If you need a full-fat iPad alternative to Photoshop, Pixelmator is about as good as it gets. Whether you simply want to enhance or touch up some photography, or go the whole hog and paint detailed, layered images from scratch, it has you covered with a heavyweight set of tools, brushes and effects.
Adjust the Settings to match your painting style and workflow
Adobe Illustrator Draw is a digital sketchbook that enables you to express yourself in vector format wherever you go. A sister app to Illustrator CC, this drawing app for your iPad has a simple UI, designed for quickly sketching out ideas and concepts.
18. Brushes ReduxDownload Brushes Redux US: FreeDownload Brushes Redux UK: Free
The app enables you to draw perfectly straight lines and geometric shapes, rename layers, and use shapes from Adobe Capture CC. An enhanced perspective grid also means you can map shapes to a perspective plane.
Prismacolor’s graphite drawing set is a good introductory kit when starting to sketch. It comes with seven graphite drawing pencils of different grades, as well as four woodless graphite pencils. These create beautiful, broad strokes when used on their side, and allow you to experiment with a variety of tools. As an added bonus, the pencil set includes water-soluble graphite pencils, which transform into a wash when brushed with water. All told, the drawing kit is a great way to start sketching seriously.
Inkist has a range of simple, customisable brushes. Support for pressure-sensitive styluses is available natively (accessible through the ever-present tool palette) so you do have some more flexibility with your strokes, although with a standard stylus we found simple, quick taps were not always tremendously effective.
As well as the new drawing engine, Zen Brush 2 has a gallery feature that enables you to save your work in progress, as well as an ink dispersion effect to give your drawings an added feeling of depth.
Tayasui Sketches is one of the most delightfully simple drawing and painting iPad apps that we’ve found. It features eight brushes along the left-hand side, ranging from pencil and charcoal to felt pen and watercolour brush, with a further two available in the pro version.
Procreate is powerful, fast and intuitive, and enables you to create large, complex works of art on your iPad Pro.
12. Tayasui SketchesDownload Tayasui Sketches US: FreeDownload Tayasui Sketches UK: Free
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Compatible with the fourth-generation iPad and above, or iPad Mini 2 and above, if you want to create professional-looking artwork but are on a budget, this is the iPad app for you.
A particularly great feature of this app is the integrated online community. Here you can upload your sketches to let others rate and comment on your work, as well as enter daily challenges and fun weekly competitions.
Like the PC and Mac versions, the ArtRage drawing app for iPad art is overflowing with options (we gave ArtRage five stars in our review). There’s a variety of canvas presets and paper options, plus a wide array of brushes, pencils, crayons, rollers, and pastels.
Figuring out the best pencils to bring your sketches and designs to life can appear challenging, but much of it comes down to personal preference. Once you get the hang of which brand you prefer, you can mix and match different pencil grades in order to expand your sketching capabilities. You’ll see that much of what we suggest are pencil sets, which allows you to experiment with a wide variety of lines and shading, but each brand will also sell their pencils individually once you need to restock.
Pixelmator’s the next best thing to a full Photoshop for iPad
Download Affinity Photo US: $19.99Download Affinity Photo UK: £19.99
Designed exclusively for landscape mode, this iPad art app is no good for creating polished pieces, but to get down quick sketch concepts when creating art on the iPad it’s definitely worth a look.
If you’re new to digital art and so after a brilliant-but-basic drawing app for your iPad, look no further than MediBang Paint. An easy-to-use program, MediBang has similar features to Photoshop, including layers, with the ability to add styles and a handy brush editor. In fact, MediBang is full of brilliant painting and drawing tools, so much so it’s hard to believe it’s free.
Affinity Photo for iPad won the 2017 Apple App of the Year award
If professional brushes are your thing, Affinity Photo is a drawing app for iPad complete with more than 120 digital brushes including effects, dry media, inks, markers, and more. You can also create your own brushes and switch on dynamics, giving you complete control over pressure, angle, tilt and velocity.
Using a basic toolbar at the bottom of the screen, you can bring up a colour wheel/picker, work with layers and switch between various brushes. Best of all, perhaps, Brushes is fast and responsive to the touch so it’s easy to work quickly.
Available in different sets filled with a wide variety of grades, both beginners and professionals swear by Derwent. You can select between soft, medium, and hard sets depending on your subject matter and people note that the pencils are easy to sharpen to a point, as well as a flat shape. This allows for detailed work, as well as shading. And the hexagonal shape makes them easy to grip.
With Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, the size and opacity of brush strokes react instantly to applied pressure, tilt angle and orientation for unprecedented creative control on a mobile device. Give one of the brushes from the Graphite Pencils set a try with Apple Pencil and iPad Pro and you’ll quickly forget that you’re not using an actual pencil and paper.
