Digital art is equally as crucial as hand-drawn art. It gives graphic designers another tool in their design arsenal, allowing them to create a completely custom look for each client. Drawing apps provide a convenient way to design on the fly.
In a recent study of more than 4000 designers, researchers found that 64 percent prefer to use pen and paper to draw. However, they also summarized this might be because paper and pencil have been more accessible than digital drawings. Apps are changing that dynamic.
Dozens of drawing apps are available at any given time, but not all of them are as useful as others. We’ve looked at the variety of apps available, skimmed their reviews and categorized them by skill level, so you can sort through them quickly and find what you need.
Best Drawing Apps for Beginners
You can choose from tons of drawing apps for beginners. Here are a few to get you started as you begin playing around with these apps to add to your design skills:
- Tayasui Sketches: The app is available for both Android and iOS devices. If you’re just getting started drawing digitally on a mobile device, Tayasui Sketches offers you several brushes for free and the ability to get used to how to draw on a screen, add color and work with elements. While the free features are pretty basic, it will get you started. You can always add some pro features later, such as unlimited layers, a fill tool and color mixing tools.
- ArtRage: ArtRage gives you the ability to create realistic looking paintings. It’s available for Android, iOS and PCs, including Macs. They’ve recently upgraded the software into their fifth version and offer perspective layout tools and layer effects. Artrage is only $1.99 for mobile devices and under $100 for personal computers.
- SketchClub: SketchClub has 9 out of 5 stars out of nearly 1000 reviews on the iTunes store and is available for iOS devices. One thing that is great for beginners is that they offer challenges you can participate in, and you can share your work with others to get feedback and grow as a designer. The app currently costs $2.99.
- iPastels: Do you love working with pastels but hate the mess they make? iPastels mimics the look of pastel drawings without the mess and with a bit more precision.
The apps listed above are great for beginners. If you download only these three apps, you’ll quickly start to grow as an artist. The app is free to download but offers in-app purchases.
Drawing Apps for Intermediate Users
Once you’ve mastered the basics of drawing on a mobile device, it’s time to upgrade to some intermediate drawing apps. Here are a few of our favorites:
- ibis Paint X: This drawing tool is available on both Google Play and the iTunes store. It features some rich elements for the intermediate user. Some of the features of the app include 142 different types of brushes, 46 skin tones, image stabilization and textures. ibis Paint X also comes with filters that allow you to change the entire look of the drawing, making it look like watercolor, oil or something else. The app is free to download but is ad-supported. You can remove ads for $5.99 or unlock additional features for a $2.99 subscription rate.
- Adobe Photoshop Sketch: While this isn’t a new tool, it is updated regularly and stays current with the latest design developments. Adobe Photoshop Sketch offers the ability to draw and paint with pencils, pens, markers, watercolor brushes and to blend different effects. You can get a similar effect to what you’d get on paper. Available for Android and iOS, the app is free.
- MediBang Paint: MediBang is available for PC, iPad, iPhone and Android devices. It lets you draw manga comics and animations on the go. You can also share your designs on the cloud or upload them for safe keeping. The site offers tutorials that teach you how best to use the app. The app has thousands of reviews and 4.7 stars out of 5. It’s free to download.
- Zen Brush 2: The popular Zen Brush app has been upgraded. It is a simple ink brush tool that is perfect to add simple drawings or ink effects to hand-drawn fonts. Available for Windows 10 or iOS, it costs $2.99 to download the app.
Master the drawing apps above and then move on to advanced apps.
Best Apps for Experienced Drawers
If you’ve used drawing apps for years and want to take things to a level beyond where you thought you could, some more advanced tools can help you get the job done:
- Procreate: iPad users will love this fantastic drawing app, which allows you to incorporate the use of a digital drawing tool with your iPad. Some of the features in Procreate include liquifying dynamics, clipping masks and stroke taper. They’ve recently updated the app to add new features.
- Affinity Designer: Affinity is another app designed for the iPad. The company got input from the world’s top designers to create an immersive design experience. The app has an amazing export ability, allowing you to export in SVG, PSD (fully layered) or other types of image files. The app costs $19.99.
- Infinite Painter: This is an advanced painting app available for both Android and iOS devices. It has some advanced capabilities, such as blending and mixing paint, perspective guides for landscapes, seamless patterns and symmetry tools. Infinite Painter is free but offers in-app purchases that allow you to upgrade capabilities.
Try a tool you usually wouldn’t try and expand your drawing into new realms.
Replicating Real Drawings
Even though nothing entirely places the effect of pen on paper, the apps above allow you to create a more exact drawing within specific parameters. They also save valuable time, allowing you to put a design out in less time than hand drawing. With a little practice, you’ll gain the ability to draw everything from logos to illustrations while sitting in a waiting room or watching television during your off time. Watch your productivity soar.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.
Leave a Comment