One way I can often determine if an app is worth my time is by putting it through a specific test. If I get so sucked into an app that I forget I’m actually supposed to be gathering thoughts to write up a review, it’s because that app is generally pretty awesome. I had this somewhat rare experience with Recolor, a new coloring book app for adults on iOS.Now hold on, because I was admittedly a bit judgmental, too. I didn’t think I would ever care to use a coloring book. I was never good in art class as a kid and I’m slightly color blind between blue and purple, so pretty much all the signs in my life discourage coloring as a hobby.
But Recolor is different. You don’t have to scribble and try to get colors to fit within the borders. The designs are already drawn. You just need to pick a color and fill in a small block portion of the illustration. Don’t worry, the complex designs have hundreds so it’s not a quick process. Use two fingers to zoom in and out of the canvas to fill in smaller parts.
The beauty of Recolor is how easily it enables creativity. It’s stripped of most artistic functions and just leaves you with the duty of filling in the illustration with whatever colors you want.
Those colors, by the way, are beautiful. They’re arranged in multiple palettes with five colors in each palette. You have the bright and vibrant Salamander, the dull and wintry Into Dreams, the astronomical Star Seeker, the desaturated Cynicide, the diverse Birds of Paradise and the autumnal Broken Glass. There are six other wonderful color palettes as well and you can conveniently unlock those just by sharing a link to Recolor on Facebook.
Recolor includes over 200 unique illustrations that are allegedly “proven to help you rest your mind,” which I totally believe from experience. The app separates the illustrations into 10 packs: animals, bouquets, fishes, floral, insects, isometric, lowpolys, mandalas, mortes and ornates. Each pack comes with three free illustrations. You can unlock the rest individually for $0.99 per pack or $4.99 to unlock everything.
The pricing method is perfectly fair. Recolor doesn’t have any ads, so you can essentially use most of the app for free and then optionally add in the extras for five bucks — a purchase I’m seriously considering for my newfound artistry.
When you’re done coloring in your masterpiece, tap the check mark at the top to choose an effect for your design. Some examples include marker, crayon, watercolor and shiny. They all look exceptional and instantly add a layer of style. At last, save the final product or share your work of art on your social networks.
Now for a couple of gripes. While I admire the beauty of what’s purposely not included in Recolor, I do wish it had a color picker. When coloring I’d like to be able to select a color I already applied to one part of the image and use it again. Instead, I currently have to go back and browse through pages of palettes to find the one I’m looking for. On that note, it’d be seriously useful if I could also tap the palette title to expand the view and see more than five colors at a time.
Still, I’m pretty happy with the app as it is. I never would have pegged myself as a coloring book advocate. Recolor is beautifully designed, relieves anxiety and gives me a false sense of artistic ability. And I’m hooked on it. You can get it for iPhone or iPad for free with in-app purchases.