20 Creative Apps to Inspire and Get Unstuck

creative apps

In today’s innovative climate, harnessing the power of creative apps is essential for entrepreneurs eager to channel their ingenuity into successful small business ventures and to let their creative small business ideas flow.

With the right app at your fingertips, you can break through mental blocks and uncover novel solutions to the challenges that stymie your creative process.

Whether it’s sketching out a new design, organizing brainstorming sessions, or simply collecting your thoughts, an arsenal of well-chosen creative apps can be the catalyst that transforms your vision into reality.

To aid you in this digital renaissance, we’ve curated a comprehensive list of the best creative apps available. These tools are designed not only to inspire your imagination but also to streamline your workflow, ensuring that your next big idea is just a tap away.

So let’s explore these innovative platforms that promise to elevate your creative endeavors to new heights.

creative apps

Common Uses for Creative Apps

Creative blocks are no match for the right set of tools. Each app offers unique functionalities tailored to different aspects of creativity. Whether you’re sketching out a new design, laying down a storyboard, or jotting down bursts of ideas, there’s an app designed to facilitate that process. Here’s some common creative needs:

  • Refining visual storytelling techniques.
  • Annotating PDFs and taking versatile notes.
  • Organizing and capturing ideas on the go.
  • Designing websites and user experiences.
  • Sketching and digital painting.
  • Engaging in creative play through games.
  • Capturing and sharing visual content.
  • Overcoming creative blocks with guided exercises.

creative apps

Our Methodology: How We Chose the Best Creative Apps

Creative apps are essential tools that bring ideas to life, whether it’s through digital art, music, writing, or design. With the creative industry expanding into the digital space, the selection of apps is vast.

To guide users in selecting the most effective creative apps for their artistic or creative projects, we use a specific set of criteria. These criteria help in identifying apps that offer the best combination of innovation, usability, and feature-rich capabilities. Each criterion is rated on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates the least importance and 5 the highest importance in our review process:

  1. Range of Creative Tools and Features
    • Importance: 5
    • The app should offer a comprehensive set of creative tools and features that cater to various aspects of creativity, such as drawing, designing, writing, or music composition.
  2. Ease of Use and Interface Design
    • Importance: 4
    • The app should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it accessible to users of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals.
  3. Customization and Flexibility
    • Importance: 4
    • The ability to customize tools and settings to suit individual creative needs and preferences is important for personalization and versatility.
  4. Integration with Other Tools and Platforms
    • Importance: 3
    • The capability to integrate with other creative software and platforms enhances workflow efficiency and project management.
  5. Quality of Output
    • Importance: 5
    • The app should support high-quality output, with the ability to create professional-grade work suitable for various uses and publications.
  6. Collaboration and Sharing Capabilities
    • Importance: 3
    • Features that support collaboration, sharing, and feedback are beneficial, especially for team projects or community engagement.
  7. Support for Multiple File Formats
    • Importance: 4
    • The ability to work with, export, and import multiple file formats ensures compatibility and ease of sharing across different platforms.
  8. Regular Updates and Innovation
    • Importance: 4
    • Regular updates that introduce new features, tools, and improvements are important to keep the app current and innovative.
  9. Pricing and Subscription Model
    • Importance: 4
    • The app should offer competitive pricing, with clear and fair subscription or purchase models, providing value for the features offered.
  10. Customer Support and Resources
    • Importance: 3
    • Access to responsive customer support and educational resources like tutorials and community forums is beneficial for learning and troubleshooting.

By applying these criteria, we aim to identify creative apps that not only foster innovation and creativity but also offer user-friendly interfaces, versatility, and high-quality output, catering to a wide range of creative needs.

creative apps

The Best Creative Apps

Read on to find all the details about the best apps for 2021. This list will have all the editing features you need to get started. The ones we list here will help creative people when they are feeling stuck. There are a few iOS devices included and even an open-ended game.

1. Curator

This easy-to-use, customizable app is designed for your iPad mobile device. Refine your visual storytelling on Mac, IPod touch too. It’s great for collaborating with others on different projects. And creating productive mind maps.

Required: iOS 9.0 or later. And/or macOS 11.0 or later and a Mac with Apple M1 chip.

Create a library you can share with clients. Your visual storytelling skills are enhanced by the fact the tool can integrate with sources like Instagram and Dropbox.  Boost your creativity with this app for two different premium prices. One at $4.99 and one at $19.99.

2. Notability

This is a simple PDF annotation and note taking app to flex those creative muscles. Import new ideas from DOCS, PPTs, GIFs and others. There are a variety of journaling, notetaking and drawing tools that make this one of the great options. A great choice for those looking for mobile apps.

It’s similar to Microsoft’s OneNote. But the Microsoft version offers sticky notes if you’re old school.

3. Paper By WeTranser

This app’s cloud friendly features make it a winner for people looking for writing, drawing and notetaking capabilities. It’s completely customizable and excellent for organizing and capturing creative ideas.

4. Adobe XD

This is a great app for interacting with AdobeXD prototypes. Great for designing websites. The free version has limited fonts and 2GB of cloud storage. The full version costs $10 a month. This one ranks high as a windows app. It’s sure to spark the imagination. Get those creative juices flowing.

5. Tayasui Sketches

You need iOS 11.0 or later. This sketching app is extremely user friendly. Has the ability to refine doodles into Tayasui sketches. This app’s cloud friendly features make it a good choice for a productive illusory adventure.

6. Monument Valley

This app’s cloud friendly features require iOS 9.0 or macOS 11.0. Creative minds who use ideo method cards will enjoy this one. The winner of Apple’s Design Award 2014 takes the user through fantastic, impossible architecture. Get started with creative projects for $3.99 with one in app purchase.

