6

Sep

Head to head of free mobile drawing and painting apps – Paintology & Paintjoy


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Drawing apps are becoming more popular because of the popularity of the touchscreen smartphones helped by the huge popularity of the Google Android operating system (OS). Today, Android is the number one platform for mobile units and its an astonishing achievement considering that it was launched only a few years ago and needed to compete with the well established operating systems from Apple and Nokia. Again, Google has proved it’s huge might when it comes to penetrating high volume markets. Device manufacturers have benefited tremendously from the rise of the Android OS and one company that has made headline news is Samsung. The truth is that Samsung would not be where it is with their Samsung Galaxy range of phones if it wasn’t for the open platform operating system of Android.

 

All this translates to a superior interface for users and an operating system that will accommodate new applications that come into the Google market on a daily basis. Two such applications have particular significance in their category of painting and drawing, Paintology and Paintjoy. These two applications are unique in their category of free apps in that they both offer superior brush styles as well as a good interface that can turn you into the next De Vinci! So how do these two unassuming applications compare head to head in our comprehensive review.

 

Before we dive into our tests, lets evaluate the product category and define a wish list of the ideal product that will meet all the requirements of this product. If you look at the many varied types of apps that are available in this category they seem very varied and it would seem at first sight challenging to come up with common definitions. In actual fact, since the apps may have a different theme they all rely on very fundamental common tools that drive the whole app. Take for example the drawing or painting capabilities of the app. Despite many other features added to make each product stand apart from others, the performance, functionality and ease of use of the drawing tools will define how well this product compares with others. It is no good having poor drawing tools even though the concept of the game or application is good. In time, people will become frustrated and another competitor will come in to take care of business.

 

The reason why Paintology and Paintjoy stand out from others, is because their tools have not only a good range of features but they also perform very well and produce the final drawing with pizzazz. Many apps fail to make this mark since they go for the aesthetics only and overlook the important functional aspects. Although this may work with new users but adept users who use it on a regular basis will eventually discover its limitations and look elsewhere. So an important aspect of good app development should allow a good range of features with high performance and ease of use that will keep the user going for a long period of time. This is where Paintology and Paintjoy enjoy their positions. So lets get down to business and compare the two!

 

Interface (Canvas)
The two interfaces are shown in fig 1 (Paintology) and fig. 2 (Paintjoy). Right away we can see the advantage that Paintology has over Paintjoy with regards to the interface. Both Paintology and Paintjoy share a similar canvas size but how they utilize the whole area of the device makes them distinct from each other. In both landscape modes Paintjoy has a constant ad running towards the left hand side whereas Paintology utilizes this space to cleverly position the color palette. To the right also we have a fixed mode of operation for Paintology where the tools are fixed rather than Paintjoy where one needs to tap the flower icon each time to access the tools. This naturally adds several steps to the process of creating or drawing an image which can amount to a significant number of clicks when creating an intricate drawing. There are obvious reasons why Paintjoy went via this route for the ad and this is to take advantage of the many impressions that will take place when users download and use the app. However, its not clear why they opted for the flower icon (a tedious extra click) to get to the essential tools for drawing. Perhaps, it is to give users more real estate space on the drawing area but if you compare with Paintology, the amount of space recovered is not that big of a deal. I am confident that users would opt for a ‘fixed’ set of tools like Paintology rather than an additional step of click through as in Paintjoy.

 

Paintology – 5
Paintjoy – 3

 

Color Selection Tool
The color selection or palette is probably the most important tool for any drawing tool in addition to the brush selection. Paintology has come up with an entirely new interface not seen on other devices with its unique selection tool always visible to the user in canvas or drawing mode (fig. 1). A user simply scrolls through the primary color on the left hand side and a box appears next to it which offers the variation of the primary color. This is handy when you are say painting grass and you want variations of the green ie. dark or light. You can pick the correct shade of green by scrolling to the primary color and then selecting the shade from the box. To select a different shade, you simply tap on the box below which opens up the shade box with a pointer to the previous color shade and you can move this to any part of the box to select a different shade of color… very neat. Paintjoy has a standard method of selecting colors which practically all drawing apps found in the android market employ. This is mainly due to the ease of programing when it comes to development of the app. You first tap the flower and then it opens the tool bar which is essentially a similar tool bar to Paintology and then you select the color palette. This opens up a large window spanning the entire device window where you can select any different sets of primary colors or shade. You then exit that screen by clicking on the ok button. There are three steps to picking out the right colors whereas the Paintology only has one. Clearly Paintology will allow a user to rapidly develop a drawing faster than Paintjoy does. Naturally there can be more improvements over this interface such as color pickers and the translucency which are only found in heavyweight desktop applications such as Adobe Photoshop.

