Daily iPad App: Spend more time drawing, less time tweaking with Inspire Pro

Inspire Pro is an iPad app for anyone with a flair for painting. It was recently updated to version 2, which includes a refreshed UI with new graphics and a powerful new painting engine that was built from scratch by KiwiPixel. The new Sorcery Engine is based on OpenGL ES 2.0 and works with the GPU in all iPads, including the iPad 1.

Inspire Pro's new painting engine has allowed KiwiPixel to expand the number of brushes and settings available to users. The 2.0 version has bumped up the number of brushes from five to 30 and has increased the number of settings for each brush.

Brushes are broken down into three sets -- Oil Paint, Airbrushes and Basic Shapes. You can choose between using each brush as a wet brush to apply paint, a dry brush to blend colors and an eraser to sculpt and craft your paintings. Once you figure out all the settings, each brush can be tweaked to meet most of your painting needs.

You get smooth bristle strokes when you use the wet brushes and the blending with a dry bush is pleasingly subtle. Added options like Glaze and Scatter let you get the effect that complements your painting. Performance was smooth on the iPad 2, iPad 4 and the iPad mini. The mini though was less than ideal as I missed the bigger canvas of the full-sized iPad.

There are still a few features missing from Inspire Pro that did not make it into this latest version. Most notable are the lack of layers for the canvas and support for third-party backup services like Dropbox. Maximum canvas size of 2,048 x 1,536 is also smaller than that offered by competitors like Sketchbook Pro and Procreate. In comparison to its competitors, Inspire Pro has fewer overall options, but its simpler UI does make it easier to use.

Despite these drawbacks, Inspire Pro is still worth a look. Both beginning artists and experienced pros will appreciate the variety of brushes, and the smooth performance of the Sorcery Engine. It may not replace the feeling of a real brush on canvas, but Inspire Pro's portability and ease of use means you will never miss a moment of inspiration.

Inspire Pro is available from the iOS App Store for US$7.99. For MacWorld attendees, KiwiPixel will be demoing Inspire Pro on Thursday, January 31st and Friday, February 1st at their iPad sketch station.