iPad | $7.99
Most famously known, perhaps, as the app of choice for New Yorker cover artist Jorge Colombo, the Brushes app is a complex, yet user-friendly way to express yourself digitally. Since you’re painting with “brush strokes” here, your tools are a vast collection of brushes ranging in size and thickness. Once you get the hang of the subtly with which you can work, the sky’s the limit in terms what you’re able to create. Use as many as six layers for your work (merge and fiddle with transparency levels too), zoom in up to 3200% for serious detailing, and get rid of anything you’re unhappy with thanks to a handy undo feature. Once your work is done, send it through to Flickr, or if you really want to get fancy the app will actually replay your painting from start to finish like a cartoon. Pretty darn awesome.
iPad | $7.99
For those artists out there interested in a more stylized approach, the Inkpad app could very well be a gateway into the world of illustration and design. Using unlimited layers, this powerful app allows a seemingly endless array of features designed to assist in professional-grade work. Using vector graphics to create shapes, the user has complete control over colour, transparency, object placement, rotation and swatches – overall it’s impressively intuitive. Emailing art is relatively simple too, as files can be sent directly as PDFs, JPEGs and others, and the inclusion of a user’s album photos means personalized work is a breeze. If you’re willing to take the time to master this program, the results should be fairly amazing.
Android | $9.99
If digital collage is more your thing, Adobe’s app is an extensive introduction to the medium. Multi-purpose by design, Collage can be used as a purely creative platform, allowing you to combine images with drawings and text, or as a means to conceptualize your work for yourself or for clients. Essentially, you begin by importing images (including Photoshop and Illustrator) through your library. You’re free to move about each layer as you see fit. If freehand sketching is also required, several different pens with varied opacity are at your service, while dropping in text can also be done with several available fonts. Whether you’re making a collage for a friend with personal quotes, or an image-heavy presentation, Collage is an ideal way to incorporate many elements and ideas together at once.
iPad | $0.99
They may not be working on refined masterpieces, but doodlers need an outlet too (aren’t doodles where the best ideas get started anyhow?). Enter the Penultimate app, designed to be a perpetual doodle pad for whenever an idea strikes. Even though it sounds easy-as-pie, an in-app tutorial is a good place to begin. From there, select the type of realistic “paper” you want, be it graph, lined or plain. As with real-life doodles, simplicity is key which is why the app’s designers went to great lengths to replicate the look of a good-quality multi-coloured gel pen (an eraser’s also on-hand in case any pen strokes go awry). Once you start cranking out the pages, create a detailed in-app file library for everything from notes to sketches and games of tic-tac-toe, and whenever you need to share, send it on through as a PDF, via Dropbox and Evernote, and plain-old email. Doodling has never been so engaging.
WP | $0.99
On long car rides, at family gatherings or wherever else you’re trying to distract them, kids need to get creative too. You may have one of the other apps we’ve mentioned, but if it’s a simple alternative they require, Doodling Time for the Windows Phone is easy to understand and use, with a simple interface that allows kids to select basic tools such as brush, pen and spray paint, while also offering a decent colour palette to work from. Undo and eraser features will surely come in handy, and when you want to keep the pictures the saving feature is ready when you are.
iOS | $4.99
Perhaps you’ve got all the digital art tools you need, but are waiting on a blast of inspiration to get your creativity piqued. No problems there – the Art Authority app is sort of like a booster shot of all the art history you can handle. From the very earliest recorded works of art to contemporary gems, browse through periods, timelines and fascinating histories as you’re given access to 10GB worth of defining artistic works, while the app’s index contains more than 1,000 artists, titles and locations to select. If you want to get random, a shuffle feature mixes it up for you, and a bevy of hyperlinks ensures that you’ll be hard pressed to run out of learning material. If you want the world’s history of art at your fingertips, this app is truly a brilliant and immersive resource.
How To Draw
Android | Free
Some of us are natural artists, but even with all the inspiration in the world, it never hurts to have a little technique and instruction. That’s where How To Draw comes in. Sort of like a step-by-step guide, the app offers a basic approach to successfully drawing 70 objects including everything from animals and cartoon characters to human faces. Using a standard grid pattern, every image begins with a few basic steps, from outlining the initial form to working in finer details. Nothing’s too difficult, so it’s ideal for children and adults alike, and once you get the basics down, you can always add your own flourishes.
BB | Free
There’s room to get creative on the BlackBerry Playbook now as well, thanks to Wet Paint. Simple and straight forward, the multi-touch app offers a fairly refined version of finger painting for when you’ve got a few minutes to spare or your kids need something to do. Aside from a plentiful array of colours, you can customize brush size (several additional brushes are offered as in-app purchases), transparency, as well as operate in portrait or landscape mode. All your work is, of course, saveable, and if you’re looking to have a little fun you can import photos to paint over top of them as well.