Sketch Club has an uncluttered user interface, with lots of settings to customise the app to your own unique preferences.
While its interface isn’t as intuitive as some of the other drawing apps for iPad listed here, ArtStudio for iPad rewards patient exploration of its features. And it’s jam-packed with them.
Another full-featured desktop paint app that recently came to the iPad is Clip Studio Paint. Clip Studio Paint is great for drawing comics and manga – however, it can be used to create any kind of digital art. It’s also one of the few out there that brings the feel of traditional drawing to the digital space, making this the perfect app for creating your illustrations and sketches while on the go.
Sketch Club has a great set of tools for creating beautiful digital art. The app has a unique set of flexible digital brushes (44 in total, but more can be made), pens, vector tools, old school pixel art, and fun procedural tools.
And you can export your work to Illustrator or Photoshop CC. Naturally you’ll need a Creative Cloud account (subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud here), but if you’re planning on using Photoshop Sketch as a stand-alone app then you’ll only need the basic free version.
The multitouch pinch and zoom functionality enables you to add fine detail with ease. You can also choose from different paper colours and textures, or import your own photos.
SketchBook by Autodesk is one of the most popular iPad paint apps with digital artists. As you’d expect from Autodesk, SketchBook has all the swagger of a pro-grade painting program, but with an experience designed for those looking to create art on the iPad.
Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch Pencil Art Set (set of 12)
Woodless pencils may cost a bit more, but they generally last longer than the typical wood-encased pencils. Cretacolor woodless pencils are perfect for shading and the graphite in them is water-soluble, allowing you to create soft washes over the page. Creatacolor’s kit also comes with a kneaded eraser and sharpener, giving you all the tools you need in one box.
There’s support for pressure-sensitive styluses (not to mention Apple Pencil if you have an iPad Pro) and best of all you’re no longer restricted to black ink – now you can use red ink too.
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14. Paper by FiftythreeDownload Paper by Fiftythree US: FreeDownload Paper by Fiftythree UK: Free
Developed by Indeedo, this easy-to-use drawing app for iPad is compatible with both the Mac and iPhone versions via iCloud and Dropbox, letting you save your masterpieces on the go for straightforward editing across devices later down the line.
You can layer, stack and position shapes however you want, and even create your own building blocks by cutting out, combining and intersecting existing shapes. If you need to prototype in a hurry, it’s an ideal tool for getting professional results fast.
This cool paint app is like having a virtual art set inside your iPad. Having made it to number one paid iPad app in over 30 countries since its release, Art Set has all the tools an artist could possibly want, including chalks, charcoal, oil pastels, wax crayons, graphite pencils, coloured pencils and marker pens.
Procreate has over 120 brushes available by default, with 12 pre-set brushes featuring advanced ‘paint loading’ and ‘wetness’ settings for a more realistic look. Plus there’s a built-in a brush editor for creating custom brushes, which enable you to define brush shape and grain.
It’ll even open layered Photoshop images, so you can start work on your desktop and then carry on with it while you’re on the move. And if you have an iPad Pro you’ll find full Apple Pencil compatibility, featuring palm rejection, pressure, tilt, and acceleration sensitivity.
Inspire Pro has one of the fastest and most realistic rendering engines on the App Store, delivering a fluid and natural painting, drawing and sketching experience to your iPad.
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Once you understand the type of lines you can expect from your pencils, it’s easy to mix and match to put together a graphite pencil set that will cover your needs as an artist.
Download Photoshop Sketch US: FreeDownload Photoshop Sketch UK: Free
This app comes packed with drawing tools like pencils, markers, calligraphy pens and air brushes. And because the drawing engine works so well with the Apple Pencil, you’ll have a full range of pressure-sensitive dynamics to get your line work perfect.
Don’t be scared by the price. Caran D’ache is for serious sketchers looking to up their drawing game. As Switzerland’s only pencil maker, the brand has carried out exacting studies to get things just right, making them the favorite of many artists. This gift set will get you 15 graphic pencils, 3 water-soluble graphite pencils, plus accessories. Some say they are the best drawing pencils on the market, and that once you try them, you’ll never go back.
There’s a wide range of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes to choose from, all accessed via a simple but intuitive UI that lets you pin toolbars to the screen for easy access.
The act of painting in Procreate 4 is even more delightful than previous versions of the software, making it one of the best drawing apps for iPad users. The app incorporates an unobtrusive UI with easy access sliders, which enable you to quickly adjust the size of your brush/opacity as you work. It saves time and lets you concentrate on what you’re painting rather than getting distracted by pop-up menus.
It’s flexible and fast, too, enabling you to work with layers, transparency options, annotations and advanced blend modes. With Dropbox integration plus the ability to import and export Photoshop-friendly files, it’s an ideal iPad art app for working on the move. With a good stylus, a good digital artist can create a variety of art on the iPad, from a quick sketch to a more involved and detailed digital painting.
