The Best Mobile Apps for Graphic Designers and Illustrators

Spike Team
By Spike Team, July 07, 2019, 5 min read
graphics design app

There’s one thing that all of you graphic designers and digital illustrators out there need more of—screen real-estate. You know the drill. The bigger your monitor, the easier it is to zoom in on those individual pixels, to multitask logo creation and palette management on the same screen, to airbrush yet another model for the latest edition of Unrealistic Body Image weekly.


But that’s not to say good work can’t be done on a smaller screen, and today, the sheer power of smartphones and tablets means graphic design apps offer more functionality than even the most advanced PC-based software of the 90s. Now, if you really need to, you can complete entire projects from the comfort of your sofa with only your phone or tablet. 


However, the benefits of good graphic design apps for mobile don’t stop there. Mobile apps give both amateuer and professional designers access to a huge range of new tools and that are otherwise impossible with larger computers. That handy camera in your smartphone is ideal for capturing inspiration from world outside your LCD monitor and that pocket-sized screen is also great for jotting down rough ideas as they come to you, plus with countless free graphic design apps available, you don’t have to be on the payroll for the New York Times to get started in the graphic design industry. 


Finally, where the best graphic design apps for mobile really shine is with their ability to inspire and help you pull together ideas while you’re on the move. You can draw, paint, capture, edit, and perform almost any design task on buses, trains, and planes—or anywhere else you can think of. Smartphones are liberating the minds of creatives across the globe, so to get your mobile design studio off the ground, here, we take a look at the best mobile apps for graphic designers and illustrators currently available. 



Adobe Photoshop Express

Where would we be without Adobe? Well, whether you love or hate the company’s monopolistic status, there’s little point in denying the impact programs like Photoshop and Illustrator have had on the design world. If you’re a lover, then you’ll be happy to hear that the company offers cut down versions of its most popular software for your smartphone. Adobe Photoshop Express is among the best graphics design apps for quickly and effectively editing photos and images while on the move. The best bit? It’s completely free and available on iOS, Android, and Windows phones.



Pantone Studio

Pantone is another heavyweight of the design world, and Pantone Studio is a top graphic design app for artists who see inspiration everywhere they go. This handy little app allows you to use your camera to capture colors from your environment, build your own color palettes, and then transfer them to your favorite editing or illustration software. Pantone Studio not only helps ensure your design palettes are accurate, but also reproducible, and you can share your creations with colleagues, clients, and friends. The only drawback? Pantone Studio is only for iOS users.




Another iPhone only app, Marksta is still supremely useful for those on iOS. At its core, Marksta provides quick and simple watermarking for your photos and designs, allowing you to add copyright notices before sharing them with colleagues, clients, and friends. You can even include personal and professional information in your watermarks—such as your website address or Instagram handle. It’s the ideal graphics design app for anyone who posts work while on the move but needs to retain control over authorship.




Font identification is a difficult business, and with an estimated 300,000 plus examples of typographic trickery, it pays to have a little help. Luckily for you, WhatTheFont has got your back. This clever little app uses deep learning to search through its collection to help you identify fonts you come across while on the road. Just open the app and point your camera—it even works when there’s more than one font in your viewfinder. It’s an indispensable graphic design app, and it’s free on iOS and Android.




Paper, from WeTransfer, is billed as an “immersive sketching app for capturing ideas anywhere”, however, in reality it’s much more than just a place for jotting down doodles. You can sketch, type, paint, draw and assemble collages easily without the need for complex layering software. It’s among the best graphic design apps for creating mood boards and storyboards, with intelligent algorithms that snap rough sketches into finished shapes. It also offers powerful notation tools for a comprehensive approach to mind mapping and idea generation.


Of course, all these useful graphics design apps aren’t much use to you if you can’t communicate all of your great ideas and share your amazing work. Spike lets you do just that. And more. First of all, you get Conversational Email that allows you to chat and collaborate with colleagues, clients, and customers just like you would with instant messenger. Brainstorm new ideas on the road, share working files instantly, bring together project materials and finalize concepts all from a single app. Conversational email was made for collaborative design, and it’s going to change to the way you work with everyone. 

best graphic design apps

Spike also includes powerful file management features that let you preview images and designs that you receive directly within your inbox—without having to download anything. This gives you at-a-glance viewing of images, designs, and edits,  helping to improve your workflow and allowing you more time to concentrate on what really matters—good design. 


Whether you’re a professional graphic designer with a heavy workload to manage, or an amateur who needs simple tools to create compelling images, mobile graphic design apps bring powerful features to your smartphone or tablet. For more productivity tips & tricks, for both smartphones and desktop, don’t forget to follow the Spike blog and get Spike for free here.

Spike Team
Spike Team The Spike team posts about productivity, time management, and the future of email, messaging and collaboration.

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