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Art Set Pro review: It's fun, but is it fantastic?

When I reviewed ArtRage some of you asked me to take a look Art Set Pro (opens in new tab) as well. Since I'm not one to back down from a challenge, I coughed up the $6.99 and downloaded myself a copy. So, was it worth it? Well…

At first glance, Art Set Pro looks fantastic. In fact, I couldn't wait to launch it and play with it. It has all of the tools one would expect from any portable art program and the interface looks nice. But, at least for me, it falls short compared to other apps I've used in the past.

There are a wide range of tools available from pencils and pens to brushes and pastel. In addition, Art Set Pro includes tools for blending. Plus, it has a decent color mixer and customizable palette. All fantastic features. And, even more fantastic is how the tools are accessed. All of the tools are neatly tucked away in what feels like a tiny digital wooden art set.

Sadly, though, your options are limited when it comes to tool settings. In fact, the only options that I could find were for the paint brush tool. That's it! Nothing else. And trust me… I looked and looked and looked. But, alas, my quest turned up empty.

Granted, it's nice to be able to choose whether or not to manually load the paint brush rather than having it done automatically, but why not provide options for setting the stroke size (width) for the pens, pencils, crayons, and other tools? This frustrated me probably a lot more than it should.

Another thing that bugged me was that all of the tools "felt" the same. With other apps I've used, there's a different feeling when using the oil based paints versus using the water colors and crayons. This app didn't give me that same feeling. Each tool felt and reacted almost the identical. Sure, they looked a little different, but it just didn't sit right with me.

Although I like the looks of the tool drawer, after using it for a while, switching between the different tools and colors became to feel clumsy and awkward.

While Art Set is fun to use, and I enjoyed playing with it, I don't think it's going to be given a permanent home on my device. Is it worth the download? Eh, I don't think I can give you an answer. Art apps are very much like art - their subjective. I know folks who love this app and won't touch anything else. But, for me… it's one I'll pass over for something else.

8 Comments
  • So, what's your favorite app in the drawing/painting category, if I may ask?
  • That's a difficult question to answer. I have a few that I use with almost every project. As it turns out... they each bring their own "specialities" to the playing field. If we're strictly speaking in terms of iOS, then I'd have to say that Procreate or Paper are my top picks. If I'm doing "oil painting", then Art Rage. On the Mac, my two heavy hitters are Toon Boom and Manga Studio (something I just recently added to my toolbox). Manga Studio has awesome drawing tools. In fact, they feel the most natural to me.
  • OK, thanks! But one more question: your favorite stylus ( or "styli") for the iPad? And how do you do your drawing on the Mac? (Oops! guess that's 2 questions...)
  • At the moment, I'm using a Pencil, by 53. While I like it, I'm still on the hunt for something else. As for drawing on the Mac, I use a Cintiq. In fact, you can read a review I did on that over here: http://www.imore.com/wacom-cintiq-24hd-touch-review
  • So for iOS you like Procreate or Paper better than Sketchbook Pro for iOS.
  • I like Sketchbook Pro, but I like Procreate better. I feel like Paper is in a different category.
  • You say you'll pass it over for something else and give no reason why. I'm interested to know what it is that you don't like or what it is missing that would make it better for you.
  • In my opinion - keeping in mind that these tools are about as subjective as art itself - this just isn't the one for me. I generally don't like to make comparisons in reviews (which I know drives people crazy!), but if I **were** to compare this to some of the others, like Procreate or Paper, it would fall short. With those two, I just feel like you get a little more. The tools are laid out better, the drawing feels more natural, etc and so fourth. Again, this is just my opinion. I know folks who wouldn't touch those and would much rather use Art Set. It's all a matter of personal taste, I guess.