Top 5 Drawing Apps for iPad

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Many professional artists use the iPad as their primary tool due to its performance, ease of use, and quality software. In this article, we will talk about drawing on an iPad for every taste and what software solutions you should pay attention to if you want to try yourself as a creator.

Autodesk SketchBook
Download from the App Store


The best option for entering digital art on the iPad.

Autodesk is the largest developer of software for construction, mechanical engineering and graphics work. Their products are industry standards in many areas: 3DS Max and Maya in the field of 3D graphics, AutoCAD among CAD systems. Some of their programs are distributed under student or teacher licenses with a long free period. Some are completely free . Like Sketchbook. And this is his first advantage.


Easy to use
At the first acquaintance, SketchBook does not scare you with a bunch of tools and functions. The interface is minimalistic and friendly. This is not to say that SketchBook is not suitable for creating complex digital paintings. It has enough functionality, but without busting .

Brushes out of the box
The brushes are easy to set up, and the default brushes are pretty good without the extra tweaks.


Export to PSD
PSD remains the industry standard, so it definitely won’t be superfluous. In addition, if the native functions are not enough to implement the idea, you can always continue it in Photoshop on the desktop.

The main advantage is absolutely free use. Without restrictions of any functions, without advertising, without tariffs and subscriptions. Even if you want to throw money to the developer, it will not work. Real free software .

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They are few, but they are significant.

You can’t name layers or group them. You can assign a color label to a layer. A total of 8 colored labels are available . Further labels will be repeated. For simple sketching, in most cases it will be enough. With more serious creativity, problems and confusions are bound to arise.

You can’t change the canvas size. Sometimes it is very necessary. You can only create a new project with the desired dimensions, and manually recopy all layers. Well, it’s very inconvenient.

Affinity Designer
Download from the App Store


One of the best solutions for working with vector graphics on the iPad. The British company Serif Europe planned the Affinity product line as a competitor to the giants from Adobe . Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer act as alternatives to Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, respectively.

Affinity products were originally developed for MacOS . Hence, deep integration with native elements of the operating system, so the programs of this line work like clockwork. And uninterrupted operation, lack of lags, resource optimization and, in general, a complimentary relationship with the OS – all this can be the determining factors for professional work.

The application is only available on desktop devices (MacOs, Windows) and iPad. The application cannot be used on iPhones and Android phones . Hence the first feature.

High level of optimization
The app is very fast, especially on the more expensive versions of the iPad . Sharpening for hardware and native components of the operating system make themselves felt.

A complete set of tools for creating logos, complex illustrations, even website and app interfaces. Full-fledged work with curves, grids and rulers, flexible brush settings, work with layers and multiple artboards. It is also possible to fully work with raster graphics. Here they made a sketch, here it was outlined with curves.


Support for popular formats
Png, jpeg, eps, svg, pdf, and even psd. ai format is not supported. In other matters, you can do without it, given the presence of more universal extensions, such as svg.

$ 21.99 – on the one hand, the price is not small. On the other hand, Adobe Illustrator, the main competitor, costs $20.99 per month. Affinity Designer is a one time payment . Given that this is a professional tool that provides quality and speed of work, such a price is a gift.

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Entry threshold
Designer is much simpler than the same illustrator. But the tool is professional, so you can’t figure it out right off the bat. There are quite a lot of functions, and such an abundance can simply scare a beginner. Despite the rather convenient interface and the location of the tools, you will have to additionally look through the manuals and guides. Fortunately, there are a lot of them on the Internet.

No trial
There is no free trial period. Therefore, before buying, you should think carefully and study the question of whether this application is right for you.


Time-lapse from the cool Australian illustrator RSKT

Zen brush 3
Download from the App Store


The most unusual and conceptual specimen in this collection.

Zen brush 3 is an application of the Japanese company PSOFT . They develop graphics applications and custom plugins for Autodesk ‘s 3DS Max and Maya .

Zen brush 3 imitates ink painting. It will be appreciated by fans of calligraphy and sumi-e style – Japanese fine art. However, lovers of watercolor Zen brush 3 will also like it.

Only available on Apple devices.


The application has limited functionality. It is rather minimalistic, but each tool is implemented very high quality and beautifully.

Adjusting the wetness and dryness of the brush
You can write with rich juicy lines by making the brush more wet. Or use a dry brush to make sharp and textured lines with characteristic tails that mimic scratches from hairs.

Water tool
It can be used to blur mascara. A classic watercolor technique. Paint when blurring behaves quite realistically.


Responsiveness to pressure and tilt of the stylus
Zen Brush 3 captures more detail with pressure and stylus angle. Thus, the texture becomes more diverse natural.



Set of ready texture backgrounds
Notebook, paper, wooden tablets, papyrus and other exotic surfaces. There are even several 3D 3D templates that can be rotated in three planes and applied on top of drawings.

There are few of them, and in general they are not critical. Most of them are rather features of the genre. But it is impossible not to mention them.

The application is completely paid without trial periods. But the payment is one-time, without a subscription. The cost in the App Store is 449 rubles. The app is also available on Android devices. In the Play Market, it costs a little more – 469 rubles.

