The top iPad drawing apps of 2023

The best drawing apps for iPad allow you to express your creativity at any time and from any location. The iPad’s display is an excellent canvas for digital art, and the experience is enhanced by the Apple Pencil 2.

There are many wonderful drawing apps for iPad to support you get the most out of the device, but we’ve chosen the best ones based on our hands-on drawing experience. We sought apps that provide versatility, useful features, and a smooth overall experience when using the Apple Pencil 1 or 2. We’ve also taken suggestions from artists into account.

We included the best drawing apps for iPad for people of all skill levels, from novices to professionals, so you should be able to find an option that suits you. If you’re seeking more apps than drawing, check out our guide to the best iPad Pro apps for Apple Pencil. If you’re starting, check out our drawing guide to make the most of your tablet. You prefer to make digital art on a desktop computer, check out our list of the best digital art software. If you need an Apple Pencil for drawing apps on your iPad, check out the best current pricing below. Otherwise, keep scrolling to see the apps themselves.

The best drawing apps for iPad today

01. Procreate

iPad drawing apps

Procreate is something you’ve already heard of. With its many distinct functionalities, dynamic UI, and 3D painting capabilities (compatible with Zbrush, Blendr, and others), the app has taken the digital art world by storm. Read our Procreate 5.2 review to learn more about this fantastic app.

Our study revealed that the most appealing feature of Procreate is its adaptable and customizable UI. There are numerous options to help improve your workflow, ranging from the color picker to the brush size. Furthermore, Procreate’s color collection is unparalleled, with the ability to create palettes, color options, and even color recommendations. We adore the new 3D painting features, which allow you to create almost anything on the app. The downside is that it is only accessible for the iPad.

The app as a whole is sleek and smooth sailing, and it’s only a one-time purchase of £8.99/$9.99 in the Apple App Store, so it’s also easy on the wallet.

02. Illustrator for iPad

hand drawing with stylus using illustrator for iPad drawing app

Adobe Illustrator, like Procreate, is extremely popular in the digital art community. While the app is free, certain in-app purchases are required, but with features like radial, grid, and mirror repeat, it is well worth the money. The app incorporates the best features of the desktop app into one handy portable version. If you still need more clarification, read our Illustrator for iPad review for more information.

We found that when you combine the Illustrator app with the new iPad Pro (M1, 2021) and the Apple Pencil 2, you get a sleek, controlled, and enhanced digital art experience (if you don’t already have the devices, check out the iPad Pro deals and the Apple Pencil bargains). Unfortunately, the app is only accessible on a subscription basis and is not compatible with iOS versions before 14. However, you can smoothly move your work from your desktop to your iPad app, which is a huge plus.

03. Photoshop for iPad

iPad drawing apps

We’d be astonished if you had yet to hear of Photoshop by now (Creative Bloq is chock-full of Photoshop content). You may now get a slimmed-down version of the desktop software for your iPad. When we tested it, we found that certain critical capabilities were lacking. Still, the functionality is constantly improving, and it’s becoming a handy add-on that allows you to share files between the app and the desktop effortlessly – and it can withstand a large load.

Check out our Photoshop for iPad review for additional information. Since that review, Adobe has added new tools to its iPad app, including Curves and the Subject Select tools. Scroll below to check out some of the most recent Adobe Creative Cloud offers.

04. Inspire Pro

Digital painting of a girl and her dragon on drawing app for iPad Inspire Pro

Inspire Pro’s rendering engine is one of the fastest and most realistic on the App Store (yes, great praise indeed). This means that artists may have an exceptionally fluid and natural drawing experience on their iPad.

From oil to spray paint, the app has a huge library of brushes and high-quality tools that can be tailored to your specific requirements. Suppose you have an Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro. In that case, you’ll find that Inspire Pro’s ability to respond to pressure, tilt, and rotation is a very handy tool while working on a project and provides much creative flexibility.

05. Adobe Fresco

iPad drawing apps

Fresco is yet another iPad app from Adobe. Fresco is said to be the digital equivalent of analog drawing materials. When we tested it (see our Adobe Fresco review), we felt it was similar to Adobe’s solution to Procreate (see above), but it was part of the Adobe Creative Cloud membership.

