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If you’ve ever fancied creating fine art—worthy of hanging on the wall alongside greats like Picasso or Van Gogh—on your iOS device, Brushstroke lets you quickly realize that dream in only a few taps. The universal app makes it delightfully easy to create a frame-worthy piece of art using the built-in camera or existing device photos. Once imported, the app walks you through five key stages: Paint, color, canvas texture, image settings, and sign, which lets the mobile artiste put a digital signature onto each work of art.
The actual "paint" process is really just tapping on existing presets from a variety of styles, such as Medium, Hatched, Abstract, and Washed. We found most of these to be too heavy-handed with no real way to control the end result, although tweaking other settings later in the process usually produced acceptable results. When it comes time to put the virtual brush down and share your masterpiece with the world, Brushstroke offers the usual suspects (save to Camera Roll, email, iMessage, or social networks), as well as one unique option: Choose a canvas size and frame style, and then wait as CanvasPop delivers a wall-friendly print right to your home.
Although most of the paint styles tend to be an acquired taste, Brushstroke mostly delivers when it comes to UI and ease of use. We’re disappointed that there’s no way to access shared iCloud Photo Stream albums, however, although My Photo Stream itself is available. Troublingly, iPhone 5s users may want to stay tethered to AC power while using the app—we noticed the back of our device got quite warm along with a sudden rapid battery drain that sucked down several percentage points, even after just a few minutes of casual use. This issue was far less prominent on the iPad Air in our testing, so hopefully a future update will address such concerns.
The bottom line. Brushstroke turns any iOS user into a mobile Michelangelo, though the presets can be a bit severe—and a battery-draining bug dampens the iPhone 5s experience (at least) a bit.
iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 7.0 or later
Frame-friendly works of art with only a few taps. Step-by-step procedure makes it easy for all users. Ability to add digital signature. Instant sharing to social networks.
Significant processor usage and battery drain on iPhone 5s. No access to Shared Photo Stream albums. Paint styles tend to be extreme. No landscape support. Expensive optional CanvasPop prints.