7. CloudApp

Boost creativity using iOS 12.0 or later. And macOS 11.0 and Mac with Apple M1 chip. This helps business by capturing visual communications like videos, file uploads and screenshots. Start creating diagrams with the data you get.

8. Unstuck

Unstuck requires iOS 13.2 or later. This creative app guides you through the process of peer coaching in a user-friendly interface. Helps designers reimagine their work. The cost is $0.99.

9. Blek

This app boosts your creativity with beautiful drawings. All the colored circles and other shapes you draw keep moving. This is a unique game that involves personality and imagination. A real winner among the few open ended games available. And a sure way to let creativity flow.

creative apps

10. NYArtBeat

Browse exhibits happening in New York City. You can find events within walking distance. A great way for creative minds to get inspired. This app is extremely user friendly. It was recently updated for iOS11. An excellent addition to the concept maps genre.

11. Adobe Comp CC

A great app that creates wireframes and mockups. Adobe Comp lets you use gestures with the stylus or your finger to sketch layouts. This is a leader among sketching tools that let creative juices flow .And it’s good for putting together the information for flow charts.

12. ibis Paint X

There is a large range of creative tools with ibis Paint X. Digital artists can pick from 142 brushes and over 700 fonts.

13.Infinite Painter

This app helps if you’re looking to create 3-D images. Infinite Painter inspires creativity with more than 80 brush presets, tons of customizable options, and an easy-to-use interface.

14. Find My Font

Find My Font helps the creative process by identifying over 150,000 different fonts. Excellent for designers looking for a specific type in their design projects. If you create a page with creativity and innovations quotes, for example, this will help you find all the fonts you need.

15. Keynote

Salespeople on the go can create visual notes with Keynote. Random words dealing with new ideas can be written down with an Apple pencil or your finger. Great for businesses looking for these kind of digital tools. An excellent app to stir up and capture thought provoking words.

16. Color Reference

Create digital art by exporting color palettes. Color Reference is a free, easy-to-use app you can design wallpapers with.

17. Procreate

Get a variety of creative features like hundreds of brushes and an advanced layer system. When inspiration strikes, Procreate is the perfect solution.

18. Slow Shutter!

Boost creativity by capturing long exposure photographs. Satisfy your inner artist with photos of moving objects.

19. Retrospecs

Got a specific project that needs pixel art? This is the app that will inspire creativity. Retrospecs can organize inspiration with a number of presets.

20. Paper

Single note taking just got easier. Paper allows you to capture and connect notes, sketches and even photos. Another great tool for creative minds who are looking to create diagrams. And a comprehensive text outline.

Comparison of Creative Apps for Entrepreneurs

To assist you in choosing the app that best fits your creative needs, we’ve compiled a comparison table summarizing key information about each one. Here, you can easily contrast their compatibility requirements, pricing, and unique features at a glance.

App NameCompatibilityPriceUnique Features
Paper by WeTransferiOSFreeWriting, drawing, and note-taking
Adobe Comp CCiOS, AndroidFreeCreates wireframes and mockups with gestures
ibis Paint XiOS, AndroidFreeDigital art, 142 brushes, over 700 fonts
Infinite PainteriOS, AndroidFree3-D image creation, over 80 brush presets
CloudAppiOS 12.0+/macOS 11.0+FreeCaptures videos, uploads files, screenshots
Tayasui SketchesiOS 11.0+FreeUser-friendly interface, sketching focused
Color ReferenceiOS, AndroidFreeDigital art creation, exports color palettes
RetrospecsiOS, AndroidFreePixel art creation with presets
PaperiOSFreeNote-taking, connects sketches and photos
UnstuckiOS 13.2+$0.99Peer coaching, helps reimagine work
Slow Shutter!iOS$1.99Long exposure photography capture
Monument ValleyiOS 9.0+/macOS 11.0+$3.99Puzzle game with Apple Design Award 2014
ProcreateiOS 13.2+$9.99 (iPad)Digital painting, hundreds of brushes, advanced layers
Adobe XDWindows, macOS$9.99+/moWebsite design, Adobe integration, limited free version
CuratoriOS 9.0+/macOS 11.0+$4.99-$19.99Visual storytelling, integrates with Instagram/Dropbox
BlekNot specifiedNot specifiedCreative drawing game with moving shapes
NYArtBeatUpdated for iOS 11Not specifiedFinds NYC art exhibits, updated for iOS 11
Find My FontNot specifiedNot specifiedIdentifies over 150,000 fonts

Note: The pricing and features listed in the table may vary. For the most accurate details, users should refer to the official app store listings or contact the app developers directly.

creative apps

What is the best app to collaborate using a visual reference library?

When it comes to collaboration, especially in creative fields, having access to a shared visual reference library can be incredibly powerful.

The best app for this purpose should offer an expansive platform where team members can contribute and interact with a variety of visual media, such as graphics, sketches, photos, and paintings.

An app that facilitates an interactive prototype feature can significantly enhance teamwork by providing a space for collective brainstorming and idea generation. Allusion, notable for being open source, presents a robust solution for those looking to establish a collaborative visual workspace.

Which is the best app to create mood boards?

Mood boards are essential tools for channeling and communicating a project’s aesthetic and emotional direction. The ideal app for creating mood boards should be intuitive, allowing for the seamless assembly of images, textures, and color schemes.

For product and wedding designers facing a creative impasse, Moodzer stands out as a preferred choice. It’s also a go-to for interior designers looking to visualize and refine their creative concepts, enabling them to craft mood boards that capture and convey the essence of their envisioned designs.

Image: Depositphotos

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.