It can be hard to start digital art since there seems to be a barrier that you can only overcome by money. Professional artists use Wacom tablets, iPads, Apple pens, and expensive software to produce stunning digital artwork. This can make you feel overwhelmed or like you need these software and expensive tablets to make good artwork which is not true.
When I started drawing, I was overwhelmed by all these expensive barriers I needed to overcome to create artwork like the professionals. But fortunately for you, if you don’t have any tablets or desktops to start your digital art journey, there are tons of free drawing apps.
As someone who has been drawing for more than 3 years and has used my fair share of drawing apps, I have ranked and reviewed all the best drawing apps along with my top 5 choices so that you can choose the best option.
What Is The Best Drawing App For Your Mobile Phone?
When choosing the best drawing app, you must consider several factors. For example, is it free, or does it support your drawing style? How much experience do you need? And many more. In this list, I have considered all these questions to compile what might be the best app for you to use. But I recommend you try all these out since only you know what truly suits you.
Want to know my personal favorite software right now? My favorite choice is SketchBook and Infinite Painter. Digital art has always been popular and will only grow further in the future. In addition, you can make money by selling commissions or creating characters to make your Webtoon or comic.
Digital artists must have their tried and tested drawing software. At the same time, you should try a lot of drawing software since no drawing app is complete. You will find that some drawing apps do certain functions better. So you should be able to juggle between at least two apps.
Especially if you cannot afford pro versions of these drawing apps, you should at least try five drawing apps to choose which style of interface suits you most. Here is the list of all the best drawing apps for your mobile phone.
- Infinite Painter
- ibisPaint X
- Tayasui Sketches
- Clip Studio Paint
- ArtFlow: Paint Draw Sketchbook
- Pixel Studio
- Paper Color
Disclosure: We are not affiliated with or receive compensation for the links below. This site is not intended for providing financial advice. This is for informational and entertainment purposes only.
SketchBook, first released on Oct 8, 2014, is a drawing app with many features. You can produce professional digital art using your phone or tablet for free. Working on SketchBook is like drawing on paper with tons of brushes to choose from.
This app was one of the most professional drawing apps I tried on the list. The interface is clean and user-friendly as it doesn’t clutter your drawing space. You can also tuck tools and pallets out of sight to create more drawing space.
It’s not finger-friendly, so I highly recommend using a stylus while using SketchBook.
SketchBook is compatible with both Android and iOS. You can also download it on your Windows and Mac, but you must pay for the desktop version. You can also create time-lapses which is a great feature as you can post them on social media to promote your art.
Transform feature allows you to Distort, Nudge, Flip Horizontal, Flip Vertical, Rotate Counter Clock Wise, and Rotate Clock Wise your drawing layer. This allows you to edit your art so you can see your anatomy mistakes and fix them.
The drawing app also has Guides which are scales you can modify to fit your needs. Have trouble creating the perfect circle, use the Elipse rural. You have three different rulers to choose from Straight Ruler, Curve Ruler, and Elipse Rural. You can change its shape and size to a certain extent.
Between iOS and Android, I have found no difference while using SketchBook. The interface and the brushes all remain the same. In addition, the features are easy to navigate since the tools are laid out and labeled.
SketchBook is a completely free app with no in-app purchases or ads popping up.
SketchBook is a beginner-friendly app, but you need to have an intermediate level of experience to use all of its functions fully.
What I Like/Dislike About Sketch Book
- SketchBook is a free app with various features where you don’t need to unlock the Pro version to use the better functions.
- Customizable brushes which suit your needs, including Brush Types, Pressure, Spacing, and many more.
- Unable to change the file format to PDF or other file types.
2. Infinite Painter
Using Infinite Painter is a wonderful experience, first released on Apr 2, 2012. The interface is clean and customizable. Moreover, for free, you can utilize many functions which you would need to pay for on other apps.
It is almost the complete drawing app you can get for free on your phone. You can easily produce stunning artwork to help you go forward in your digital art career. If art is your hobby, but you want to pursue it professionally, Infinite Painter almost provides all the tools you will find in professional drawing software.
