iOS and Android art software

What do you look for in your art software? Do you like all the menu and GUI out in the open and you don’t mind the loss of screen real estate or do you like minimal GUI and you don’t mind having to find the tabs and menu items?
I always find it curious that Krita and Clip Studio take up so much real estate and are called professional software while Procreate and Infinite Painter go for the minimal interface style and are called hobbyist software. Obviously, it’s not just how much or how little screen is available for you to actually work in - Clip Studio gives you free cloud storage and has a whole range of other tools (including reference layers) that set it apart.

Apart from that, what do you want or like in your software? So what works right now and what would you like to see included?


What I want in my softwares are what make drawing workflow faster. I have limited leisure time to draw ( full-time job with long commute and all that), so I want what save the most of time for me.

Advantage of CSP that many other software doesn’t have:

  • fast fill tool: auto detect close gap, reference multiple layers ( showing layers/ layer folders/ referenced layer).
  • Perspective ruler that can snap shape fill → help fast blocking filled circle/ rectangle shape that snapping to the perspective.
  • layer folder that can be transformed/ selected/ clipped layers over
  • pretty good set of tool for animation with panorama camera support ( I’m learning to draw in panorama and it’s really fun).
  • many filters: gradient map, level correction, color correction…
  • Advanced vector line art layer that is pretty smooth and natural to use.

Now as for Krita…

  • most of the things mentioned above in CSP except for some specialty like close gap, lasso fill, vector…
  • Colorize tool : this is an amazing tool that can auto fill color on a line art just by color sampling. Very useful to color fill multiple animation frame, it’s even faster than CSP advanced fill.
  • Wrap mode to draw seamless pattern / image. How I wish this was available in CSP, drawing seamless textures would be so much easier.

Do I need those features to be able to draw? No. Do they make my life easier? Heck yeah. Now you get what I mean by what take me 30 min to do in Procreate only take 5 min in CSP? It’s not just the difference in interface, it’s the lack of features.

Now, I would admit, Krita interface is not pretty, and I don’t use it a lot on tablet without a keyboard on hand. Still, it works as well as on desktop with a keyboard on hand, and some smart features of it is just so time-saving that I would still have to use it to fast processing some complex drawing.

CSP on the other hand is perfect for tablet drawing for me. Most of the time I draw with the panel hidden, and when I need a tool, I only need one click instead of three, without having to look up Google to actually find. The additional of phone companion mode also make CSP drawing space cleaner. The last part is personal, but I feel that line come out much more natural on CSP than Procreate. When drawing line art on Procreate I always feel a strange post processing effect.

If there’s a competitor for CSP on tablet, I would say Infinite painter: interface as clean as Procreate while retain most of the tools I need in CSP and Krita: lasso fill, multiple referencing fill and selec, editable layer folder, perspective ruler, no complex hard to use gestures, have seamless pattern drawing mode. Unfortunately the new update of the Android app is currently still ridden with bugs and the dev is still working hard to weed them out.

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I have to admit I haven’t pushed Clip Studio or Krita as much as I should - focusing more on Photoshop / Illustrator / Flash (Animate) and recently Affinity Designer these last few years so you’ve set me a lot of things to learn and practice there.

One thing I keep reading about is colour accuracy not being great on Clip Studio and probably Krita - especially if going to print. How do you find them or are you more grayscale / tonal in your commercial / personal work?

I don’t do printing, but apparently there’s CMYK preview in both software?

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I use Procreate and CSP both on the same piece usually. Procreate has a few features I find very useful that CSP doesn’t have, or at least, not in as quick of a process. For instance, drawing a circle/square, etc, and holding the pen to snap the shape is very useful and quick when sketching out line art. You can switch brushes to a tool to do that in CSP, but the switching tools versus just holding the pen down a moment is an interruption in flow when sketching. I also like the color drop feature of just holding the pen on the selected color and dragging it to the spot I want to color fill.

Maybe you just need to spend more time with Procreate, but as far as these features go, Procreate has:

  • Auto detect close gap , along with reference multiple layers and masking layers. For the close gap, when you drag and drop color onto your layer, you drag the pen left or right to change the gap threshold. A blue bar appears at the top of the screen that shows your threshold as you drag.

  • Perspective ruler. It works pretty similarly to CSP’s but is not quite as robust. For on the go though, its advantage is speed.

  • Animation tools. I haven’t honestly played with them much, but they seem pretty good from what I have used.

  • Filters. Are there as many as CSP? No, but there are gradients, and color corrections and many other options that are quick to use on a tablet interface.

