Home > Mobile > Whip out your Apple Pencil and try out the 20 best…

Whip out your Apple Pencil and try out the 20 best iPad Pro drawing apps

Although nothing can truly replace a good piece of paper or sheet of canvas for an artist, the iPad Pro comes incredibly close to bringing digital art up to the same level as analog art creation. The larger screen opens the iPad Pro to new levels of artistry and turns a fun sketching tool into a serious creative tool. Designed from the ground up with the Apple Pencil in mind, the iPad Pro is the ultimate digital canvas and the Pencil is its most versatile tool.

More: The next Apple Pencil could have touch controls, according to this patent

Luckily, there are scores of drawing apps on the App Store, and many of them have already been optimized for the Pro’s big screen and pencil’s fine-point tip. Here are 20 of our favorite iPad Pro drawing apps, and some we’re looking forward to using soon.

Artrage ($5)

artrage-ios

The main idea of Artrage is to make painting as real as possible on the iPad. You can mix paints with one another as though you were manipulating them on a real canvas. This app works with layers, and if you’re already familiar with Photoshop, you’ll feel right at home with the blend modes. Artrage also allows you to record your drawing for later viewing on the desktop. It not only supports the Apple Pencil, but also has support for Wacom, Adonit, and Pogo styli.

Download now from:

iTunes

SketchBook by Autodesk

sketchbook

Even if you’re not a professional artist, you’ve probably heard about Sketchbook by Autodesk. It is definitely one of the most popular apps for artists. The layout is everything when it comes to design programs, and Sketchbook’s toolbars are laid out in an easily accessible way, and you can even pin them onto the screen. Great features include import/export from and to Photoshop, and the ability to zoom in as much as 2,500 percent to let you work on those fine details. It supports the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, but also supports Wacom styluses on other iPad models.

Download now from:

iTunes

Graphic ($9)

graphic-ios

If you remember when the iPad Pro was announced, it was touted by Apple as being a replacement for your PC. Graphic is like having Adobe Illustrator on your iPad. This app used to be called iDraw, and because it is available for your Mac, you can go back and forth between your desktop and your iPad designing and drawing. It features different brushes and full support for the Apple Pencil, but also is an app where you can create vector-based technical drawings. If you’re into Graphic Design, you will be amazed how Graphic can push the capabilities of the iPad.

Download now from:

iTunes

Adobe Illustrator Draw

illustrator-ios

Similar to Graphic, Adobe Illustrator Draw allows you to create vector-based designs. This app, however, is a lot more simple with a less intimidating UI. It’s geared toward someone who wants to quickly start working on ideas. The app lets you take your work on the go, and you can easily transition your latest project to Illustrator on your desktop or laptop when you’re back at the office.

Download now from:

iTunes

Inspire Pro ($8)

inspire

This app is one of the most intuitive ones when it comes to drawing and sketching. Taking advantage of the iPad’s multi-core CPU and OpenGL, it can draw and render images quickly, which is one of the things you want when you’re drawing on a tablet to help it mimic real drawing. The app saves your favorite colors for quick access, but you can also hold on a color in your current drawing, and the app will switch to that color again. This app fully supports the Apple Pencil.

Download now from:

iTunes

ASKetch ($3)

asketch-ios

If you’re a beginner or a pro looking for an easy sketching app, ASKetch may be the way to go. This is like sketching with charcoal, and the interface can’t get any simpler. Sometimes, you just want to sketch something quickly without fuss, and that is where ASKetch comes in.

Download now from:

iTunes

Sketch Club ($3)

sketchclub-ios

Sketch Club has something unique, and that is a community of artists with whom you can share your art. You’ll also be able to comment on everyone’s work and get inspiration. The app even lets you create 64 layers in total, and you can create your art on canvases that are up to 4K in resolution. With a wide selection of brushes and vector tools, this is a full-fledged drawing app. It has full support for the Apple Pencil and the ability to record in 1080p.

