Android-ify your Design Tools

Android is an emerging platform for Mobile Computing. That is an understatement if ever you heard one. Yes, most of us already own Android phones or are looking on as the Green Robot bulldozes competitors into oblivion. I’m not an Apple basher and I own and enjoy a MacBook Pro with relish. That said, I’m not covering any apps for the iPhone in this article. Let’s save that for the next article. For all you young designers who are smitten by Windows Phone 7, we have an article coming up for you too. I’ll admit I’m sold on Microsoft’s new OS with the minimalist styling and mono-color tiles. It’s gorgeous indeed but like I said, I’ll save the drooling for another day. Let’s get down to business. Today I’m writing about the various apps out there in the Android Eco-System that will make life easier for us designers and artists.

Free-Hand Sketching

You know I always recommend carrying a notebook around so you can doddle, draw and sketch on the move or whenever inspiration strikes. Well, the notebook doesn’t have to be a physical notebook but your very own android phone or tablet will do the trick. Here’s how –

SketchBook Express

Here’s big brother Autodesk offering the professional-grade paint and drawing application SketchBook Express with it’s set of sketching tools in a streamlined and intuitive user interface. This robust app will satisfy both casual doodlers and would-be professional comic book artists.

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Scribbler is a touch drawing app with loads of features and customizations more tuned towards having fun than pro usage. You can fully customize the color, shadow, transparency, blur and shape of the paint brush, use the built in color picker, select preset templates including background and brush settings and even import any image from your SD card to use as a drawing surface.

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This app allows you to draw and interact with other artists. Draw inspiration from cloud(s) with this collaborative, evolutionary-drawing app where you download a random work, make your adjustments / enhancements and contribute it back. The app is realistic and smooth with the flipside being it’s reliance on Internet connectivity to participate and it’s reluctance to start from scratch.

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Sketcher is a procedural drawing tool for Android. The app is a port of the original Harmony application and is available in two flavors much like the rest of the apps above so you can try the Lite version and then go Pro if you like it. Features include 11 brushes + eraser, undo/redo, color picker and save to SD.

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Draw(er) is a sketching/drawing app, which is so very simple and unobtrusive that the various tools give you a new perspective on drawing. So turn your basic lines into works of art! It features Color Sliders, saving + sharing your sketches and an assortment of drawing tools like eraser, fur, simple and sketchy brushes and squares and circles. Going Pro allows you to set color, brush size and undo/redo.

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Tools of the Trade

All of us have a bunch of tools at our disposal, we use ubiquitously in our daily process of design. Some of them can fit right in the palm of your hand. Yes, here’s a bunch of handy tools for which you needn’t fire up the computer anymore.

Magic Color Picker

Magic Color Picker is a powerful color selection tool suitable for designers, artists and programmers for selecting colors using different color models.

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Thinking Space

Mind mapping is a vital tool to every design process. Create visual thought maps that help organize and plan your activities and ideas using Thinking Space: a Mind Mapping application for Android.

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Dropbox syncs your files online and across computers for a universal access anywhere. Sync your files between your computers and your mobile device.

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If you run your own blog, chances are it runs on the WordPress platform. WordPress for Android is an Open Source app that empowers you to write new posts, edit content, view stats, and manage comments with built-in notifications.

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Sometimes, you may need to access files on a FTP server or perhaps you want to post your completed files for your client to access. Even if you away you’re your desk, you can use your smartphone. AndFTP is a FTP, FTPS, SCP, SFTP client that comes with both device and FTP file browser.

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Merchant Lite/Pro

If you need to accept Credit Cards for your design business, don’t despair. Use your phone and merchant account to accept your customer’s credit cards. No more bad checks, enter info and get paid. The app requires you to have a merchant account.

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Image Management

As artists and designers, we wade through oceans of images and managing these in a friendly manner requires a little acumen and some fine tools to help you make sense of it all. These applications will help you play with pixels with absolute ease.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Edit and share photos virtually anywhere. Touch to crop, rotate, adjust color, and add artistic effects. Access all your photos and videos directly from your free account.

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Photobucket Mobile

Take your Photobucket everywhere with your Android smartphone. It is perhaps the necessity of every Web Developer or Graphic Designer to access their accounts so that you can capture, download or upload photos with ease.

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Picasa Tool

Picasa Tool helps you to manage your Picasa web albums with a simple yet powerful user interface designed specifically for Android. You can display all Picasa Official Featured Photos as thumbnails, view the comments, save the photo or set it as wallpaper. You can even search and save your favorite queries. Manage your albums, photos with the tool on your phone. Browse the comments to the photo, and upload the photos in batch.

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The Mobile Revolution

All of us are going increasingly mobile with netbooks, tablets and now smartphones. Don’t let the desire for freedom from wires hold you back. You can accomplish all but your most resource intensive and memory hungry work right in the palm of your hand. I remember on my Blackberry I was amazed by the ease of communication via many different channels like Messaging, Email, Facebook and Twitter. Today on the New Age smartphone, you can add so much more than mere communication as a primary function. How do you use your smartphone?


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Ritesh Reddy

Dr. Ritesh Reddy, PhD aka Reddy2Go is a Creative Generalist, who uses the magic of the written word and the allure of the visual medium in conjunction with bleeding edge technology to creating communication collateral for the New Media. He believes in the power of the individual & inspires independence through the Freelance Firestarter. In the spirit of selflessly sharing knowledge with the community for the betterment of society, he does not charge any fee for the same.