2-1 Windows 10 devices are becoming more popular each year. From innovative devices made out of leather to Microsoft's own Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go, Windows devices are becoming a better choice for artists as well. Concepts is a popular sketching and design application on iOS and it's made its way to Windows 10, bringing handy tools and adding some Windows-specific features.
Concepts is available for free on Windows 10 and also has versions on iOS and Android. The free version of concepts has some basic features but if you want more features and brushes you'll need to purchase bolt-ons. You can get the Essentials pack for a one-time price of $9.99 or get everything for $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year.
Sketching on steroids
While its easy to get caught up in Concepts feature list and interface, its important to point out that at its core, it's an excellent sketching and design app. You can use a variety of pens and brushes to create art and can easily adjust brush thickness, opacity, color, and more using Concept's radial menu. I wouldn't call Concepts simple, but it doesn't pack in unnecessary features that get in the way of art. You can boot it up, pick your tool, and sketch away.
While physical mediums have their advantages, Concepts comes with the advantages of working on a screen rather than paper. You can undo mistakes, edit things after you've created them, copy and paste items, and match colors perfectly. It's a great way to express yourself on a device that you might already have for work or school.
Under the hood Concepts uses vector and raster creation tools to make art that you can manipulate, rescale, and adjust. It does all this without you really having to know how it's working or what a vector it, but the end result is digital content that you can easily edit.
There are numerous gestures and shortcuts that allow you to grab items, copy elements of a composition, and create digital artwork. I found the learning curve for these to be steep, but I'm an app expert, not an art expert. I admit that I'm much more versed in UI layouts and app features than I am drawing.
When you're done with a project you can export it and share it wherever you'd like. To export with higher than 300dpi you need to have at least the Essentials add-on.
Concepts has a strong presence on iOS. The company that owns concepts highlights big names like Disney, Apple, and Nike using their apps. With many apps that are iOS staples, Windows users have to find similar equivalents, third-party clients, or use a first-party app that's far behind its iOS counterpart. Luckily, that isn't the case with Concepts. It isn't exactly at feature parity with iOS, but it is by no means abandoned like some other Windows apps. Some notable things that are missing are SVG support. It's not completely the same as the iPad version but the smooth performance, overall look and feel, and many features are shared across the versions.
In addition to bringing over much of the functionality and UI that is available on the iPad version of Concepts, the Windows 10 version also has some Windows 10-specific features Surface Dial support. You can also use tilt and pressure support on pens to create finely-constructed artwork. I've seen developers toss in Surface Dial support or just throw in features to look like they're invested in Windows 10, but again, I don't think that's the case here. Concepts takes full advantage of hardware like that of the Surface Studio or Surface Pro and creates an excellent digital canvas for artist and designers.
Overall thoughts on Concepts
Concepts is an excellent addition to the Microsoft Store. It brings multi-layered digital art to Windows 10 devices and works nicely with the Surface Dial, digital inking, and other aspects of Windows 10. I've seen reviewers point out that it runs smoothly on the Surface Go. While I can't testify to that personally, I'm not surprised that people have had a positive experience. Concepts is a great example of a well-recognized company bringing their app from iOS to Windows 10 without pulling punches.
There's a learning curve when it comes to the interface, but once you have it down I think most will enjoy. The radial menu is easy to navigate and pops into a large color wheel that is both attractive and functional.
My biggest complaint is that you can't purchase everything within the app outright. You can purchase the Essentials plan or subscribe to get everything else, but you can pay a flat rate to have access to everything for life.
Overall, Concepts is an impressive drawing and design app with a low price point for the basics. If you like the app and want to expand to more features and brushes you can spend more to make the app more powerful.
- Smooth performance.
- Variety of creative tools.
- Microsoft-specific features.
- Steep learning curve for interface.
- No option to purchase full version outright.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.