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Save reams of paper with iPad app Art Set

The 99-cent Art Set app turns your iPad into a blank canvas, complete with realistic painting and drawing tools.

I am not an artist. Matt Elliott/CNET

My daughter is a destroyer of forests. She spends a great deal of her free time drawing, and because she is only six, she has a great deal of free time. We go through so much paper that I feel guilty each Wednesday morning when I drag the recycling to the curb. And that's just the pictures we toss; she insists on saving a high percentage of her output as well.

We've tried using a white board, but you can't save pictures from a white board and she spends the rest of the day walking around with ink all over the side of her hand. Plus, she likes to use drawing utensils other than markers, including colored pencils, uncolored pencils, pastels, pens, and a variety of paints. She has taken to the iPad, and with the 99-cent Art Set app, she now draws and saves pictures on the iPad, saving numerous trees each week. The only problem with Art Set is that I have to tell her that Angry Birds and DoodleJump are not among her current entertainment options when I hand her the tablet for a drawing session.

Art Set is a very realistic and very simple drawing app. There aren't any settings to bog you down. Simply open a virtual drawer, choose your weapon, and go. It took less than 2 minutes for my daughter to start drawing and cluttering my photo library with her output.

To get started, tap the frame button at the bottom of the app. This takes you to your gallery of saved works. Tap the button with the plus sign on the right to choose your paper. When you are starting at your blank canvas, there are three buttons at play in the lower-left corner. From left to right, they open virtual drawers that let you choose your color, choose your drawing tool, and view recently used tools. In the lower-right corner are undo and redo buttons.

Squiggly House, by Fiona Matt Elliott/CNET

There are eight tools at your disposal: paint, colored pencil, crayon, pastel, pen, thick marker, thin marker, and eraser. After selecting your tool, you can then choose a color for it by opening the color drawer and swiping up and down until you find the color you need. Drawing feels natural, though I felt the claimed pressure sensitivity only when I used the paint tool, and even then it felt very limited. Still, each tool produces a realistic effect and makes the app fun to experiment with.

To save a drawing, tap the gallery button at the bottom of the display. From here, you'll see your saved works of art with buttons to save the highlighted image to your photo library, delete it, duplicate it, import an image from your photo library, or start a new project.

There is a landscape mode, though the only item that pivots is the small gallery button (the frame icon). Your works are saved in portrait mode, but you can rotate them in the Photos app if you save them there. Lastly, the app could be improved with the addition of a smudge tool. As it stands, however, Art Set makes for cheap, fun, and environmentally friendly artistic expression.