A clean interface and cross-platform support offset some glaring flaws
It wasn’t that long ago that digital artists had just one tool at their disposal. The granddaddy of all pixel pushers… Adobe Photoshop.
But as the medium matured and independent app developers blossomed, there became more and more options for creating digital art. Cheap portable tablets brought in whole new audiences who might never have invested in a Cintiq, but were happy to doodle digitally with their finger.
These days there are dozens of different digital art apps available, all with their own unique pros and cons.
Today we’ll be reviewing Tayasui Sketches, a popular art and design program that focuses on ease of use thanks to a dead-simple interface.
🤔 What’s in a name? While the developers are based in Paris, Tayasui is a Japanese word that means easy or simple.
Organize your art in digital sketchbooks
It’s worth noting that unlike some other popular digital art apps (we’re looking at you Procreate) Tayasui Sketches is available for BOTH Android and iOS devices. In our review we’ll be using an iPad Air with an Apple Pencil.
Boot up the app and you’ll be presented with a clean and minimal interface that shows a simple sketchbook icon in the middle of the screen.
Instead of tiled photo grids, Tayasui Sketches uses virtual sketchbooks to organize your art. While these are essentially fancy file folders, it does make for a nice way to arrange pieces. Creating a “portrait sketchbook” or “landscape” sketchbook can be done with just a tap.
The tools ARE the interface
If you’re used to drawing with an app like Photoshop or Procreate, you’ll find the interface of Tayasui Sketches a pretty stark departure. Instead of brush panels and tool pickers, you’re presented with an assortment of traditional tools on the side of the screen.
Tap a tool like a pencil or marker and that’s what you’re drawing with. While some tools have additional options like nib shape, what you see is what you get. There aren’t hundreds of brush styles to pick from, nor can you edit the existing tools.
That said, each tool does feel like accurate representation of its real-world counterpart. The full list includes:
Fine liner pen
Non mark-making icons like the ruler and exacto knife open more technical tools like area fills, cut/paste and resizing.
The opposite side of the canvas is equally minimal and includes two sliders for opacity and brush size.
A tap of the colors panel in the corner brings up a palette of quick-access colors which can be edited with a long press.
Did you hear that?
One of the more charming quirks of Tayasui Sketches is the audible feedback you hear as you draw and paint. Each tool has a distinct sound as you work on the canvas. The scratch of a pencil or soft swoosh of a brush matches the strokes you make on screen.
While it’s possible this might get old with extended use, we found it nice (and kinda relaxing) to hear the feedback of the tools in action.
Tayasui Sketches vs Procreate
Although the app has its perks, Tayasui Sketches can not be said to be in the same league as a powerhouse like Procreate. The ‘Sketches’ portion of the name is a key giveaway – it’s for simple illustrations that don’t require a large tool set.
Procreate on the other hand is an incredibly feature-rich application that has no trouble producing commercial art for the likes of Disney and Sony… as long as they stick to iOS. 😉
For a quick comparison, check out the table below for some of the differences between Procreate and Tayasui Sketches.
The app is free to download for Android and iOS users with limited features. For $5.99 users can upgrade to the Pro version of Tayasui Sketches, which unlocks more options like:
More tips/nibs for each tool
The ‘Wet Watercolor’ brush
Gradients and patterns
Cloud sync through iCloud
Saveable color palettes
In spite of its simplicity and ease of use, there are a few issues with the app that could use some work…
You can’t change the canvas dimensions.
This one is a real head-scratcher, but you can NOT edit the app’s canvas size or resolution. Each piece measures 2224 x 1668 pixels whether you like it or not.
You can’t rotate the canvas as you draw.
One of the key features that makes working digitally possible is being able to rotate your canvas as you go. It leads to better control of your wrist and a more stable line, but simply isn’t possible here.
Screen recording is a major disappointment.
Speedpainting videos are tons of fun and can be quite educational. Tayasui Sketches looks like it has a screen recording feature for creating your own timelapses, but… it records in real time.
An 87 minute drawing resulted in a massive 87 minute, 2.5GB video file. ☹️
For artists looking for a streamlined, zen-like drawing experience Tayasui Sketches might be worth a try. If you’re just dipping your toes into digital art, you’ll appreciate the relatable tool set and minimal interface in spite of a few issues under the surface.