You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Drawing With Your iPad

The iPad has become an amazing tool for artists. The iPad has tons of great drawing apps. These include apps that are as simple as finger painting apps and apps that are pretty powerful and complex. This AppGuide will help you pick out the best drawing app for your needs.

Essential Apps

Brushes – iPad Edition

by Steve Sprang

Brushes an the essential drawing and painting app for the iPad. The app features 19 different brushes, up to six layers, and TV output to share your work. The app also can enhance your layers by reordering, merging, and changing the transparency of those layers. The app can also import photos that you can draw on top of. This feature is great for music students wanting a manuscript paper app. You can simply import sheet music and use the app to create music. The app also includes five blend modes, great color selection and Flickr/email sharing. The app also features the ability to play back your artwork. This will play back all of the different things you did while drawing your masterpiece. The app also can send photos to your built-in photos app. The app has simply tons of features all wrapped around the best user interface available. If you are looking for a simply great drawing app for the iPad this is it.


by Ambient Design Ltd.

As they say, different strokes for different folks. Art Rage is more recent offering that is growing in popularity with a devoted fan base. It offers some interesting features that Brushes does not. For one thing, you can squeeze paint onto your screen and manipulate it with your palette knife. Another interesting feature is that you can adjust the wetness of the brush and paper to create watercolor paintings to your specification. You can import your own photos and convert them to oil for smearing, or use them as a reference image to create something new. And of course, Art Rage has the expected features like unlimited layers and undo/redo, blend modes including all Photoshop standards, and a nice variety of drawing/painting tools at your disposal. It has even been updated to take advantage of the iPad 2's increased speed. It's not perfect -- in my testing I found the onscreen tools (which are supposed to get out of the artist's way) sometimes did get in my way. Is it better or not as good as Brushes? They are both great options with slightly different features.

Paper by FiftyThree

by FiftyThree, Inc.

This one burst onto the scene and immediately became the darling of artists and non-artists alike. It is just so easy to pick up and start using, with or without a stylus. Its free price tag makes it an absolute must-download, though of course, in-app purchases unlock even more features. It's simply beautiful on the iPad's retina display and a pleasure to use.

Notable Apps

ArtStudio for iPad - draw, paint and edit photo

by Lucky Clan

ArtStudio is another option for those wanting to create artwork on their iPad. The app includes 30 brushes. These include pencils, brushes, a wet brush, an eraser, a smudge tool, an airbrush and many more. The app also includes a text tool to add captions or other text to your painting. The app also includes 17 drawing lessons. These are great for those that still need to learn how to draw effectively. The app will also simulate brush pressure to help your paintings look more realistic. The app can also insert various images onto six different layers. The app includes many more features and is a great alternative to the essential apps.

Adobe Ideas

by Adobe

Adobe Ideas is the free alternative to the essential apps. The app includes the ability to import photos do draw over and includes two layers. The app includes a $4.99 in-app upgrade to include up to 10 layers. The brush size is changed by a simple slider. The slider makes brush size highly customizable. The color selection is just as customizable. The app includes great opacity controls and includes a 50 level undo/redo support. The app can send photos through email or to your photos app. If you are looking for a great free alternative to the essential apps and really don't need all the advanced features, then this is the app for you.

SketchBook Pro for iPad

by Autodesk Inc.

The major paid alternative to essential apps has to be SketchBook Pro. The app includes several multitouch controls to enable faster drawing. The app includes 75 preset brushes that include pencils, pens, markers, and photo brushes. The app features 10 layers of undo/redo support. The app includes six layers to draw on. The app can also blend layers and enable transparent layers. The app also now has a template library which include different grids, reference paper and more. The app has a variety of photo sharing built into it and can even export to the Photoshop format. The app is much harder to use than Brushes. The user interface in our testing was much harder to understand and begin using immediately. If you have a fair amount of time to learn how the app works this can be a simply fantastic tool. Anyone wanting to start drawing great things out of the box should grab one of our essential apps instead.

Decent Apps

Drawing Pad

by Darren Murtha Design

Drawing Pad is an app aimed to take on the finger painting market. The app comes with some great stickers and backdrops to draw on. The app includes tons of different drawing tools including: crayons, pencils, markers, pens, and much more. The app has a great interface enabling even children to use the app. The app can send your photos to Twitter, Facebook and to anyone through email. The app is not nearly as powerful as the other apps available, but it does offer a fun environment to get your ideas out there.

Sketches 2

by LateNiteSoft S.L.

Sketches was among the first apps available to draw on the iPhone. It was available before the App Store was even out with the original iPhone. The new Sketches 2 app will run on both your iPhone and your iPad. The app is not as powerful as some of the other apps. The app does provide a fun and easy way to draw some more “light-hearted” works. The user interface is dead simple and enables even children to use this app. The app is loaded up with tons of clip art that can be dragged and dropped onto your canvas. The app includes a background layer. The background layer is pretty cool. It can be swapped out between built in Google maps, your own photos, and built in backgrounds. The app can export your drawings to your photos app, through Twitter, email or to your computer in PDF, JPG, or PNG formats. The app is simply great for those looking for a very simple app to get your ideas out visually. The app is not nearly as powerful as the essential or notable apps.

Procreate – Sketch, paint, create.

by Savage Interactive Pty Ltd

This is a deceptively simple app with a devoted following. The focus is on brushes (there are eight) rather than tons of different art tools. The interface is uncluttered and the app doesn't have the "bloat" associated with some of the more feature-heavy apps. Even with just a few tools in its repertoire, this app is a fantastic means for artists to create amazing works of art. It's also an easy-to-use app for doodlers.

Other Apps
Related Appguides