As a child of the 80’s, predating the wide use of the internet, my options for staying creative were limited and very rarely involved technology. A sheet of paper and a pencil or perhaps a tambourine would suffice for that underlying urge to create. Nowadays, while paper, pencils, and tambourines aren’t fully extinct, there are endless alternatives to quenching that artistic thirst that lies deep within many of us. With countless apps and games right in the palm of our hands, it’s far more convenient to spark artistic inspiration all while having fun. Today, we bring you ten of the most entertaining apps and games on the market to creatively stimulate you and fill that artistic void in your daily life.
1. Draw Something
If you haven’t already played it, you’ve most likely heard of the popular game app calledDraw Something. Following the basic rules of Pictionary, this game allows players to connect with their friends through Facebook or strangers by random selection to play a fun illustration guessing game. It’s especially amusing when players get creative with their drawings, adding elaborate settings for simple words. Taking turns, each player draws their selected word for the other player to guess. If guessed correctly, there is a reward of 1 to 3 coins, depending on the difficulty of the word selected. Coins can be traded in for prizes including new colors to draw with. If you don’t feel like shelling out the $1.99 right away, there is a free version of the game, but it includes ads and fewer words to work with.
Price: FREE – $1.99
2. Scribblenauts Remix
Scribblenauts Remix is a puzzle game that enables and encourages the most creative minds to be as inventive as possible. Set up like a normal 2D platform game, each stage presents a set of obstacles for your character to overcome with a nifty pencil that can be used to summon anything you write. The game prompts players to use their imagination and type out anything from a “rock” to a “giant hungry rainbow beaver” to help them solve the level’s problem. The game boasts an extensive vocabulary that leaves players in awe, trying to find a word it won’t be able to reproduce. The game was originally designed for the Nintendo DS, a handheld video gaming console, but is now also available as a downloadable app with additional levels exclusively designed for iOS devices.
Beatwave is an addictive music beat creator and visualizer. The app doubles as a sort of game. The objective? Create the greatest tune there ever was! There’s absolutely no prior knowledge of playing or reading music necessary to use this app to its full potential. As the app’s description suggests: “[E]ven the most tone deaf would-be DJ [has] the ability to visually create perfectly in sync hit tunes.” Anyone has musical potential at their fingertips with Beatwave’s assortment of instrumentals sprawled across a kaleidoscopic grid of beats. While the app itself is free, there are plenty of desirable purchases within the game, including additional instruments like drums, synths, and upright bass and the ability to export a music file (.WAV, .MP4, and even ringtones) beyond the confines of the app.
Granimator is an iPad app that allows users to construct their very own graphic wallpaper for the iPhone or iPad. Illustrators and designers from around the world have lent their artistic hand to create over 40 artist packs for users to play around with. Every pack is downloadable within the app for free. There are endless color schemes and compositions to create that’s sure to keep you active and perhaps even lose track of time. Once you’ve completed your personalized wallpapers, compositions can be saved and shared through email, Granimator’s own site, and social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. There are currently over 4,000 user-generated wallpapers uploaded to Granimator.com and available for downloading and sharing.
PaperDesk is an app exclusively for the iPad that turns note-taking into a fun and creative experience. Your notes can be as organized and manageable as a PowerPoint presentation that can be accessed on the go. You can type out notes in 58 different fonts, add bullet points and numbered lists, sketch a drawing with thousands of colors to choose from, and even record audio that can be synced with your written words. There is also the option of inserting photos from a photo library or camera and importing PDFs from other apps. Once you’ve completed your note-taking, you can export your finished notebooks directly to Dropbox, Google Docs, email, Twitter, or AirPrint. PaperDesk offers a creative approach to taking notes all while inciting a surge of productivity.
Price: FREE – $3.99
Brushes is a fantastic drawing and painting app with advanced features including a selection of realistic brushes, multiple layers, extreme zooming, opacity adjustment, and nearly infinite undos and redos. It’s an excellent app for artists on the go and commuters with a penchant for extreme doodling. More than simple monochromatic sketching or finger painting, Brushes allows the user to create original professionally detailed artwork with the convenience of mobility. Artist Jorge Colombo has gone so far as to paint covers for The New Yorker on the app. Brushes is available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Though the iPad version of the app is three dollars more, it seems like the way to go for serious illustrators and painters looking to create multilayered masterpieces.
Price: $4.99 – $7.99
Instagram is an increasingly popular photo sharing app, but more than that, it’s another way to connect with people through a visual art form. Most people own cellphones with built-in cameras and with this additional tool they have the ability to enhance the quality of their images with a varied selection of filters. The image settings can be tweaked and played around with to create just the right type of feel you’re going for with your shot. While there are plenty of apps out there that provide similar filtering services, Instagram boasts an immense audience of 15 million users. By linking your Instagram account to Twitter or Facebook, you can share your daily captures with the rest of the digital world.
Whether you’re a professional sculptor or not, sometimes it’s just fun to mash and mold some clay and you can do that without getting your hands dirty with forger. This digital sculpting application presents users with a three-dimensional model that is fully capable of being rotated, panned across, and zoomed into for precise sculpting. It features nine sculpting tools–standard, clay, flatten, move, smooth, pinch, inflate, layer and mask–which each also include the ability to be adjusted according to size and strength. Once finished, the digital creation can be saved as an OBJ file and exported. The app is great for artists looking to sketch out a prospective project or idea in a 3D format while traveling without access to software on a bulky desktop.
Developed by young software engineer and digital artist Max Weisel, Soundrop is a musical geometry game available on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Like Beatwave, it offers an audiovisual experience at the hand of the user. Rather than a series of highlighted boxes, this game utilizes the player’s ability to create lines anywhere across the screen. Sound is produced when automated balls drop and come in contact with the lines, bouncing off of them and emitting high and low pitches, depending on the speed with which they ricochet off the line. The app itself is free but there is an upgraded “pro” version available as a DLC for $1.99 that increases the library of accessible sounds with the introduction of different colored lines, inviting more possibilities for a complex soundscape.
Ordinarium is an action game exclusively for the iPad. While the gameplay is simple and somewhat traditional as far as action games go, the art direction and music is where a player can be swept away into a bizarrely inventive experience. The cast of characters, including a creature that resembles a one-eyed octopus, and surreal settings draw a likeness to a Tim Burton-inspired aesthetic. It appears to be in a similar line of artistically designed games as the popular 2D platform Braid and action RPG Bastion. While it may not encompass the same level of graphics and integration, there’s something to be said about Ordinarium’s surrealistic efforts. The distinct artistic style and direction is so compelling that it sparks a surge of creativity in the player.