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Pros: Features some handy tools/functionality like layering, folders, and screen recording.
Cons: Takes some patience to learn the interface; free version lacks layering.
Bottom Line: This tool, while a bit of an adjustment from pen and paper, gives students ample room to grow creatively.
As more pro artists and designers transition to digital, it's useful to get students practice using digital drawing tools. But despite Tayasui Sketches' motto ("Stop thinking about the device, enjoy the sensation of drawing on paper"), drawing on a tablet (or phone) will require some adjustment (but also offer some benefit) for those used to paper. To help, there's some built-in instruction that, like the app itself, has a minimalist style, mostly showing illustrations of how to use various tools or gestures. This will give students a quick initial idea of the app's capabilities. Full documentation and tutorials on the Tayasui website are linked from the app.
To supplement built-in help, teachers can have students get each other up to speed. Try dividing up the different brushes and tools among students or groups of students (e.g., one group is assigned the watercolor tool). Have them explore their assigned feature and then (using the built-in screen recording function) record a short video tutorial demonstrating that feature. Students can then review those videos and get a sense of what's possible. Once students are feeling comfortable with Tayasui Sketches, the possibilities are endless. To keep things organized as students create, teachers might want to have students use the folders feature. Students could organize their work by assignment type, unit, or month/semester/year. This latter option would allow students to see how their work evolves over time.
Tayasui Sketches is an illustration app for iOS and Android. It has an elegant, minimalist design yet isn't lacking for features. Upon startup, users see a grid of previous drawings as well as a blank cell with a plus sign to create a new drawing. Students can start with a blank canvas or upload a picture from the device's camera roll. It's possible to create folders (represented as sketchbooks) for different illustrations and to group projects or styles together. Students could create a folder for each semester or year and see their improvement over time. It has a full array of different brush types (pencil, ink, watercolor, airbrush, etc.) as well as an eraser, undo history, layering, and cut and paste features. It's super easy to use, with the column of brushes and tools on the left, and an open canvas in the middle. Once a tool is selected, students can pick new colors and adjust the opacity and size of the current brush on the right. One nice touch for classrooms is the screen recording feature, letting students and teachers capture their drawing process and then share on YouTube or elsewhere.
Like other apps in this category, some of the more intriguing and useful features (e.g., layers) require an in-app purchase or upgrade to the Pro version. This means that more advanced students will want to upgrade to the full version or find a different app that features the use of layers for free. It can be frustrating when using the free version to get pop-ups advertising the paid upgrade. This happens when you click on unsupported brushes or tools, and a few moments after launching the app.
This is a popular illustration app for good reason. It has an attractive and fairly intuitive design, lots of brushes and tools, quick access to color and opacity options, and some standout features like screen recording, folders, and layering, which have tons of value in classrooms. Still, teachers will have to upgrade for some of these features -- like layering -- that make an app (vs. pen and paper) particularly useful for learning arts and design processes and techniques. For instance, in either the free or paid version, students can adjust the opacity of brushes. However, if they want to practice creating light base sketches and then layering on more opaque lines until they achieve their finished product, they'll need to upgrade.
Ultimately, as with any creation tool, engagement is heavily dependent on the task and students' intrinsic motivation. That said, Tayasui is designed in a way that makes it easy to get started, and with the Pro upgrade, even advanced artists will feel like their needs are met.