We’ve all suffered creative block, where you just can’t work out how to move forward on a project. The normal course of action is to take a break: go for a walk, take the car out for a spin, phone your parents, watch an episode or 10 of Game of Thrones… then come back to the task later with a refreshed mind and new sense of energy.
Sometimes, though, that doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s not just a question of giving your brain a rest, but finding new ways to get those creative muscles pumping again; like switching machines at the gym.
These 8 quirky apps offer a way to do just that. We’d love to hear if you’ve used any of them yourself, and what you think of them: please let us know in the comments below!
01. Google Sprayscape (opens in new tab)
Dubbed a “perfectly imperfect VR-ish camera app”, Google Sprayscape is an exciting new method of visual experimentation, and a great way to flex your creative muscles in new and unexpected ways.
The free app uses your phone’s gyroscope to take pictures on the inside of a 360-degree sphere. Just point your phone and tap the screen to spray what Google calls “digital paint” in any direction you want. There’s nothing by the way of instructions, but it’s all pretty intuitive.
Google Sprayscape will often result in a blurry, incoherent mess,
resembling a nightmare LSD trip in 360 degrees. But like most of the
apps in this list, it’s less about the end result than it is about the
process, which is like throwing bursts of reality across a canvas as if it were paint. And yes, that’s as fun as it sounds.
02. Tilt Brush (opens in new tab)
Another Google app, Tilt Brush offers a way to intuitively create art in a VR environment, this time using HTC's Vive headset and hand controllers. As the company explains, “Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality. Your room is your canvas. Your palette is your imagination. The possibilities are endless.” In short, Tilt Brush offers a great way to experimenting with your creativity and just see where it takes you. It’s available on (opens in new tab) for £22.99, and you can read more about how the app works (opens in new tab).
03. OKDOTHIS (opens in new tab)
Taking pictures with your smartphone camera when you’re out and about can be a great way to gather fresh creative inspiration. But it’s very easy to fall into the habit of photographing the same kind of things over and over again.
OKDOTHIS harnesses the power of its social community to get you out of that rut, by providing a ‘DO’; a specific idea of what subject to shoot and what mood, topic, theme or attribute to highlight.
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Examples of thought-provoking DOs include: ‘Doors that you wish could talk’; ‘Epitomize a city in one photograph’; ‘Capture a part of your life that isn't glamorous... but make it look glamorous’ and ‘Photograph a reflection and share it upside down’. It’s a great way to get new sense of visual perspective, and the app is completely free.
04. Art-Droid (opens in new tab)
What better way to unlock your creative energies than visiting an art gallery and being inspired by the great artists of the past? Unfortunately, most of us don’t live a stone’s throw from MoMA or the Tate, but here’s an Android app that can provide the next best thing.
Art-droid by by IlitSoftware gives you access to one of the largest collections of fine art available online, with content provided by Wikiart.org. A great way to browse thousands of famous artworks for free.
05. Idea Card (opens in new tab)
Idea Card aims to help you generate new and creative ideas, quickly and easily, via a series of 60 inspirational flashcards. Shake your phone and a random card appears to jolt your thinking and provide a new perspective.
The concepts themselves are not revolutionary, but they all come with accompanying text aimed at really getting you to think outside the box. All in all, it’s a simple idea but well executed and certainly worth giving a go, especially considering that it’s free. If it doesn’t work for you, we’d also suggest trying the browser-based app (opens in new tab).
06. Impossible Draw (opens in new tab)
Another great way to power up your creative brain is to playing a drawing game, and Impossible Draw is one of our firm favourites. An addictive game that will keep you drawing for hours, it’s set in a futuristic 3D world where you have to draw a series of symbols accurately in order to travel through an ever-expanding space.
You can customize your trips with various game modes, special effects and soundtracks to make every trip a unique drawing experience. There are in-app purchases on offer, but the free version kept us occupied happily for hours.
07. Blek (opens in new tab)
Halfway between a game and a doodling experience, Blek is much easier to use than it is to describe. Described on the site as “an open-ended experience with singular game mechanics and deep, Bauhaus-informed design”, it’s essentially a way of creating what looks like modern art without realising you’re doing so.
The goal is to shape a line that collects all coloured circles, avoiding black holes on its route. But unlike other games, it’s not about learning the “right” moves, as countless solutions exist; it’s more about letting your imagination roam free, and seeing what happens. Blek is available to download from the Google Play Store for £2.49.
08. Idea Growr (opens in new tab)
Do you have great ideas, but then forget them if you don’t write them down instantly? This intuitive app helps you get down your ideas quickly and easily, even when you’re busy doing other things.
As well as writing ideas and notes, you can upload pictures and record your voice, and share your ideas via apps like Dropbox and Google Drive. It may be a simple idea but it all works seamlessly, it’s free and there are no pesky in-app purchases.