  • Colorize: This isn’t exactly like Krita’s but, you can do color adjustment on lineart to change the color to the selected color, or you can drag and drop the selected color on your lineart. There may be other ways to do this in Procreate I haven’t discovered yet as well.

I find all of these reasons help me to sketch and get a basic piece done in Procreate much faster than in CSP.

That being said, I do agree with you that CSP’s brush engine is much better and feels more natural for lineart. There are settings in the brushes you can change in Procreate to reduce the post processing effect, but it’s not perfect. And either way, CSP’s gpen is my favorite pen to ink with anyway. This is why I use both for most pieces. I do the initial sketch in Procreate, then open it in CSP and do the lineart (if it’s not a painting), and most of my coloring and corrections in CSP.

By the way, if you have an iPad, have you used the sidebar for CSP? As long as you can remember the hotkeys you’ve set up, it’s a great alternative to needing a keyboard or companion app on the phone for shortcuts. I constantly mix up the hotkeys I set, so I’m always going back to the menu anyway, but that’s partly because I just haven’t put in the time to commit them to memory.


I’ve read a couple of artists and illustrators who fell for CSP’s brush engine and then went back to Photoshop when the colours failed to reproduce digitally at the client’s computer.
I need to spend more time with CSP but I now have it on my Samsung S8 which while not a colour accuracy tool - gives me better colour preview than my PC desktop version. I think every artist I’ve read or talked to prefers CSP brushes and drawing but not as many talk about the colour. I can see myself hanging onto Photoshop and Affinity there for a while longer.

All that said - I’m comparing 20+ years solid use of Photoshop vs 3-4 on off playing with CSP and Affinity. I must do the legwork really to get a better picture.

I have printed a couple of pieces that were done in a mix between Procreate and CSP, and they turned out fine. I’m not super snobby about my colors being super accurate though. If the color harmony is there, even if they’re slightly off what I was looking at on a screen, I don’t think the print version is going to suffer. Especially if anyone who looks at the print version never saw the original, they’re not going to know the difference.

  • I can never find reference multiple layers, did intensive search on Google with most answer that is not being supported. It’s my biggest gripe and deal breaker I had with procreate. Filling never work if all line art are not in a single layer.

  • I extremely dislike color dropping gesture. Doesn’t work 5 out of 10 times I try to use it, the color either release at the wrong place, or it toggle previous color instead of letting me drag the color out. Adding extra gesture into the mix to adjust the close gaps? I doubt I could do it. It’s one of the “difficult to use gestures that require you to google to find” I mentioned above. I drew like 20+ pieces on Procreate and could never get the color drop working right ( could also be the screen protector but without it the Apple Pencil performs too trashy to actually bother).

  • About Krita colorize mask, it’s not your usual manually fill, but a kind of auto processing kind of similar to AI coloring with color sampling.

Basically you can sample the color like this

And it turn into this. The color come perfectly close together without lineart gaps, and you can split layers by color. You can also easily edit color in the colorize panel if you don’t rasterize it.

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After looking closer, I misspoke on multiple reference layers. There’s a lot you can do when selecting multiple layers at a time, but using them all as reference layers isn’t one of them right now. I’ve never really run into needing to fill across multiple layers before as I do a single ink layer that has all my line art that I use as reference to fill from.

I am surprised on color dropping gesture. It took a little getting used to, but it works great for me. I will admit, figuring out all the gesture options did take some time. I watched a couple of YouTube videos that helped a bunch to understand how they work. Originally I was against Procreate and just wanted to use CSP only, but there were a few things I liked that Procreate did, so I decided to take the time to learn it. Once I got used to it, the touch/gesture interface became intuitive for me. But I also understand it being very different from something like CSP and feeling very counter flow.

I’m just glad we have options. I never would have bought the IPP if it didn’t have CSP on it. I’m very glad I did though because adding Procreate into my workflow along side CSP has been great for my personal development.

I must admit, I wasn’t aware that it’s possible to select multiple layers (another gripe that I have with Procreate: even the simplest actions like fill, color picking, grouping layer etc would require a round of Google search). Now that I know about it, dealing with Procreate might get a bit easier.

The shape snapping seemed neat too. I remember Infinite Painter also have it. If only it had less bugs then it would be a perfect replacement for both Procreate and CSP on Android.


Haven’t tried Infinite Painter yet - I’ve got Krita and Clip Studio on my S8 and working through tutorials. My gripe with them both is how much screen estate they take up - but I need to keep the UI on so I can learn all the different functions and get used to them.

