There’s a whole world of cool drawing apps, art apps, sketch apps, and painting apps out there. They make everything from children’s book illustrations to acing your online illustration class work super-easy, allowing you to create cool work that will really make your online illustration portfolio stand out to prospective clients and customers alike.
But what are the best drawing apps? We’ve assembled this list of the most powerful, interesting, and popular drawing apps and art apps on our radar for 2018/2019. Let’s check it out!
Free Drawing Apps
Drawing rich and vibrant sketches with vector art is rewarding: they look clean, and the art scales seamlessly no matter the size you work at. Adobe Illustrator Draw is a drawing app gem among (not surprising, given that it’s part of the hallowed Adobe family).The interface is intuitive and requires very little learning time, and the UI is clean and responsive. Brush strokes behave as expected, and the interface provides lots of cool features. Plus, as an Adobe product, you can count on great support and regular updates, too.
Available, essentially, on every type of device, MediBang Paint is among the best art apps available. It’s lightweight, and handles comic art and manga as beautifully as it does painting, sketching, and digital design. The interface is straightforward and makes the entire package a joy to experiment with. It also sports numerous features that provide control over your brushes and layers. Overall, a solid offering that can give you professional results on a nonexistent budget.
If you aren’t able to procure a license for Adobe Cloud but absolutely require something with Photoshop-esque features, GIMP is exactly what you need. It’s been around a long time, too, so it has a wealth of features that are constantly being updated and improved. Some might argue that it is the best free drawing app available due to the advanced feature set. Why not take it for a spin for your next poster design?
iPad Sketch Apps
This app turns your iPad into a veritable art studio and offers deadly-sharp color clarity, ultra-responsive stylus control, and exceptionally powerful features, all at a decent price. There’s very little you cannot do with this iPad drawing app, and, considering the affordable pricetag, that’s saying a lot.
This free art app for the iPad replicates the look of pastels. It’s simple to use, and, if you haven’t been working with pastels much, might be just what you need as an outlet for something new. It’s one of the simplest Apple Pencil apps you can find, and a good way to get a feel for the device while creating beautiful sketches and paintings in a style that is a refreshing change from the norm.
Offering a unique style unlike anything else on this list, Zen Brush is designed to produce art a la traditional East Asian calligraphy and art. For only a few bucks, you can create astounding pieces in mere moments. This is a niche art program that offers a very specific features that you just don’t see anywhere else in more generalized digital drawing apps.
Eye-poppingly powerful, this Mac art app offers just about anything you need to create incredible works of art. Whether you need photo retouching, graphic design, painting, vector art, or just something to do quick sketches, you’ll be able to do it here. Considered to be the best drawing app for iPad Pro by many users, the wealth of features is sure to impress and have you making production-quality work in no time, boosting your illustration career to new heights.
This is high-quality iPad Pro drawing app is definitely worth checking out. Specializing in logos and icons (using a building-block approach to design), it allows you to create eye-catching graphic designs capable of revitalizing your brand and appealing to clients all over the world.
Available on the app store, Graphic is a lightweight, powerful iPhone drawing app that produces vector-based art and is designed to be as simple as possible so that literally anyone can pick up a device and create pleasing artwork. It works on iOS on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, which lets you take your work virtually anywhere. While it has a $40 price tag, it’s justifiable in terms of the quality of work this app can create to help improve your illustration portfolio](https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/illustration/illustration-portfolio-examples-2016) !
This great little digital drawing app is offered at the low price of $2.79 and provides a great budget-friendly set of art tools for creating sketches on the go. It’s lightweight and user-friendly—the layout is super-simple, and every feature is so responsive that it feels like a more pro-oriented product. Rather than drowning in features, it keeps things simple and doesn’t bog the user down with extra bells and whistles.
If you’re looking through this list for good drawing apps to really whet your appetite for sketching, Inkist is a potent one that can meet all of your needs. It offers a wide array of brush features, layers, blend modes, a simple UI that can be picked up in a few minutes, and fully customizable brushes and tools you usually find in more advanced programs. Inkist also has a unique approach to color blending in place of layers, allowing the artist to build their colors up as if on a canvas.
