Common Sense Review
Updated March 2013

Autodesk Sketchbook

Impressive creation tool for teens serious about art
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Students can create professional-quality digital art using layers, customizing resolution, and employing numerous brushes.
  • Students can pin their most-used tools to their canvas for easier access.
  • Students start with a blank canvas with a small circle on the bottom of the screen. That circle unlocks the tools.
  • The mirror image tool lets kids draw symmetrically.
  • Students can choose resolution size for their projects and can save in-progress works.
Impressive brush selections, professional tools on an easily accessible tablet screen.
There’s a learning curve for kids not already familiar with professional-level digital art tools.
Bottom Line
Gives students easy access to professional tools for creating digital art.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

The tools are fun to play around with, but serious artists will be drawn to their versatility and quality when it comes to making digital art.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Teens can learn through exploration in this user-driven experience. The vast array of tools allows artists to delve deep into digital creation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

A basic written tutorial introduces teens to the tools available. The site includes a great blog with news and tips about the app, as well as topics like storyboarding and drawing tutorials.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

There are lots of ways to add this quality drawing app into your curriculum of choice. It may make the most sense for art teachers, giving kids a head start as many college art programs feature digital creation -- but anywhere there's an opportunity to insert some creativity into an otherwise dry subject, Sketchbook Pro could be a fun option. Since teens can save their works-in-progress to the gallery, multiple students in different classes can use the same device if necessary.

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What's It Like?

Sketchbook Pro is a full-featured design and creation app with an arsenal of tools for creating digital art, offering tools available in the desktop version with the ease of a sketchbook on an iPad or other tablet. Teens can choose brushes and colors, draw using mirror image, move and rotate and arrange objects, and work with layers. They can choose the resolution size to save creations. It's possible to store works-in-progress and complete them later, as well as export works (including PSD export) or share them over email or social media. There are some differences in features across platforms; for example, the iOS version of the app has a smudge tool, while the Android version does not (at the time of this review).

The app does offer an option for pen only, which lets artists use the stylus without hand pressure registering on the screen, so they can draw with precision. Additionally, students can pin their most-used tools to their canvas and reset them easily in the settings.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students familiar with the desktop version of Sketchbook Pro will pick up the tablet version with no problems, but others will require some instruction and exploration to get comfortable. The controls are exhaustive and intuitive, and the ability to maneuver with both fingers and a stylus offers some ease in creation.

The options for tools, pens, and stamps are outstanding. It would be nice to see a few improvements (such as a select tool and, for the Android version, a smudge tool), but all in all, it's excellent. It includes more tools than Procreate, another professional-level creation tool, though not as many options for canvas-size and resolution. Sketchbook Pro is a serious digital art tool not to be mistaken for the many simple drawing apps available for kids. It's a professional-caliber tool designed by Autodesk, developers with a history of well-regarded apps for designers, engineers, and architects.

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See how teachers are using Autodesk Sketchbook

Lesson Plans