Brushes 3

App review by
Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Media
Brushes 3 App Poster Image
Painting app offers lots of options for creative expression.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational value

Kids can learn about artistic composition, the color wheel, characteristics of the lines and shapes different brushes can create, and more by playing around on Brushes 3. Kids can practice drawing and painting digitally using different forms as a starting point -- a photo or a blank palette. They can also see how changing brushes, size of the canvas, and more affect their art. Brushes 3 looks deceptively simple, but it's actually a complex tool that can help kids express their creativity.

Ease of play

Simple choices to begin with -- choose a photo from your library, take a new photo, or start with a blank palette -- become more complex as you move into choosing brushes, zooming, and more. The app has very few prompts, and at the time of this review there's no formal tutorial in the app, which may be frustrating for some kids who don't intuit how to use some features. But it's easy to undo mistakes.


A layers upgrade is available as a $2.99 in-app purchase.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brushes 3 is the completely overhauled version of the app Brushes. Kids can draw and paint with many features and there's no exposure to offensive content -- the content is all what you create. Creations are automatically saved in the in-app gallery and can be shared via email (JPEG or PNG files) or via Twitter. 

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What's it about?

Kids begin by simply experimenting -- swiping and then tapping to choose a color from the color wheel. Then kids choose one of 12 basic brushes (that can all be tweaked with numerous options) and create. Select a blank palette or paint on a photo or photos from your device's library. Pinch to zoom or change the palette size. It's easy to undo mistakes. Kids can also watch their creations played back step-by-step, and share with others via Twitter or email.

Is it any good?

BRUSHES 3 is a totally revamped version of the original Brushes app, which won an Apple design award in 2010 and was featured as the method used to create a cover of The New Yorker. Don't expect your child's drawings to be exactly magazine-cover worthy when they first start using this app, though. The numerous features can create masterpieces and messes.

It's fun to take a photo from your device's camera roll and add color, drawing, or even make a collage of photos on one canvas and add more drawn art to the mix. Or simply take a blank canvas and try out different brushes to see what comes out of some freestyle drawing fun. It would be nice to see a tutorial added. Still, Brushes 3 is easy enough for kids to use but complex enough for serious artists to see the possibilities.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk about all of the different brushes. What mood can different brushes evoke in your art?

  • If your kid seems stuck using just the basic brushes and features, help them dig deeper into all of the options on Brushes 3. They may not be obvious at first to many kids.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Arts: drawing, painting
  • Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
    Creativity: imagination, making new creations
  • Price: Free ($2.99 layers upgrade)
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: October 17, 2012
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Size: 13.10 MB
  • Publisher: Taptrix, Inc.
  • Version: 3.0.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1 or later

For kids who love art and creativity

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