Capable of handling just about any type of drawing and sketching you can throw at it, ArtStudio for the iPad offers 450 brushes, multiple-layer support, and dozens of filters. Available on every mobile iOS device, this is a great option among the various painting apps found on the App store.
Offering some of the most responsive brushes available thanks to a powerful open-GL engine, it works seamlessly across your various iOS devices. It offers layers, gesture controls, and a variety of painting-specific features, and is a great option for those looking for a sketchpad app without too many extras to bog them down in minutiae.
Pixaki is definitely one of the most cool drawing apps on the list, and is made specifically to create pixel art. It has numerous useful features including a multi-touch interface, layers, animation support, color selection, and custom-palette options. Bonus? It’s quite affordable.
Android Drawing Apps
Probably the best drawing app for Android, Infinite Painter will have you pumping out amazing pieces in no time at all. Every brush stroke feels great, and produces the various lines you want. Few other offerings exist on the Android platform that can rival this fantastic product, thanks to its ability to produce quality, professional-looking art in a fresh way.
Touted as “natural painting” software, ArtRage is renowned for its amazing quality and realistic painting tools. It’s available on Windows, Android, and iOS, and comes in a Lite version with limited features for those desiring a more basic approach, as well. This is a powerful app for any artist and, without a doubt, one of the best sketch art apps available anywhere.
Regarded by many as the best sketchpad app in the world, few would argue this point after trying it out. It features amazingly responsive stylus control, compatibility with most platforms, a straightforward UI, and an affordable pricetag (plus free versions with limited features!) that sets it apart from the competition. This app is a great way to practice portrait drawing in a digital medium, and allows you to easily share your work with the world, thanks to built-in support for social platforms. Plus you can move your work from device to device (and on almost every available platform, to boot!) with ease. SketchBook is absolutely worth every penny.
One of the most interesting entries on the list and truly unique among drawing programs, Marmoset Hexels 3 is a voxel-based drawing app that can create some truly outstanding drawings that defy expectations. While it takes time to adapt to working in this new style (it uses the grid-based approach to art), it introduces you to a new style of artistic creation that becomes second-nature once you get going—it feels a little like putting together a Lego set! The results are staggeringly cool. If you want something truly different to inspire new imaginative ideas, this is a great place to start.
No list is complete without the behemoth of art and design! Photoshop continues to hold its own on desktop and provides one of the most powerful creative suites on the market. It can handle anything you can throw at it, and is an industry standard for a reason. It features amazing brush controls, including mimicking the way real brushes and pencils operate on canvas and paper and even offers a wonderful paint-blending mode to simulate oil painting via mixing. When it comes to art apps, Photoshop reigns supreme.
This one is much more than just a sketch app. It’s designed from the ground up to be a natural design tool, encouraging taking things from rough mockups and scribbles to sketch to finished product design, all within the same application. It offers vector-based art and precision features that can help with interior, exterior, architectural, and other forms of design in a snap. If you’re looking for something really cool to try with clients and brainstorming, then there are few options that can even come close to Concepts.
Designed with comic artists in mind, this wonderful sketch app does exactly what you expect in an intuitive and straightforward package. It comes complete with everything a budding comic artist (or professional) might need to create memorable and impactful stories including lettering aids, inking features, sketch capability for rough pencils, and robust painting options for colorists, and even offers panel layout functionality to make sure you never need to step out of the app to produce your work from start to finish. For a modest $14.99, this is an remarkably powerful—and affordable—tool for an artist.
You’ll be sketching quality pieces in no time at all with this nifty offering from Adobe. Its expressive painting tools make it stand out among the free drawing apps, allowing it to go toe-to-toe with the best-in-class options on the marketplace. It has something few others can offer, too: it really feels like you are interacting with the surface you draw on, and each different medium offers fantastic quality.
Designed with manga and anime in mind, this specialised art tool provides a wealth of great features that can lead to awe-inspiring pieces of work. This is a serious tool for professionals, (and the desktop application price tag reflects this!). If you have the scratch to shell out for one of the top drawing apps and are itching to get amazing creatives out the door, look no further.
