Today's drawing apps are nothing short of miraculous. These portable art studios contain everything you need to create stunning and intricate designs, graphics, illustrations, and more. The list of available features is as long as it is impressive. With a single piece of software, you can utilize tools like:
Digital drawing apps also have cool sketching features with things like infinite canvas, handwritten notations, and line paper art scanning. Plus, the best drawing apps for Android and iPads come with import and export functionality. This way, you can take your work wherever you go.
And what’s more, these drawing apps are shockingly inexpensive. You can get an excellent app, jam-packed with incredible tools and features for less than $5. You can even find free drawing apps that are incredibly advanced. In fact, some of the best iPad drawing apps are totally free or come with free versions. If you are a new artist, just enjoying the art for its pleasure, or are on a strict budget, free drawing apps can be a wonderful addition to your toolkit.
Google drawing apps, and you’ll get back a dizzying number of results. Far too many to browse through, that’s for sure. So, how can you narrow down your choices when you’re trying to select the best drawing app for iPad or Android artists? By personalizing your options.
There are different types of drawing styles, artists, and projects. What you need for a professional vector illustration project is not necessarily the same as what you’ll want available for a fun manga comic book creation. Know what you need for your type of project, and pick an app based on those requirements.
Additionally, here are a few things to keep in mind while searching:
While it may seem obvious, this is one of the first and best ways to narrow down your choices. The best drawing apps for Android users will do you no good if you have an iPad. Alternatively, the best drawing apps for iPad won't help a budding Android-toter. So, before you get excited about an extensive array of features, check the platforms this drawing app is compatible with. Luckily, there are plenty of paid and free drawing apps for both operating systems. So, you're not limited; you'll just be able to cross off a few options from your list.
Once again, knowing what type of project you are starting will help you decide which is the best drawing app for your needs. Some software is meant for vector images, while others are exclusively raster drawing tools. To summarize the difference between the two, we'll just say that vector images are digitally-created graphics created by making paths and points in any number of different permutations. Raster images, on the other hand, are generated using pixels. Raster and vector images respond differently to things like resizing, editing, and printing.
The best drawing app for you will depend on what you’re doing with the graphics. Do you need to edit your images a lot? Are you looking for resolution independence? Are you using solid backgrounds or editable ones? Raster drawing apps are more static. What you see is what you get, and any changes you make will be on a basic level. Vector drawing apps are much, much more flexible when it comes to editing and making changes.
Import and export tools are important if you want flexibility. Export tools give you the flexibility to work on your projects from anywhere and at any time. If you’re at work, you can spend your time working on your desktop computer. Have a few ideas you want to play around with at home? The ability to export the file and work on it somewhere else means you can take the project on the go, and continue the designing at home or wherever inspiration strikes.
What’s more, import tools allow you to add more details or personalization to your project. For example, if you’re working on an ad campaign for a client, you can import the customer’s logo to give the finished product a customized appearance. That’s good branding.
Obviously, the biggest thing to look for and the biggest differences between the various drawing apps out there are the features that it offers and what the apps are capable of doing. On a basic level, any app you choose should come with a good selection of brushes and drawing tools, some sort of layer functionality, color selection, and the ability to export your work to various file formats. You also want the flexibility to be able to customize various elements, including brushes, color palettes, and dashboard.
But once you start talking about more advanced features, that’s a rabbit hole that only really passionate artists will want to venture down. Some more detailed features you might look for include predictive strokes that will autocomplete your lines, lasso select to scale up, rotate, or shrink down your image, or heavy-duty color palettes.
Now that you have gotten a glimpse of the wonderful world of drawing apps, you can start to understand the potential lying within this compact and powerful software. As a designer, it’s exciting to think of the potential and the many possibilities that are opening before you. But there’s a problem. With thousands of options out there, how do you find the best drawing app for you? Obviously, you’ll narrow down the selection based on your needs, compatibility, and budget. To help you along with the selection process, here are ten of the top drawing apps that are feature-rich and will set your design efforts into full swing.
