Whether your discipline is sketching, painting or designing – or you dabble in all of these – there’s never been a better time to capture creative thoughts and inspiration on your iPad while you’re out and about.
Procreate 3.2 has just launched with new features including live recording, faster Layer workflow and bigger brush sizes, not to mention reliable apps Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, among others, remaining hugely popular.
With Apple honing in on the power of their mobile devices for creative professionals, a whole host of artist apps are also emerging.
We’ve put together a list of the 12 best, which will let you unlock your talent, and potential (if illustration is still new to you). Pair this software with one of our
six favourite iPad styli and you've got a winning combination. For more information on best Android and iPhone apps for designers and artists, skip to the end of the list.
Read on to discover our favourite iPad apps for artists, to help you decide where to start, but do let us know what sketching and painting apps you depend on.
This is a popular entry from Savage Interactive. It’s won the Apple Design Award and the App Store Essential, and its latest version is out now from the App Store.
Procreate lets artists paint, sketch and draw using the powerful 64-bit app for iPads. It's available for iOS 10 and above.
The Holiday Update, Procreate 3.2, allows artists to record live videos or pre-record to share their talent with other artists. It also provides a more efficient workflow with layers and lets you use brush sizes as big as 1600px - up from 400px. Check out all the new features
The additional Streamline technology stabilises strokes in real-time, and you can add layers, colours and filters to your sketch. Export options include PDF and PSD.
In addition, Procreate’s Early Access features Perspective Guide and Perspective Assist - providing one, two or three-point perspectives to complex scenes.
Early Access is a currently a once-off in-app purchase, but is expected to be integrated for free in the next major release.
Procreate 3.2 is available for £4.49 or US$5.99 from the
iOS App Store - or it's a free update.
Pixelmator may be a photo editor, but it also comes with powerful and effective painting and graphic design features.
When sketching and painting, you can choose from more than 100 brushes (including double-texture brushes), watercolours, and the pixel brush.
This app works with the Apple Pencil on your iPad Pro, featuring palm rejection, pressure, tilt and acceleration sensitivity.
Graphic design features include using blending layers, shapes and text, whilst adding features like shadows, outlines and gradient fills.
Pixelmator 2.3 comes with many small but helpful selection improvements.
Pixelmator is available for £3.99 or US$4.99 from the
iOS App Store.
This is a professional graphic design and illustration app designed for artists on the go –working seamlessly on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.
Although it’s a little on the pricey side, it may be worth the investment if you’re wanting a polished look on your graphics.
The app allows you to create complex vector-based PDF and SVG files using the powerful pen tool for customised shapes.
This app offers layer effects such as shadows, glow, multiple strokes and fills, as well as canvas scale, rulers and units to create dimensions with precision.
You can also use classic brush and pencil tools for fluid drawing and sketching.
This app is available for £6.99 or US$8.99 from the
iOS App Store.
Inkist by Tai Shimizue is a painting app that comes with customisable brushes and tools any artists would expect for advanced painting software.
The interface is simple, with minimal taps required to switch between tools, and the latest update supports the newest styluses such as Adonit, Wacom and the Pogo Connect.
The apps features three layers with blend modes, opacity, and opacity-locking settings. You can then export your work as a PNG, PSD, proprietary ISImage file format and as individual layer files.
However it’s worth mentioning there are a few PSD limitations – such as no support of layer settings, layers above the bottom three layers will be flattened into the top Inkist layer, and Inkist may have trouble opening images significantly larger than their maximum canvas size – 2048x2048.
The app is free to download from the
iOS App Store.
Adobe Photoshop Sketch presents artists with familiar Photoshop drawing tools, including a graphite pencil, ink pen, blending markers and an eraser, as well as brushes including acrylic and pastel. Brushes saved previously in Adobe Capture CC can also be used.
You can send sketches directly to desktop Photoshop CC or Illlustrator to perfect them even further.
Photoshop Sketch supports the latest styluses from Adonit and Wacom, as well as Pencil by FiftyThree, Adobe Ink and the new Apple Pencil for iPad Pro.
Wacom’s new smartpads, or Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch review for artists and designers.
You'll get access to Photoshop Sketch at no additional cost as part of your Creative Cloud membership.
Adobe Sketch is
available from the iOS App Store.
You can create vector art with Illustrator Draw, with lots of handy tools at your fingertips to make the experience easier and more efficient.
You can zoom up to 64x to apply fine details and customise your toolbar and brushes. Adobe Ink and Apple Pencil (with iPad Pro), Pencil by 53 and Adonit and Wacom styluses work alongside this app.
