Paper by FiftyThree vs ArtStudio

There has been much talk about an application for the iPad called Paper by 53. There are other apps that have a similar name and you have to be sure to look at that one, to see what I am talking about here. The chat has been coming from people that are non artists, but have have fallen in love with an app that will let them draw stuff. It has been mentioned on a number of Mac podcasts and seeing as I has a degree in Fine art and used to be a teacher of art, I felt I should get it and have a look. I wanted to cast a professional eye over it and give my opinion about the Paper app available for the iPad.

Paper by FiftyThree for iPad

Trying out the free version of Paper by Fiftythree

Once I had the information about finding the correct version, I was able to get the app on the iPad really quickly. You only get one tool in the free version and I am not sure that is enough to give a good enough experience of the flavour of this app. The app is so simple that you don’t even get any options to alter the way that the one tool that you get works. I tried double tapping it and tapping and holding, but nothing at all. Very disappointing!

What is good about the Paper drawing application?

Well I suppose it is pretty. When you open the Paper by FiftyThree app it presents you with some sketch books and they look nice. You can scroll to the sketchbook you want to use and you can make new sketch books. There are some options for the look of the sketch book. It is possible to add an image to the outside of the book. Helps to differentiate between books that you have available to use. Or you can use one of 12 built in cover colours or images.

Tap on the sketchbook and it animates open and you can scroll through the pages until you get to the one you want. When your page opens ready for you to start drawing or sketching it spreads out in an animated way which is quite pleasing. Then all you have is a pen tool and an eraser. That’s it and to get anything else you have to pay with in app purchases. It is 79 € cents to buy tools separately or you can buy all for €5.99. If you do buy everything all you have will be five tools. For the price being asked, i think that it is not enough. There are other apps out there with much more to offer. We will compare this with Art Studio shortly.

Where are the colours in Paper by FiftyThree?

I tried tapping on ten colours to get to the full range, but nine colours is all you get. Very poor selection of colours. As you might guess, I am somewhat disappointed with Paper by FiftyThree. I have to wonder why so many people have tried it and recommended it. It really doesn’t have much functionality or usefulness. I checked out the write up for the app and they make a bid deal abut there not being any settings. All well and good but there is not much functionality that is hidden in the application either.

One neat trick that Paper has up its sleeve is the way that you can rewind. If you use two fingers on the screen like you were going to rotate something and you get a go back in time option. You can remove how ever much of your drawing that you want to. I did think I should be able to zoom in, but not so with the free version of the app.

ArtStudio for iPad  draw paint and edit photo for iPad

Art Studio for iPad is a much better proposition for artists.

Let the non artists with little or no art skills use apps like Paper by 53 and for the proper creatives, we have apps like ArtStudio iPad to use. In ArtStudio you have layers, a complete and full colour choice. There are filters you can apply on a layer by layer basis. Art Studio gives you 25 brushes including pencils, brushes, eraser, smudge tool, bucket fill, glow, tube, airbrush and you can also do gradient fills. All of the tools have loads of settings that you can work with to give you unlimited creative options. You can change the opacity of a tool, the width or thickness of the tool. The brushes can have thin or thick ends and you even get lines which will change according to the speed with which you draw the line. Then you can alter the jitter, the shape of the brush and whether it fades as you draw. With all these options, it only makes sense that you can save customised brushes as favourites. This app on the iPad is nearly as good as Pixelmator is for the Mac.

Fully functioned drawing and painting app for the iPad

The first of the icons that you get to see the bottom of your screen is the one you use to choose the tool you want. You can also hold the icon down to get to extra option. The options for the chosen tool will appear. You will be able to choose exactly how you want the tool to behave while you are using it.

In ArtStudio you have colours by the bucket full

There is a colour swatch that appears by default And it is a much better starting point than what you get from Paper by 53. Hold down the icon for the colours and you can get any colour you want and also use an eye dropper to choose a colour from your image. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Put it all onto layers in ArtStudio

The third icon is for layers and again the is a wealth of choices. There is the option to choose how the layer interacts with the layers underneath. So you could have screen, overlay, multiply and a few others. This makes this app a photoshop for the iPad. It is also possible the transform the layer. So you can scale, move, flip and rotate the layer.

Next you have the icon to set up for the straight lines, rectangles, ellipses, polygons and if you want to have a line that is smoothed out or not. Or top of that you can get it to do symmetrical drawings on either a vertical or horizontal axis. Some very useful tools there.

While I was working on a test drawing, I wanted to get in closer to do some detail work on a part of my drawing. What I was very pleased to see, was that I had unlimited zoom, so I could get in very close to do what I needed to do. Excellent – Excellent to be able to get right in there to do the detail work.

Trying the tools in ArtStudio


Filter the results in ArtStudio

There is an icon then which is for choosing the eighteen filters available. There you can set a filter to deal with contrast, saturation which will be good for editing photos and then there are the filters for gaussian blur, sharpening, pixelation of the whole image, or you can add grain effect.

Have a look at Paper by FiftyThree vs ArtStudio for yourself and make up your own mind, there are lite versions of both apps available in the App Store. Get ArtStudio lite and Paper by FiftyThree which will cost you nothing and see which one you like the best.


10 thoughts on “Paper by FiftyThree vs ArtStudio

  1. David Allen says:

    Send me your drawings that you have done on your iPad. I will set up a page to display them

  2. This is pretty cool – almost makes me wish I had an iPad. Do you really think professional artists will use it?

    1. Wizardgold says:

      Yes sure professional artists will be happy to use a good app like this. There will be some that will stay stuck on old fashioned analogue ways. It takes all sorts..

  3. Joanne Greco says:

    Sounds like a great app for artists. I don’t have an ipad, but this would be an appI would get for my daughter if we did. 

    1. Wizardgold says:

      The iPad is great I use it for all sorts of tasks. Taking the attendance register in class, looking up IMDB while watching TV, reading Kindle books, and drawing.
      Good for watching movies too using airplay. I stream them from my iMac.

  4. Hi 

    Sounds like a neat app. I think teens
    would like this.

    1. Wizardgold says:

      Yep Good for any age

  5. Leigh says:

    Not Apple related and I don’t have an iPad but I dabble in the Art Academy app for the DS and DSi. Your quite limited in the size of the drawings (640 x 480 I think) but it does accurately represent real life drawing tools (in my opinion any way).

    I enjoy the fact that you can carry it in your pocket and whip up a sketch while you’re waiting at the Dentist. So cool. 

    1. Wizardgold says:

      True so true to be able to whip your device out and do a quick drawing. I love working on layers so that I can build up on something done quick and dirty to make it more like finished and heading towards good.

  6. I’m fairly sure i’ll be downloading the Paper by FiftyThree app for my ipad. 

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