Review: Forge Sketching App from Adonit

There is a whole host of note-taking and drawing apps for iPad especially, and a lot can be done with a free app and a cheap stylus.

The makers of the Jot Touch stylus, Adonit, have entered the sketching game with their new app Forge (free) for iPad. 

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Forge is a sketching, drawing, and design-brainstorming app for iPad that syncs with Adonit's Jot Touch stylus to create whatever you want on the “design walls”or blank canvasesin the app. Forge gives you the feel of a virtual desk, since you can see all your sketches in one place, categorized by project. 

You could compare it to the apps Paper, Bamboo Paper, and the Adobe Creative Suite apps like Adobe Line and Adobe Draw. All of these provide a sketching experience akin to that of Forge’s. 

To draw, you use the tools and colors available to you in the app, which seem to be more extensive than other apps where you can upgrade your brushes and colors with in-app purchases. It’s easy to get drawing, and the shortcuts are intuitive. My favorite is the swipe to undo; either use two fingers to swipe left, or set up a shortcut button on your stylus. 

Creating new sketches is a breeze, just tap the “new” icon on the top right, and there’s even an option to add the layers from the previous sketch to your new one, instead of keeping sketches in their own boxes. That idea is great for fluid design brainstorming. Just pinch the sketch shut to reach your "walls" again.

 

Connecting the stylus is easy, and once you follow the prompts a settings menu appears. There are buttons on the stylus that you can use to complete tasks (like undoing a brush stroke, for example). 

 

Some of my favorite features of Forge include layers. Users can choose to merge the layers with a simple pinch, remove layers, or turn down the opacity of layers. Another includes the color palettes (you can use the built-in ones or create your own!) and the quick way to change the weight of the brush you’re using.

Pros:

  • Stylus connection: Obviously, Forge works best with the Jot Stylus. However, it also works with your finger or any other stylus. The app also works well and recognizes that your hand will be resting on the iPad, not letting it interfere with usage (called palm rejection).

  • Color palettes: In apps like Bamboo Paper and Paper, you have to buy more colors and brushes. In Forge, you can create your own color palettes, and even use an eyedropper tool to pull colors from photos, which you can pull into your drawing space.

  • Sharing capabilities: Users can share their designs as a PNG, with the option of sharing them with all Apple native sharing capabilities, Dropbox, and AirDrop. Be careful! The background of PNG’s are transparent. PDF sharing is more limited to Messages, Mail, Dropbox, and AirDrop. 

Cons:

  • Niche market: Forge is really catering to a niche market—one that needs to sketch for work. However, if you fit that niche market, all power to you. 

  • Stylus connection when iPad goes to sleep: With a fully charged stylus in hand (which has a very cool magnetic USB charger), I started to draw. However, when the iPad went to sleep after a while, I had to connect the stylus again several times. I guess this is a hazard of the trade, but it does get a little repetitive. 

Final Verdict: 

Forge is an easy way to create and share ideas over a simple UI. Export options are almost unlimited, and the layers make a big difference if you’re sketching ideas. The included color and brush tools outshine other apps like it.

iPhone Life Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Abbey Dufoe's picture

Abbey Dufoe is a freelance writer and a web producer at a nonprofit based in Princeton, NJ. She's always itching for the newest iOS gadget (current favorite - the Apple Watch). She tweets and blogs about the earth and the Internet on Twitter at @abbeydufoe and at abbeydufoe.com.