The Best Apps to Help You Be More Creative

The Best Apps to Help You Be More Creative

Developing new creative skills can seem daunting. In addition to overcoming your inner critic, finding the proper tools to improve your abilities (and sticking with them) is a challenge. While there are classes and workshops for different types of creative projects, these can be time-consuming and expensive, and if you’re just starting out or don’t have much time, can seem like a big investment. For a faster (and cheaper) option, try out some helpful apps that will get your creative gears turning.

Brainstorming and developing ideas

If coming up with ideas is a challenge, you can use an app to grease your creative wheels.

  • Brainstorm: Creativity Trainer (Google Play only) features unprompted and prompted brainstorming, either to help you come up with new ideas for a particular topic, or just to help build creative muscle. The app can be used individually or with a group, and it’s free.
  • Ayoa allows you to use both visuals and text to create a flow chart. The tools allow a team of people to then turn this brainstorm into tasks by developing art and text in communication with your group. The basic version is free and there are two tiers with increased capacity for projects, access to image libraries, and AI assistance for US$10 and US$13 per month.
  • Mindly uses mind mapping to help you organize your ideas and visualize how they connect. It’s great for coming up with new ideas or for sharing them with others. It, too, is free.

Creating and saving ideas

One big hurdle to developing new ideas or expanding ongoing projects is remembering and organizing your ideas. While simple notes can get you part of the way, sometimes your creative ideas don’t fit well in a text-only format. These apps can help you record your ideas in alternative formats that are more in keeping with how your creative brain works.

  • Concepts allows you to sketch onto your device with multiple pen types including shading, and the basic version is free. There is also a more advanced version with a digital image library, additional editing tools, and expanded file type exports for US$4.99/month.
  • DayOne is a journaling app that allows you to keep track of your thoughts in multiple formats. In addition to traditional text journaling, you can also record audio, video, and save photos. It’s an accessible way to remember your thoughts and ideas and to capture what inspires you. The basic version is free; the premium version, which allows you to access your journal on multiple devices and keep multiple journals at once, is US$2.92 per month.
  • HiPaint allows you to paint new images and create original animations as well as edit existing ones, using multiple tools and brush types. It also allows you to save multiple file types for use with different interfaces. It’s free to download.

Getting inspiration

Getting inspired can be as simple as seeing some art that you like, connecting with a design concept, or looking at something in a new way. These tools can help you find your spark.

  • Behance is a platform for almost any type of visual art you can think of. From graphic design to origami, you’ll find someone passionate about it on this app. It’s free and simple to search for whatever art you might be looking for. You can access it through a browser or download the app for free.
  • DeviantArt offers a curated feed of art based on your tastes and preferences. You can also search for specific types of art that you are drawn to, pin art that inspires you, and join groups for particular types and themes of art that you enjoy—and it’s free.
  • Google Arts and Culture is a free app that allows you to tour museums, explore music, and play free creative games. It allows you to play with filters on your device camera, and do “art experiments” along with others using the interface.

Clearing your mind and focusing

If you’ve ever been stuck on an idea or can’t quite get to the next step on a creative project, you probably know that focus and calm go a long way in furthering the creative process.

  • Calm has a variety of meditations for everything from sleep to creativity, and you can adjust your settings to aim for creativity in the meditations it suggests. There are also searchable versions of focus- and calm-inspiring meditation. The app is US$10/month; it’s covered by some health insurance plans as preventative care.
  • Headspace offers meditations and sleep stories as well as calming music. You can access the app for US$5.38/month and it has over 500 searchable meditations that can help you calm your mind and create.

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