If you are an artist looking to move into the digital world, then you might want to take a look at Autodesk SketchBook (formerly SketchBook Pro) and ArtFlow. The two of these are fantastic for drawing and painting a digital masterpiece, and both have free versions in the Play Store that will let you get your feet wet and start creating amazing digital art.
Autodesk SketchBook 3.7.2 has almost any feature you could need in a sketching and painting app once you upgrade to the Pro Tool set with a $3.99 in app purchase. The interface is smooth, well laid out, and works fantastic in both landscape and portrait mode. The number of brushes available to the artist is excellent and the app includes symmetry mode which is nice for drawing symmetrical images. The latest version of the app has a great smudge tool which is nice for blending purposes.The app could however use some options for added layer adjustments, and I would also like to see support for direct export to transparent PNG. You can technically export to PSD which retains the transparent layers, but that requires opening the file on a PC with additional software to save as a transparent PNG. There are transform tools; however I found them a little inaccurate and glitchy. SketchBook does have the ability to add text but as with prior versions you should use a separate layer as it is rasterized and cannot be edited further once you click OK. The app is compatible with devices that use pressure sensitive pens such as the S Pen which is nice. I had no issues with a regular stylus and the latest versions even have simulated pressure sensitivity.This is definitely a great app assuming you purchase the “Pro Tools” for a $3.99 in-app purchase.
ArtFlow 1.5.262 has almost all the same set of tools available in SketchBook with “Pro Tools” once you upgrade to “Studio” with a $4.99 in-app purchase, and some tools that SketchBook does not have. Just like SketchBook, ArtFlow has simulated pressure sensitivity for those of us that can only use a regular stylus. ArtFlow’s simulated pressure sensitivity seemed to be a little smoother than the SketchBook and made the drawing and painting experience feel more realistic. ArtFlow unlike Sketchbook allows for direct exporting to transparency which is handy for those like me who make icons and images for the web. One of my favorite features is the smudge tool which is great for minor blending. ArtFlow has great color adjustments as well as 70+ brushes/tools. Like Sketchbook, ArtFlow includes a symmetry drawing mode which splits the screen for drawing the same thing on both sides of the image.The layer adjustments are fantastic and are no longer finicky as they were in earlier versions. Some shapes have been added along with rulers. The lack of a text tool in ArtFlow is probably the only negative I could really find with the app. For users of the Samsung Note line, this app really shines! It works fantastic with the S-Pen! Overall I would recommend ArtFlow over SketchBook if you can only afford one. ArtFlow’s constant updates, pleasant interface, good tool choice and ease of use makes for a fine experience. The ArtFlow Studio in-app purchase is $4.99 which is $1.00 more than SketchBook, but is well worth it.
Both of these apps are great in their own right and both seem to get better with every update. At this point if you want to switch to digital only art you will want to get familiar with both apps since they each have some features that the other does not. For the price, each is worth the investment to have both on your tablet or phone.
Below is an example of a painting/drawing that I used both apps to complete on a Nexus 7 2013 with a cheap stylus.