Dont Look Now, But There’s An Android in the Room


"The Bridge" by Philip Vetter (using Sketcher app for Android on HTC Hero)

Well the time has arrived for some healthy competition!

Most mobile digital artists have become quite comfortable associating fingerpainting with Apple products–many using words like “iPainting” and “iArt” to describe what and how we create our works of art.  It is true that Apple was the first to create and offer the revolutionary (and affordable)technology to the masses–but with Google’s creation of the Android’s open marketplace–which is run on an entirely different platform and philosophy– is there room enough for one more?

Those on Flickr or twitter feeds may have noted a new “line” of fingerpaintings streaming in from artist Philip Vetter.  Known for his beautiful and masterful use of the Vellum application for iPhone, Philip is one of the first to brave the new world of fingerpainting with the Android.  Even without all the bells and whistles of the more developed art applications for “iDevices”, his recent works have displayed a great amount of potential and offer a glimpse of what we can expect to see from Android art developers in the future.

"Empty Seat" by Philip Vetter (using Sketcher for Android on HTC Hero)

But with room to grow, what’s so special about it right now?  Why might a devout “iArtist” consider testing out the new platform?  Philip Vetter shares some feedback (and fingerpaintings) that just might compel you to step out there and try your own hand (or finger) on the ‘Droid. What device are you using to create your recent works?

PV: The device I am currently using is an HTC Sprint Hero running on Google’s Android 2.1 operating system. What applications have you been using?

PV: I have been trying to check the Android Marketplace daily for new painting/sketching apps.  The best apps I have used so far are Magic Doodle Premium, Sketcher, and Doodledroid. Is the interface similar to iPhone?  If so, In what way?

PV: The interface (on my particular device) is very close to the iPhone. It has a great 3.2″ touch screen to sketch/paint on, and has several apps being developed daily. How is the Android O/S different from iPhone?

PV: A few minor differences is that my device has a trackball and buttons that developers like to incorporate into their apps. An example of this is using the trackball to zoom (instead of pinching motion) and it has made me change my workflow a little. It was very uncomfortable at first (after using my iPod touch) but now I am used to it. How are the apps on the Android?

PV: The apps are “getting there.” As in getting to where the iDevice apps are now. None of the apps I have come across have incorporated layers and I still do miss the pinch/zoom gesture in my iDevice apps. I have chatted with the developer of “Magic Doodle” app via twitter and he is doing everything to make his app be the top painting app. He promises layers will be out in the next couple of weeks and pinch/zoom will be later (due to different phones having different hardware.)  In my opinion, the apps are a little behind Apple’s, but are catching up fast.

"Untitled" by Philip Vetter (using Magic Doodle for Android on HTC Hero) Do the current applications run smoothly?

PV: Most apps run smoothly and have little lag in drawing. I still think Apple has the edge on response time, but the differences are minimal. Most apps also have the ability to save your painting(s) to an external SD card (if your device supports this.) Have you found a favorite Android app?  If so, which one and why?

PV: My favorite app for drawing is Sketcher. It is very close to Vellum (which is my favorite on iPod touch). It is a very simple drawing program that has the great ability to mimic drawing with a pencil. My favorite painting app currently is Magic Doodle. As I stated before, the developer seems to be really focused on making the app the best it can be, and it is getting there. What are the pros to using the Android applications?  What are the cons?

PV: The pros to using the Android are cost. Most of the apps are free, and the most expensive app I have used is just $2.99. Another pro is the android marketplace, which is coming out with some very cool apps. Also, unlike Apple, the developer doesn’t have to wait to publish their app through the Android Marketplace, but can have it for sale/download on their own website.

The hands off approach that Google takes can also be a con. There are a lot of “junk apps” that you have to wade through to find the great ones. This can be frustrating if you are trying to find an app quickly. In your view, does the Android interface compete (or have potential to compete) with the iPhone/iPad?

PV: I believe the newer phones/devices running on Android will eventually catch up to the iPhone. There are a lot of options now or coming soon which, in my opinion, is a great thing.  I am anxiously awaiting the ADAM tablet (iPad competitor) that will use the Android operating system. It looks amazing. Check out for more info. For now, which do you enjoy more? Android or iPhone?

PV: Right now I am enjoying my Android HTC Hero. It is very cool seeing this Android platform take shape and the apps coming out of it. What a great time to be a mobile artist!

"Psalm 23:4" by Philip Vetter (using Sketcher for Android on HTC Hero) What other other thoughts would you share with someone who might consider using the Android for fingerpainting?

PV: I love Apple products as I work on them daily for my career as a motion graphics artist. The design and quality of Apple’s products are second to none. I also love competition. I think the options with the Android platform are expanding and will soon equal Apple’s app arsenal.

If you decide to take a leap into the Android world and use that as your painting device, please join the Flickr group “Android Art.” It is very unpopulated right now, but hopefully as the Android platform grows the art world within it will also.

More about the artist…

Philip Vetter is a husband, dad and motion graphics artist. He lives in Floyds Knobs,Indiana. To see more of his fantastic artwork, visit his Flickr photostream or his portfolio of motion graphics at  He can also be followed on twitter @philipvetter.

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