoshop and Painter are for getting it finished on a desktop at home.

Posted on Nov 23, 2010 12:40:39 PM PST
Wulfstan says:
Great review, I bow in your direction!
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