Fresco provides users with a sleek and fluid drawing experience thanks to features such as the much anticipated Live Brushes, which adapt to various drawing techniques (though we did feel they were a little limited). Fresco lacks text and motion options, and we would like to utilize paper or canvas textures, but it remains one of the best digital art apps available. Its excellent array of pixel brushes, easy operation, and ability to combine brushes were all highlights.

06. Affinity Designer for iPad

Affinity Designer for iPad drawing app for iPad

Affinity Designer for iPad is a vector drawing tool fully optimized for iOS, including Touch controls and Apple Pencil compatibility. It is built on the same back end as its award-winning desktop version. The fact that it can support large multi-art board canvases with as many layers as you like and that you can zoom to over a million percent was appreciated by our testing app. In our Affinity Designer for iPad review, you can learn more about how much we loved the user interface.

Affinity Designer supports CMYK and RGB color spaces and includes a complete Pantone library in the color swatch panel, making it excellent for creating digital and printed art. You may export to JPG, PNG, PDF, and SVG formats, and there are over 100 brushes available in styles such as paints, pencils, inks, pastels, and gouaches. In short, this is one of the few iPad drawing apps aimed firmly at the professional market.

07. ArtRage Vitae

A painting of a woman in ArtRage

ArtRage Vitae is the most recent update to one of the iPad’s original and longest-running digital painting apps. This app simulates genuine oils and watercolors’ feel, flow, and texture. You may load your brush with paint and spread it around with glee, mix colors on the canvas, and ArtRage Vitae does an excellent job of simulating lifelike paints overall.

Various canvas styles give texture beneath your paintings, with options to effortlessly modify paper settings and customize brushes using a set of sliders. There are several canvas configurations and paper options, as well as a variety of brushes, pencils, rollers, crayons and pastels.

In our Artrage Vitae review, we loved the user-friendly interface, which hides many complex functions behind simple sliders and settings. The unusual layout also ensures the canvas is always visible and the screen is never cluttered. Our tester was dissatisfied that the paint simulation in Rebelle 5 was improved, and he also felt that the UI was only for some. This is a wonderful app for those wanting a realistic painting experience.

08. iPastels

iPad drawing apps

No digital application or tablet screen can replace the true feel of working with pastels and charcoal, but drawing apps for iPad are designed to approximate the effect, which iPastels achieves exceptionally well. You also avoid having messy fingers.

It’s amazing how effectively the app mimics various parts of pastel drawing, such as soft pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils, and realistic color blending with your finger on the screen, much like you would on paper. One downside is that you must stop drawing to modify the size and pressure of your tool, but there are advantages, such as the ability to remedy mistakes fast and easily.

For these reasons and more, pastel is an excellent app to experiment with compositions before starting a real painting – or simply for fun. It supports the Apple Pencil, and upgrading to Pro features costs $4.99/£4.99.

09. ArtWorkout

ArtWorkout drawing app for iPad

Some of the best drawing apps for iPad are wonderful for experienced artists but not necessarily for beginners. Drawing on a tablet can be more difficult than drawing on paper, but ArtWorkout is a good app for learning how to draw digitally. It includes over 500 step-by-step lessons and analyzes your accuracy and stroke quality (without being too harsh!). It includes a variety of drawing styles, from doodles to sketching, and you may select your skill level, making it appropriate for total beginners and up. The basic plan is free to download, while the premium plan costs $7.99 monthly.

10. MediBang Paint for iPad

Black and white city image on Medibang Paint drawing app for iPad

If you’re new to digital art and looking for a brilliant-but-basic drawing app for your iPad, MediBang Paint for iPad is the app for you. When we examined it, we found Medibang to be an easy-to-use tool with features similar to Photoshop, such as layers, the ability to apply styles, and a useful brush editor. MediBang is chock-full of amazing drawing and painting capabilities, making it difficult to believe it’s free. See our Medibang review for more information.

This is the iPad drawing app if you want to create professional-looking artwork on a budget using iOS 11.

11. Zen Brush 2

iPad drawing apps

Zen Brush 2 is one of the iPad drawing apps that mimics the feel of drawing with traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes. Our testing revealed that it has a smooth and fluent drawing engine, and while our Zen Brush review mentions its limited features, we also know that such a limited usage is to be expected, and that’s fine.

Zen Brush 2 offers a gallery function that enables you to save your work in progress and a gorgeous ink dispersion effect that gives your drawings a 3D feel. There’s support for pressure-sensitive styluses, including the Apple Pencil, and you’re no longer limited to black ink; you can also use red ink.

