I’m not an artist – I can barely pick up a paintbrush without accidentally stabbing myself in the eye – so I’ve been greatly surprised by the amount of time I’ve spent creating patterns and textures with iOrnament.

The app provides a minimal set of drawing tools – a simple colour palette, with controls for brightness, saturation and blurring – but what distinguishes it from other packages is its use of symmetry. Every mark you make is endlessly reflected across the page, creating vast kaleidoscope patterns.

Even with those few small controls, it’s startling how easy it is to create complex, often unexpected forms. These can end up resembling graffiti, molecules, strange organic forms or even psychedelic seventies wall paper.

There are seventeen different forms of symmetry, and these can be applied to a drawing in progress. For those interested in digging a little deeper, a top on the home icon reveals detailed notes, beautifully laid out, describing the mathematics behind the symmetry.

The interface has been very carefully considered throughout. Every tool is easily accessible, and easy to understand. There is a built in help menu, but I rarely found I needed it. The controls are also extremely responsive, especially when stretching and rotating an image. My only slight difficulty was in picking a consistent palette of colours – it would be useful to be able to save a selection, instead of recreating a colour by changing saturation and brightness each time.

I’m not sure if there’s an intended purpose to the package, although its certainly a good way of creating desktop backgrounds. I can’t imagine I’ll ever use any of the images I’ve created outside of the examples in this review. But I enjoyed experimenting with this app as an end in itself. It felt similar to the way it feels when improvising music or building up a rhythm in a sequencer. Unexpected strands keep popping up, and the joy is in following them and seeing where they lead.

Highly recommended to anyone looking to uncover their inner artist.

Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Price: £0.69 / £0.99

Developer: Jürgen Richter-Gebert (Facebook)


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