Download now from:

iTunes

Brushes Redux

brushes-redux-ios

Brushes took the stage when the Apple iPad debuted back in 2010, and showed the world that an iPad could be a tool for artists. Fast forward to 2016, and the app has been re-worked to fully support the iPad Pro. Because this app is an iOS exclusive it has been written specifically for iPad. It supports OpenGL and takes advantage of the 64-bit processing on the iPad. Not only is it very fast, but it has the typical iOS interface design language that iOS users are comfortable with, so finding your way through the very simple toolbar is a breeze. It has layers support, but unlike other more robust professional apps, you can only create up to 10 layers.

Download now from:

iTunes

Inkist

inkist

Inkist not only has support for the Apple Pencil, but a range of other pressure sensitive styluses. It does have an intuitive, well laid out user interface. Your brushes and other tools always show up on the workspace instead of being hidden. What’s different about this app is how it handles layers. Instead of dealing with multiple layers, your work is flattened in the background. This is an important difference that may not be every artist’s cup of tea, but some will prefer it this way.

Download now from:

iTunes

Astropad ($30)

Astropad panels left

Astropad pairs your iPad Pro with a Mac and turns your tablet into a dedicated drawing slate. It’s meant for professional creatives who use applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator. The app is even optimized for the iPad Pro to showcase improved image quality, reduced latency, a custom pressure curve specifically designed for the Apple Pencil, and support for tilt with the stylus. The latest update offers advanced stroke tuning for removing stray points and providing strokes with the Pencil, which means you only see what you intend to draw. It’s the ultimate drawing app for professional illustrators, comic book artists, and anyone who’s ever wanted a Wacom tablet. It does cost $20, but that easily beats the price of professional drawing slates.

Download now from:

iTunes

Animation Desk Cloud

animation-desk-cloud

Animation Desk Cloud isn’t a new app, but what is new is the software’s compatibility with the Apple Pencil. As the title suggests, Kdan’s Animation Desk probably isn’t for you if you’re simply into sketching — what it is good for, however, is animating. It’s a relatively basic app, to be sure, but one that comes at a price of zero dollars and zero cents if you don’t opt for the in-app purchases. If you’re looking to try your hand at animation, Desk Cloud is the app to do it with.

Download now from:

iTunes

Pigment

Pigment

Pigment is the ultimate adult coloring app for adults and kids alike. It actually feels like you’re using a coloring book and colored pencils. It supports the Apple Pencil — which makes it extra fun to color inside the lines — and offers more than 200 professional illustrations, along with eight different kinds of pencils, markers, and brushes. Your color choices are unlimited, and when you finish your masterpieces, you can instantly share them with family and friends or print them out to pop on the fridge. Plus, there are paid add-ons for those who want more options and coloring designs.

Download now from:

iTunes

Concepts

concepts

Like Animation Desk Cloud, concepts is built with a specific purpose in mind — design. Home design, industrial design, you name it, Concepts can help you envision it. The app includes many of the tools you would expect from a design app, including support for infinite layers (or at least as many as the iPad can handle), and the ability to export in both SVG or CAD formats. Don’t take our word for it, though, the reviews speak for themselves. The current version of the app has a cool 5-star rating on the App Store, with all versions of the app boasting a still-noteworthy 4.5 stars. Like many other apps on this list, the app is free, with in-app purchases.

Download now from:

iTunes

uMake

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.48.59 PM

This app is great for modelers and designers who make 3D objects or plans. With uMake, designers can draw in two dimensions on an axis to render 3D images on the iPad Pro. You can make sketches revolve or extrude for a recursive effect. Once you’ve sketched out the design in 2D, you can alter the 3D rendering to meet your exact specifications. When finished, uMake offers the ability to export your creations in PNG, IGES, and OBJ file formats. The app is free, but to get the full feature set, you’ll need to pay $15 a month or $150 a year until December 31. After that, it’ll rise to $20 and $200, respectively.

Download now from:

iTunes

Pixelmator ($5)

pixelmator

Pixelmator may not be free, but it also isn’t a bad app. From cropping to retouching, sketching to blending, Pixelmator does it all, and the results speak for themselves. The app includes a host of tools and pays close attention to how you use your Apple Pencil. In fact, dozens of the brushes included in the app feature full support for the Apple Pencil, meaning it could possibly replace the professional toolset you may have used before the iPad came about. Sure, the app is $5, but it also doesn’t have any in-app purchases. It’s also important to note that Pixelmator places its emphasis on its robust toolset rather than its simplicity, at least according to some of the app comments. If you’re willing to take the time to learn how to use the software, however, this might be the app for you. If not, it might be better to look elsewhere.

