If you own an iPad, you should know about drawing apps.
You might be saying “But I’m not an artist.” We hear you. However, drawing apps are about more than that. They’re a fantastic way to explore, create, and even relax. More importantly, they take advantage of some of the iPad’s best features.
Which app should you download, though? That really depends on what you’re looking for. It’s true that the best, most advanced drawing app will offer you every tool that you’ll ever need, but what if you don’t really need that much? What happens when you just want to doodle?
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at several different kinds of drawing apps. From complex programs designed for professionals to apps designed for newbies, these are some of the best iPad drawing apps of 2019.
Adobe Fresco is another in a line of drawing apps that try to recreate the feeling of using physical tools. By that, we mean it offers extensive tools that allow you to produce subtle effects as if you were working on a canvas.
However, Fresco truly sets itself apart through its incredible user interface. This is one of the rare drawing apps with a UI almost as beautiful as what you’ll use it to create. This app lacks some more expansive features (such as animation), but it’s an exceptional digital canvas.
Adobe Illustrator Draw
Here’s another drawing app from Adobe that emphasizes the new user experience. Specifically, this one caters to users who don’t want to spend money on their main drawing app. The free version of Adobe Illustrator Draw is certainly one of the best we’ve seen in that “price” tier.
It’s also not bad as a standalone drawing app. With features like freeform vector drawing and time-lapse video, this is a wonderfully versatile drawing app that lets you accomplish quite a bit. Best of all, its interface encourages exploration in both your work and the tools made available to you.
Do you have an Apple Pencil and want a drawing app that will allow you to truly explore the peripheral’s potential? Affinity Designer may just be what you’re looking for.
On paper, Affinity Designer sets itself apart through its vector graphics options. It’s certainly one of the most versatile drawing apps in that field. Again, though, the way this app supports the Apple Pencil is what really impresses us. There are few drawing apps out there that utilize that device’s more subtle features quite as well as this one.
This is just a deep and wonderful app for hardcore Apple Pencil fans.
A “simple” animation app is something of a rare beast. Most animations apps are quite complex. Other times, animation features are buried in apps as something of a side attraction. What Animation Desk does is offer you a truly simple app that focuses on animation and does it quite well.
Animation Desk isn’t the most expansive animation drawing app out there, but that’s kind of its appeal. It allows relatively new animators to explore their creative horizons. Even veterans may appreciate some of the apps more subtle features (such as rotoscoping). Still, the draw of this app is how it lets you turn doodles into animated works.
Painting on your iPad can be a strange process. It tends to work fairly well, but you’ll sometimes find that the results are fairly…digital. If you’re looking for that hand-painted feel from a drawing app…well, it’s hard to find.
ArtRage is one of the few such apps that boasts that feature. Its suite of tools is largely focused on allowing you to paint works that look like…well…paintings. That said, it still boasts some advanced features only possible through the digital medium. This makes it one of the few “best of both worlds” drawing apps.
Art Set 4
For a time, Art Set 4 was one of the fastest growing drawing apps on the market. It’s not hard to see why. After all, it’s one of the few apps that allows you to create realistic works across a variety of art styles.
Actually, Art Set 4 may just be the best-in-class when it comes to watercolor paintings. No other drawing app really comes close in terms of allowing you to create vibrant watercolor works. Art Style 4 isn’t just a one-trick pony, though. It’s also one of the most beautiful apps for colored pencil and ink drawings.
Assembly isn’t a “complete” drawing app. Instead, it focuses on allowing you to create smaller works of art. Specifically, it’s great for making your own stickers, logos, and even characters.
Its superiority in that regard can be attributed to a few factors. While Assembly offers quite a few free-range creative options, it really shines via its pre-made selections. That makes it a tremendous solution for creators who need to get to quality results as soon as possible. Even experts will appreciate how deep this app lets you dive.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Autodesk Sketchbook is more than a sketchbook. Actually, it might just be the beloved drawing app amongst professional artists.
Simply put, Sketchbook offers more tools than just about any competitor out there. You can even access a zoom feature that goes up to 2,500%. Features like that just highlight how details oriented this app really is. It affords you almost total control over your work and allows you to alter nearly any element of it with precision and ease.
This is about as good as it gets so far as premium drawing apps go.
Concepts is a little different from every other drawing app out there. It’s not really built for doodlers or even some advanced artists looking to sketch on their device. Instead, it’s built for professional designers.
So far as that goes, Concepts is one of the absolute best.
Concepts allows you to easily sketch blueprints, design plans, and other such works. This makes it the perfect solution for architects and planners everywhere. It excels in affording you an unprecedented level of control over minute movements. Given how much those little movements matter in such designs, that level of control is always welcome.
Even some of the best drawing apps struggle with pastels and charcoal. As others have pointed out, part of the problem is that those are inherently “messier” artforms. Digital mediums can’t always reproduce that messiness.
iPastels is really one of the only apps truly capable of recreating such works. By allowing you to control the pressure and form of your strokes, iPastels makes it that much easier to get just the look that you’re seeking. It requires a bit of practice to really get right, but there’s nothing out there that really does it better.
MediBang is another in a surprisingly long line of viable free drawing apps. Like many of its competitors in that respect, this app is easy-to-use and feature-rich for a free service. However, MediBang Paint distinguishes itself via a few fascinating features.
Namely, MediBang Paint is a particular favorite amongst comic book artists and others looking to achieve such a look. That’s because it offers a shocking amount of tools dedicated to that style. Even if that’s not what you’re going for, you’ll have a lot of fun playing with this free drawing app.
Paper by WeTransfer
Not everyone wants the deepest drawing app out there. Sometimes, you’re just looking to use your iPad like a digital notebook. You just want to doodle, sketch, and casually draw.
That’s roughly what Paper by WeTransfer has to offer. It turns your iPad screen into the digital piece of paper that you’re looking for. That means you sacrifice some deeper features, but it also means that casual users gain easy access to the “right” series of tools. That makes this an almost essential app for those who just like to draw sometimes.
You can’t underestimate the value of good UI when it comes to drawing apps. After all, real-life drawing doesn’t really have a user interface. You can spread your tools across as much space as you need.
Procreate attempts to recreate such an experience. Its subtle and unobtrusive UI makes it so that you can easily access hundreds of tools without crowding your canvas. That combination of depth and ease-of-use makes this app a favorite amongst professionals. Give it a shot, and it may just become your favorite new app as well.
Amongst of sea of similar drawing apps, Sketch Club uses two things to separate itself: price and community.
The price part should be obvious enough. Sketch Club offers a ton of features for a price that is noticeably lower than its premium competition. The community angle is a bit more unique. Basically, this app allows you to directly access its own user community in order to share your work and even participate in challenges. This combination of features makes it a great option for those who want premium features at an introductory rate.
Zen Brush 2
You have to respect any app that offers more or less one thing and does it incredibly well. That’s certainly what you get with Zen Brush 2.
Zen Brush 2 offers a set of tools focused on allowing you to create Japanese calligraphy brush-style works. Those tools often ensure those works are stunningly beautiful, and it’s UI ensures that they’re relatively easy to create. This is just one of the most enjoyable drawing apps out there regardless of whether you “need” that style.