Software Review: Alias SketchBook Pro | WebReference

Software Review: Alias SketchBook Pro


Software Review: Alias SketchBook Pro


The "lagoon" is the heart of the interface, where most of the tools are accessed.


It has been with great delight that I had the opportunity to test Alias Sketchbook Pro, an application designed with the Artist in mind (I tested this application on a Pentium 900 with 640 MB of RAM, a Quadro 4 video card, an IBM 19" monitor and a Wacom Intuos 9x12 tablet).

SketchBook Pro offers a straightforward learning curve, where I got up to speed in only a few hours. Part of the reason for this is the simplicity of the interface (a.k.a. the "The Lagoon,"), which you can position at the lower left/right corner depending on whether you're left/right handed. Selecting a tool is a simple process. When you press the pen stylus onto a tool, additional tools appear. From there, simply stroke or flick your pen through the tool you wish to use.

Note: Be sure you keep your pen in contact with the tablet until the end of your stroke, otherwise the screen may not update until you touch the tablet again with your pen. With a bit of practice, the stroke with become an automatic gesture on your part.

Also, be aware that the barrel button on your pen is not used by this application.


The Edit Brush dialog box offers control over the type and properties of your brush.

  To select a brush, press down on the brushes icon then draw your stylus over the brush you wish to use. Choices are the default marker, pen, brush, airbrush, pencils, and eraser. Another option is to choose the Brush Selector, which brings up a dialog box with two tabs at the top. The default tab offers several preset brushes and you can copy any of those over to the custom tab for further refining. Click to select a brush, then click on the Edit button at the bottom of the dialog box. This brings up the Brush Editor which offers controls such as type (pencil, pen, airbrush, etc.), edge quality (soft, solid, hard), size, opacity, roundness, stamp and spacing.

Layers are a key feature that allow you to experiment with blending and transparency.

  A key feature to the flexibility of this software is a nearly limitless supply of transparent "layers." These layers allow you to draw on top of a background image or document, and add notes, comments and/or sketches. As an example, let's say you were working on an architectural project. You could open an image file, make a series of notations on it; then email the entire file to a client or colleague. Other layer options are layer order, merging, hide, lock, etc.

This drawing is only a sample of what you can do with SketcBook Pro.

  A portion of a drawing created with Sketchbook Pro. This image was created using a tranparent image on the bottom layer, with two layers above, one for the background and one for the figure itself. Once the basic shape of the figure was drawn in, the background layer was made fully transparent so I could concentrate on refining the drawing.

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By Nathan Segal Associate Editor:
Created: May 15, 2003
Revised: May 15, 2003