Can this digital software make you a better artist?

Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro 7 art software is liberating – once you get your head around its interface.

This Manga-esque piece was created jointly by CreatureBox’s Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin in Sketchbook Pro

Autodesk's SketchBook Pro app has become such a huge hit on tablets that it’s easy to forget it began its life as a desktop program. The latest version (£50 or £40 for an upgrade) reminds us that it’s still very much alive and well on large and unwieldy computers and, in fact, better than ever.

There's a bit of a learning curve, especially if you've never used SketchBook Pro before. The interface is a little simplistic, with no labels and lots of slightly confusing colour wheels and menus.

The openness of Autodesk’s software inspires lighter and more fluid art. Image courtesy of CreatureBox: Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin

A slightly odd element for those new to SketchBook is the Lagoon, a quarter-circle menu that gives you quick access to essential functions and features.

Yet once you grasp its workings, SketchBook Pro 7 is revelatory. It looks and works like no other, and the minimalist approach means that it feels freeing.

Useful new features in SketchBook Pro 7 include a Flipbook option and these perspective grids.

New to version 7 are perspective grids and the nifty Flipbook feature that enables you to create flipbook-style animations. There are no tweens or skeletal animation systems here: instead, it's an introduction to proper old-school, frame-by-frame cel animations.

Despite our initial problems getting our heads around SketchBook, it's still one of the best pieces of art software out there.

Autodesk has even added a subscription plan - you can use the software for a very reasonable $25 a year, and there’s a stripped-back free version that you can try for as long as you like, before buying the full version. But, most importantly, it makes digital drawing plain ol' fashioned fun.

Images: CreatureBox

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 115.