Art Rage: Painting So Real It’s Actually Wet

Amongst the plethora of painting and drawing apps found in the App Store, it’can be hard to find one that stands out. Apps tend to have a very similar feature set, and the same final product can really be achieved in any of the apps.

I’ve tried a shockingly large number of these apps myself, but always found myself staying away from using my iPad as a canvas. One day, I saw a new app called Art Rage. This port of a desktop app not only boasts most of the features found in other painting and drawing apps, but it also claimed to understand the wetness, thickness, and metallic qualities of various paints, as well as how the different tools would effect them. I was instantly intrigued, and knew that Art Rage was an app I definitely had to try.

Getting Started

When you first open the app, you’ll be presented with a gallery. The app includes some sample images, but once you start using it you’ll see the pieces that you’ve worked on. From that gallery screen you have the option to start a new painting, or to edit/delete/export an existing piece.

Gallery View

We’ll go ahead and start a new painting. From the very beginning, there are a huge number of options. You can choose the orientation and title of the painting, which are pretty basic options. As you delve in deeper though, you’ll find options like the color or grain of the canvas. Grain types are huge in number but include options like:

  • Fine Canvas
  • Crumpled Paper
  • Hatching
  • Mottled
  • Pillowing
  • And about 15 more options

In addition to choosing the grain type, you can choose the roughness and metallic qualities of the canvas.

Canvas/New Painting Settings

After you’ve decided on the canvas type, it’s time to really get started.

Don’t be afraid to do some scrap paintings to experiment with the different canvas styles. With such a huge variety, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but don’t neglect any. Some of the most random styles can produce incredible results.

The blank canvas begs to be explained before we delve into the tools of the trade. This app, similar to many apps of its type does offer the ability to work in layers. This is very helpful, especially when working on certain types of illustration within the app. Layers can be hidden or locked and the opacity can be changed. The blending modes can be experimented with, and layers can be used to add texture, as with most graphics programs.


If you’re feeling a little lost, don’t hesitate to check out their guide. They have a quick reference guide, with simple navigation tips and shortcuts. If you’re looking for a more detailed explanation, they probably have it in the detailed guide. If they don’t, they link to their online guide and forums.

Feeling uninspired? Try using a photo for reference. You can pin any photo that you have saved on your iPad to use as a reference for your piece. I find this tool to be particularly helpful and it’s saved me multiple times from lack of inspiration.

Reference Photo - Starry Night


Enough about getting started. Let’s actually do it!

I’ve got “Starry Night” up for reference. Let’s check out the tools. Art Rage differs from most apps on the market because it claims to have a smart understanding of how the different types of media function on the canvas. For example, it remembers the wetness, thickness and metallic qualities of paint. This makes it a much more realistic experience. There are too many tools to go into great detail, but we’ll take a closer look at a few.

If you’re just getting started on a piece, a good way to go is with a base layer using a pencil or pastels. You can sketch in the composition and then start working with color on a different layer.

Pencil Guide Layer and Available Tools

Once you’ve got something sketched in to work with, it’s time for the fun part. Color! This is when the app really gets exciting. Let’s start working with a pastel. The first thing to do is pick the color. If you’re feeling daring, choose the color manually in the color selector, located in the bottom right corner. If you’re playing it safe, there’s an eye dropper tool you can use to match any color in the piece/your reference photo. I’ve matched a color for the moon.

Color Selection - Color Mixer vs. Eye Dropper

I’m starting out with a pastel. It doesn’t look quite right, but never fear! There are always different options for the tools. Typically you can adjust the size and pressure of every tool. If you find that you tend to like a certain tool with certain settings, you can save it as a preset.

Tool Settings

There are a huge variety of tools available. I recommend trying them all. A unique tool offered in this app that really utilizes the knowledge of wetness of paint is the acrylic paint tube. Essentially, you squeeze out a dollop of paint onto the canvas. You can then use the palette knife, different brushes or a roller to work with that paint. It’s a unique way of using paint, and can produce some fantastic and quite realistic effects.

Acrylic Paint and Tool Effects

Saving Your Art

Once you’ve created your masterpiece (or a piece that looks like a 2 year old made, in my case) it’s time to do something with it! If you just want to keep the piece for your personal amusement, save it in the app, or send it to your photos. If you’d like to do more with it, you can send it to iTunes (as a .png or .jpg), email it or export it to a variety of online options. You can send it to the usual culprits, Facebook and Dropbox. If you’re particularly happy with a piece and ready for the criticism of the online art world, you can even upload it to DeviantArt. You can also paint it if you want to show it off in a more old-fashioned way.

Export Options

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Why does this app rock? The similarities to real life painting really sold me. I for one appreciate the experience of using an app that somewhat closely simulates what it’s like to actually put paint onto a canvas. The knowledge the app has about how paint works is fantastic. The blending modes and layers are fantastic and can really add some great touches to the app. It supports multi-touch gestures, so if that’s something you like to utilize you have plenty of options.

Multi-Touch Support

The app is extremely user-friendly. In fact, it’s one of the creator’s bragging points. This can be great at times! There’s often no need to go in and alter anything. The tools can be used at their default, or the simple settings can be altered to create whatever is needed.

On the other hand, this can be a downfall. At times, I’d like to achieve an effect that really needs some further tweaking of the tool. An advanced user mode would be extremely beneficial. The app can be a bit laggy at times, but this can easily be remedied by quitting some of the background apps.

Final Thoughts

I love this app, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s great for a quick sketch or a more detailed painting. The smartness of the paint and tools is fantastic. If I were able to adjust a few more options for the tools, it would practically be perfect. All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this app, and I look forward to trying the desktop version as well.

A Gorgeous Example


A painting app for the iPad that contains a huge variety of tools, paint that's so real it's almost wet to touch, and the opportunity to create dazzling beautiful and realistic pieces of art.