Welcome to our pick of the best Android apps for creatives. On this page you'll find the must-have downloads for designers, illustrators and artists.
Modern Android devices – be they tablets or smartphones – are more powerful and feature-rich than ever before, which makes them essential tools for any digital creative. The fact that there is a huge – and growing – collection of Android apps that bring creative tools we'd usually expect to find on a PC into the palm of our hand, means it's never been easier to create digital art on the go.
Because of the huge range of apps on the Google Play store, which are both paid-for and free, it can be difficult to pick the right ones, which is where our list of the best Android apps for creatives comes in.
We've scoured the Play store to find the very best Android apps that can unleash your creativity. The best Android apps for creatives make use of your Android device's touchscreen, while having a user interface that's suited for the smaller handheld smartphones and tablets.
Our pick of the top Android apps also offer a wide variety of tools and features that can make your digital art look better than ever. So, read on for our pick of the best Android apps for creatives that you can download right now.
Adobe launched its vector app Adobe Illustrator Draw on Android back in 2016, but even now it is virtually the only credible way to create vector drawings on a mobile device (unless you opt for a Windows-toting tablet). Illustrator Draw will be familiar to anyone used to its desktop sibling, and it doesn't scrimp on features, with configurable pen tips, layers, merge options, and more. Of course, Adobe hopes you will use Illustrator Draw with a Creative Cloud subscription, and that is really how to get the most out of it, with the ability to instantly send your work to Illustrator and Photoshop CC, license Adobe Stock images in the app, and publish direct to Behance.
Autodesk is more renowned for its class-leading 3D applications, but in Sketchbook it has a powerful mainstream drawing app with arguably the most natural drawing experience of all. Features include 170 customisable brushes, full PSD layer and blending support, and switchable predictive stroke which transforms your hand-drawn lines and shapes into crisp, precise forms. Paired with a top-spec Android device – especially one with a stylus – Sketchbook is probably the best free-drawing app around.
An app that caters more for big statements than subtleties, Photoshop Mix lets you cut out and combine elements from different images, blend layers and make adjustments to your creations on your Android device. PS Mix majors on ease-of-use, and it live-syncs with Photoshop CC meaning that when you make a change on your phone, it’ll show up instantly on your desktop. Usefully, you can take advantage of all the CC benefits with an Adobe Photography Plan, which saves a fair bit over a full Creative Cloud subscription.
Developer Sean Brakefield completely overhauled his SVG vector graphics app Infinite Design in 2016, and with the very latest updates it is now a real alternative to Adobe's dominant Illustrator Draw. Infinite Design, as the name suggests, features an infinite canvas (pan, zoom, or rotate), but also infinite layers, infinite path editing, and infinite undo and redo with a history slider.
It has myriad layer options; a transform tool to translate, scale, rotate, flip, distort, and skew; automatic shape detection; grids for reference or snapping; but its standout feature is the ability to create 3D images with five perspective tools. Also, a neat addition for users of Android apps on Chromebooks is the baked-in keyboard shortcuts.
Photoshop Sketch is just one of many sketching apps in our countdown, but Adobe's offering will gravitate to the top of any Creative Cloud subscriber's list due to the benefits of concomitance that belonging to Adobe's suite of tools provides. However, it is a great sketching app in its own right, with features including blend modes, perspective grids and natural drawing tools, plus the ability to turn any photo into a brush using Capture CC from within the app.
Canva has been around as an online design tool since 2012 but has only very recently made the move to Android – so recently, in fact, that the only press image we could get hold of is the iPad version. The Android flavour is near-identical in terms of interface and features, which are excellent and plentiful respectively. More of a full graphic design suite than a cut-down photo editor, Canva can be used to create everything from logos to web mockups with access to a huge library of templates, icons, photos and fonts, many of which are free although 'premium' assets require an in-app purchase.
Mockups and wireframes have never been easier to create than with Adobe Comp. Using natural drawing gestures with your finger or stylus, you can sketch out rough layouts and Adobe Comp will transform it into a crisp, professional mockup. Brilliant for sketching on-the-fly during an ad hoc meeting or presentation, you can pull in vector shapes, images, colours and text styles, and then send your comps to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or Muse to finish on your desktop in an instant.
ibis Paint X is a drawing app that's very popular with digital artists, and it's easy to see why. It offers a large range of tools, including a choice of 2,100 materials, over 700 fonts and 142 brushes. It's ideal for beginners wanting to quickly doodle something on an Android device, but there's enough depth and choice of tools to satisfy professionals as well. The free version does come with a lot of ads, but there's a premium version that doesn't cost much (either through a one-off payment of monthly subscription). The Prime Membership offers a few extra tools, so it's worth checking out.
If you want to quickly and easily design posters and other graphics while out and about, then Adobe Spark Post: Poster & Graphic Design Editor is definitely worth a download – especially as it has a free version. In only a few taps you can quickly make a professional-looking poster. There's loads of templates to get you started, and you can add your photos and text and add Design Filters to make striking artwork. While some people might find this a bit too simple, there's a surprising amount of depth to the app, and with a bit of tweaking you can make individual posters that stand out from the crowd. Its simplicity is also ideal for use on mobile devices, letting you whip something up while you're on your way to work.
