• Ryan M. Pierson

Harmonious for iPad Redefines What Drawing Apps Can Be

I’ve long been a fan of art, whether it be abstract or something closer to realism. Art is defined differently for each artist, and what someone sees in a particular piece may vary greatly from anyone else. Monet, Van Gogh, and da Vinci were a few timeless artists who have helped shape the world through their expressive interests. Unfortunately, not everyone (including myself) is gifted with the ability to put the images they see in their mind to paper. Thankfully, technology has given us a few ways to express ourselves visually through the assistance of some incredibly helpful apps. One of these apps is Harmonious by The Angry Robot Zombie Factory.

User Interface Harmonious is one of those drawing apps that gives you a blank canvas and lets you do what you will upon it using a variety of different brushes and tools. The one downside to this app I noticed right away is that it appears locked in portrait mode. While you certainly can use it in a landscape capacity, the tools, header, and footer retain their portrait location and tilt. Aside from this setback, the UI is very straightforward and there is virtually no learning curve beyond memorizing what the little icons stand for.

User Experience and Options There are a variety of different brush styles to choose from, and each one provides a very different shading and marking style. Unlike most drawing apps, the brushes here do a lot more than simply mark the project where your finger falls on the screen. Moving slowly or quickly changes the depth and boldness of the stoke, and if you bring two lines close enough together they will shade the space between them automatically. You can choose how dark or light to make this shading, and how detailed it is by altering the speed of your finger movement. Further to that, each brush offers a different pattern so you may shade the space with a more natural shading pattern or something more like a spider web.

You can customize your canvas color with a couple simple taps. A color wheel allows you to choose the hue and brightness of the color, giving you a virtually limitless set of options before you. The same color selection method goes for the brushes, though it took some time to get used to how quickly lines and shading darkened when I moved my finger back over the area to fill it in a little further.

There is also a feature referred to as an Organic Undo which removes but leaves a slight impression of the last few brush strokes, much like a real note pad. I didn’t find this feature exceptionally useful, but to a user who appreciates the touch of realism, this could be an interesting feature.

Sharing Another area where Harmonious could use a touch more work is in the area of sharing. You can upload your artwork directly to Harmonious and share it with the community. Choosing to do this anonymously is an option, and I was never asked to sign up or sign in to any service. Unfortunately, where Harmonious falls short is that it doesn’t utilize the API of some of the more common photo sharing sites to make sharing your creation easier. Flickr, Facebook, Twitter (via TwitPic), or any other photo sharing service would have been a very welcome sight. You can choose to save your work locally and upload it yourself using other tools, but that’s an extra step that could be avoided with a little extra work on the part of the developer.

Results

Over all, Harmonious is well worth the free download, especially if you have become frustrated with being unable to create something that looks the way you want it to look using traditional drawing methods. Before long, you may find yourself sitting back in awe of what you can create with this simple app.

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