Being an artist is a lot of fun. You can choose your medium and most platforms have support for most mediums. It’s also one of the few hobbies and jobs out there where you can express yourself how you want. Believe it or not, you can produce art from your Android devices with these great Android apps for artists.
[Price: Free (requires Creative Cloud subscription)]
There are many photographers who use Adobe Lightroom and now you can also use it on mobile. Adobe’s Lightroom app acts as an extension of the desktop version which means you’ll also need the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom to fully enjoy the mobile experience. That’s sure to chase some people away, but if you happen to use that software already, the app will let you edit raw files along with files from your Android device’s gallery. You can also use a limited number of Lightroom tools to enhance images. You can also sync everything to your desktop so you can use the Lightroom desktop application too.
Adobe does have a Photoshop option for Android as well. Much like their Lightroom mobile app, the Photoshop app can’t hold a candle to the desktop version. However, it does contain some tools and effects that can enhance images to your liking. The app comes with painting effects, filter brushes, text effects (such as drop shadows), and syncing to the desktop version for heavier editing if need be. It also comes with a bit of Creative Cloud storage (2GB).
[Price: Free / $4.99]
ArtFlow is a paint application that lets you, well, paint. It features a GPU-accelerated paint engine with over 70 brushes and tools, multiple layers, PSD/PNG/JPEG support, NVIDIA DirectStylus support, and many, many more features. It’s a very powerful paint app with a lot of features that you can use for free but you’ll have to pay to use everything. There is also Samsung S-Pen support for those rocking Samsung devices. It’s a lot of fun and worth a shot for painters.
[Price: Free / $3.99]
Autodesk is a well-known supplier of creative software and their Sketchbook Pro app is a long time mainstay in the artistic community. It boasts professional grade features including full-screen work spaces, up to 2500% zoom, more than 10 brushes, Dropbox support, and more features are unlockable by creating a (free) SketchBook account. If you pay for premium, you’ll have over 100 brushes, pencils, pens, markers, etc, layers, more advanced settings, and far more extra stuff. It’s about as close to a pro art tool as you can find on Android and it’s worth a shot.
Clover Paint is another app that self-identifies as a professional grade drawing app. It features a rather complex layering system, plenty of drawing implements, selection tools, transform tools, and even custom hot keys. The only (potentially) negative thing about Clover Paint is the admittedly difficult learning curve. However, once you learn how to make your way around the app, it’s a fantastic and deep art app that has the potential to help you draw some excellent stuff.
[Price: $2.99 with in app purchases]
Okay, admittedly this one is a little bit niche. Handy Art Reference Tool is a tool that artists, colorists, and other artistic ventures can use to draw hands. The app shows you a hand (in various positions). You can then rotate the hand and change the lighting to get the proper lighting and shadows. This is useful because hands are admittedly difficult to draw and this helps you plan and reference a hand for you to draw. It’s been recommended by Tony Moore, co-creator of The Walking Dead, ImagineFX, and more professionals and $2.99 isn’t expensive for a good hand reference tool.
[Price: $2.00 / $8.00]
LayerPaint and LayerPaint HD are a couple of semi-pro animation applications. LayerPaint is for phones while LayerPaint HD is specifically made for tablets with 7-inch screens or larger. Both versions have various tools and brushes to create amazing pieces of art although this seems to be more of an animation app than something for painters. The tablet version comes with some additional features including support for NVIDIA and Samsung styluses. Some people have said that the phone version still isn’t great on the phone, but it’s almost universally enjoyed on tablets.
NVIDIA Dabbler is the stock painting app that comes on the NVIDIA Shield Tablet. It has direct support for its stylus and includes a decent selection of brushes, canvas types, and more. It has some fun effects like realistic watercolor and oil painting. It also has some unique features like the ability to record sessions and share/save for future reference. It doesn’t have the sheer feature set that you’ll find in something like LayerPaint, Clover Paint, or SketchBook Pro, but it’s good for hobbyists and those who own an NVIDIA Shield Tablet.
[Price: $6.99 each]
The Pose Tool 3D collection is a reference tool that artists can use to draw various things. The regular Pose Tool 3D focuses on the human body. You can contort, change, and move things around to get the pose you want so you can draw it in your comic, drawing, etc. The other two are for Manga (anime and manga style character poses) and Horse (for horses). The apps for a little expensive but they are considered the best 3D reference tools on Android and we agree with that assessment. If you draw, these are worth a second look.
RoughAnimator is a long time favorite here at Android Authority and it even made our list of the best indie apps of 2014. This is an animation application where you can draw each frame and then combine the frames to create a cartoon. Drawings can be as complex or as a simple as you want. You have unlimited layers, onion skinning, and even the ability to import audio so you can incorporate voice overs. It also comes with S-Pen support (and other pressure sensitive styluses and devices) and you can export to QuickTime video, GIF, or image sequence. It’s not 100% pro grade, but it’s definitely more than good enough for most people.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Silk paints drawing isn’t a professional grade art app like others, but it’s still a lot of fun for those who want to do something a little bit different. It has direct support with Samsung’s S-Pen and PEN.UP apps so this is best suited for those running a Touchwiz device. Some other fun features include the ability to create, animate, and set your own live wallpaper, multiple brushes, and more. As stated, this isn’t professional grade, but it’s still fun to get a project started if you want something a little less intense.
SketchBook Express is the totally free version of Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro. As such, it has some of the features of the full version including up to 2500% zoom, layer support (3 layers), 15 preset brushes, and more. Obviously, the pro version is better but this one is totally free to use. That makes it not just a good app for artists on a budget who don’t need all the features, but also a good way to preview the software in case you’re thinking of buying it.
[Price: $0.99 (on sale)]
Sketcher Pro is another sketch app for those artists with a light wallet. It doesn’t have the gargantuan number of features that others have, but there is still a decent selection. There are 12 brushes, basic tools, multiple modes, and you can even order physical prints of your artwork sent to your door for an extra cost. It’s a tad more simple than most but completes well with something like SketchBook Express. It’s on sale at the time of this writing so the $0.99 cost will go up after a while.
Last on our list is also one of the few free options and it’s called Sketch Master. Much like the other free selections, Sketch Master is a bit limited but still has seven brushes, unlimited layers, various editing tools, import from various places, and various color options. Pros will likely need something more complex and deep but semi pros and hobbyists should see enough here to keep them engaged.
If we missed any great Android apps for artists, let us know in the comments! Recommendations are always welcome. If you use a Samsung or NVIDIA device (or any other device with an integrated stylus), don’t forget to check out the stock sketch and drawing apps for those devices because they may have some features that support that specific stylus that these others may not!