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If you own a tablet or smartphone, chances are you love the easy-to-use interface for browsing the web or playing games, but what about creating artwork?
The best art apps on these interactive devices give your budding artist a chance to express herself without breaking the bank at an art supplies store or creating a gigantic mess. Avoid messy paint brushes and glue spills with these applications, perfect for little fingers and big imaginations.
- Art of Glow (Natenai Ariyatrakool, iOS and Android, free - $0.99, ages 3+) Cultivate curiosity in your kid with this stunning, incandescent art app. Help your little artist go through settings for features like speed, shape, and color then watch as she's spellbound by the brightly-illuminated images she creates. With a black screen that helps the glowing colors pop, your child will be inspired to keep creating mezmerizing images for hours on end.
- Brushes (Taptrix, Inc., iOS, $7.99, ages 4+) This 2010 Apple Design Award winner gets high marks for its versatility. With this app, your budding artist can fingerpaint or create masterpieces with 19 high-quality electronic paintbrushes. Let her imagination run wild with hundreds of color choices, a range of brush strokes and special effects. She'll learn basic principles of color and design as she imagines her e-artwork and brings it to life. This app's more expensive than most, but worth the price.
- Colorbook (Tortasoft, Android, free, ages 6+) Turn your favorite family photos into intricate coloring pages with this app, which strips images of their color and shading to give your kid a canvas with only line art, just begging for some color. This tech tool's great for teaching your creative child shading and color mixing. Help your kid work through a picture of a friend, beloved pet, landscape or anything under the sun! She'll be thrilled to put her own touch on classic snapshots.
- Dots For Tots (SID On, iOS, $0.99, ages 2-6) The beloved dot-to-dot drawing format comes alive in this interactive game, which helps your little artist hone fine motor skills in preparation for writing and creative crafts down the road. Watch as your kid connects numbered dots (practicing counting skills) to bring an image to life. Choose from ocean animals, numbers, letters or shapes. Recognition of these core concepts will build a solid foundation for later learning.
- Faces iMake (iMagine machine LLC, iOS, $0.99 - $1.99, ages 3+) Kickstart your kid's imagination with this truly innovative app: Think Mr. Potato Head on high-octane! Your tiny Monet is prompted to choose from a variety of bright, silly objects—anything from spools of thread to rubber gloves—to form the craziest faces ever. Playful background music and an open-ended approach to art is sure to elicit giggles, foster creativity and encourage your child to think outside the box.
- Kids Art Shop (Kymah LLC, Android, $0.99, all ages) Forego the art supplies store by purchasing your budding painter this app, which boasts a range of painting tools, colors and textures. Encourage her to use the stencils, make a chalkboard drawing, or hit the smudge tool to give her artwork a foggy effect. This easy-to-use tech tool teaches basic art skills and keeps your little one's imagination on overdrive for hours.
- Monster Physics (Freecloud Design Inc., iOS, $0.99 - $1.99, ages 5+) So your little scientist isn't into traditional art projects. How about an app that lets her design rockets, robots and more? Monster Physics uses adorable critters to simplify and teach physics principles through a series of missions. She'll have the chance to sift through lots of creative materials, like magnets, wing nuts, tubes, wood, metal and more to build out her spaceships for missions. To infinity, and beyond!
- Princess Fairy Tale Maker (Duck Duck Moose, iOS, $1.99, ages 4+) This app, created by an award-winning producer, combines storytelling, literacy skills and art in one clever package. Encourage your budding filmmaker to create a short film from 32 backgrounds, featuring animated characters such as princesses, pirates, mermaids and fairies. Once her story is underway, your child can add personal touches with crayons and pencils. Story creation helps your child use her imagination to invent tales that she can illustrate. A top-notch addition to any little artist's app collection.
- Splash of Color (FunLittleApps, iOS and Android, $0.99, ages 3+) Your creative kid can take her pick out of hundreds of coloring and scrapbook pages to rework in her own way—without the mess! Splash of Color features different colors, textures and effects to choose from to make these interactive coloring pages her own. Bonus? They're perfect for honing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination during long car trips and other "quiet" time.
- Zebra Paint (Peter Dornbach, Android, free, ages 3+) Even the youngest kids appreciate this fingerpainting app, promising all of the fun of smearing paint on canvas without the inevitable clean-up afterward. Zebra Paint offers up cheerful black and white images, which your child paints in, using a palette of 48 colors. Animal recognition, fine motor skills and basic art techniques are explored with this app.
Kids will always love real messy art projects like fingerpaint, play doh and collage, but best art Apps are great for travel, quiet times or when you just can't deal with the mess. Download a few today and start creating!