10. Clip Studio Paint EXDownload Clip Studio Paint EX US: FreeDownload Clip Studio Paint EX UK: Free
In its quest for realistic art on the iPad, you can paint directly onto the screen or apply a glob of paint with one tool and smear it around with another. ArtRage also features a dedicated watercolour brush option, which can produce some striking effects.
Digital art 19 best painting and drawing apps for iPad 19 best painting and drawing apps for iPad
This digital art app for the iPad is currently free to download
If you’re looking for something to make quick sketches with, with the minimum of fuss, then Paper by Fiftythree is well worth checking out. Its uncluttered interface – no menu bars or buttons here – strips back the sketching experience to the bare essentials and turns your iPad into a selection of virtual journals, with pages to thumb through for easy viewing.
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17. ArtStudioDownload ArtStudio US: $4.99Download ArtStudio UK: £4.99
Faber-Castell is a German brand known for high-quality art supplies, and the Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch pencils are no exception. The brand makes sets with a variety of grades included or you can purchase single packs of pencils in each grade. Known for their consistency and durability, they sharpen easily and don’t often break. Plus, Faber-Castell’s handy tin makes the pencils highly portable. It’s no wonder they are an artist favorite, no matter the style or skill level.
Sporting 150 brushes – including oil paint, airbrushes, spray paint, pencils, crayons, markers, chalk, charcoal, pastels and paint splatters – Inspire Pro has a wide variety of high-quality and customisable tools for you to choose from.
Best Graphite Drawing PencilsDerwent Medium Graphic Drawing Pencils (set of 12)
Rather than try to recreate the full Photoshop experience on iPad, Adobe has instead focused on the platform’s strengths to provide a powerful tool for sketching and painting. Photoshop Sketch features tools including a graphite pencil, ink pen and watercolour brushes, with adjustable size, colour, opacity and blending settings.
Once you know what type of artwork you need the pencil for, you need to understand the different grades of graphite pencils. Even though we often refer to lead in pencils, there is actually no component of lead used in them. Whereas colored pencils are made with wax and pigment, graphite pencils are a mixture of graphite and clay. The combination of these two components allows for smooth strokes, but graphite pencils will give different lines depending on how much clay is present. Generally, the more clay in the pencil, the harder the pencil—and lighter the stroke—will be.
The sequel to the popular Zen Brush takes what its predecessor does best – emulating the feel of painting with traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes – and builds upon it, with a new drawing engine that’s smoother and more fluent than before, making it even easier to lose yourself in the process of creating beautiful Zen art.
And while we’ve gone over how to select the best colored pencils, there are a whole other set of considerations when thinking about the right graphite pencil to add to your collection. In fact, you’ll probably—like most artists—wind up using several different pencils depending on the effect you’re looking for.
Procreate received a significant technological overhaul under the hood with iOS 11
Download Inspire Pro US: $7.99Download Inspire Pro UK: £7.99
Download Adobe Illustrator Draw US: FreeDownload Adobe Illustrator Draw UK: Free
05. Zen Brush 2Download Zen Brush 2 US: $2.99Download Zen Brush 2 UK: £2.99
It offers a range of features, including simple vector-based drawing tools with separate drawing and photo layers as well as the ability to sync to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. With this feature, you can also download Adobe Illustrator-compatible files and work with them.
Download Sketch Club US: $2.99Download Sketch Club UK: £2.99
Like many of the other iPad art apps here, there’s an easy-to-use colour picker (with customisable swatches), layer options, a fast and responsive zoom, good smudging/blending options and great undo functionality.
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A quick look at the best iPad apps for creating digital art proves that Apple’s tablet has moved beyond mere media consumption, and is fast becoming ripe for content creation. The iPad Pro with iOS 11 or the new iPad 9.7 teamed with an Apple Pencil is now a powerful creative tool to rival a desktop with design software, meaning that digital creatives trying to figure out how to draw on the go need look no further.
Rather than painstakingly draw everything out yourself, you can choose from an enormous selection of ready-made shapes and stick them together to create your vector masterpiece.
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If you’re an illustrator, artist or graphic designer, you can now work effectively on the move – sketching, painting, prototyping and annotating photos. Try one of these amazing drawing apps for iPad users.
Built from the same back end as its award-winning desktop version, Affinity Photo for iPad is fully optimised for iOS 11. Need to work with a Photoshop file? No problem! Affinity Photo supports importing, editing, and exporting of PSD files. It also supports PNG, JPG, TIFF, EPS, PDG, and SVG.
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For a good value, you can’t beat Lyra Art Design Pencils. The graphite is rigid enough that it works for technical drawing, and with 17 different grades available, there’s no shortage of shading you can accomplish. One reviewer writes, “The finest pencils for drawing. High-quality graphite that is smooth and easy to blend. A wide variety of hardness for all your artwork needs.”
