Developer: Duck Duck Penguin
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Update: 5/23/2013, Version 1.1
Inkling has recently become Penception, and we wanted to update the review and video link to reflect the new name (makes it a bit easier to find). In addition to the title change the app now includes a new Vine brush, and there’s also Penception Pro for $5.99 that makes all the brushes available (no IAP unlocks) for one flat rate.

Most great works of art begin as a sketch. Heck, some of them are sketches. So naturally it would make sense to offer something akin to a sketchbook on iOS. Being able to pull out an iPhone or iPad and start jotting down visual ideas is a great option to have. And while Inkling may not be a trail blazer in this particular field it certainly does it justice.

inkling07Inkling lets users scribble down whatever they can imagine with their fingers with an emphasis on the pen and ink style medium. The free version includes all the basics needed to get started: a blank canvas, a range of color choices, and a few different re-sizable brush styles to choose from. Opening up various menu options or undoing actions is a simple matter of double-tapping in the right spot, and using photos for a background (if desired) is a possibility. For an extra $1.99 users can also unlock six additional brushes to further expand their options, as well as a fancy-looking “Procedural Sketch” brush for another $0.99.

One of the things I like most about Inkling is its sketchbook feel. Although it’s definitely possible to create complex works, of course. With enough familiarization with the interface jumping back and forth between pens, brushes, erasers, and so on is fairly easy. Being able to undo mistakes with a double-tap or two in the bottom left corner of the screen is also a handy feature as it’s easy to correct a mistake without interrupting any actual drawing. I also have to say that being able to sample the various brushes free of charge is incredibly nice.

There are bound to be some who take issue with the in-app purchases. Personally I think what’s available is very reasonable and the cost for accessing everything else is affordable, but it does require some extra spending to be able to play with everything. I found the interface for changing colors and brush sizes to be more of a bother, honestly. I absolutely love how the interface isn’t cluttered with menus but swapping between brushes/pens/erasers can take quite a few taps and start to feel a bit arduous.

All in all, Inkling is a simple, elegant sketching app. The free version offers just enough options to be useful, and those who want to get a bit more “serious” with their touch pad works can do so without breaking the bank. It’s a shame that reducing the interface clutter has resulted in a menu system that can sometimes be a pain to use but it’s a small price to pay in the long run.


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