Download now from:

iTunes

Procreate ($6)

Procreate

Procreate is perhaps the most professional and well-rounded drawing app on this list, but it will set you back $6. It comes equipped with a full set of drawing tools, which expertly imitate real creative implements, such as soft pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, graphite pencils of varying hardness, acrylic, oil, watercolors, and more. Whatever the medium, Procreate’s digital tools will give you the full effect and appearance of the real thing. You can even smudge, blur, and manipulate your strokes just as you would on paper or canvas.

Its 64-bit painting engine Silica is lightening fast and responsive, and on the iPad Pro with Pencil, drawing or painting on Procreate feels even more natural. You can add a number of layers and decide how high-res you want your canvas to be. On the Pro, it can go up to 16K resolution with 64-bit color, and you can export your artwork as PSD, PNG, JPG, or Procreate files. The app also helps you build a portfolio and share your work, if you so desire.

Download now from:

iTunes

Paper by FiftyThree

Paper

FiftyThree’s Paper has long been one of the best iPad drawing apps, but it’s become even more versatile in the past year. The app now has diagramming and note-taking tools in addition to the standard creative tool suite it’s always had. Yu get a watercolor brush, calligraphy pen, pencil, marker, ballpoint pen, eraser, paint roller, scissors, and a ruler. You can even import or take pictures, and mark them up with text or drawings.

All your creations are easily shared to FiftyThree’s creative community Mix, your camera roll, other apps for further edits, messaging apps, or to the social network of your choosing. Of course, using Apple’s Pencil and iPad Pro with the app is seamless, as FiftyThree worked closely with Apple to optimize Paper on the new hardware.

Download now from:

iTunes

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Adobe

Adobe’s entire iOS app suite works extremely well on the iPad Pro, but we’ll highlight Sketch in particular as our favorite drawing app of the bunch. You can create expressive drawings and paintings on it without opening a sketchbook. Artwork can be sent as layered PSD files to Adobe Photoshop CC or resized up to 4x in Illustrator CC to print high-resolution copies.

The app includes 13 tools, a digital ruler, and graph guides. You can import your own images or stock photos to work on top of, too. Using the Creative Cloud connection, you can send a file to Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC on your PC or share your art with the Behance creative community.

Download now from:

iTunes

Forge

Forge

Forge is more like a sketch pad for ideas, a brainstorming tool, and an inspirational white board for visual thinkers than a full-on drawing app. Artists and designers can work through ideas and iterations in the app, as well as bring in photos from Dropbox and the default photos app on iOS to help inspire your sketches. There are only six simple brushes to choose from, but you can control color, gradient, and other key aspects of the drawing.

Forge also has layers, so you can save each layer to look back on later, change, or delete entirely. You can create multiple portfolios and view your sketches on a wall to get an idea of where you’re going. The iPad Pro’s large screen makes it even easier to spot patterns or just admire your work. Pencil’s precision and lack of lag really shine here, too.

Download now from:

iTunes

Tayasui Sketches

Tayasui

Tayasui Sketches looks simple and clean, but it offers a number of different brushes for free and a clutter-free space to draw. You get a pencil, rotring, watercolor brush, felt pen, and eraser for free. You can import photos, too, if you want, and it’s really easy to share your sketches on social networks or via email.

It’s great for illustration and quick sketches, but if you buy the in-app purchase, it can become a professional drawing app with surface pressure, layers, types of paper, more brushes, and the ability to change brush sizes. The app lets you try the pro features for an hour, so you can decide if it’s worth the $5 price tag. Regardless of whether you pay for pro, you can organize your sketches and creations into different notebooks in the app, which makes it easier to keep track of everything. Thanks to the backup feature, you won’t have to worry about losing your work, either. 

Download now from:

iTunes