With a very interactive community, you can ask questions and quires with other artists and users about the app. You can also offer your ideas and suggestions to help make the app better.
The canvas size was the first thing I noticed while testing this app. The interface is clean, and the tools are very easy to navigate. All functions you require to open up in a pop-up window so it doesn’t take up your drawing space. This app truly is designed to use on a smartphone.
The selection of brushes is magnificent, and the best part is that you can customize your brushes to fit your needs. You can also download many brushes uploaded by the Infinite Painter community addition. In addition, the brush section so you can easily find the brush you require as they are categorized systemically.
Infinite Painter is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You can also easily access the Infinite Painters tutorial by tapping the Classroom icon. There you can find tutorials teaching you how certain functions work and how you should be using layers, and so on.
Infinite Painter has a neat interface. I enjoyed opening my time on the app. As stated above, the brushes were my favorite part. Scrolling through all the different brushes can get annoying, but since the brushes are categorized according to their finish, it was easy for me to navigate.
I loved the downloadable brushes made by the community. The selection was impressive, ranging from delicate ornaments to unique textures. If you use this app, I recommend you check the downloadable brushes.
The app can get laggy at times, but it is manageable. Most necessary tools are available for free use, but you are restricted in the number of layers you can use. Timelapse is recorded automatically, and you view its preview within the app.
The app is free to download, but you can unlock all premium features for your lifetime at $9.99.
You will need a beginner to intermediate level of experience to understand all the functions Infinite Painter provides. Thus I recommend you check out its tutorial if you have never used a drawing app.
What I Like/Dislike About Infinite Painter
- Customizable brushes with a variety of selections.
- Clean and simple interface.
- Able to export artwork into a variety of file formats.
- A built-in recorder that automatically records your drawing process.
- Only allowed three active layers.
- Laggy while downloading new brushes.
- Not being able to select and transform your artwork in the free version.
MediBang is a free and lightweight digital painting app. It provides plenty of features while occupying only 31 MB of space on your device. This app allows you to create comic and manga-style artwork by providing you with textures and backgrounds that will help reduce your workload.
For free, you can access over 850 tones, textures, backgrounds, and word balloons. The background consists of cityscapes, landscapes, skylines, speech bubbles, and many more. You also get 16 free brushes to choose from.
MediBang, like ibisPaint X, is also a drawing app catered toward making manga and comic artworks, so if you are interested in this art style, you can try this app.
Snap is like a scale ruler in real life. MediBang gives you four different Snap options, which you can use in various ways. For example, you can use it to create sun rays or give texture to your backgrounds, and according to the brushes you use, you can get different results.
MediBang also gives you tutorials to increase your drawing skills and get familiar with the resources provided by the app. You can even interact with the community by posting your artwork or exploring others’ artwork and videos. Medibang also has Contests where you can submit your artwork and get monetary prizes or get noticed by Anime Studios.
MediBang is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Its interface is clean and provides enough space to draw on your phone. However, you will need to try and use every material to know what it does and how it functions. So I recommend you familiarize yourself with watching tutorials and playing around with the app.
The brush selection tool confused me a lot since its logo was a palette. We artists associate the palette with the color selection tool, so it took me a few minutes to figure out where the brush selection tool was. However, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the backgrounds provided by Medibang for free. If you are someone who works in the manga art style, these resources are just for you.
Medibang is a free-to-download app. But if you want to unlock more features, you can upgrade to the pro version for $2.33 /month, $3.93 /month, or $7.66 /month. The prices vary according to cloud storage which is 20GB, 100GB, and 300GB, respectively.
Medibang required an intermediate to expert level of experience. However, beginners can increase their experience by looking at various tutorials posted by MediBang. In short, you will have to give a lot of time to use MediBang properly.
What I Like/Dislike About MediBang
- The free version is enough for making a professional finished final product, and you won’t feel like you are missing anything by not upgrading to the Pro version.
- Variety of downloadable assets such as backgrounds, vehicles, and traceable character poses.
- Engaging community and contests which allow artists to win monetary prizes and get noticed by studios.
- Free tutorials on the app that show you step by step process to draw on the app using its many features.
