December 2, 2022

I Used My Phone And Tablet To Become An Artist – Here’s What Happened

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you or someone you know wants to learn how to create art, but you don’t have the supplies for it. However, you do have a phone. You might even have a tablet.

Is it possible to become an artist with just those tools? The short answer is a resounding “yes.” The longer answer is that I tried it and succeeded, but there were some issues I ran into along the way.

The devices I used for mobile artwork A phone shows the art program IbisPaint on screen.The IbisPaint program Elizabeth Tirk / Digital Trends

A majority of people — like myself — won’t have the best smartphone on the market. I use a Samsung Galaxy A53, a middle-of-the-road phone. It’s not made to produce art. I can tell you with all certainty that it didn’t make it easy either.

I also own an iPad; not an iPad Pro or anything built for artistry, just a regular ol’ iPad. I had always wanted to learn how to make art on a tablet — I’d even heard it’s how many professional artists do their work. My hopes were high. And I have to say, they’re really onto something.

It’s important that I also share I have made art for a great number of years. My medium has always been on the PC, and that experience didn’t really transfer to a touchscreen. I knew that. I went into this from the standpoint of someone trying to learn art solely on their phone and tablet. If anything, having past experience held me back in a few ways.

A great experience, with time and patience Drawing with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro (2022).Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The iPad sucked the hope out of me at first. Perhaps this won’t be the experience of everyone else starting out on a tablet, but I struggled with it for the first 10 or so hours. Doesn’t sound good, right? Don’t be dissuaded, it does get better. Much better.

I started drawing on the iPad with just my finger. The excitement to create was high, as were my hopes. I thought a touchscreen would make art really easy. I had the expectation that I’d suddenly create amazing work instantly. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

I felt frustrated by how slow and clumsily it felt to draw with my finger. I didn’t have precision. I tried pens with touchscreen tips. It was choppy. So I decided an Apple Pencil would surely fix this issue! Until I saw its price. If I’m already not going to dump money into art supplies, I don’t want to do the same over a tool for the iPad that I didn’t even know I would commit to yet.

Instead, I turned to Amazon and found myself a Meko stylus specifically made for sensitivity and precision. It was pretty cheap, and I can attest to it being absolutely worth the price. I had to get used to the strange way it laid on the screen first, but once I adjusted, it felt great — and it was even usable on my phone. You might be off-put by its style, so I’d highly suggest looking through the best styluses and finding one that’s the right fit for you.

An iPad shows art made with Procreate and a Meko Stylus.An attempt at backgrounds with a Meko stylus Elizabeth Tirk / Digital Trends

I moved over to trying art on my phone. The app Sketchbook made working with my finger really intuitive. Meanwhile, IbisPaint X only really flourished with a stylus. Both were free, which was a plus. Not only that, the screen of a phone is obviously smaller than a tablet. That was an issue I had, but surprisingly less than I thought it would be.

After a few weeks of hard practice, I definitely felt like I achieved artist status regardless of the problems I faced. They took time to overcome, but with that time, I learned how to make better work. I even found that I enjoyed drawing with a touchscreen! After all, I could do it anywhere. Watching a movie, on a car ride, or even in the airport. Having my art become mobile and easy to access made it immensely useful and easy to work on.

Where things went really wrong A phone is propped up on a table, showing an art program with a stylus.A failed attempt with a stylus Elizabeth Tirk / Digital Trends

Since the Galaxy A53 wasn’t made for art, it really doesn’t lend itself well to the cause. The touchscreen on it can be affected by any hard or soft objects. Any bumps or nudges from unrelated objects mess with the piece. It’s great for just using my hands to draw, but terrible for the Meko stylus I got. That’s really frustrating because I lacked the precision I need to make the art I want.

Sadly, another issue with using the phone is the screen size. As to be expected, it was too small. Not impossibly small, mind you (it’s really great for small art pieces or works without a lot of fine details). I love doodling on it in my spare time, but I would probably never make a complicated piece on there for my own sanity’s sake.

For the iPad, the thing that aggravated me so much was how much it lacked intuitive features. I struggled to import images, and I really struggled to export images. Many times, I outright gave up exporting my work and took a screenshot because I couldn’t be fussed to understand what was happening. Sometimes I avoided working on the iPad just because of how bad I felt about the software design.