This wonderful sketch app is available for iPhone, iPad, Macs, and Android devices, and is known for offering some of the most realistic drawing tools available on the market. You can create watercolors that look indistinguishable from the real thing, and acrylic and oil painting styles look eerily realistic.
Here’s a digital drawing app designed for speedy creation of whiteboarding-style concepts, sketches, and thought-processes. It encourages you to jot down things as they happen, and use its streamlined tools to present information to clients rapidly. It’s free, so there’s no reason not to try getting your creative juices going with a different approach to sketching.
Get this fabulous pencil sketch app for only a few bucks, and start producing some stunning art with very little effort. It has a clean UI that wastes no screen space, and pen strokes are accurate and intuitive. It makes drawing a joy.
A “social drawing” program, Ibis allows you to sketch and publish your pieces for others to look at as you work on them. It’s easy to use, and has a myriad of great brushes available. It provides tools perfect for manga art creation as well, such as frame dividers and text tools, half-tones, and more. The best part? It’s completely free. Stop drawing alone, and see what collaboration brings to the table!
When it comes to vector-based art, topping Illustrator is tough. It’s been around for ages and is packed with every single feature you could require, allowing you to produce professional artwork. All these offerings means it’s been one of the top drawing apps for well over a decade. It requires an Adobe Cloud subscription to use, however, and is therefore probably suited more for professionals than hobbyists.
A pixel art program with few rivals, Aseprite is both affordable and powerful. It has earned a reputation as one of the best programs for sprite animation due to its exceptional features, such as ghosting of frames to aid in creation of high-quality spritesheets and a “pixel perfect” feature to for the tricky rounded edges that trip up your work when dealing with pixels. If you’ve got the time, you can compile it for free from their Github page, or just shell out a few bucks for one of the best art apps for sprite work available.
Relative newcomer Krita is quickly becoming a powerhouse that is unbeatable at what it does. Just try it—the art you can dish out in this sweet little app is amazing, and the included toolset is super-easy to use. One of the best features, the brush stabilizer, minimizes the pain of doing line art with shaky hands. It’s quickly made a name for itself as one of the best options for line art.
3D Art Apps
For serious 3D artists, ZBrush is an absolutely amazing choice. While it has a somewhat steep learning curve, there is no denying the amazing results this program can create. Responsible for some of the best high-end animations you’ve seen in TV and movies in recent days, this app is a killer…but it doesn’t come cheap. This is an app for a serious modeller only, but if you are in that camp there are few options that can even compare to ZBrush.
If 3D is your thing, one of the best free drawing apps available to you is Blender. For those looking to delve into 3D art and unable to shell out the big fees associated with program licenses for Maya and 3DS, it offers all you need to produce 3D models, with animations, UVs, and any other feature you need to create production-ready models. It has a vibrant online community and a ton of available plugins, which extend the power of this app tenfold.
Another great free option among 3D art apps, Sculptris is extremely bare-bones—and that’s its greatest strength. You can import your own models to sculpt if you choose, or use predefined primitives and sculpt truly amazing creations with simple tools. Within a few minutes, you will intuitively understand how to use the various sculpting tools and be on your way to making weird aliens and monsters—or whatever else you can dream up.
Here’s a free modelling suite designed to help create professional-quality models for game development, 2.5D and 3D art without costing and arm and a leg to do so. It offers all the features you need in a 3d modelling application: create primitives, set up your UV maps, paint with 3D painting tools, add ambient occlusion, and more. It’s worth a look if you want to delve into this realm of art and have never been able to afford to try. You could even try creating projects to print on a 3D printer.
Don’t Forget to Add Your Creations to Your Online Portfolio
Once you’ve used some of these drawing apps and have some amazing sketch work ready to go, it’s time to display it in your online portfolio. Don’t have one? No worries—just use a website builder; you can make a professional-looking site in minutes. Choose one with gorgeous themes and fresh fonts to show off your new drawings, illustrations, and art as beautifully as possible. We can’t wait to see it!
Looking for more ways to boost your illustration career?
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