Since the first “there’s an app for that” ad, apps have developed into streamlined powerhouses you can use to complete tasks that used to require a computer. The number of apps designed with creativity in mind is growing every day, but some stand above the rest for their usability and features. You may be a designer or an artist looking to make your phone into your next canvas, or simply an art-lover who wants to get in on the action. Either way, these apps will help you get there.

Autodesk SketchBook


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One of the most sophisticated drawing apps available on a mobile platform, Autodesk SketchBook is bridging the gap between desktop powerhouses like Adobe Illustrator and the capabilities of a touchscreen phone. The app’s user-friendly interface allows artists to save their preferences, resize their brushes, and change colors with just a few taps. The preset brushes are customizable, and the app also offers gradient and selection tools. The Express version is free, and the more full-featured Pro version is available in-app for $3.99.


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For easy photo editing that goes a lot deeper than what Instagram has to offer, there’s PicLab. Pre-loaded photo filters mix with photo editing capabilities like brightness, saturation, and exposure. On top of that, there are overlay textures, lighting effects, and more. PicLab also offers a collage feature as well as a text feature which gives you a library of fonts you can rotate, zoom, and drop-shadow.



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Use your phone to mix music with the free Keezy app. Create sound boards with up to eight sounds that you record yourself. Then use your fingers to control how the sounds play. Learning the Keezy basics is simple, and it’s a great app for children, musicians, and people who just enjoy playing with sound.



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Finding the right typeface is essential for designers of all stripes, whether they’re designing a magazine layout, a website, or a brochure. If you need quick access to over 44,000 typefaces, FontBook is the perfect resource. An intuitive search design leads you to the font you’re looking for, and the browsing categories help you find the font most appropriate for your latest design project.

Inkflow Visual Notebook


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The Inkflow Visual Notebook is like upgraded brainstorming. Jot down your ideas in words or doodles, then literally move them around your virtual notebook page. You can also zoom, add backgrounds, place text, and use your own photos in your notebook pages. The basic version is free for all iOS devices.

Procreate Pocket


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Procreate Pocket brings to mobile apps what designers and artists have been waiting for since the first Photoshop app: layers. Access an online magazine of downloadable brushes and drawing tools on your smartphone using T-Mobile’s speedy wireless. Then use the phone’s fast and powerful processor for Procreate Pocket’s endless layers with 18 modes, easy delete and transparency choices, and the option to undo your work up to 250 times.



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FiftyThree’s Paper app lets you combine all your creative impulses in one place. It creates a wall of virtual sticky notes for easy access to your ideas. You can highlight aspects of certain photos, sketch directly on your photos, and share what you create in PDF or PowerPoint form. One of the best things about this app is the complete lack of in-app purchases; the app is completely free. Paper was designed for iPad Pro, but it works well on iPhones, too.



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Get closer to the Photoshop experience with ArtStudio. Do serious photo editing with features like blur, clone, dodge, and smudge. Edit your brushes the same way you would in Photoshop, with jitter, opacity, flip, and more. Create layers with masks, blending modes, and opacity changes. For any designer needing to do some photo editing on the go, this is the app to use.

Having fun on your phone isn’t just about finding the latest game trend anymore. Let out your creative side, whether you’re an amateur photographer or a professional visual artist. These apps are great for work and play, for the designer working on her next presentation in the airport, or the dad making music with his kids.