iPad art gets real with Foldify app

This year saw the rise of iOS apps for the creatively oriented, with highlights like the beautifully made Paper for iPad. But the theme of many of these type of apps is that they encourage art in a digital medium. Foldify, a new iPad app set to go live on Thursday, pushes this idea forward: it’s a creation app that connects digital art and design with the physical world by producing papercraft art.

Foldify was created by Warsaw, Poland-based Pixle, a trio of two designers and an engineer. The app is for the iPad only right now, and it will cost $1.99 on launch, but will be priced higher later. The concept is pretty basic: use the iPad to create digital papercraft art that can be broadly customized with colors, facial features, designs and more, and then quickly printed out, cut and folded to make paper creatures or objects.

Foldify papercraft

Finished Foldify art

It’s very simple, but Pixle is not targeting kids — though they are going to be adding blank outlines that can be printed for young children to color them in with crayons or pencils. They want it to be for “everyone,” said Krzysztof Zab?ocki, Pixle’s engineer. “I think we kind of made it that way — it’s easy to use but you don’t need drawing skills.”

The iPad is an unexpected platform for making things with paper, but Zab?ocki says it’s actually the ideal kind of way to create something.

“The problem with creating content on the iPad is it’s not as good as your PC for most usages, like for productivity and stuff like that, I still find my Mac more useful,” he said. “But for something really creative, with a bit of fun, I prefer to be able to zoom in, zoom out, move some stuff. It really feels more natural. We tried to prove that quite a bit with Foldify.”

It’s natural because your finger is always your brush — there’s no complicated set of tools to select from. Instead of picking a brush size, you simply zoom in or out for more level of detail. Using just your finger to create something is much more immediate and engaging than a tool or utensil — it’s likely why kids take so quickly to touchscreen tablets. And that is what I think makes this app so wonderful and accessible. I would not pick up a papercraft kit at my local art store. But did I download the app on a whim while sitting on my couch? Yep. And to confirm Zablocki’s claim, it is very simple to use. There’s a menu of colors, patterns, facial features and accessories, as well as a color wheel with which you can decorate your object.

Foldify is the second app from Pixle, which is made up of Zablocki, and Mariusz Ostrowski and Renata Ostrowska, a husband and wife team of user interface and user experience designers. They strive for very simple, easy to use mobile apps. “We really wanted to create something fresh. We saw papercraft and said that would be a great idea,” Zablocki said. “No one ever did that on mobile before.”

But it’s a decent bet that as the idea of 3D printers and the maker movement continue to catch on, coupled with simpler, cheaper examples of using tech to make art like Folidfy, more developers and artists will be encouraged to further explore how physical art can come from the devices we use every day.

Updated to note that the app’s introductory price will be $1.99.