Sketches, put simply, is a drawing application for your iPhone. You can draw free-form lines, add text, and even draw shapes using multi-touch. You can spend a few minutes doodling to pass the time, or you can spend hours creating a masterpiece.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Not only is Sketches a great app for being creative, it can also function as an extremely helpful annotation tool. Because it can capture images from web pages, your camera and photo gallery, or even a map, Sketches can make your life a whole lot more productive as well. You can think of it as Skitch for the iPhone. Once you’ve finished your drawing, you can choose to save, or even tweet it if you’d like.

The good: The first thing you’ll notice about Sketches is its simple, yet elegant design. In fact, most of the design work you’ll see in version 1.3 is from the very talented Louie Mantia, who’s worked on many great iPhone apps, including Tap Tap Revenge.

The interface itself is extremely easy to use. Drag a finger to draw a free-form line, and use two fingers to draw the selected shape. To change a shape, you simply tap the shape icon, and choose the one you’d like to draw. When you start up Sketches for the first time, you’ll be presented with little “tutorial” drawings which guide you through each of Sketches’ tools and functions. As you experiment with each one, a new tip system will display hints on the screen to help you along.

You can also choose from any number of things for a background. Sketches provides a few “starting” backgrounds, but you can also select a photo, web page, or even a map as your starting point. This is especially helpful when used along with a few shapes and text for annotating a map or a web page.

After you’re done creating your masterpiece, you can export it to a photo album for importing to your computer later. If you use Twitter, you can even send out your work in a tweet. But the coolest option is the new “web sharing” feature. If your iPhone is connected to a wireless network, you can actually bring up a special web page (on your computer) that gives you access to all of your drawings which can be downloaded as a JPG, PNG, or even as a lossless PDF. How’s that for convenient?

The bad: Although I really loved this app, a couple things annoyed me. The first thing I noticed was that it’s difficult to be accurate with very small items. I noticed this while I was trying to add some detail to one of my drawings.

I was also pretty shocked to see that there’s no way to email a sketch directly from the application, even though you can do other cool things like twitter or send a sketch to your computer. This isn’t a huge deal since you can save the sketch and email it from the native photo app, it is worth noting though.

Bottom line: Sketches is a great application for artists and doodlers alike. Because you can directly interact with your art, the iPhone is a great platform for artistic expression. Sketches is also a fantastic tool for annotating images, maps, and web pages. Even with its shortcomings, Sketches is the best drawing application available for the iPhone.

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