In order to realize the artist’s talent, one does not necessarily have to be able to master the pencil techniques perfectly, or to know nuances of paint drawing. So, many of us can literally in a few hours draw an absolutely stunning art based on ordinary photographs and ready-made pictures, simply using the special app for sketches and design. Just watch at the following list of the most popular mobile drawing applications, each of which has more than 100,000 downloads in Google Play or the App Store.

popular drawing apps

Do you want to learn to create similar software? In this article, we will review how to make a drawing app and present a small list of recommendations that will help you in a sketching app development for the mobile Android platform as a simple example so that you can grasp the idea of drawing app development.

How to Make an App Like Paper, Procreate or Any Other Software for Drawing

Today, there are a lot of graphics editors (such as Procreate – an app with Apple Pencil support, one of the most frequently downloaded products for the iPad), in which you can create both simple drawings and those that can successfully claim the title of an artwork. You can also try to independently implement such an idea and create similar software for the mobile platform – for own use, to simultaneously “pump out” both the developer’s skills and the skills of the web designer, or with the goal of subsequently releasing your A project into the Google Play Market for commercial purposes.


So, now we present to your attention a small tutorial that will help you effortlessly create a painting app for Android using the Eclipse IDE.

1. Create a new project. The first thing you need to do is making a new project with the minimum API in Eclipse. Next – select an empty template, assign a name to it and set the portrait orientation.

2. Set the dimensions parameters for the future app. Now you need to open the ‘dimen.xml’ file in the ‘/res/values’ folder. If this file does not exist, it must be created. Done? Excellent! Now we must put into it the typical element sizes between opening and closing ‘resource’ tags. This procedure in the future will allow your software to recognize the size of the specific drawing tool selected by the user.


3. Add a color palette. The best solution would be the Google Material Design palette. You can add it with a help of ‘colors.xml’ file, located in the same folder as the ‘dimen.xml’.

4. Create the basic Java classes. Now you need to apply your Java development skills. Create in the root directory a new class, children to Android.view, name it and assign it a Java extension. For this class, you need to build a new constructor that will help to generate the new class objects. And, finally, create a custom view in the Activity activity. To do this, we need to slightly modify the ‘content_main.xml’ file, removing the root component from it and defining a custom view with the specified package instead.

5. Add the artist’s tools. The main toolset of the artist consists of paint, canvas, and path, where the latter determines a collection of brush strokes. To add them to the functionality of your application, simply open the Java class created in the previous step, and then declare and initialize the appropriate variables using the individual methods. To do this, you need to specify the color and size of the canvas (in pixels), as well as the default size of the used brushes.

6. Describe the methods. When creating a new canvas, the size of the custom view will be zero. To adapt it to the user’s further actions, you will need to add the OnSizeChanged() method, which will coordinate the user’s actions with what’s happening on the screen, redrawing the view in the real time. Next, you will need to re-define the onTouchEvent() method to add to your application the finger touch processing.

7. Complement the user interface. If you are developing an application for a smartphone or tablet, this does not mean that user capabilities should be limited in any way. On the contrary, if you expand it with non-standard tools and features, it is guaranteed to attract the new users’ attention to your project. On the other hand, there are functions, without which not a single drawing application can do. In particular, the minimum possible set of them implies the presence of an eraser, adjustable brushes and actions’ canceling/repeating queues. To create a toolbar with all the listed functions, you will need to edit the ‘activity_main.xml’ file. This procedure will allow placing this element of the interface to the place most convenient for the user – namely – at the bottom of the smartphone screen. All code constructs that describe the set of buttons for the user must be copied to a separate file in the ‘/res/resource’ folder. Next, to the already created toolbar, you need to add a menu. This is done as follows: create another ‘.xml’ file, place it in the ‘menu’ folder in the project’s root directory and write in it all the code that describes and processes events for the menu items.

Now let us consider the functional buttons that should be present in your drawing application:

– Erase button. The erase button can be presented in two versions. The first option involves removing all previously drawn elements (complete clearance of the canvas). To implement this function, do not forget to create a dialog box in the Activity file that contains a warning about deleting the custom picture. In the second case, an eraser is used, which simply paints the required parts of the sketch with white (or the color in which the canvas is painted by default) using finger or stylus.

– The last action undo and redo buttons. To add this functionality to your application, open a file with a custom view with the Java extension and add an event handler to it that will be able to store the operation history during drawing. Next, you need to create the TouchStart(), TouchMove() and TouchUp() methods, update the onDraw() method and only then insert the description of the methods for undoing and redoing the last action. The last thing you need is to update the handleDrawingIconTouched() method.

– Brush setting button. This function allows adjusting sizes and types of brushes during the process of drawing. To implement it, you will need to establish a dialog with the user, by adding the appropriate methods, as well as “dialogues” and “listeners” packages. And now, as in the previous case, you must update the handleDrawingIconTouched() method, located in the Activity file.

Voila. You get a basic template of the painting app that can be further augmented with additional tools and functions.

New Opportunities for Drawing Apps

paper app

However, the more technology advance, the more complex apps become. Nowadays, mobile apps for drawing and sketching can be nearly a perfect alternative for paper and artist tools and graphics tablets.

iPad Pro united with Apple Pencil become a perfect design tool which provides unique flexibility and powerful features. Unlike most of the styluses on the market, Apple Pencil is impressively accurate and beautifully responsive, therefore it is getting very close to regular pencils, brushes, and other artist tools. Supported by powerful hardware, designers, professional and amateur artists can create breathtaking projects with new great apps like Adobe Photoshop Sketch, Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, and others.

Therefore, making a new unique application with Apple Pencil support would be an especially good idea to give artists community another great tool to use and enjoy.

There no limits where you can go further with a drawing app development project. From introducing Augmented Reality to machine learning, and more. New awesome technology appearing daily give more options for advancing drawing and sketching apps.

Read also: Augmented Realy App Development

The key to any successful startup is an idea, therefore it would be great to think of any new ways how this type of apps could be revolutionized.

How to Make an App Like Paper: Summary

Let us sum up. Thanks to the modern IDE, you can develop a drawing application without being a professional developer and possessing only the basic Java skills. Nevertheless, if you have your own idea for a startup, but you think that its implementation is still better to entrust to experts, get in touch with us. Contact our manager to coordinate all the nuances of the development process and calculate the cost to develop a drawing app.

Read also: How Much Does It Cost to Make a Mobile App

How Apps Can Transform Sketching and Drawing
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