Education app of the week: Brushes for iPad

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.


e7 resources: Design Day with iPad at Fernwood School

e7 resources: Design Day with iPad at Fernwood School

We were recently at Fernwood School, Nottingham, to lend them some iPad devices they could use as part of an upcoming Design Day event. This was a chance for staff and students to find exciting ways to use iPad for a wide range of creative subjects such as home economics and CDT, as well as get to grips with using iPad as part of a real lesson environment, before embarking on our free 1:1 iPad trial scheme, the e7 Project.

Handily, they filmed the whole thing, so you can check out how they got on below…

Want to know more about 1:1 iPad deployments in schools? See our e7 Project here, call 03332 409 333 or email You can also follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page.

e7 team: iPad training at Netherfield Primary School

e7 team: iPad training at Netherfield Primary School

Netherfield Primary School, Nottingham, recently signed up to our e7 free iPad  scheme and I went in today to hand over their 40 trial devices and make sure staff were comfortable using them before teaching. Netherfield had actually already purchased 24 brand new Apple iPad devices with Retina displays, and had given them out to staff over Christmas to get acquainted with, so it turned out they already knew much more than I was expecting!

On top of the 24 teachers who had already had chance to put iPad through its paces, the training session was opened up to a further 40 or so teaching assistants who we split into groups with the more iPad-savvy staff, so it turned out to be a pretty full hall in the end! 32 of the 40 new devices were going to be used by a foundation group of three to four year olds, with the other eight earmarked for a slightly older Nurture group (as well as being used as a bookable resource).

We started by running through all the physical features of iPad, including the different multitouch gestures and camera, and then had a bit of fun in the Photo Booth app. What the staff at Netherfield seemed to really love was how easy it was to create folders for apps and also create shortcuts to webpages, so they could set the pages they visit the most, such as their webmail, as their own apps on the home screen with just a couple of taps.

Another highlight for staff was iPad’s Guided Access feature. This lets you go into an app and highlight any areas you don’t want students to be able to access – such as advert banners and buttons for in-app purchases – so students can’t accidentally buy things on the school account. The staff all agreed that this was perfect for the age groups they would be working with, as was the ability to set up passcodes so students wouldn’t be able to leave an app without a 4-digit password. A demonstration of how tough the Griffin Survivor cases we send out with the e7 iPad deployment are (I started the training by mercilessly throwing my own iPad on the hall floor!) also went down well.

There were a few interesting questions from staff about setting up email (Netherfield use a system provided by the local authority), but ultimately they found using iPad pretty straightforward. The staff who had been using the devices over Christmas even wanted to show me a few things they had found interesting, including the Augmented Reality app, which launches interactive virtual animations when pointing the iPad camera at certain trigger images. Very cool!

We’ll be catching up with Netherfield Primary School again soon, but in the meantime, you can find out more about the e7 Project here). To keep track of all our latest e7 happenings, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page. Want to get involved? Call 03332 409 333 or email