Review by Megan Leppla, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014
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Sketchbook Express

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Creation tools hook kids, connect them with global community of artists

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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3 images

Pros: Image gallery inspires students to create and share original art.

Cons: Sign-up is text-heavy and would benefit from illustrated instructions.

Bottom Line: Solid resource encourages students to get creative in the classroom.

SketchBook Express is an excellent resource to get kids started brainstorming ideas. Although it's designed to be an art app, teachers should consider utilizing some of its features as a productivity tool. Kids can take notes, create lists, and visualize school projects through sketches. Of course, the illustration tools shouldn’t be overlooked as a resource to teach lessons on line, shading, color, and texture. The deviantART gallery creates an opportunity for kids to share their work or get inspired by creations from a global community. Teachers should be aware that deviantART is open to a variety of projects in addition to the SketchBook Express projects.

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SketchBook Express is a creative resource that gives students the tools to brainstorm ideas and create original works of art. At first, some students may be put off by the age disclaimer and heavy explanatory text, but once they’re past that, they’re sure to be hooked by the creation tools. To get started sketching, students choose from a variety of brushes, colors, drawing styles, and techniques. They can create a drawing, save the sketch, and then create many more. Each sketch is saved in a personal gallery with the option to share works on a variety of platforms. SketchBook Express shares a portal to deviantART, an online art community and portfolio site. Students can be inspired by other artists on deviantART or contribute to the community by posting their own work.

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Students can access a variety of tools, each of which responds differently to touch. Sketching with various brushes gives students a chance to practice drafting skills while using digital techniques not unlike many professional illustrators and graphic designers. Kids can add layers to their sketches with drawings, textures, and even with photos from their own library. The many interesting features make this an efficient tool for compiling a sketchbook to log work and demonstrate progress for any class.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Sophisticated and fun tools keep kids engaged and inspired.

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

The image gallery provides inspiration, and the creation tools respond in ways that allow students to learn technical drawing skills. 

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

Information on using the tools is available, but video tutorials would be more helpful.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michelle N. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Lebanon Senior High School
Lebanon, PA
Sketchbook Express offers students creative freedom on an intuitive and professional-grade platform.

Like anything AutoDesk produces (like AutoCad & Inventor to name two), Sketchbook Express is a high-quality app that works intuitively and offers the features budding artists need to create work digitally. This free-version of Sketchbook is pared down from the $4.99, paid version, but is still a very capable creative space. Whether students use the app to free draw or alter photos, there are many tools available that will help them to create their vision. Overall the design platform is easy to use, through icons or through on-screen gesturing (swiping), and does a good job of taking users through a multi-lingual tutorial before the first use. The Sketchbook Express app also partners with deviantART -- which is a great resource for students to view and share art, but may contain inappropriate images for elementary or middle school students. Overall, Sketchbook Express is a free, polished app that should be downloaded.

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