Monday, August 9, 2010

Android Painting Apps: A Review

Here is my preliminary review of 3 painting apps designed for the Android platform. Please suggest other ones or other opinions on these.

Note: I am not a professional artist, just an amateur doodler. :)

Differentiating Features:

  • Paint Stroke Texture: Every app seems to implement their own stroking mechanism, so texture varies - and is important.
  • Brush Size Picker: It's nice if you can quickly change/toggle sizes. You cycle through a lot of brush sizes when painting.
  • Color Picker: It's important that you can pick shades of colors, like a human flesh tone.
  • Undo/Redo: It's very easy to make mistakes while using a clunky finger on a small screen, so having an undo is essential to refining paintings.
  • Import (load from gallery): If you can bring in existing pictures from the gallery, then you can fork your previous paintings or paint on top of photos (like drawing moustaches on your colleagues).
  • Export (save to gallery): You always want to be able to save your paintings out, so you can keep an archive of them, tweet them, save them to your online photo albums, etc.

FingerPaint Pro

  • Paint Stroke: Each stroke has a highlight + a shadow to it, like it's really a 3-dimensional stroke. It makes an interesting effect, but also makes it hard to do large blocks of color. I like the challenge of that though.
  • Brush Size Picker: A nice UI that cycles between sizes with a single tap.
  • Color Picker: A full H/S/V color picker with every color possible.
  • Undo/Redo: Not supported.
  • Import: Supported.
  • Export: Supported.
  • Conclusion: I find this paint texture so fascinating that I find myself using this the most. If this app implemented undo/redo, an eye dropper tool, and perhaps a bit of flexibility with the texture (to enable solid blobs of color), then it would really be my favorite app.


Eye of the Mummy
Ice Cream in the Sky

Kids Paint App

  • Paint Stroke: Each stroke is of a random thickness and color.
  • Brush Size Picker: Not supported.
  • Color Picker: Not supported.
  • Undo/Redo: Not supported.
  • Import: Not supported.
  • Export: Supported.
  • Conclusion: It is cute to play with, and it is interesting to see what one comes up with, but it will be frustrating for anyone with a particular goal in mind. (And I think most people acquire a goal after fiddling for a while, and a sudden change in stroke color can so easily squash goals here). I admire the different take, though.



Magic Marker

  • Paint Stroke: Each stroke is actually white, with a colored glow around it (for a neon effect).
  • Brush Size Picker: Clicking on the current brush size pops up other sizes to pick from.
  • Color Picker: 8 swatches and a basic wheel. Shades not supported.
  • Undo/Redo: Supported.
  • Import: Supported.
  • Export: Supported.
  • Conclusion: This app has a specific type of artistry in mind, and it delivers all the basic features needed to make the artists experience a good one. It would be great to see some additional pizazz in the future- like sparkles or brush shapes - but this is a great start for a unique vision.


Magic Mercure


  • Paint Stroke: You can pick a variety of different textures, and some of them produce a nice effect of varying thickness.
  • Brush Size Picker: The stroke adjustment dialog lets you pick a "base width" and "tip width", as well as a transparency.
  • Color Picker: You can basically pick any color ever, using two different types of pickers. You can also use an eyedrop tool to pick an existing color from the app.
  • Undo/Redo: Not supported. :(
  • Import: Supported.
  • Export: Supported.
  • Conclusion: This app is probably the best painting app, because you have so much flexibility in the paint stroke, from texture to color, and with enough layers and patience, you can create some quite detailed paintings. The huge missing feature is the Undo, and with the absence of that, it's hard to go from a good painting to a great painting.


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