12. Concepts

Concepts drawing apps for iPad screenshot showing building plans

Concepts is a powerful sketching and design app designed particularly for professionals. It features an endless canvas, organic brushes, a fluid and responsive vector drawing engine, and intuitive precision tools designed to provide a natural-feeling drawing experience. You can research, iterate, and share your designs anywhere you are, whether you’re an architect, product designer, illustrator, or visual thinker.

Concepts work with iOS 12.4 and later, compatible with the iPad Pro (2018) and the second-generation Apple Pencil. You can customize how the double-tap manifests and support tool switching with a double-tap.

13. Artstudio Pro

drawing of girl's face in Artstudio Pro drawing apps for iPad

ArtStudio Pro for iPad replaces ArtStudio, which is still available for $4.99/£4.99. The new version claims to be 5-10 times faster than ArtStudio and has been optimized for Apple Pencil.

There are 27 blending modes, over 100 built-in brushes, and the power to import all types of files, including ABL brushes, among other new and improved tools. There are also a variety of canvas sizes and options, like layers, layer masks, filters, and results. With an active community and plenty of features to experiment with, this is a great option for artists.

14. Comic Draw

comic strip on Comic Draw drawing app for iPad

While some painting and drawing apps cater to a wide range of abilities and creative fields, Comic Draw is focused on a single goal. Its target audience is comic artists, and it is a highly useful tool in that regard. The app features a tool that lets you lay out the panels on your page, instructions to help you maintain precise perspective, and layers to assist you in developing your drawings.

You’ll also find a digital sketchpad for testing with your ideas and an inking and color interface to help you finish your design with different brushes. Comic Draw includes a lettering suite with several typefaces, balloons, and design tools to help you add the all-important text, and you can add as many pages as you like to make anything from a comic strip to a full-length book. Before you buy, you can try it for free (for $9.99/£9.99).


15. Assembly

vector drawing of hip office on Assembly drawing app for iPad

Assembly is great for creating detailed vector drawings, icons, logos, scenes, and characters without dealing with vectors and Bézier curves. Sooner than painstakingly drawing everything out yourself, you may choose from a vast library of ready-made forms and combine them to create your vector masterpiece.

With this access on our drawing apps for iPad list, you may layer, stack, and place forms any way you want and even create your building blocks by cutting out, merging, and intersecting existing shapes. It’s an excellent tool for getting professional results fast if you need to prototype quickly.


16. Clip Studio Paint Ex

drawing of girl on Clip Studio Paint Ex drawing app for iPad

Clip Studio Paint Ex, another full-featured desktop paint app now available on the iPad, is great for drawing comics and manga, but it can also be used to create any digital art. It’s also one of the few iPad drawing apps that transfer the feel of conventional drawing to the digital environment, making it ideal for creating illustrations and sketches on the fly.

This app includes drawing tools like pencils, markers, calligraphy pens, and airbrushes. And, because the drawing engine integrates so effectively with the Apple Pencil, you’ll have access to a wide range of pressure-sensitive dynamics to polish your linework. Another benefit is that you get three months free when you sign up for a membership to Clip Studio Paint EX. Here’s a selection of the greatest Clip Studio Paint tutorials.

17. Graphic

The graphic is a desktop-class vector drawing app with variable-width brush strokes and pressure-sensitive support for the Apple Pencil. This simple addition to our list of drawing apps for iPad is compatible with both the Mac and iPhone versions via iCloud and Dropbox, allowing you to save your masterpieces on the fly for easy editing across devices later on.

18. Autodesk Sketchbook

Autodesk Sketchbook drawing app for iPad running on an iPad

Autodesk’s SketchBook is one of the most popular iPad drawing apps among digital artists. SketchBook has all the swagger of a pro-grade painting tool but with an experience tailored to individuals wishing to create art on the iPad (if you have an Android smartphone, see our Sketchbook 4.0 for an Android review).

A basic yet clear user interface that enables you to pin your favorite toolbars to the screen allows you to choose from a wide choice of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes. Additionally, it is adaptable and fast, enabling you to work with layers, transparency options, annotations, and advanced blend modes. It’s an excellent iPad art app for working on the go, thanks to a Dropbox connection and the ability to import and export Photoshop-friendly files.