- Able to store the digital artwork in your cloud, allowing you to edit on your pc later.
- Hard to find specific tools and a lack of named icons.
- An ad will automatically play whenever you save your progress, which can hinder your workflow.
- Can only convert your file into PNG, PNG (Transparent), and JPG.
Are you a fan of Anime? And were you also inspired by Anime to draw so you could create your manga? Then you should try ibisPaint X since not only is it a drawing app, but it also is a community.
You will find the app engaging but confusing with various features catered toward drawing in the anime art style. ibisPaint X has so many features that you can feel overwhelmed if you’re just starting.
Drawing on a regular-sized phone is hard when using ibisPaint X since it has ads that take up your valuable drawing space.
ibisPaint X has too many functions to pick out the best features since it can vary according to your needs. But the two feature that stood out to me the most was Frame Divider and the downloadable Materials.
Frame Divider allows you to create Manga panels or Comic Panels. You can divide the canvas as much as you want and place it accordingly. ibisPaint X also allows you to download materials.
ibisPaint X collection of Materials is impressive, to say the least. You can download body poses textures, clothing patterns, background, accessories, and more. And it also has an engaging community that posts new downloadable materials and tutorials.
Compatible with iOS and Android, ibisPaint X is a fun way to explore the digital art community. The app experience is smooth, but the space will be an issue if you’re a beginner artist just starting with your typical smartphone.
ibisPaint X user interface is a bit claustrophobic, and it’s hard to navigate its many functions. In addition, new users might get lost trying to find the specific tools they require.
And the ad experience is not very pleasant when you have to unlock specific brushes by watching a 30-sec ad. The ad also covers a tiny space on the top or the bottom of your screen, which reduces your working space.
ibisPaint X is a free app, but if you want to remove the ads and unlock all the brushes, it will cost you $8.51. This is a One-off payment, and you can share the add-on with multiple devices.
You will need an intermediate to expert level of experience. And you will have to practice using ibisPaint X for a while to discover all the functions and use it smoothly fully.
What I Like/Dislike About ibisPaint X
- Variety of features to choose from and labeled icons.
- Being able to download different brushes, backgrounds, and references.
- Engaging the community with fun challenges where you can view and post your artwork.
- Confusing interface as it has lots of functions and is hard to navigate.
- Ads take extra space on the screen, thus reducing the space to draw.
- Having to watch ads to unlock Brushes.
5. Tayasui Sketches
Tatsuya Sketches, an app launched on Oct 29, 2020, is a beautiful app according to its description. However, with over 1M+ downloads, it still hasn’t been talked about much in the digital art app community. This app is simple to navigate and is stylus friendly. But you will have no problem drawing with your finger as well.
Tayasui Sketches has quickly become of my favorite free drawing apps. While I was testing drawing apps for mobile phones, Tayasui Sketches stood out because of its simple layout. While the brushes might seem limited, you would be surprised with what you can do.
I will be discussing in-depth its features, my user experience, pricing, your experience level, and what I personally like and dislike about this app. So let’s get into it.
Tayasui Sketches is compatible with Android and iOS, and it is stylus compatible so that it will adapt your brushes according to your movements. You can easily download this app from PlayStore or Google, and since it is only 47 MB, it won’t eat up much space on your device.
The best feature of Tayasui Sketches has to its brushes and paper texture. Many think that digital art lacks the texture that traditional art has. But this app allows you to choose five different paper textures to add depth to your digital painting. First, you must try the stunning watercolor brush for the brushes, which acts like your traditional watercolor.
The main feature it is lacking in the free version of the app is the option of adding layers. If Tayasui Sketches had this feature, it would be the best free drawing app on the market. But unfortunately, you are only allowed one layer to draw on, which is very restricting.
User Experience (iOS Vs. Android)
Since Tayasui Sketches is compatible with iOS and Android, I tested this app on iOS and Android to see what differences you might face while using it on your devices. Most features are similar, but the layout is a bit different.
The main difference between iOS and Android is that you get thirteen different paper selections on iOS, while on Android, you only get five. But on Android, you can pick five different brushes to be on your screen. So you don’t have to change your brush whenever you want a different texture. On the other hand, on iOS, you can only have two brushes on your screen, and you cannot replace the Eraser brush.
