14 Free iPhone and iPad Apps for Designers

Last Updated: April 19, 2016

People who work in the creative fields like designing, creative art and music might be among the firsts who catch up with touch screen technology. That’s why iPhone and iPads are more popular among them. They were the ones who invented new ways of using touch screen devices and showed the general public that these gadgets are not merely “for media consumption”. Developers are also fast in responding to these markets by creating apps for them. Now there are tons of creativity-related apps. And if you are a designer, here are a few iOS apps that might get your designing life easier and more fun.

Ideas and Inspirations

Ideas are the heart and soul of any designer. But great ideas rarely blooming out of nowhere. New ideas often manifest from other existing ideas. That explains why designers love to “look for ideas” by browsing around for other designers’ works.

And now, it is easier than ever to find, collect, and categorize ideas from others. Thanks to the internet, social media, and people’s newly-found passion for sharing everything from their life. Sure, you can do a quick search and find many references that you can use to build your ideas. You can also go to YouTube or scroll through your designer friend’s Facebook page. But there’s one particular app that focuses on collecting ideas. It’s called Pinterest (free).

Apps Designer -bb- Pinterest

It’s a visual bookmarking tool for people who wants to discover and save creative ideas. Some possible usages of Pinterest are to plan a project, get creative ideas, explore hobbies, keep travel inspirations, find your style, etc. There’s a saying about Pinterest that struck me. It said that while other social media focuses on preserving memories, Pinterest helps people to plan and look for the future.

Other alternatives to finding ideas are artists’ portfolio sites where they showcase their work. And if not because the sheer number of junk images that people post, Instagram (free) has the potential to be the place to find ideas. But you need to know the right hashtags before searching. Here are some Instagram tips and tricks you could use to master it.

Apps Designer -bb- Instagram


Another essential part of living a designer’s life is to build a portfolio of your work. Part of the reason designers do this is to showcase the talent to prospective clients; another might be to satisfy the ego. But whatever the reason is, designers need portfolio sites, and there are several websites that come with iOS apps.

One example is Behance (free). It’s a portfolio site built for professional artists who make a living with their arts. The network has strict rules and high standard, so it’s tough to break into. But it also means that the showcases here are also top notch.

Designer Apps -bb- Behance

For the more general art enthusiast and artists, there is deviantART (free). This large art online community is also one of the oldest. While it’s a great entry point for beginner artists, some people complain that it has become too big and too overcrowded.

Design Tools and Templates

Apple has proven that creating something beautiful can be done quickly by using ready-made templates. High-quality templates are the perfect entry points for those who wants to get great results fast. But there are times when you need to create something from nothing. The key is to find the right creation tools. Combine that with the creativity of a designer, and you will have unlimited possibilities. There are tons of design tools and templates on the app store, few of them are:

1. Logo Foundry

As the name suggests, this app will help you create quick logos. You can add and edit shapes, images, and text. Then you can customize the fonts, change colors, rotate the shape, adjust the size, and other basic image editing features. It’s a great app if you need to come up with a logo on the go. Professional logo designers might not use this app as their main tool, but it’s useful to create logo sketch or to capture ideas before they evaporate.

Designer Apps -bb- Logo Foundry

2. ColorSchemer

A designer knows the importance of a color palette. Other than to find other matching colors to the one that we already use, color palettes are also an excellent source of inspiration and exploration. ColorSchemer put millions of color palettes from COLORlovers community in your pocket. You can share your color palette to the community, like and comment on other palettes, and give feedbacks to others. One of the neat features of the app is to create color palettes from the camera or photo library.

Designer Apps -bb- Color Schemer

3. Adobe Post

The tagline for Adobe Post is “a fun and fast way for anyone to create beautiful social graphics.” And by social graphics, Adobe means anything from inspirational quotes to promotional banners to images for blog articles. In other words, anything that needs pictures and words. Adobe Post provides users with tons of editable templates to start quickly. But users can also start from scratch, insert an image and add words and shapes. Adobe Post will make sure that the words and shapes are aligned and presented beautifully.

Designer Apps -bb- Adobe Post

4. Canva

This iPad-only graphic designing app comes with more than one million layouts, stock photographs, and illustrations that you can combine to create your final design. Creating one from a blank canvas is also possible. In a sense, Canva is similar to Adobe Post, but with the extra feature of photo editing. The decision to focus on iPad only also puts this app in the “more serious” design tools territory, but it’s not yet able to compete with its more powerful desktop rival.

Designer App -bb- Canva

5. Other drawing tools

We can’t talk about digital graphic design without talking about the drawing tools. We have covered drawing tool apps before. You can refer to the article for more information.

Another app that should be on the list is Fontbook (US$ 4.99) that can be a valuable reference for designers who deal with fonts on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it’s not free.

Learning More

Learning is a lifetime process. There’s always something new to learn every day. Learning is also an investment that can bring us to a better career, and naturally, better pay. And we are very lucky that we live in the age of information. You can learn virtually anything with the help of the internet. YouTube is one of the main resources for online learning. There are video tutorials on almost any subject that you can think of. And all of them are free.

If you want to pick expert’s brains on the topic that you are interested in, you can also head to TED. It’s a global stage for experts to share their expertise, experiences, thoughts, and opinions about matters that they know about. Every presentation is only a few minutes long, but they are inspiring.

Other learning resources that you can try are Udemy and Lynda. Both apps are free to download, but the courses are not free. Udemy often comes with free limited-time offers to some of the courses, while Lynda offers a free 2-week trial. Courses are prepared by contributors who know what they are talking about.

Designer Apps -bb- Udemy


There are so many other apps for designers that it’s impossible to list them all here. Some are directly related to design, while others make designer’s life easy. Example for the latter are personal finance management apps like PayPal and Wally.

SEE ALSO: 20 Best Photoshop Plugins for Designers

Are you a designer? Do you use iOS apps to help you with your career? What apps do you use? Share them using the comment below.


Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.