Home > Features > Product Review: SketchBook Pro 2

I have in front of me...one of the starkest interfaces I have ever seen. My first thought is: if this tool is as powerful as they say it is, there must be some secret power locked away in the inner depths of its interface. As it turns out, Autodesk's SketchBook Pro 2.0 (acquired as part of the Alias buy) is indeed, a unique and powerful application. And designers on the Macintosh of all variety may find that jumping from paper or trace to a digital sketching tool is finally the right thing to do. But that will depend on several factors (which we'll discuss in some detail in this review).

An Ergonomic Interface

Imagine a top view of a car's interior and dashboard layout. Now imagine a driver's right hand extended toward the dash straight over the steering wheel, arm straight. Now imagine rotating that right arm/hand clockwise, from the shoulder joint, while keeping the driver's shoulders straight to about the 1:30pm position. Repeat the process with the left/hand arm going counter-clockwise. You just made an arc. And you just did the same thing SAAB engineers did to determine the curvature of their 9-5 sedan's interior dashboard design (see image 07 on page 3).

The reasoning behind this ergonomic design is that a driver should not have to lift their shoulders or back from their seat in order to reach all controls inside their cars. Hence, SAAB's famous cockpit-inspired interiors give the Swedish automaker a unique feature in the market.

Somebody at Alias must have had a similar idea when they came up with the unique ergonomic interface behind SketchBook Pro 2. The interface is based on the way a human "arcs their arm" and hand from the elbow up to the right when drawing -- starting from the left lower edge across the canvas. (see image 01 and 02) This reflects what they refer to as a bio-mechanical movement. For lefties you can push the tool palette to the lower right also. The application also allows the manipulation of the interface using a Pen Table using a gesture like the flick of a pen.

01 - Biomechanical movement
02 - Ergonomic Tool Palette

SketchBook Pro's interface is indeed sparse, and it takes some time moving down the computer screen for tools (especially for Mac users who work from the top down in the OS). However, there are the traditional modal palettes and inspectors for modifying tool settings, and these you can position where you like on the screen.

Next page: Painting - The Heart of the Application


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Home > Features > Product Review: SketchBook Pro 2




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