In the United States, we commonly think of the number 2 pencil, which is standard for schools and test taking. The American number scale for pencils ranges 1 to 4 (including 2.5), but the rest of the world uses a different grading scale. Most manufacturers use the HB scale, where “H” stands for hardness and “B” for blackness. A standard number 2 pencil corresponds to HB on this scale.
Keep in mind that most artists use more than one type of pencil. In fact, many manufacturers sell drawing pencil sets that come with a selection of graphite pencils in different grades. This will allow you to switch between tools depending on the requirements of a particular image.
Best Drawing Pencils for Professionals and Beginners Who Love to Sketch
There are over 20 different brushes, various different canvas sizes and options that include layers, layer masks, filters and effects. ArtStudio also includes step-by-step drawing lessons/tutorials plus the handy ability to export your artwork to Photoshop for further fiddling.
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The Prismacolor Ebony Graphite pencil, which has a 2B grading, is a beautiful choice for rich, velvety lines. Easily blendable and soft, while they won’t create jet black lines—they get close for graphite. You’ll need to sharpen often due to their softness, and many swear by them for shading that is difficult to achieve without using charcoal.
This cool app is like having a virtual art set inside your iPad
Assembly is a great way to create detailed vector graphics, icons, logos, scenes and characters without all that fiddly mucking about with vectors and Bézier curves.
You can layer and rearrange your images, use perspective and graph grids to help align your creations, and there’s support for pretty much any stylus you care to think of.
The HB scale ranges from 9H, a hard pencil that leaves fine, light marks, to 9B, a soft pencil which a high ratio of graphite that leaves bold, dark marks. While every manufacturer gives each pencil a designation on the scale, it’s all relative within a given brand, so remember that a 6H pencil from one manufacturer might give a slightly different stroke than a 6H pencil from another.
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the interface, it’s easy to change brush sizes, bring up the colour picker, work with layers and blend/smudge different elements together.
When selecting the perfect graphite pencil, the first thing to take into consideration is your drawing style. Technical drawing and detailed artwork with fine lines will require different pencils than those used for shading and sketching figures. Do you use dark, thick lines in your sketches or prefer lighter, thinner strokes? Understanding your personal artistic style and needs will help you narrow down the selection when searching for a good drawing pencil.
In most creative fields, it’s impossible to get away from one important tool—the pencil. It doesn’t matter if you’re an architect, a professional fine artist, or you’re just learning to draw; a good graphite pencil is an essential part of any artist’s supplies.
Unfortunately, there’s some noticeable lag when moving and scaling your artwork. This takes the shine off what is an incredibly flexible painting program for creating iPad art.
Promising a desktop-class standard of editing, Graphic has been touted as the iOS answer to Adobe Illustrator. As well as containing all of the drawing tools you need to create amazing art and detailed technical drawings, Graphic now comes with variable-width brush strokes and pressure-sensitive drawing support for the Apple Pencil.
In the app, which is based on its Mac cousin, you build up layers of colour and flatten them down on the background rather than relying on multiple layers. Although it might not be to everyone’s taste, for many traditional artists, this will be of real benefit.
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Japanese manufacturer Tombow is known for their high-density pencils, meaning they sharpen easily and the point stays longer. The Mono pencil is known to run a bit dark and is virtually smudge-proof. The dark lines of the Tombow Mono can almost mimic inks, making it a favorite of artists who focus on linework and tracing.
Inkist benefits from a simple but stylish interface that’s been designed to be highly responsive and artist-friendly.
Many artists swear by Staedtler’s range of drawing pencils. Their Mars Lumograph is known for its consistency and lack of breakage, making them great for detailed work. They also erase cleanly, meaning you won’t be left with stray smudges on the paper. Staedtler’s standard set provides 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H drawing pencils, making it extremely versatile. “I’ve been using Staedtler Lumograph professionally for over 30 years and in that time I’ve found no better,” says artist and art educator Mike Sibley. “I even give them away at my workshops.”
Graphic is packed with tools to take your digital art to the next level
Legendary artist David Hockney has been spotted using the Brushes app when creating art on the iPad. It’s an oldie but a goodie, designed specifically for Apple’s tablet and now updated with the ‘Redux’ suffix – and it’s free and open-source.
A useful feature of Brushes is the ability to record each brush stroke, enabling you to play back exactly how you created each piece of iPad art via the Brushes viewer.
Baffled by Béziers? Assembly makes it easy to create vector art
Each one exhibits its respective characteristics brilliantly, meaning it’s simple to just pick a brush and start sketching. Although limited in terms of editing options, they’re a delight to use, and in the pro version you’re at least able to increase the size and shape as well as edit the blend mode.
Artists of any skill level can create digital art with SketchBook