19. Art Set 4

drawing of girl and set of pencils on Art Set 4 drawing app for iPad

Art Set 4 offers an easy-to-use interface with hyper-realistic drawing and painting tools, so you can see your watercolor paint flow and run as you use it, for example. Oil paint, watercolors, oil pastel, pencil, biro pen, marker, wax crayon, and a few other tools are free, with an in-app purchase unlocking over 150 brushes and other features.

20. Brushes Redux

Legendary artist David Hockney has been caught using the Brushes app on his iPad to create art. It’s an oldie but a goodie, specifically developed for Apple’s tablet and now with the ‘Redux’ suffix – plus, it’s free and open-source.

You can work with layers, bring up a color wheel/picker, and swap between brushes using a basic toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Perhaps most importantly, Brushes is fast and responsive to touch, making it easy to work rapidly. The capacity to record each brush stroke, enabling you to play back exactly how you made each piece of iPad art using the Brushes viewer, is a useful feature.

21. SketchClub

Two iPad screens showing drawing on Sketch Club drawing app for iPad

Sketch Club has a great collection of tools for creating stunning digital art, which makes it an excellent addition to our list of drawing apps for iPad. The app includes a one-of-a-kind set of adaptable digital brushes (and more can be created), pens, vector tools, old-school pixel art, and fun procedural tools.

With a variety of choices to customize the app to your personal preferences, Sketch Club features a simple user interface. The integrated online community is a great feature of this app. You can upload your sketches here to have people rate and comment on your work and participate in daily challenges and fun weekly competitions.

22. AstroPad Studio

AstroPad Studio, one of the best drawing apps for iPad

While an iPad is great for drawing, some people prefer to see their work on a larger screen. For this purpose, you can use Sidecar to watch your iPad screen on your MacBook or iMac, but there are better solutions than this if you want to utilize your iPad as a graphics tablet. AstroPad Studio, an iPad drawing app, is one popular approach. This allows you to utilize your iPad as a graphics tablet, drawing on the touchscreen with your Apple Pencil and viewing the results on your Mac.

You can connect via WiFi or USB; the app lets you customize gesture shortcuts and pressure curves. The sidebar shortcuts adjust automatically to the Mac app you’re working in, and there’s keyboard support. If you wish to utilize a PC, check out our guide on using an iPad as a drawing tablet with a PC.

23. Lake: Colouring Books and Journal

This isn’t a drawing app for iPad, but rather a coloring app – ideal for when you want to unwind or for anyone using the Apple Pencil to draw digitally. It offers coloring book sheets in a variety of styles from artists all around the world and is also accessible for the iPhone. It contains a color wheel where you can choose the color you want to use, making everything tidy and simple. There is also optional audio, so if you use the paintbrush, you will hear brush sounds; if you use the spray paint, you will hear spray sounds. It was incredibly relaxing to use.

If you don’t want to worry about being too accurate, there’s an option to keep in the lines automatically. In contrast, other options allow you to be more creative than simply coloring in with block color, allowing you to add shading and other effects. The free edition allows you to color up to nine pages per day. For $10 each month, you can have as many as you want, more color variants, and the option to work with a blank canvas.


Is the iPad good for drawing apps?

Plenty of specialized drawing tablets are on the market, but the iPad experience is now so amazing that many artists use it as their primary digital art tool. The Apple Pencil 2’s palm rejection and tilt pressure sensitivity make it excellent for drawing. And the iPad has the advantage of acting as an all-purpose tablet for general browsing, media, and much more, sparing you from buying a separate gadget for drawing.

Which iPad should I use for drawing apps?

Because the most current iPad models support one of the Apple Pencils, you can use the drawing apps mentioned above on any iPad. However, the normal iPad, including the new iPad 2022, only supports Apple Pencil 1. Recent Pros, Airs, and minis all support Apple Pencil 2, which has some specific advantages for drawing (for more information, read our Apple Pencil vs. Apple Pencil 2 comparison).

Do I need an Apple Pencil to use the best drawing apps for iPad

You don’t require an Apple pencil to use drawing apps on an iPad; read our list of top Apple Pencil alternatives for more options. The Apple Pencil, however, is the greatest iPad stylus, and we rate it highly. It is more expensive than other options, but it provides the best drawing experience.

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