Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
So you just picked up a new Android tablet, and you’re wondering what to do with it. How about drawing? You may not be an artist (yet), but you have every reason to try with a tablet.
As tablets have increased in capabilities, sketching and paintings apps have followed suit. That means you can hold a complete painting studio right in your hands.
The following apps are intended for professionals and amateurs alike. While a stylus isn’t required, it’s definitely recommended to use these apps to their fullest potential.
1. Adobe Illustrator Draw
Adobe understands that mobile is the way of the future, so it’s created a free sketching app named Adobe Illustrator Draw. The app certainly carries the Illustrator seal of approval. With a simple interface, intuitive gesture mechanics, and comprehensive feature list, it’s impressive that this is free.
Adobe Illustrator Draw allows you to create and save vector illustrations directly from your Android device. Not only are the brush tools sleek and easy to use, the overall app—as feature packed as it is—is surprisingly smooth.
Since this makes vector art, the images are crisp and clear. And since it’s an official Adobe app, you can seamlessly transfer sketches or finished products into Adobe Illustrator to continue working. From layering to sketching to painting, this app has it all.
Download: Adobe Illustrator Draw (Free)
2. Adobe Sketch
Where Adobe Draw excels in vector drawing, Adobe Sketch excels in raster sketching (similar to Adobe Photoshop). Filled to the brim with brushes, Sketch lets you create anything you have the skills to draw.
Tools in Sketch overlap with those found in Adobe Draw, so you can move back and forth between apps as you would Adobe’s desktop programs. After all, Adobe doesn’t just make fantastic apps—it also make creative, cross-device environments.
Download: Adobe Photoshop Sketch (Free)
With everything ArtFlow has to offer, you won’t believe it’s free. With a slew of brush options and in-app features available at the click of an icon, Artflow is the perfect Android app to both play around with and create some serious art.
The free option only allows you to save art as either a JPEG or PNG. The Pro version, however, allows you to export all your layers in PSD format so you can continue working on your desktop.
Download: ArtFlow (Free, premium version available)
4. MediBang Paint
MediBang Paint is just that: a banger of a drawing application. It does everything you would want it to. The UI is similar to the Adobe suite’s, which will feel familiar to desktop graphic designers.
Because this app is both free and feature-packed, you’ll find plenty of online resources to help get you going with it.
Download: MediBang Paint (Free)
5. Infinite Painter
Infinite Painter is an instant fan favorite. It’s dead simple; all you see by default is six tools (brush, smudge, brush size, color, and brush opacity).
That’s all you get in the default UI because it’s all you need. All additional tools are one button away, and Infinite Painter makes great use of that one button.
It’s minimal done right, but packs enough features in its free version to create truly impressive, professional work.
Download: Infinite Painter (Free, premium version available)
Yet another quasi-desktop iteration of tablet sketching, Autodesk’s SketchBook fills your device with useful tools and features to design whatever your heart desires.
More than a fantastic app, Autodesk also developed a fantastic ethic. From the SketchBook website:
“At Autodesk, we believe creativity starts with an idea. From quick conceptual sketches to fully finished artwork, sketching is at the heart of the creative process […] For this reason, we are excited to announce that the fully featured version of SketchBook is now FREE for everyone!”
It’s always pleasant to see a fantastic paid app go free. This includes both the desktop and mobile versions of Sketchbook, so you can work using whatever tech medium suits your expertise.
Download: SketchBook (Free)
7. Tayasio Sketches
Tayasui Sketches is, in itself, a piece of art. The UI and your tools blend seamlessly onto one screen.
What makes it even more attractive is the simplicity of its layout along with the ingenious tool design. All the options you need to create the perfect brush sit before you.
Download: Tayasui Sketches (Free, premium version available)
While most applications try to give you a modern, minimal UI, PaperDraw lays the pens and brushes out in front of you. It’s as close to an easel and canvas as you can get from an Android app.
That’s not the mention all the modern advances it does have, like a fantastic portfolio display. On top of it all, you’re treated to one of the most impressive and intuitive brush selections of any drawing app. Purchase the VIP version, and you’ll have carte blanche of all the fantastic tools PaperDraw has to offer.
Download: PaperDraw (Free, premium version available)
Yet another official powerhouse, Sony’s Sketch application is wildly popular for a reason.
Not only does it provide you with the basics, like layering capabilities, great background textures, and great brush selection, it also provides several free PNG sticker images to accent your creation.
Download: Sketch (Free, premium version available)
Is pixel art more your scene? Allow me to introduce you to DotPict, a simple but remarkable 8-bit drawing app.
It’s a strange drawing app that’s also partly a game. Move a small hand with your finger or stylus, then push your color to create an 8-bit shape. There’s a variety of canvas sizes as well, so you can create anything from a small figure to a whole landscape.
Select a color, aim your cursor, and push. You can customize the color palette endlessly to complete an entire 8-bit project. It’s that easy.
Download: DotPict (Free)
Now You Can Draw, Sketch, and Paint on Android
If you had a hankering for drawing or sketching before, now you have no excuse. You can seriously develop your drawing capabilities anywhere you go, especially if you have one of the best drawing tablets.
Rather have an app do the work for you? Check out these free apps that turn photos into art.