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Drawing Apps

10 Essential Apps For the Mobile Artist

Michelangelo, Raphael, and the rest of the old masters drew everything they saw, everywhere they went. The new masters of the 21st century can still adhere to that artistic custom, with powerful apps designed for a mobile and creative world.

We've rounded up apps with specific media in mind, like ink, charcoal, and watercolor, and more general-purpose digital drawing tools, too. When inspiration unexpectedly strikes, modern-day artists will be grateful they had these 10 essential iOS drawing apps in their mobile toolkit.

  • Paper (free) — Paper is free to download and try, but the good stuff, like brushes, additional colors, and a color mixer must be purchased. The Apple Design Award 2012 winner is optimized for the iPad's Retina display. Sketch, write, draw, outline, or color and catalog your drawings in different Moleskine-inspired digital notebooks.
  • ASketch ($3) — This app has all the tools it takes to create a masterful charcoal drawing, without all the mess. Gestures, 20 levels of undo/redo, and multiple pencil options give artists granular control.
  • Sketji ($2) — This simple app is an elegant and expressive drawing tool created by Disney artist Eric Daniels. The drawings are based on the look and feel of Japanese or Chinese calligraphy, with speed-sensitive controls for different stroke weights.
  • Zen Brush ($3) — Brush and ink purists can choose between three ink shades, undo their mistakes, adjust brush size, and select one of 62 background styles.
  • Auryn Ink ($4) — Watercolorists will love this intuitive app optimized for both iPhone and iPad. A full color wheel, wet or dry paper/canvas options, brush size selection, and pigment blend feel just like the real thing.

We've got general-purpose, multiuse digital drawing apps after the break.

  • Brushes 3 (free) — This painting app for iPhone and iPad incredibly supports images up to 2048 x 2048. Record your painting sessions and enjoy 14 different brush shapes, adjustable color opacity, simulated pressure, and gestures.
  • Art Rage ($5) — Oils, watercolors, and acrylics are at your digital disposal, plus tools that apply texture and blend under the brush.
  • Adobe Ideas ($10) — This digital sketchbook with vector-based drawing tools is optimized for both iPhone and iPad. There are 50 levels of undo/redo available, and you can use up to 10 drawing layers. The vector-based drawing tools will feel right at home for those familiar with Adobe products.
  • SketchBook MobileX (free) — This paint and drawing app has multitouch navigation, lets artists create up to three layers, and takes advantage of every centimeter of screen. The five preset brushes, including flood fill tool, are engineered with synthetic pressure sensitivity.
  • Colorized (free) — Sketching goes social! Draw by hand or sketch from a photo using the Colorized Sketch color, pencil, spray can, or eraser tools and view your friends' drawings or popular sketching across the Colorized community.
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