Modest functionality
There are no hundreds and thousands of brushes, flexible color settings and other drawing chips. This cannot be clearly called a minus. Still, this application has its own idea and philosophy, which are implemented by a small number of the highest quality and realistic tools.

There are very few materials, guides and reviews on the network for Zen Brush 3. The application is quite specific and targeted at a specific audience. On the other hand, it is intuitive. And it’s hard to get confused in five instruments.

No export to PSD
The application has a layer system, but there is no way to export files with their preservation. This can significantly complicate professional work. For amateur creativity, this should not be a significant hindrance.

Download from the App Store


We got to the animation. A relatively new application that retains the basic principles of the best iOS applications : a clear and simple interface, deep integration for Apple hardware and software, a set of only the necessary tools, while honed almost to perfection.

The Callipeg app is only available on the iPad.


Excellent pen stabilization
It is implemented at the level of top drawers. There is no feeling of trembling and inaccuracy. As if you are using a regular graphics editor, and not an animation tool, where the drawing functions are implemented haphazardly.

Minimalistic interface
Nothing ruffles and does not distract from work. There are exactly as many tools as necessary for full-fledged creativity. There is nothing superfluous.


Convenient timeline
Intuitive work with the timeline. Overall, the app is very easy to make friends with. A person who has experience working with animation in serious editors will be able to figure it out even without tutorials. For complete beginners, you still have to study a couple of guides (types of animation, working with keys, etc.).


Working with layers
Easily created, swapped, hidden, blocked and deleted. Lots of settings, but no clutter. There are no restrictions on the number of layers.

Import and export PSD
Once again confirms the professionalism of the application. Recall that PSD is one of the industry standards.

Video import
Load and draw your animations directly on top. Stories and reels can be taken to the next level with custom animations.

Twice a minute. This function should already become a standard in any editors and applications where you have to work with data.

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No progress bar on export
With heavy projects, there is discomfort when exporting. How long to wait is unclear. With large projects, you can wait several hours, so it’s not clear whether everything is frozen, or the export is already at the finish line.

Heavy load on the system
Quite expected from an application that works with video formats. Do not be alarmed if the tablet starts to noticeably warm up. Especially on younger models with simpler hardware.

No guides
Pretty serious shortcoming. The presence of rulers and guides greatly simplifies the process and ensures accuracy when storyboarding.

69 rubles per month, or 699 rubles per year. For those who do not like subscriptions, there is an opportunity to “redeem” the application for 4690 rubles. But this amount cannot be called comfortable for the application.

Juicy speedpaint animated logo in Callipeg

Download from the App Store


A favorite of the public and a frequenter of all the top drawers on tablets. Procreate has long been associated with a professional tool. And some artists work only in it. Artists and illustrators from Disney, Ubisoft, Blizzard, Pixar and other famous studios work with this application.


Reference minimalism. Beautiful, unobtrusive design, all the tools are hidden, nothing interferes and does not dazzle before your eyes.

The developers of Procreate are the masters of user experience (UX). Using the app is a pleasure. You get used to Procreate very quickly and reach a state where you don’t even think about choosing a tool and where to look for it. I literally want to go back to drawing.

It is difficult to imagine what work has been done to optimize the application for the OS and hardware, but the feeling of drawing is incredible. The lag of the stroke from the stylus is not felt at all. It is especially pleasant to work in Procreate on iPads with a laminated screen, where there is no layer between the screen display plane and the “writing” surface.

Touch commands
In the absence of a keyboard, touch commands become indispensable helpers. For example, tapping with two fingers on the screen cancels the action. Almost classic ctrl + z .

One click and speedpaint is ready. It remains only to add music and upload to Instagram.

Quite a few are built-in, and many of them are already ready to go out of the box. At the same time, there are a lot of settings: stabilization, shape, grain, humidity, and so on. Of course, all this is neatly hidden and organized .


While this function has not become a standard, we will write it in dignity.

It is quite suitable for creating micro-rollers and gif-pictures. Those who understand animation should not expect anything special from Procreate. Procreate is not a graphics/animation editor. This is a graphics editor with animation function. There is a difference.

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899 rubles for the purchase of the application. This is not a subscription, but a one-time payment. For the best application in its segment, not so much money. You have to pay for good things. Apple users should definitely be aware of this.

Layer limit
The disadvantage of this point is also relative. On the one hand, no one likes restrictions. On the other hand, it’s for the benefit of the user. The number of layers depends on two parameters: on the specified canvas resolution and on the hardware of the iPad itself. The smaller the canvas size and the more powerful the iPad, the more layers. And, in order to avoid brakes and unforeseen problems, the developer deliberately restrains the user’s Wishlist. With a weak iPad and high resolution, the number of layers can be reduced to 8 pieces. This is hardly enough even for a mediocre picture. But even such gigantic resolutions are used infrequently.

Time-lapse from Procreate branded channel by Thai artist Asuka111

On serious devices and programs are serious. Today there are many artists who use the iPad as their main tool, but so far there are no revolutions in the professional environment .

There are standards, there is teamwork, there are complex tasks that the tablet user does not face. But, as an additional tool, and sometimes the main one, it is quite possible to choose very worthy software solutions. Not to mention the needs of beginners or amateur enthusiasts.

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