A neat trick I found while using Tayasui Sketches on iOS is that you can use two layers in the free version. So when you select the paper texture on Android, you are not allowed to draw on it, but on iOS, you can. So, you have to click the texture you want and start drawing on it. But make sure you don’t change the texture as it will erase your art.
Tayasui Sketches is a mostly free drawing app, but you can buy its pro version for $ 5.99. It is a one-time payment, and you don’t have monthly subscriptions. You can unlock new tools, layers, patterns, and many other features.
Tayasui Sketches is a beginner-friendly app you can use to get your toes dipped into digital art. Although it is without a doubt that the more experienced you are, the better the results you will get.
What I Like/ Dislike About Tayasui Sketches
- The traditional feel of the brushes allows you to duplicate digital art to seem like a traditionally drawn painting.
- The simplicity of the software and ease in drawing without a stylus.
- Two-finger tap allows users to undo, thus making the drawing process easier.
- The disadvantage for Android users since iOS has more features when they are both the same app.
- Unable to save in different file formats such as PDF makes editing harder in other drawing software.
- Needing to unlock the pro version drawing in different layers.
Concepts is a drawing app fitting its name since this isn’t a strictly drawing app like the other apps on the list. However, I could see users using this app to take notes for classes, make concept sketches or just doodle in their free time.
Concepts is a trusted app by leading creators such as Disney, Apple, PHILLIPS, Nike, Play Station, Illumination, HP, and Unity. Its infinity canvas allows you to keep creating without the restriction of canvas size.
You get five layers, five imports, basic brushes, and workspace settings on the free version. While it is a bit restrictive, you will still be able to produce fine digital artwork. Concepts are compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Concepts has distinct features that differentiate it from other free drawing apps. Infinity Canvas is very handy if you have a vague concept to work on. For example, if you’re designing your character, you’ll need to work on many details such as expressions, clothing, body types, etc. So instead of creating a new file, you can just work on one, and all your character study is in one file for easy study.
Concepts color selection is also different from most digital drawing apps and software. In contrast, most drawing apps use the “pick and choose” method, where you can pick the hue, saturation, and value of your colors. But on Concepts, you have color selection according to Copic markers. You can choose the colors as they show circularly with all the labels of their respective marker names.
The user interface is intuitive and very easy to navigate. You can easily edit the features to fit your drawing style to make it easy for you. Simply hold click, and you move your essential tools such as brush selections and color selection. The brush selection is limited for free users, but as you use it, you’ll find that the styles are all you need to create a professional-looking artwork.
Concepts is a free-to-download app, but you can upgrade to the pro version for a better selection of tools and buy the tools you might require separately. You can either buy the monthly subscription for $4.99 /month or $29.99 / for a year. If you don’t want to unlock everything and pay yearly or monthly and want to buy a specific tool, you require The essentials tools cost $14.99, which covers saving your files into different formats.
Concepts is a beginner-friendly app but cater to professionals who can use its various features if willing to pay.
What I Like/Dislike About Sketch Book
- Easy to use and navigate. A clean interface where most beginners can instantly use the app.
- Free features are enough to create a professional-looking artwork.
- Full Copic color palettes show in an exploding color wheel
- Limited options to save your artwork into PDF formats unless you buy the Pro version.
- Can only use the essential tools such as editing the picture size you import, which other drawing apps provide for free.
- You are only allowed five layers and five imports in the free version.
- No timelapse recording
7. Clip Studio Paint
Clip Studio Paint is much-loved drawing software used by professionals and studios worldwide. Released on Dec 4, 2020, Clip Studio Paint launched a drawing app so desktop users can draw anywhere.
Clip Studio Paint can help you create professional artwork with its in-built material organizer, 3D models, and many other features. If you already use Clip Studio Paint on your desktop, you should also check out its app.
The app is a pay-to-use app, but you can use the app for free once an hour. You can use all the functions for free.