If computer-aided drafting is your business, Autodesk's AutoCAD app is the perfect mobile assistant. It brings your technical drawings to any Android phone or tablet, and includes the ability to view and edit 3D and 2D DWG files. The smooth and intuitive interface is perfect for the touchscreen format, and crucially for site visits you can work offline. When online, the app synchronises with AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT on your desktop to ensure a continuous workflow.
AutoCAD is free to download to your phone but, as befits a serious tool, it will cost you £6/$5 per month for the Premium version and double that for AutoCAD Ultimate, which adds 100GB cloud storage and 40MB maximum file size.
Popular iOS and desktop painting app Procreate has not made the journey across to Android, but fear not – Infinite Painter is here to provide a similar-feeling experience, and arguably a better one. Over 80 brush presets are available, or you can create your own, and there are Photoshop-compatible layers and blend modes. You can create 3D images with five perspective views, and it has tools aplenty: Transform tool, Pattern tool, Liquify tool, Gradient and Pattern Fill, and you can rotate and flip the infinite canvas with ease.
If you are looking for the incredible experience of 3D painting in virtual reality… you will need Google's Tilt Brush software, a hugely expensive workstation, and an HTC Vive or similar VR headset. Paint VR is a great bit of fun, however – an app to enjoy with your Android phone and a budget/bundled headset like Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR. OK, it's incredibly simple with a standard colour wheel and a basic set of brushes to choose from, and the painting action is very awkward, but it is strangely addictive fun trying to create with such limitations – like using MS Paint with a cheap mechanical mouse in the 1990s.
Find My Font is the original font-identification software, having debuted as a desktop app into which you would import photos to discover the fonts used – or a visually similar equivalent. Turning this clever tool into a mobile app opened up its horizons and allowed type-hungry designers to snap any piece of type in the wild and instantly discover something similar for use in design projects. With a database of over 150,000 fonts, the Android app can identify connected or fragmented letters and claims to achieve accurate matching results down to a mere 20px text height.
Adobe Capture is a real Swiss Army Knife of design apps, helping you to turn anything you see or sketch into vectors, materials, brushes and shapes for use in your projects. Capture also uses Adobe's advance AI tech to recognise type shapes and suggest visually similar fonts, creates geometric patterns from any image, and can create colour palettes from any photo in an instant. And coupled with a Creative Cloud account, your creations are available instantly in all the Adobe desktop apps you use.
Paperless is a solid, simple app for Android tablets that lets you draw and paint with pencil, watercolours, feather ink, and brushes. A series of basic tools are available, including Eraser tool, Paint bucket tool and Color picker tool, and usefully you can set line thickness, size, opacity and smoothing. Paperless could not be your only drawing app, and unfortunately its last update was in 2013 which suggests it will not be developed further, and you can only export to PNG, but as a straightforward digital sketchbook it works well.
This basic sketching app features 12 brushes, colour picker and eraser, but the user interface is the real winner here, as Sketcher Free enjoys an excellent tool picker and the beautifully responsive drawing engine is actually the much-vaunted web-based Sketchy tool from Mr Doob. This version of Sketcher is free to download, but you can splash out $0.99/£0.80 for Sketcher Pro and enjoy additional features such as adjustable canvas size and the ability to pan/zoom.
Remember Kuler, Adobe's colour-picking app? The developer of Color Reference does, and that's why this app is perfect for those who are less than impressed by Adobe's transformation of Kuler into the browser-based Color CC. Color Reference lets you create and export colour palettes, and features the ability to select colours from imported images and a wealth of auto-generated palettes. A bit of fun is the wallpaper creator, which allows you to design wallpapers for your phone based on your colour palettes.
The myPantone app enables you to create colour palettes on the move, cleverly extract Pantone colours from images, and quickly look up the reference number of a Pantone colour if you're out and about. You can export palettes for use in Adobe's Creative Cloud apps (and QuarkXPress, too). At a cent shy of $8, it is expensive for an Android app (which are usually free), but with no in-app purchases to worry about and access to Pantone Colour Libraries built-in, you are getting good value.
The highly rated ArtFlow app is an evergreen entry in our app lists, mainly because it gets the two essential basics of interface and drawing feel so right. It is user-friendly and simple, but that does not mean childish and basic – ArtFlow is definitely a tool that professional designers will find useful. It supports resolution up to 4096×4096 pixels, and its clever ‘Palm Rejection’ feature means it will never mistake your resting hand for your sketching one.
You get access to 20 tools with the free version, plus only two layers and six levels of undo, but upgrade to Pro and you'll find your toolkit stuffed with 70 brushes, infinite undo, 16 layers and much more besides.
Type:Rider is a stylish platform game that also teaches you about typography. In true typographic form you control a colon, acting as a linked pair of dots, and the action is simple left, right and jump with a selection of intuitive control schemes to work from. The levels themselves are typographically themed, with the landscape made up in part of letterforms from various typefaces. As you progress through the history of typography you meet newer typefaces and get to know their letterforms, often as you tumble off the edge of them and plummet to your death.