Adobe is adding motion, reference layers and more to its Fresco painting app

Perspective grids and new vector brushes are also part of the updates.

Adobe/Bejamin Kohl

Adobe Fresco has given artists and designers the ability to draw and paint with lifelike digital materials for two years now. Last fall, the company expanded the app to iPhone, but this year the updates are much more robust. With the additions announced today at its annual Adobe Max design conference, the company gives its free-to-use drawing and painting app handy tools that expand how and what artists are able to create.

First, Adobe is adding motion to Fresco. This gives artists and designers the option to add timelines and motion frames to individual layers. The company explains that this allows you to assign specific movement to each element. Adobe says you can also draw paths for objects to follow and the goal is to keep things simple so the concept of motion is approachable for all skill levels.

Next, the company is adding reference layers to Fresco. When this feature arrives later this year, it should help speed up the process when you need to add color to line art. Once you set the reference layer, you can begin working on a separate layer for fills. Fresco will still recognize the lines on the original layer without applying edits to it. This will work if your reference layer is vector or pixels and keeps your original drawing intact.

Adobe Fresco
Adobe/Kyle Webster

Vector brushes are already available in Fresco, but Adobe is expanding that library to include a new set with "jitter." Basically, these brushes will help you quickly give drawings texture. Lines are still sharp, but there's variation in the stroke for a more naturally drawn look. As always, vector brushes are infinitely scalable and can be combined with pixel brushes in the same Fresco file.

Lastly, Adobe is helping you keep your perspective correct with new guides. Perspective grids will help you keep illustrations looking realistic when it's time to add depth. You can set vanishing points anywhere, even off the the artboard, and lines will snap to the grids as you work. Adobe says this should allow artists and designers to focus more on art and less on the heavy lifting.

Adobe Fresco is free for anyone to use on iPhone, iPad and Windows without a Creative Cloud subscription. There are more tools available if you do pay for Adobe's apps, like access to an expanded library of brushes.

Update 10/27/21 6:43AM ET: This post has been updated with availability info for the reference layers feature.