Education app of the week: Brushes for iPad

Every teacher I’ve told about the Brushes app for iPad has gone mad for how easy it is to use, how it can inspire students to get more involved in art lessons and the fact that it’s completely free too. It’s even made a splash with David Hockney…

What is Brushes?

Brushes (Taptrix Inc, free) is a painting app for iPad that, compared to others out there, is actually very complex and offers a variety of different brushes and techniques which usually cost quite a bit within an app. Now in its third version, it offers 14 different brushes with simulated pressure, huge brush sizes up to 512×512 pixels, adjustable brush settings (spacing, jitter, scatter etc), adjustable colours, hues, saturation and more. It’s also optimised for the incredibly high resolution Retina displays on the latest iPad devices, and has a wide range of sharing options via the cloud, email and social media.

World renowned British artist David Hockney is also a convert, and last year introduced a whole exhibition – A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy – devoted to paintings of the English countryside composed entirely using iPad and the Brushes app.

How can it benefit the classroom?

While the glut of features on offer may sound complex, Brushes is actually perfect for all levels, from primary up. Its bright, breezy interface is perfect for beginners, and it takes full advantage of iPad’s multitouch gestures so students can paint using just their fingers – zoom with a two finger pinch, toggle interface visibility with a single tap, tap and hold to access the eyedropper tool etc. In fact, one of our e7 customers Congleton High School have just started using Brushes in art lessons, and have blogged about it here. They said:

“This year I am trying to encourage all curriculum areas to get into mobile computing. One success is with art. They are now using Brushes (a free app) with their students […] The art teacher said that they all really got inspired and excited about using the iPads and software.”

What’s the best feature?

I love pretty much everything about Brushes, but one of the most useful bits has to be the redo/undo and versioning features. The app records every step of your painting, so you can quickly go back if you decide you don’t like the direction it’s going, and also watch the whole process back from your first stroke to your finished project. While this is very cool, it’s also a valuable tool for evaluating the processes students use, and assessing their progress in art classes.

Where can I get it?

Brushes 3 (Taptrix Inc) is free to download straight from the App Store to your iPad deployment, or from iTunes. If your students want to take their painting a bit further, there’s also an upgrade that lets you experiment with different layers, and that’s available within the app for an extra £1.99.

Want to know more about our favourite apps and Apple iPad in the classroom? Call us on 03332 409 333 or email You can also keep up with all our latest education news and reviews by following @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page.


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