Ever consider a professional-grade drawing tool on a mobile platform? Well now there's an app for that thanks to Autodesk, which released a mobile version of its SketchBook Pro painting and drawing software for the Apple iPhone and iTouch devices.
The SketchBook Mobile App, available for $2.99 from the Apple App Store, uses the same drawing engine as the professional version of the product, which is aimed at everyone from graphic designers and artists to industrial designers and others involved in the product development process. Autodesk says the mobile drawing tool fits into its digital prototyping story by providing an on-the-fly mechanism for designers and engineers to communicate concepts and freeform ideas or to troubleshoot problems using an environment they live in on a daily basis.
While not a full-fledged CAD or 2-D/3-D design tool, SketchBook Mobile can capture those raw ideas and sketches typically done on paper or napkins and incorporate them into the digital design process. "You can get an idea out of your head faster with a quick doodle than firing up Inventor or modeling something from scratch," says Chris Cheung, SketchBook product manager at Autodesk. "It fits into that portion of design before you get into CAD or maybe you're in between projects and have an idea."
Today, many of those freeform sketches get lost or never get incorporated into the formal design process. SketchBook Mobile's ability to do so can be a game changer when it comes to the overall design collaboration process, Cheung maintains. "Today, you don't see a lot of people taking the time to scan in a sketch they did," he explains. "The mere fact that early ideas are digital — that someone could do a quick doodle of a bracket or an idea for a layout — and send that out digitally as an e-mail in seconds after they had the thought is game changing. It's the equivalent of the napkin sketch getting consumed into the digital process in a way that's different than how it is today."
Just as the desktop version, SketchBook Mobile delivers a combination of digital pencils, pens, markers and airbrushes in addition to a gesture-based user interface. The software comes with 25 preset brushes and customizable brush settings along with customizable color swatches and a color wheel with RGB sliders to deliver a sophisticated palette.
Autodesk opted to introduce the software for the Apple mobile products because of the broad market opportunity. However, Cheung wouldn't rule out introducing versions for other devices and said there could be opportunity for additional Autodesk functionality on a mobile platform — a scenario that didn't seem to exist even as early as year ago. "As a new platform, these handhelds are revealing a lot of potential," he says. "It seems like anything is possible."