Another iPad-compatible program, Affinity Designer, is popularly known for its extensive color palettes. The massive array includes both CMYK and RGB color formats and the entire Pantone library to choose from. Affinity Designer also has an impressive number of brushes, including pastels, gouaches, and the usual mix of pencils, inks, and paints.
Adobe Illustrator Draw is one of the most widely-used drawing apps for both casual use and professionals. For one thing, the app is compatible with iPad and Android devices. For another, Adobe Illustrator Draw is free. Some notable features include up to 64x zoom, extensive layer support, and the ability to work with other Adobe applications (including the extensive Creative Cloud services).
A full art studio, ArtRage is another popular choice because it’s compatible with iOS, Android, and desktop devices. So, you can work on your project from any device you’re on at the moment without losing any functionality or updates. ArtRage also has cool features, including custom brushes, recordable actions, and complementary color systems with natural color gradient tools.
Autodesk Sketchbook is another great tool for budding artists and professionals. And what’s more, it’s totally free. Use Autodesk Sketchbook on Android and iOS devices for painting and drawing on a 100mxp canvas, paper line art importer, close to 200 custom brushes, and the exclusive Copic Color library. The app also has some more unique features like predictive stroke and 16-sector radial symmetry to give your work that down-to-the-last-detail accuracy.
Procreate is one of the most professional iPad apps you’ll ever find. It has advanced features, including UHD, 4K canvases, 128 layers, 250 levels of undo/redo, and 100+ customizable brush strokes (including awesome dual texture brushes). Procreate also has one of the most accurate smudging tools, multi-touch gesture commands, video capture of workflow, and GPU-accelerated filters. Basically, it’s as professional and detailed as you can get.
MediBang Paint is one of the best free drawing apps that is particularly useful for drawing and creating comic book art. Compatible with desktop, iOS, and Android devices, MediBang Paint has great features like photo-realistic painting, 800+ premade backgrounds, and 50+ brushes. This cloud-based drawing app also has a vibrant community of artists, so you can get a lot of feedback, tips, and tricks from other professionals.
ArtFlow is a powerful tool that you can use to upgrade your design prowess. A high-performance (GPU-accelerated) app, ArtFlow comes with great features like custom color palettes, 10 different blending tools, global opacity, and up to 16 layers. Artists will also appreciate the 100+ paintbrushes and smudge tools, selection masks, and handy palm rejection. ArtFlow will even let you create custom brushes from imported images.
Artists of all types like using Adobe Photoshop Sketch because it has one of the widest range of drawing tools on the market. Whether you like the thick feel of marker tips, the sleek point of a graphite pencil, or the smooth lines of pen, Adobe Photoshop Sketch has your tool of preference. What’s more, this app works with many different styluses (Adobe Ink, Pencil, Wacom, Adonit, etc.). Adobe Photoshop Sketch offers a more back-to-the-basics type of drawing experience with some modern flourishes to enhance your work.
Concepts is a digital sketch pad that lets artists get down their ideas quickly, and then play around with various tools and features to bring the concept alive. The handy Android and iOS-compatible app, Concepts, has tilt, pressure, and velocity responsiveness, infinite canvas, and realistic pens, pencils, and brushes. Plus, you can access the Copic Color library to choose vibrant colors, vector sketching tools, and drag-and-drop editing. Try out the free version, or go all out with the fully-featured app.
Clip Studio Paint EX is the ultimate drawing app for manga and comic art. It’s got the natural, realistic pen strokes you want for these creations, along with more advanced pressure response. The EX version comes with unlimited frames, vector layers, and more than 10,000 brushes and materials. Plus, you can get 3D models and drawing figures. More casual artists can check out the Clip Studio Paint Pro version, a cheaper version with lots of good tools for someone who doesn’t need professional-grade software.