Android tablets come in a variety of sizes and price points, making them easily accessible to a wide range of people. Although they’ve been in the market for years, only a few notables have achieved iPad Pro status, especially when it comes to being an important part of creative workflows. There are, of course, some Android tablets, like Samsung’s high-end range, that come with all the bells and whistles you’d need to work on the go, but browsing the Google Play Store for notable apps , not to mention security, can sometimes be a daunting prospect. Product designers on Google’s side need not worry, because here we have five of the best apps that can let you exercise your creativity wherever you have your tablet or even your phone with you.
Infinite Design and Painter
Designers don’t always think in confined spaces when brainstorming or sketching out ideas. Although most are used to the limitations imposed by physical paper, many probably wish they had an infinite canvas to explore ideas. It’s impossible to do in the physical realm, of course, but there’s no reason why you can’t do it with apps.
This Infinite Canvas is the cornerstone of Infinite Studio’s twin apps, Infinite Designer and Infinite Painter. As their name suggests, each caters to specific audiences and needs. The two, however, have some features in common, like that infinite canvas, as well as a configurable UI that you can move around to suit your workflow. Both apps can also be used for free with in-app purchases to unlock certain features.
Infinite Designer uses vector shapes and lines to create shapes that you can edit with great precision. It has some features created specifically for designers, such as text tools and perspective guides. Infinite Painter, on the other hand, is designed for those with more artistic inclinations, especially those who need to create their own brushes for painting textures.
Creator: Akash Kumar
Designer: Peter Sakievich
Much like Infinite Design, the name of this app clearly screams “concept design”. What started as an iOS exclusive eventually made its way to Windows and Android, giving designers a powerful new tool to give visual form to their thoughts. And just like Infinite Canvas, Concept’s key feature revolves around its infinite canvas.
Concepts’ drawing tools also revolve around vector shapes, but it has a larger set of brushes that would make artists feel at home too. From day one, the focus on the app designer has been a selling point. Concepts’ implementation of its color wheel as a COPIC wheel definitely remains a unique feature.
Concepts has a rather unusual pricing scheme that might put off some Android users. It’s free to use with a number of features that can each be unlocked with separate in-app purchases. However, there is also a monthly or annual subscription option that offers even more, which can be handy for those who really use this app.
Creator: Yael Arama
Creator: Rafael Alvarez
Much like Adobe, Autodesk doesn’t need much introduction among designers and digital creatives, especially those who depend on CAD software for a living. At one point, his sketchbook was even considered the de facto drawing app on mobile devices in the absence of Photoshop. Sketchbook is now its own company, but it has lost none of its capabilities. In fact, there could have been more.
All features of Sketchbook are now available to all users, absolutely free. These include dozens of brushes that can each be customized to suit a designer’s needs. Symmetry tools, rulers, and guides help structure sketches, and blending modes allow artists to work with as many layers as the device can handle.
One of Sketchbook’s main strengths has always been its simplicity and cleanliness, with the user interface quickly departing once you place the pen tip on the screen. Even the tool icons are designed to look clean and minimal, which helps reduce cognitive load while using the app.
Creator: Robert Kiss
Clip Studio Painting
With Photoshop coming to iPad only about a year ago, the chances of it coming to Android are slim to none. Although a few have tried to fill in the gaps, Android unfortunately doesn’t have a household name like Procreate, at least not yet. Luckily, designers have plenty of other options, especially when they need painting tools more than photo-editing tools.
Clip Studio Paint is actually one of Photoshop’s biggest competitors in the digital illustration space, and it’s now available on all major platforms, including Android phones and tablets. It is actually one of the go-to solutions for illustrators and comic book artists due to its wide range of tools specifically designed for these use cases. These same tools are, of course, also useful for sketching out design concepts or preparing final artwork for presentation.
The only problem with Clip Studio Paint’s powerful arsenal is its rather confusing pricing system. Although a free trial is available, further use of the app requires a subscription which differs by platform or type (PRO vs EX). However, new owners of Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablets get special treatment with a 6-month free trial not available to other brands.
Designer: André Pelaes David
Creator: Prentis Rollins
Almost all of the apps above except Sketchbook have a price, either hidden or explicit. Free apps get a lot of reviews because many of them are cheap in price and quality. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, and Krita is certainly one of them.
On desktop computers, Krita has become a serious contender to rival Photoshop for artists and designers. It has a solid set of tools for creating digital art, including an animation feature. Krita is also “free as it speaks,” in other words, open source, with a thriving community of artists and developers growing it at an incredibly rapid rate.
Although already well established on Windows, Mac and Linux, Krita is a relative newcomer to Android. It’s still only available in a beta version, but it’s completely usable in its current state. Even more impressively, Krita on Android has almost all the same features and capabilities as the desktop version, which Adobe has yet to provide for Photoshop on iPad.
Bonus: note shelf
Sketching and creating concept art is really only part of the design process. A lot is also happening with words and other media. Some designers still keep a physical laptop even though they do a lot of their work on computers and tablets. If you want to do everything on digital, Noteshelf offers a decent analog to your analog laptop.
With Noteshelf, you can add your sketches and PDF documents to your notes for a particular concept you’ve been working on. You can also handwrite your notes and even record audio while doing so. Noteshelf will sync the two and replay your writing stroke by stroke as you play back the audio recording. All this for $4.99 with no hidden fees included.