 

Paintology – 4
Paintjoy – 2

 

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Brush Selection Tool
Aside from the color selection tool, the brush styles although perhaps not frequently used as the color palette during the course of a drawing can be important for advanced artists. Here, we are looking again at the speed at which brushes can be accessed and applied to the canvas. Unfortunately, Paintjoy by its own interface design includes an additional step to getting to the brush tool which is to tap the flower icon then the brush tool to open up the brush window. In Paintology, the brush tool is already visible to the user and a user simply clicks on that to open up the brush window. Paintology’s and Paintjoy’s brush windows are shown in figs. 3 and 4 respectively. There are no discernable differences between the two interfaces and both share an equal range of brushes (approx. 20). Paintjoy offers a visual tool against each of the brushes whereas Paintology provides names. In addition, both apps use different naming systems for the brushes and the parameters that control the brush styles such as color, opacity (hardness) are available to both apps. The additional step required to access the brush window in Paintjoy is let down whereas Paintology’s ease of access of the brush window makes drawing easier.

 

Paintology – 4
Paintjoy – 3

 

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Album
The albums are the areas where you store all your creatives and works of art and figs 5 and 6 show the respective album photo selected for Paintology and Paintjoy. A good management system is essential to the overall use of this app. Fortunately, both apps do well in this department with Paintjoy perhaps having an edge over Paintology. The overall feel of the album picture selections of images are smoother in the Paintjoy app whereas Paintology has yet to hit the mark in this area. However, where Paintology does win, is the filename handling which Paintjoy lacks. As a user of this app, it’s important to save the work especially if you have been spending many minutes if not hours on a piece of drawing. The last thing you want to do is have all your work lost. Also a word of warning, many devices do not allow for apps to retain their last session, so if your device goes to standby you may lose all the work you have done. Make sure to save your work at regular periods to avoid having your work lost. If you have used desktop word processing systems you will notice that the software application automatically saves your work which you can recover if the computer fails such as in a power failure. Paintology allows for the creation of user defined filenames whereas Paintjoy saves drawings based on its own filing methodology. Paintology has a neat feature where the filename is already pre defined so that you don’t have to keep typing filenames which can be disruptive to your work. The advantage of filenames is that it allows you to search or look up files through the gallery according to the names you have provided. This added feature in Paintology brings the score level along with Paintjoy in the scoring of the album section.

 

Paintology – 4
Paintjoy – 4

 

Other features (pinched zoom)
The pinched zoom feature is an important development of touch screen displays which evolved from the Apple’s operating system. It has a myriad of uses such blowing up maps, when reading small text in browsers and seeing a close up of photo details. In the case of drawing apps, it has its uses in providing the user to zoom in on the drawing to make intricate detailed work in some sections of the drawing. This is a very useful feature especially if the screen size is small as in the case of most smartphones. This feature can pave the way for multiple sectioned drawings, for example, by dividing the canvas area into several sections, an artist can work in each of these sections and effectively stitch the drawings together to complete the whole drawing. Although, one has to see this method of painting develop in these types of app, but in time we may see this happening since it clearly extends the limitations of the small screen.

 

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Paintology’s pinched zoom feature has been very well thought out as shown in fig. 7. By selecting the tool (concentric squares) on the right you go into the pinched zoom mode whereby using your thumb and an index finger you can expand the zoom area of the canvas. The brush style sizes are retained even in the zoom mode which is what is expected since this would be in conflict with brush style in the normal mode and abstract information would be lost. Paintjoy has a similar zoom feature (fig 8) but it is not as intuitive as Paintology. The feature that really excels in this area is the way the zoom feature icon (concentric squares) are used for reporting the zoom level. A yellow indicator on the icon itself becomes smaller or larger depending on the zoom level and you can tell if you are in the zoom mode and to some extent what degree of zoom. The zoom mode on Paintjoy is unwieldy and users have reported unexpected operation when using their fingers in their latest build. No doubt many subsequent designers and developers of drawing packages will copy the beautiful and simple design of the pinched zoom feature available in Paintology.

 

Paintology – 5
Paintjoy – 3

 

Conclusion:

Two Android painting and drawing applications offered by Paintology and Paintjoy go head to head in this detailed review. These two apps stand apart from other drawing packages in that their tools are not matched by other apps when it comes to sheer features and flexibility of use. Both apps are made available free in the Android market for the end users.

 

In this review, Paintology is a clear winner in terms of its superior interface and power of use. Although Paintjoy does not lack any features, what is let down are the number of click throughs one needs to go through to access the most usable tools such as the color selections and brush styles. This is not apparent in Paintology where the color palette and the most used features are readily available in the drawing mode through one tap of the finger or stylus. The big advantage of this will become readily apparent when users spend time creating an intricate drawing.

 

Features Paintology Paintjoy
Interface 5 3
Color selection 4 2
Brush selection 4 3
Album 4 4
Zoom 5 3
Ease of use 5 3
Overall 27 18

 

Clearly Paintology sets the standard for the new lightweight drawing packages available today. When it comes to a drawing application for your smartphone, and especially a free one at that you will not do better than selecting Paintology.

 



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