How you can start creating art on the go A character is drawn on an iPad using Procreate.A character drawn in Procreate Elizabeth Tirk / Digital Trends

If you’re wanting to start your own journey with art on devices you already own, I definitely recommend trying with a tablet over a phone. A phone is good for doodling on, but it’s much more difficult to get into. With a tablet, you have the same free options as the phone, like Sketchbook or IbisPaint, but Procreate actually won me over. It does cost money, and sometimes it was confusing to use, but its brushes and options are unmatched. However, invest in some kind of stylus to save yourself the headache later.

Starting with your phone is ideal for the right person since it can be done with a grand total of zero cost or risk. You don’t need a stylus, and honestly, the versatility of Sketchbook on my phone made me comfortable enough to just use my hands. The brushes and intuitive design made it so easy to start from scratch. Even though the screen is small, I’m going to continue to practice with it because I had such a good experience.

If you’re still wondering how to begin the journey of art itself, I will always recommend the website Drawabox. It contains free lessons that cover all the steps of learning art at various stages. The lessons available are easy to follow, and really challenge you to learn the most constructive approach.

Finally, the last tip I can share with you is to not give up right away. Learning to draw is like learning a language. It takes time and practice to properly grasp it, but with dedication and a willingness to learn, you will be able to share all those ideas you’ve been cooking up in your noggin. Don’t give up!

Editors’ Recommendations

Chrome For Android Gets Some Tablet-Friendly Touches

Chrome on the Samsung Z Fold 4. Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Dear Android tablet users, there’s some good news. There’s a Chrome update rolling out this week that includes a handful of tablet-friendly abilities, some of which were plucked right out of the desktop version of the browser app.


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First up is the visual tab grid, which works similarly to how Chrome tabs are grouped on Android. The visual tab grid lets you see a small screenshot of each tab you have open when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It’s also been configured to work on foldables—meaning you can tap between sites without squinting to figure out the link. This feature will be beneficial if you’re often navigating between tabs. I’m constantly flipping between Reddit, mobile Twitter, and my Tamagotchi shopping site on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 when I have it splayed open in tablet mode.

The new side-by-side view in Chrome on Android tablets.Gif: Google

I often let out a blood-curdling scream when I’m in a hurry and accidentally close a tab I need. Google’s hoping the new side-by-side interface coming to Chrome for Android tablets will help cut down on this since it will hide the close button when it’s in this mode. The ability includes an auto-scroll feature to help you cycle through tabs by simply swiping left on the browser screen.

The latest update also enables users with the ability to drag images, text, and links from Chrome and drop them into apps like Gmail, Google Keep, or Google Photos.

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A tab groups feature, which already exists on the desktop version of Chrome for Mac and PC, is coming soon but Google doesn’t have a date yet. It also mentions that these features will work on the new Pixel Tablet “when it launches next year.” That’s still all we know about the fabled first-party tablet. What should be a relative, run-of-the-mill feature drop feels like Google reminding us to stay tuned for its upcoming tablet.

All we have are this tablet’s breadcrumbs. We know it’s coming in 2023 and that it’s accompanied by a speaker dock that makes it look like a Nest smart display. But we don’t know the specs or if it will have all the ingredients to compete with Apple’s iPad—and the other Android tablets that have managed to hold it down this long.

The Chrome for Android tablets update is rolling out now through the Google Play Store. It’ll take a few days, but it’s easy to tell if it’s reached you—check the app in Play Store on your tablet device, tap About this app, and then scroll down until you see the date when it was updated. I’m especially curious how Chrome’s new visual tab grid will work when opening and closing the Galaxy Z Fold 4.


The Best Gaming Tablets For 2022

The Best Tablet Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

For portable gaming, many people might turn to dedicated handhelds like the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck. But if you want to game on a bigger screen, a tablet is the way to go.

Of course, not just any tablet works: You need a speedy device that can handle the latest Android and iPadOS games. Surprisingly, tablet makers don’t often market or design their slates specifically for gaming like some do with their phones. As such, many of our picks make the cut because they have enough CPU and GPU strength, as well as the memory and storage, to run the most challenging titles without hiccups.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the most powerful tablets on the market and discuss what makes them ideal for gaming. Read on for our top picks, followed by what to look for in a gaming tablet.