Clip Studio Paint is only compatible with Android 9 and up. However, it has various features you can use for line art, creating landscapes, character art, and so on. In addition, the brush library present is impressive.
It has multiple brush types such as ink, watercolor, and oil, all with different weights, blending capabilities, opacities, etc. You can also customize your paint brushes to fit your needs. For example, double-tapping on the brush can change the shape, density, color stretch, and texture.
Clip Studio Paint has hundreds of pre-rendered effects, backgrounds, effects, textures, or manga materials. You can download more effects by simply making a Clip Studio account.
The app’s interface is clean while there is a ton of functions, it doesn’t make the app cluttered. While this was my first time using Clip Studio Paint on the phone, the app isn’t hard to navigate. If you have previously used photoshop or have some knowledge, it will be easier to use.
But the new tools can overwhelm beginners who have just started using drawing software. You can either use Clip Studio Paint for 1 hour every day without logging in or sign up to use it for free for three months.
Using the app for free for an hour every day seems restricting, but if you cannot afford to buy professional software, this is the best option. On the other hand, if you are looking forward to making professional artwork, I recommend you get familiar with this app as this will help you transition towards drawing software easily.
Clip Studio Paint is free to download and use for three months after you sign up. After that, on the mobile app, you can use it for free for an hour every day. To use the app forever, you can make a one-time purchase for Windows/macOS only for US$ 49.99. For your mobile devices, you can subscribe for US$ 0.99/month.
You will need at least an intermediate to expert level of experience.
What I Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint
- Ability to use paid software for free.
- Vast brush library selection.
- Able to Cloud Share.
- Can only use the app for free for one hour if you don’t sign up.
8.ArtFlow: Paint Draw Sketchbook
Released on May 23, 2013, ArtFlow is a free drawing app that will support pressure-sensitive pens like Samsung’s S Pen. With over a million downloads, it is a favorite for many aspiring digital artists.
Drawing apps with many functions can easily clutter your canvas space, making users feel overwhelmed. But ArtFlow solves this problem by making all the icons have a pop-up function which helps prevent them from looking cluttered.
Only occupying 11 MB on its initial download takes little space on your device. And you can save and categorize.
ArtFlow is compatible only with Android Devices. It provides you with enough canvas space by hiding its tools when you draw. You can access the tools again by clicking the white dot at your screen’s top right corner.
The selection and transformation tools are free to use, a huge deal as this is a premium feature in most drawing apps. I highly recommend using this tool if you have never used it, as it will greatly help you create your digital artwork.
ArtFlowGuides can also help you create smooth line art, which can be very helpful if you don’t have a stylus. You can also create custom brushes and export your file in PNG, JPG, and PSD (Photoshop Document) format, but you have to unlock the pro version.
ArtFlow is a very beginner-friendly app that caters to professionals as well. However, you might feel restricted since ArtFlow only allows you to simultaneously undo six times in a row. But you can easily avoid this restriction by drawing something. Then you will be able to undo it six more times.
ArtFlow also supports keyboard shortcut keys, so connecting your smartphone to a keyboard can greatly increase your efficiency while creating artwork. All the tools are very simple to use. The brush selection is vast, but you will only be allowed to use simple brushes unless you unlock the premium version.
ArtFlow is a free-to-download app available on Playstore. However, if you want to unlock its pro version, it costs $4.97, which is a lifetime purchase.
ArtFlow is a very beginner-friendly app. You will be able to understand how the app functions and its features very easily.
What I Like/Dislike About ArtFlow
- Hiding Icons that disappear after you start drawing gives you more canvas space.
- Ability to select, inverse select, and transform your selected artwork.
- Built-in recorder.
- Can print artwork directly.
- Only allowed to have three layers.
- Requires a lot of tapping back and forth since the icons hide after you start drawing.
- You can only “undo” six times consecutively.
9. Pixel Studio
Pixel Studio was first released on May 18, 2018, and is loved by many pixel artists. You must have noticed while playing games such as Terraria, Stardew Valley, Skul, Undertale, etc. All these games feature pixel art.
Suppose you are curious about pixel art and how you can make it. Try Pixel Studio. You can create pixel art, GIFs, and animations. This is a great app to start dipping your toes into pixel art if you’re a beginner.
