All drawing apps on this list have passed my ‘test’ for basic user-friendliness at the time of download and on my device. Always remember the internet acronym ‘YMMV’ – your mileage may vary. A bit like Buyer Beware-the software may be altered or corrupted. Your device may be running a different operating system or have various hardware issues with mine. As always, backup your data and check credentials carefully before installing any new software. Your device, your choice, your responsibility.
What I’m looking for on a basic level is an application that requires minimal permissions, can’t access my list of contacts or paid services, doesn’t install intrusive advertising, doesn’t crash randomly, and allows me to save my work. I also expect a basic level of quality – reasonable resolution and smooth lines.
In the past, ‘drawing software’ implied vector-based editing, while ‘paint’ or ‘photo’ editors implied raster-based editing. Recently though, both types of software have increasingly overlapping capabilities, and artists’ desire for drawing natural media means that cool drawing apps are often granted rather than a vector.
Autodesk Sketchbook Express
Autodesk is a familiar name to any graphic artist; (something about the company). It looks like it’s a ‘real’ free app: the permissions aren’t heavy and don’t seem to install any malware beyond the usual anonymous data usage, which mentioned.
When you first start the application, you will be presented with a series of instruction screens explaining each icon, how to pan and zoom, and how to change the brush size and opacity. It’s the best idea to take your time to see them. As it’s not always nice and sometimes confusing (the main ‘draw style’ icon is the same as the ‘maintain transparency’ icon in the Layers drop-down)
Annotations are in many languages. The free version has many features and options disabled but has great basic functionality.
Water Color Pencil Light
It is one of my favorite apps because the pencil texture is pretty natural and grainy. It may seem like a simple thing, but achieving a realistic ink texture should be difficult. As some line drawing applications seem to manage it! The interface works great with a ‘pencil box’ and palette theme, with a simple toggle option to a corner to maximize drawing space. Nice, friendly, and worth checking out.
Remember – if you’re looking, that spelling is Water Color Pencil Lite
Infinite Painter Free
Infinite Painter Free by Sean Brakefield is a powerful drawing application that reminds me of ArtRage, with a highly intuitive interface, easily accessible color and brush palettes, redo and undo, and a toggled detailed menu, including layer support and reference image pinning. Intuitive fingerprints will zoom and rotate the image.
It looks high resolution, with a very good selection of brushes that include the traditional pen and brush and some nice textures. Another app that can fill your needs. You may also want to check out his Infinite Design Free app for Vector drawing.
Just for fun, It works in vertical format – annoying if you have a horizontal tablet – and opens with a ‘free download’ advert for Kids Doodle. Furthermore, it’s a simple kaleidoscope of fun – every mark you make is mirroring. Click on the kaleidoscope to choose various ‘mirror’ styles. Each touch of the blank canvas cycles through a different background color; click the paintbrush to select a painting style – neon glow, flat paint, chalk, and more. It’s a toy, rather than for serious drawing – a kind of hands-free ‘Spirograph’ – but lots of fun. However, I can’t seem to remove the ‘rainbow’ color, and the app crashes after a bit of drawing apps. There is some pressure sensitivity, though inaccurate, plus a fun playback function. Cute and addictive.
I can’t review this application because its terms are heavy: it sends information – including your phone number – to its advertising’ partner, Airpush. There’s no such information as a free lunch, and in this case, you’re paying with more than the irritation of intrusive advertising. You’re sharing all your data. This information glued to the permission screen that many users click without a second thought. At least the developers have the resilience to put up a new notification and accept/reject screen when the app. So kudos for that.
Remember that nothing has lasted the same for long in the tech world, so while these are among the best choices at the time of writing, they may not always be – Updates, changes, or developer disinterest can mean apps being review here is no longer a good choice in weeks or months. I hope this is not the case and you will find these applications useful.