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If you could reduce the 20th century optical artist Victor Vasarely to his essence and jam him into your iOS device, you’d end up with Isometric, a sparse design app with a single creative element: the rhombus. There’s an old design adage, “less is more,” that seems to be the underlying philosophy of this universal app, which presents an almost Zen-like simplicity (in terms of interface and toolset), challenging you to make the most of its one basic building block. While this limitation is meant to be a creative motivator, we found it to be a little, well, limiting.
We’ve never encountered a graphics app so visually stripped-down; the first time you run it, you’re taken through the simple steps of creating the basic shape (by tapping on the screen), rotating it (by tapping on the shape), and zooming in and out of the canvas. There’s a single gear icon, which brings up the color-shading options, and the way coloring is handled is really smart: update the color on one of the three rotated states of a shape, and all the shapes with that rotation factor on the screen update instantly, letting you quickly try out different color combinations. You can also override this automatic linkage and drop custom colors on individual blocks with a paint bucket tool.
As you drag shapes around, you’ll find some intelligent position-snapping at work, helping you keep your blocks aligned in appropriate ways. One thing we immediately found frustrating is that there’s no way to select and manipulate multiple base shapes at once — if you want to move a subset of related shapes around and reposition them, you'll have to do it one at a time.
When you’re happy with your design, you can apply one of a dozen global surface texture effects — a few of which are useful; the others, less so — and save your art as a bitmap image, email it out, or upload it to Facebook. You can also open them directly in whatever compatible graphics apps you have installed on your device. There’s also a $1.99 in-app option for adding SVG output, letting you save you work as a vector graphic.
The bottom line. It’s fun to use, but unless you’re a true Victor Vasarely aficionado, you might find Isometric to be a bit simplistic. That said, it’s an inexpensive way to flex your creative brain muscles.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Slick, minimal interface. Fun creative possibilities.
One base shape a bit limiting. Frustrating interface elements.