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Tech review: Art apps that will send you back to the drawing board

SketchBook, from Autodesk, lets designers create sketches on

SketchBook, from Autodesk, lets designers create sketches on the go. Credit: Autodesk

At the dawn of the smartphone and tablet age -- which, amazingly, was only 10 years ago -- art apps were primitive and, well, sketchy. You were lucky to be able to draw a simple stick figure with your finger. But that has changed, and if you haven’t used an art app in a while, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.


(iOS, Android; free)

This app comes from Autodesk, a giant software company known for decades for its flagship computer-aided design programs. SketchBook builds on the company’s expertise to let designers create sketches on the go whenever an inspiration strikes. Like all apps reviewed here today, SketchBook is best used on an iPad or Android tablet along with a stylus.

Adobe Illustrator Draw

(iOS, Android; free)

When artists and designers think of a computer-based art program, Adobe Illustrator is usually at the top of the list. This app is a scaled-down but still useful version of the powerful Windows and Mac program. You can export art you create in Adobe Illustrator Draw to the desktop versions of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. You can also check out Adobe Photoshop Sketch (iOS, Android; free).

Ibis Paint X

(iOS, Android; free)

Created exclusively for mobile devices, Ibis Paint X is a full-featured drawing and painting app that comes with about 150 brushes and more than 700 fonts. But befitting the mobile age, Ibis promotes what it calls “social drawing,” where users can upload and share their artwork on the active Ibis website. You can digitally import your paint-and-pen rough sketches and transform them into something stunning. 

Sketch — Draw & Paint

(iOS, Android; free)

Entertainment giant Sony’s entry into the art-app world, Sketch -- Draw & Paint allows you to create drawings and even do some basic photo editing. There are a number of built-in brushes, pencils and pens that make it fun to draw using your finger or a stylus. There’s an online community devoted to the app where you can collaborate on sketches with others.

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