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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
13. Artstudio Pro
14. Comic Draw
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).
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
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.
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’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
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.
22. AstroPad Studio
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.