You'll be able to create perfect lines and curves thanks to the Touch Slide digital ruler, and add images from multiple sources including the Creative Cloud market for tracing and collage.
2GB of complimentary storage for file syncing and sharing comes with the basic level of Creative Cloud membership.
As with Photoshop Sketch, Illustrator Draw comes included in your Creative Cloud subscription, and is free to download from the
iOS App Store.
The latest version of Autodesk’s Sketchbook app has a feature that hides interface elements which can sometimes get a little too close for comfort when drawing. The update also got rid of the Sign In requirement but added an Import from Camera option.
The app is a tool for drawing, sketching and painting on your iPad. It's free, but we recommend paying for the Pro in-app purchase to get your hands on a wealth of additional tools.
Downloading the free app will get you a selection of 10 preset brushes, synthetic pressure-sensitivity, a layer editor with up to three layers and 16 blending modes, and symmetry and proportional transform tools.
But if you're up for paying the £2.99 or US$4.99 for the in-app purchase of the Pro features, you'll get more than 100 brushes, the full Copic Color Library, more layers and blending modes, gradient fills and advanced selection tools.
You can purchase a SketchBook subscription using your iTunes account on your mobile device. SketchBook Pro features across all Mac and iOS devices with a single purchase.
You can download Autodesk Sketchbook from the
iOS App Store .
We love Tayasui Sketches for sketching out ideas when we're out and about and get a sudden burst of inspiration.
It's free download and initially offers a set of tools that'll do the trick for doodling.
You can choose from realistic watercolour wet brushes, brushes, a colour eye-dropper and have the option to import photos.
Using your iPad you can organise drawings into personalised folders. Tayasui also supports Apple, Wacom and Adonit Styluses.
You'll get a pencil, rotring pen, watercolour brush, felt pen, eraser and the ability to pick colours from a colour wheel. Only the bare minimum buttons are shown to make for a clean canvas.
You can also choose from a selection of paper types with varying textures, all of which result in realistic-looking strokes when combined with the tools available.
If you enjoy using the app, you can pay £3.99 or US$4.99 for the Pro version as an in-app purchase, which includes the additional ability to import photos, a pen brush, oil pastel, acrylic brush, airbrush, brushes editor, eyedropper and more exporting and layers options. You'll also get pressure sensitive stylus support.
You can download Tayasui Sketches for
free on the iOS App Store.
SnowCanoe’s Inspire Pro lets you mix wet and dry oil paint brushes to create fast and realistic painting, drawing and sketches wherever you go.
SnowCanoe Inspire Pro is available exclusively from the App store with a 64-bit CPU and multi-core GPU of iPad.
Inspire Pro has 70 different brushes to choose from, and all can be used as a wet brush, dry brush or eraser.
Inspire Pro is available for £1.49 or US$1.99 from the
iOS App Store.
Make the most of ArtRage’s digital canvas by smearing, blending oils and experimenting with watercolour. The app is all about how much paint you’ve used, how wet the paint is so it can blend with other paints, and it’s smart enough to detect the roughness of your paper so your pencils can be used for soft shading.
Oils, watercolours, paint rollers, pencils and crayons are all available on ArtRage, as well as the ability to apply textures.
The latest version includes a calibration slider for Apple Pencil users, allowing you to adjust how hard you need to press to get full pressure strokes. Just increase the value to increase the amount of pressure required.
You can buy ArtRage for £3.99 or US$4.99
from the iOS App Store.
Here's one for those who enjoy sketching with charcoal. It's a simple app designed to make you forget about the tools and just draw, using intuitive multi-touch gestures to help you achieve the desired result.
After downloading the app, it'll open straight to a blank canvas. You can start sketching immediately, using the pinch to zoom gesture to get a bigger or smaller line. Tapping at the bottom of the canvas will bring up the tools menu, which is very basic. You can choose between a smooth or rough brush, and you'll also get an eraser. The undo and redo tool is handy, and you can also access your other sketches from there.
This app is not an all-rounder, by any means. It does one job, but it does it rather well. For producing charcoal sketches digitally, ASKetch is a brilliant app that we really enjoy using.
ASketch is available to download now for £2.49 or US$2.99
from the iOS App Store.
Are you looking for advice on styluses or creating artwork on the iPad Pro? Check out what we have to say.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch review for artists and designers iPad Pro 12.9-inch review: Apple’s first iPad that’s amazing for artists Adonit Pixel iPad stylus review
Looking for other creative apps? Follow the links below to see our app round-ups.
Best iPad apps for designers Best Android apps for artists Best Android apps for designers Best iPhone apps for artists