Tech special: Apps for art's sake

Feb 22, 2015, 07:55 IST | Harpreet Kaur Sapra

Want to make art on the go? We round up some of the best apps out there to help you paint the town red

Thanks to the large, high-definition screens and responsive display, our new-age tablets are a natural fit for drawing and digital art. We love to pair our devices up and transfer information to and fro. Why not art?

There is a huge plethora of arty apps out there — some with basic drawing tools, others with astute, multiple features — and, if you know how to use them right, your mobile may well be a hand-held art studio.

But it could be tricky to tell which app is best suited to you. We often download something free but later find it pointless because we meant to start small, and all those tools and mumbo-jumbo is too intimidating.

At other times, we buy that expensive app a friend recommended, only to realise it doesn’t take our aptitude for art into consideration at all.

The way forward, then, is to start with something basic but with commendable features, try your hand at it for a while, and purchase the better version when you want to go pro.

We round up some apps —FreshPaint, ArtFlow, Autodesk Sketchbook and Adobe ideas. These, we think, are of the more user-friendly apps with a varied skill range. So pick up that phone and paint away.

Fresh paint

Fresh paint (Windows)
Fresh Paint lets users draw original pieces, colour in built-in templates, or even trace over an image. Bing is built into the app, which allows you to search for desired images, import the image, apply filters to it or sketch and paint over it. You can paint using various media such as watercolour, graphite pencil and oil. It lets you mix colours, select brushes, undo or redo brush strokes, and also choose the type of canvas you want to work on. Cleaning your brush in the water is fun, as the 'liquid' turns the colour of the paint you dump in it.  The ‘Dry’ button dries the colour you have just applied. All your work is automatically saved in your gallery for future use. With the SkyDrive sync, you can sync all your work between your handheld devices and desktop easily, so you can switch between devices with ease.

Adobe Ideas (iOS)

Adobe Ideas (iOS)
Adobe Ideas is a vector-based digital sketchbook app for iOS and offers a simple user interface designed for quick sketches. Ideas provides only one type of pen, but offers adjustable size and opacity, and feels a lot like working with a marker. Your pen strokes are automatically smoothed out as you draw. There’s also a variable-size eraser, a hand tool for pan and zoom, a layer transform tool, a 50-level undo and redo history. The colour scheme generator is a great feature, wherein you can take a picture or choose one from your library and the app will create a colour scheme for the photo. If you purchase the app (Rs 120) you can create up to 10 layers to your drawing and a Creative Cloud storage of 20 GB, which allows you to sync shared creations online for use with Adobe’s desktop apps.


ArtFlow (Android)
ArtFlow’s free app is a solid drawing app, with customisable brushes, which allows for adjusting the size, flow, opacity, softness, and spacing. You will also find a number of ways to change the colour. You can simply tap on any of the 14 predefined colours from the palette, slide the RGB percentages, tap on the colour dial, or use the ink dropper. Expanded history support gives you access to your older work and the ability to six-step undo. The Symmetry and Rotate tools let you adjust the position of your drawing while working and the layer support lets you create two layers to work on. The paid version of the app unlocks over 50 brushes, the ability to create 16 layers to your drawing and stylus pressure to create colour intensity. You could even export your layered drawing to a PSD and email it or upload it to Dropbox for future use.

Autodesk SketchBook (iOS, Android)

Autodesk SketchBook (iOS, Android)
This is one of the most advanced drawing and painting apps. It comes with a variety of drawing tools and brushes, all of which are customisable. You can adjust the brush radius, opacity and rotation and choose from 10 different presets, including pencils, pens and markers. Pinch to zoom your art up to 2,500 per cent and view the finest details. A synthetic pressure sensitivity feature lets you adjust the intensity of the colours by the pressure you exert with your fingers. A gallery organiser with a multiple view option and albums help you categorise your art easily. This app even comes with support for saving and storing your works to Dropbox or iCloud. You could create a free Sketchbook account to gain access to more features such as layer and symmetry tools. These layered drawing can be exported to Photoshop for further processing. Purchasing the app (Rs 250) opens up 90 additional brushes, lasso and marquee tool, full-colour library, helps you toggle visibility, adjust layer opacity and many other professional features.

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