There is a certain level of nostalgia I feel with pixel art. It reminds me of classic snake games we played on Nokia phones with no touch screens.
Pixel Studio is a simple and fast way to create pixel art. You can use it on your smartphone and your laptop. In addition, you can use Google Drive to sync your work between different devices and platforms.
The interface is simple, but you must dig around to find certain functions. For example, the color replacer tool is very handy as you can change certain colors after you have filled the pixels, which is very important.
You can animate and draw simultaneously, which can get very confusing. So when you have your animation and drawing layer on simultaneously, it gets clustered. You might even be confused about which layer you should draw on.
Pixel Studio is compatible with Android, Desktop, and Mac. This app is a great free introduction to pixel art if you are a beginner. The built-in community portal is great; you can post your artwork and get ranked accordingly. If you manage to get on top of the rank, then all pixel users get a notification showing your artwork.
The user interface is easy to use. It’s nothing too complicated. However, the animation process can get hard as there is no tracing, so you must copy-paste your drawings.
Overall, a neat program where you can practice pixel art until you decide to do something bigger or more complex.
Pixel Studio is free to download and use on desktops and mobile devices. You can buy three different types of packages. You can buy the PRO versions for $8.78 or the PRO CROSS for $13.78 to unlock various features. If you don’t want any extra features but just want to stop ads, it will cost you $2.19.
Pixel Studio is a beginner-friendly app.
What I Like/Dislike About Infinite Painter
- Can create frame-by-frame animations.
- Supports PSP, PNG, JPG, GIF, and MP4 formats.
- Compatible with both desktop and mobile devices.
- Undo system is bound by layers
- It cannot undo when you delete an animation frame.
- Cannot undo cropping
PaperColor, launched on Jun 17, 2016, is a very straightforward drawing app. If you are just starting digital art and don’t want any complicated features, you might want to try this app. This is a good place to start for young ones as the interface is very easy.
You get a total of ten drawing tools which sounds very lacking, but most professional artists usually stick to a few brushes. While it is better to have more options so you can pick and choose, unfortunately, PaperColor cannot provide it.
PaperColor is compatible with only Android devices. PaperColor is a very to-the-point drawing app with no extra features. It is like drawing traditionally when you first start.
The interface is very simple as the icons are designed so that even a child can understand how it functions. So if you notice your siblings or child are interested in drawing, you can introduce them to PaperColor. It will be a fun way for them to navigate digital art.
You are provided seven free brushes you can draw with. They are standard brushes all beginner digital artists use, so the selection is fine. However, you only get one working layer, so the most you can do is doodle around.
As someone who used Photoshop and Kirita religiously, PaperColor reminded me of simpler times when I first dabbled into digital art. The app is very easy to navigate but quite restricting at times. So if you want to pursue digital art professionally, I wouldn’t recommend PaperColor.
While the brushes perform nicely, you cannot blend them. However, PaperColor is equipped with a ruler so you can draw straight lines. You can also import images and draw over them to transform your traditional art into digital.
PaperColor is a free-to-download app, but if you want to download more brushes and unlock new features, it will cost you $4.84, which is a one-time payment.
Very beginner-friendly, you can use it without any knowledge about digital art.
What I Like/Dislike About Sketch Book
- The interface is very simple to use, and all the tools are easy to navigate.
- Child friendly
- Lack of essential tools such as the fill tool and blend tool.
- Only one working layer is provided.
Also Read – Best Tattoo Design Apps For Android.
There you have it, the best drawing apps to create digital art. As a beginner artist with little resources, it can be hard to get into creating digital artwork. So I hope this guide was helpful. To recap, the best drawing app I recommend is SketchBook, which is compatible with iOS and Android.
If you want to create a Manga/ Anime art style, I recommend MediBang, which has many features and materials designed to help improve your speed. So choosing the app, software, brushes, and features is very important, and focusing on increasing your skill level.
You should practice your drawing fundamentals and how to use all the different functions in the drawing app. “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” – Helen Hayes. So make sure to practice every day. Also, if there are other drawing apps I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below.