Amazon Fire HD 10 32GB Tablet (2021 Release) Best Low-Cost Gaming Tablet Why We Picked It

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a perfect compromise for people who want to play games without spending a ton of money. It has decent enough specs, including a 10-inch HD display, to handle most titles, and is a good value. By default, you’re limited to the games available from the Amazon Appstore, but you can always sideload apps from Google Play for a broader selection.

Who It’s For

This tablet should appeal to budget-conscious gamers who want a large-screen device on the cheap. It can handle many Android-based games without issue, though some popular titles may not be available from Amazon.


  • Fast processor for the price
  • Plenty of RAM
  • Acts as an Alexa smart display


  • Poor app selection
  • Very Amazon-centric interface

Read Our Amazon Fire HD 10 32GB Tablet (2021 Release) Review Apple iPad (2021) Most Affordable iPad for Gaming Why We Picked It

The entry-level iPad is perfect for anyone who wants to play games on a big screen without going over budget. The tablet’s A13 chip isn’t Apple’s latest, but it’s still more than powerful enough to handle most games on the App Store.

Who It’s For

Anyone invested in Apple’s ecosystem who wants a well-rounded 10-inch gaming tablet for under $350 should enjoy the standard iPad. It’s lightweight at 1.07 pounds and supports optional 4G connectivity (for an additional cost).


  • Powerful performance
  • Multi-year OS upgrades
  • Solid front-facing camera


  • Dated design
  • Tinny speakers

Available at Amazon

See It (Opens in a new window) Apple iPad mini (2021) Best Small Gaming Tablet Why We Picked It

The 8.3-inch and 0.65-pound iPad mini is easy to carry around, but still plenty of power to run anything from the App Store or Apple Arcade. It’s costlier than the standard iPad—you’re paying extra for the added portability.

Who It’s For

If you don’t feel comfortable holding a 10-inch tablet for extended gaming sessions, the iPad mini is your best bet. Nothing else offers a similar premium experience with a screen this small.


  • Excellent performance
  • Long battery life
  • Works with second-generation Apple Pencil


  • No multi-user option in iPadOS
  • Pricier than previous model

Read Our Apple iPad mini (2021) Review Apple iPad Pro (2021) Best iPad for Gaming Why We Picked It

The iPad Pro’s M1 chip offers unbeatable power and won’t struggle with any game you’re likely to find from Apple’s collection. The option to load it up with 16GB of RAM gives it a substantial performance edge over the M1 iPad Air. We recommend picking the 11-inch model because the 12.9-inch variant is a little large for long gaming sessions and costs substantially more.

Who It’s For

Buy this tablet if you are an uncompromising Apple fan. It’s available with up to 2TB of storage, so you don’t have to worry about space. And don’t forget about its second-generation Apple Pencil support, 5G connectivity, and four-speaker audio.


  • Gorgeous Mini LED screen
  • Desktop-level CPU
  • Excellent cameras and audio
  • Stellar 5G performance


  • No real multiple monitor support
  • iPadOS makes multitasking difficult
  • Major apps missing from the platform

Read Our Apple iPad Pro (2021) Review Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Best Android Tablet for Gaming Why We Picked It

Samsung consistently makes some of the most powerful Android tablets on the market and the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S8 is no exception. The base model comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The far more expensive Ultra version offers up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of space, but its 14.6-inch screen makes it a little too cumbersome for mobile gaming.

Who It’s For

If you prefer Android or have other Samsung gear and don’t want to spend too much, this tablet offers fantastic performance for the price.


  • Fast, smooth performance
  • Includes S Pen
  • Dex mode enables a multi-window UI


  • Fewer pro-level creative apps than iPadOS
  • Android apps don’t often play well with tablets
  • Some authentication bugs

Read Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Review Asus ROG Flow Z13 Most Powerful Gaming Tablet Why We Picked It

The Asus ROG Flow Z13 is a gaming laptop masquerading as a tablet. Its high-end specs include an Intel Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 13.4-inch display. It also packs a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU, which blows away the graphical capabilities of most tablets. Unsurprisingly, all that power pushes the price higher than that of similarly powerful (but not transforming) laptops.

