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Lead graphic design story

13 of the best tablet apps for graphic designers

Everyone’s using tablet computers these days, even graphic designers. But designers need maximum functionality on the go, including sophisticated graphics capabilities, vector graphics, image manipulation and drawing tools. Here are a few of the best tablet applications that will make even the most advanced graphic designers swoon.

Angela Freeman
Angela is a freelance tech, travel and health writer. When she isn't writing she is hiking, playing guitar and attempting to cook. More

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ColorStrokes HD: Add Colors to Monochrome Images with a Click — US$2.99

Some of the coolest images to hit the market today are monochrome images with a splash of bright colors. The ColorStrokes HD app lets graphic designers make a color splash from the train, plane or bus, without the usual hassle of using a standard graphics software program. You get a lot of bang for your buck considering this app goes for US$2.99.

Skitch: Ideas In The Cloud — Free

Skitch is a useful application for both casual and professional users. It’s owned by Evernote, a convenient note-taking, bookmarking and documentation tool with mobile apps available for practically every mobile operating system in existence. Thanks to its compatibility with Evernote, Skitch is incredibly valuable for making notations and jotting ideas on photos you take while you’re on the go—and it’s totally free.

Freeform: Create Vector Images Anywhere — US$9.99

Freeform is a valuable tool for graphic designers who need to create vector-based graphics rapidly. You can design diagrams, mockups and sketches as well as download to a variety of image formats, even export as PDF. It’s a must-have for any graphic designer.

SketchBook Pro: Graphic Designers will weep – US$4.99

SketchBook Pro is considered to be one of the best apps available for graphic designers. It’s a professional application for both painting and drawing right on your tablet, with a variety of functions that rival the most sophisticated desktop software programs.

iMockups: Ideal for Developers — US$6.99

Tablet users love iMockups, thanks to the ability to create professional-looking user interface mockups and wireframes right from their tablets. You can add, delete and copy pages, use built-in templates and customize them, clone and copy specific features to create a consistent look across multiple pages, and much more. Slightly more expensive than most but totally worth it.

Photoshop Touch: Photoshop Goes Mobile — US$4.99

Photoshop is one of the most frequently used graphic design applications on the market, even though it’s been around for years. Now, Photoshop goes mobile with the ability to continue working on projects you started at the office while on the train ride home, or even while you’re on the road. Pick up right where you left off when you get back to work with Creative Cloud, a handy feature that’s well-implanted.

PhotoPad: Everything Photoshop Does, But in an App — uS$2.99

If you want all the functions of Photoshop without Photoshop, PhotoPad is a great alternative for your tablet. All that useful functionality, such as rotation, cropping, contrast, saturation, and more is packed into a handy application you can use from anywhere your tablet works. PhotoPad is an affordable and highly useful tool, at just US$2.99.

Font.My: Create Unique Fonts on the Fly — US$2.99

Font.My is a cool app that allows designers to draw their own fonts, using a fingertip, and get a full font sent via email in minutes. While this app is used by non-designers to replicate their own handwriting for sending personalized notes to family and friends, designers can make use of it for drawing up some unique new fonts. Font.

iDraw: An Alternative to Adobe Illustrator — US$8.99

Graphic designers know that Photoshop doesn’t exactly cut it when it comes to sophisticated graphics capabilities. Adobe Illustrator is better when you need to deal with vectors and manipulate shapes. That’s where iDraw comes in, an application designed for tablets with features just about as robust as the full Adobe Illustrator program. It’s more expensive than many other apps, at US$8.99, but still far less than you’d spend on a fully functional copy of Adobe Illustrator.

Magic Color Picker: Simple Yet Powerful — Free

Magic Color Picker is a free app for tablets that seems simple enough on the surface, with a color wheel allowing designers to select almost any color on the spectrum. But the real functionality in this application is that it displays the color values in various formats compatible with other programs, such as RGB, HSV and Hexadecimal. This compatibility doesn’t come easy for many developers, so that makes this app an especially unique and useful one.

Color Pal: Choose Color Palettes Easily — Free

Color Pal is another free app for tablets to help you choose complimentary color palettes for your next project. Most graphic designers have the skill to identify complimentary color combinations on their own, but Color Pal streamlines the process. Color Pal is a simple and easy way to quickly browse through a variety of options, find related palettes, save your favorites and even email them to yourself or clients.

Autodesk SketchBook Mobile: Easy Artwork Interface — US$1.99

If you’re looking for advanced drawing capabilities, Autodesk SketchBook Mobile is an ideal application for designers. With a variety of pencils, brushes, markers and more that are easily controlled with gestures, Autodesk SketchBook Mobile lets you create advanced hand-drawn graphics right from your tablet. It couldn’t be cheaper unless it were free. Which it isn’t.

Pic Collage: A Mind-Mapping Platform — Free

If you’re in the brainstorming phase of your next design project, Pic Collage is an application that lets you create maps based on related images, notes, ideas and photos. Import images from your own photo library or from Google Images, add notes, revise and reshape your concepts and more with this handy application. This app has specific platform requirements, so be sure your operating system is up to speed before you buy this one.

There are dozens of tablet applications for different tablet operating systems and for just about any purpose in life. For graphic designers, there are ample options and powerful applications that provide nearly the same functionality as the most sophisticated desktop software applications. With tablet-based apps, you can work more efficiently and conveniently wherever you are.


  • Leslie

    Awesome article!!! The screen shots you chose were perfect. Can’t wait to show this to my brother, the graphic designer. Awesome apps for sure!