Need to do a big personal project - that’s what forced me to learn Photoshop many, many years ago.


I just remembered and it’s something I don’t often think about - I have discovered that I like Affinity Designer as a drawing / colouring App. It also takes Windows Journal files with all the vector information when I copy / paste a sketch over.

Updating on Krita: Krita 5.1 beta now support touch gestures other than zoom rotate. The only caveat is you have to setup which touch gestures does what yourself, it’s not enabled by default. Also you have to disable touch painting before enabling touch. One finger dragging can be assigned to pan in the setting, Zoom rotate can be assigned to two finger drag ( default is 5 finger drag which is overkill)

This is a big thing as it is the only dealbreaker that prevent me from using Krita extensive on tablet. Also Krita has gotten much better at allowing UI customization. Here is an UI I setup to use on my phone. The the color selection ring can be added at the top toolbar as a popup panel, but the layer panel still take up some space floating without shortcut.


Art guy here on Android. For over 10 years I’ve been stuck on Photoshop and everything feels so incomplete compared to that. That being said, the UI and feel of Infinite Painter is so inviting, compared to CSP which feels like a lazy PC port. However I JUST discovered that workspaces can be downloaded, so we’ll see if theres something redeemable there.

Long time Android user on a never-ending quest to find the perfect mobile drawing app here.

Infinite painter is close: has most of the necessary features CSP had, but with one-time purchase. One critical problem is it’s still very buggy and there is only one dev created it, so bug fix is slow coming. Notable bugs are: psd import impossible (supposed to work), exported psd are easily corrupted, aspect ratio of saved project can change randomly and distord pictures (recoverable with history save but annoying), free tranform make transformed part super blurry ( not just scale up but moving and rotate, and it is very noticeable compared to other apps).

Basically I will wait for the dev to smooth out all the problems before relying on it for important projects.

Note that CSP and Krita both have “full canvas mode” which remove all panels elements except the top tool bars, they are easily toogleable with one button/ gestures. I guess it’s close to clean interface of tablet app?

Yeah IP is buggy and crashy as ever. But I still prefer IP despite all its buggy risk, because the UI and the drawing feel is just so good. And sofar I’ve had only 1 unrecoverable art file in the 6 years of use.

*I prefer IP over CSP android. On principle, I just can’t support a port of a superior product that has a one time payment.

Same reason I’m still looking for alternatives. If CSP wasn’t subscription based it would had been hand down the best Android app. I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that the app might just stop working in the middle of drawing not letting me save , or forcing a license check over the internet everytime it start (I work in a building with bad data coverage).

Infinite painter is just too buggy and annoying in general, especially with the current psd import not available make it hard to continue projects from desktop, lack of cloud sync and psd export being funky make it hard to make correction in other app or more importantly, sending layered files to your client.

With current Krita having all the touch gestures and tweakable UI, it’s the most functional and full featured app other than CSP, with the plus of being free. You have to do extra setting up for tablet usage however, the default setting out of the box wasn’t quite usable on Android tablet with stylus, and it require searching up several support pages to get the experience near CSP level.

Also while Krita works great on tablet, on phone you would have to sacrifice several functions to get the UI usable.


I’ll take a look at Krita. Thanks

No luck w/ medibang or ibis?

Medibang had turned to a wrong direction because their subscription service: now you have to pay subscription to remove ads, and get advanced features ( layer folder and filters etc) there is no longer any alternative. The one-time purchase option was removed, and I can no longer activate that one-time purchase on my new device with newer Medibang version. The ads get more invasive with ads banner take up drawing canvas space and video ads when you save.

Ibis Paint X used the same ads tactics, but there is still one-time purchase option beside subscription services. It lacks perspective rulers and some smaller features however, so I never work on it extensively enought to want to buy it ( why use ads ridden app when you can use clean one?).

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I’ll never understand why they chose subscription as a model. I would happily pay for it but as it is - I plan to use C SP on the limited one free hour per day once my 6 month free finishes. I paid for it on my windows tablet and what I like is being able to open a file there, touch up / work on it on my android tablet and even preview on the CSP copy on my phone.
Like aquarelle though - I’m bound to Photoshop and judge everything against Photoshop for ease of use (read muscle memory).

Krita is definitely getting better - that and CSP are the only two options I would push further. I have the previous version of Sketchbook Pro on my Windows tablet and I really like how quickly and easily I can modify brushes - haven’t tried it on my Android tablet yet after Autodesk sold it though.

Think I’d go with SBPro before Ibis / Infinite Painter / Medibang though. Just personal preference.