ArtFlow Review: Awesome Drawing/Painting Android App

I have used a few different art programs so far in the app world with my tablet. I mostly use my tablet for drawing, so I am always looking for better apps out there that make drawing and painting simpler.

I actually stumbled upon this app because there was a review on another app ( Sketchbook Pro) that mentioned that ArtFlow is better. It is “Free” to download, but requires an IAP(in app purchase) to unlock all of the features. It doesn’t take much convincing to download a free app, so off I went. I have spent five or six hours so far and think it has some great features that Sketchbook Pro doesn’t have. Here is a list of the best features that I think it offers.

Symmetry Tool

Other apps have this, but you can move the symmetry position as well as rotate it. That is just awesome.


Easily change Brush Size, Brush Opacity, Fill Can.

The two most changed properties you will need while painting are probably the brush size and opacity. Making this on click away is really great. This seems obvious to do in an art program, but other programs like Sketchbook hide this in a menu which makes you click more.


Separate Background Color “Layer”

ArtFlow has its own “layer” for background color. It is awesome to automatically fill it in or change it independently in the middle of a painting or drawing. It sucks when you are in the middle of a painting and realize the background is too saturated, or needs to be lighter. This is located at the bottom of the layers panel (the one on the left). The only problem is that it doesn’t export out when you do it as a PSD.


Smudge Tool

There are some great options with the smudge tool that I haven’t seen before. There is a live preview so you can even see how colors will interact with each other.


ArtFlow-smudgeBlending Modes and Effects

Ten blending modes should be more than enough to satisfy your needs. There are other effects to help the overall composition like Hue/Saturation and brightness/contrast. Note that changing the transparency for the layer is in the blending modes options. One of the only things that got me stuck for a little bit.




Organized Brushes

There aren’t a huge selection of brushes, but the 50+ that are there are organized nicely. There is also a pretty nice brush editor where you can change softness, spacing, and variance (randomness).


Final Thoughts

The conveniences that ArtFlow provides is what really adds the most value. When I am in the middle of painting or drawing, the last thing I want to do is a lot of clicking opening up menus to change the brush size, opacity, or color. The easy to access fill can makes filling in your line work a breeze, and the organized brushes make it easy to find the effect you are looking for. After only a few hours of playing around with ArtFlow, it is my new “go to” art app.

ArtFlow is available on the Android marketplace for $4.99. I am not affiliated at all with this program or the developer for this review.

Here are a few studies I did from Magic card artwork. Painted these while learning how to use the buttons.


  1. Im using artflow on My note 10.1 2014 and love how its pressure sensitivity mimmicks that of an actual pencil

  2. When you first start the app, it shows some tutorial pages on what different buttons and gestures do. It was a pretty easy program to pick up. There is a free version, so there is nothing stopping you from at least trying it.

  3. Found your review very very helpful. Have been using Sketchbook pro for some time, mainly landscapes and still life. Have you found out how to input a previously saved photographs into a new canvas ? I am using a Tegra note7 tablet and the included stylus works perfectly, plus pressure sensentivity. Charles.

  4. There is one thing I found this program lacking. A way to back up work at various stages as you go along in a way that preserves layers and can be reimported easily. It’s happened to me twice since I started using the program that I needed to back track after adding a new section. I happen to have discovered a work around.

    Depending on the device you will find a folder called ArtFlow in the device’s main staorage area. Most of the files in this folder should be ETC type files. Make sure the one you are looking to back up is the one you most recently edited. It will be at the top if you sort by date modified. Duplicate this file. How this goes from here may differ between devices. You may get another copy immediately inside the ArtFlow folder or be asked to paste it somewhere else. If it winds up in the ArtFlow folder just move it to where you want it. Once you have it where you like it rename it so that you will easily know which piece it is and in which order you extracted copies of the work. ie. Piece00, Piece01, Piece02, etc…

    Interestingly enough ArtFlow only reads ETC files that contain ONLY hexidecimal charaters(hexa-?, I forget…) so to bring a file back into the ArtFlow folder where it will become part of your gallery again and to allow the program to read it, you will need to rename it in a hex-friendly way.

    Hexidecimal is a base-16 system of counting where most of us are used to base-10.

    Here’s what you already know – 0123456789
    Counting in Hex looks like this – 0123456789abcdef

    The files on my device were named with a 146- prefix and I assume a random hex number following. ie. 146f67ac30

    I extracted a copy of the file and renamed it Piece00 in a place where it could easily identified as being a more complete version of the roughs belonging to the same piece. To bring it back into the ArtFlow folder and make it visible in the gallery again I had to rename it. ex. 146abcdef.

    I selected the piece to work on it again and voila. All work, all effects and layers were intact. A perfectly working copy of the piece standing beside it in the gallery.

    This effectively made Artflow the only program I would need to work digitally.

    Please know that the first time a device’s memory dies on you will be the last time you let yourself lose work. Always back up your work.

  5. have been using ArtFlow along with Sketchbook Pro on my Samsung Note Pro… what an amazing program! I have done traditional art most of my life. In the last 10 years I have been doing digital art. Now… with this… I have started creating prints!

  6. Nice app indeed, my favourite so far, but like all these drawing programs, there is no way to make custom brushes !!! That doesnt make sense at all… You have to use the built-in brushes, or to wait an extra coming with an update…
    Without changing the behavior of a brush, importing an custom alpha from a common folder should be a really nice improvement !!

  7. I have a note 3. Airflow says I can save files as a jpeg but I can;’t figure out how to do it? Am I the only one?

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