Who It’s For

This is for people who have deep pockets and want to take their games with them everywhere without sacrificing power. If you truly value portability, however, you should look at the other, more traditional tablets on this list.


  • Remarkable performance for a tablet thanks to Intel “Alder Lake” Core i9
  • Legitimate entry-level gaming chops
  • XG Mobile eGPU (sold separately) significantly boosts graphics performance
  • Keyboard included


  • High cost for GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics performance in tablet alone
  • Awkward heft and thickness for a tablet
  • Cost with optional eGPU is prohibitively expensive
  • Conceptually, no clear advantage over a premium slim gaming laptop

Read Our Asus ROG Flow Z13 Review

Buying Guide: The Best Gaming Tablets for 2022

Which Tablet Is Best for Gaming?

There are a few key hardware aspects to consider before you buy a tablet for gaming: power, storage, and battery life.

Pick something with a fast processor. Slates with the most recent chips are generally the best bet as they’ll not only run games smoothly today, but down the road as well. Similarly, get a tablet with as much RAM as possible. More memory allows games to load more ahead of time and decreases the likelihood of loading delays. Make sure to inspect how well the tablet handles heat; if it runs hot under stress, you won’t want to use it for long periods.

Lots of storage space is equally important. High-end games such as Genshin Impact, Call of Duty Mobile, and others consume 1GB or more and can fill up your storage quickly. Opt for 64GB at a minimum. If you like to keep multiple games on your device at once (along with other media, such as movies and music), you might consider 128GB. Or, snag a tablet that offers the option to expand storage via microSD card.

Intense games can drain a tablet’s battery life quickly, so you should keep your expectations realistic. Aim for something that can run modern games for at least a few hours. And when you do need to recharge, fast charging support is important because it can get you back to your game that much quicker.

Android, iPadOS, or Windows: The Best Tablet Software for Gaming

Another huge consideration is whether you want an Android tablet or an iPad. This is a matter of personal preference and depends on what types of other devices you have. For example, if you’re a longtime iOS user and subscribe to Apple One (which includes the Apple Arcade gaming service), an iPad is likely the better way to go. Similarly, if you’re an Android phone user and have purchased a lot of apps or content from the Google Play store, an Android slate makes more sense.

As for Microsoft’s platform, the biggest issue with gaming on Windows tablets is that most don’t have sufficient power. Additionally, many PC games work best with a mouse and keyboard or controller, which conflicts with the idea of casual gaming on the go. The major exception to that rule is the Asus ROG Flow Z13. It’s one of the most well-rounded gaming tablets on the market but remains way too pricey for most people.

What Size Tablet Is Best for Gaming?

Screen size and tablet size go hand in hand and are thus another factor to mull over, though it ultimately comes down to how much you value portability and comfort.

Most tablets have screens that range from seven to 12 inches, with 10 inches being the average. A seven-inch slate can easily fit into a handbag or purse, meaning they travel more easily, while a 10- or 12-inch tablet will require something larger, such as a backpack, to tote around. Larger tablets also weigh more and can cause hand fatigue when held for several hours. As far as size goes, pick what feels the most natural to use and carry around. The benefit of going with screen sizes larger than eight inches is that they provide substantially more real estate for gameplay.

Of course, you want something with at least 1080p Full HD resolution, and more if possible. Further, a high refresh rate (90Hz or higher) will go a long way toward improving your experience.

Recommended by Our Editors Do You Need a Cellular Gaming Tablet?

Determining whether you need to spend the extra money (usually $100 or more) for a tablet with a cellular connection depends on where you will use the tablet most and what games you plan to play.

If you’re often home, at the coffee shop, or another place with regular Wi-Fi access, you should be fine without cellular connectivity. If you typically find yourself in places where Wi-Fi isn’t readily available, consider paying the extra money for a tablet with 4G or 5G along with a monthly service plan from your wireless carrier.

One other point to consider here is the type of games you like to play. If you generally stick to single-player games that don’t require a constant internet connection, a Wi-Fi-only model should work fine. But if you want to play multiplayer games that require back-and-forth over the internet, a tablet with cellular capabilities could come in handy.

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