You know what we love about the large iPad Pro 12,9”? It’s the same size as a 9 x 12 sketchbook. And with the right painting apps, it’s like we have an unlimited collection of art supplies at our fingertips the moment inspiration strikes. Which makes using the Apple Pencil to sketch, paint, and draft ideas endlessly fun.
The question is, with so many drawing apps out there to play with, which ones will take your ideas to the next level? Whip out your Apple Pencils and take notes, art and design geeks: we’ve discovered the best of the best for you.
1. Sketchbook by Autodesk
Autodesk’s software has long been a favorite among professional graphic artists. Users have hailed its wealth of features, designed for the serious graphic or technical illustrator. The makers of SketchBook not only paid attention to what artists use, but how we really draw. Here are some of the reasons the app is so popular with pros:
- Use two hands- Drawing isn’t a one-handed skill. With Sketchbook, you can use one hand to sketch and the other to turn the paper or zoom in on your drawing. Just be careful of resting the palm of your drawing hand on the surface of your tablet – you may leave a mark (which can easily be erased).
- Mini Palette- Combine all your preferred colors and brushes into one small puck for fast on-the-fly access and more space to work.
- DeviantArt- directly share your pieces of art on DeviantArt.
- Plans- The basic app is free. To access a wider range of professional tools you can make an in-app purchase for about 5$.
2. Photoshop Sketch by Adobe
Any list of digital drawing programs wouldn’t be complete without an Adobe offering, and Photoshop Sketch provides the perfect combination of high-quality tools for professionals and ease-of-use for non-pros.
Like the desktop version of Photoshop, artists can add layers to stack, merge, and transform images. The Sketch app also has 14 tools to interact with the Apple Pencil, including pencils, markers, watercolor brushes, and pastels.
Need more advanced features? Once you’re done sketching on your iPad, you can open the file on your desktop version of Photoshop to complete your project.
- Time lapse your process- Fast forward and backward your painting process with three fingers.
- Custom brushes – Users of the Adobe Creative Cloud can create custom brushes in Capture CC.
- Integration with Behance- Share your piece of art in the public library or get feedback on your work in progress from the community.
- Creative Cloud- Share images, custom brushes and custom colors between your devices.
- Adobe Stock- License images from Adobe Stock right inside the App or use royalty-free assets.
- Plans- The basic app is free – for 5$ you get a great range of additional tools.
*Funny- For those who remember relaxing painting classes with Bob Ross Adobe made a great little series of videos with him explaining „The Joy of Painting“ with Adobe Sketch on the iPad and the Apple Pencil:
3. ProCreate by Savage Interactive
If you’re looking for most of Adobe Photoshop’s features without the CC license fee, look no further than Procreate: a graphic illustrator’s best friend. Depending on how many features you like to use, you could possibly replace your PC with an iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil, and Procreate as your main drawing tool.
Here are some of the features users love about Procreate:
- Intuitive gestures- Wiggle three fingers: change a layer, tap two fingers: undo your work, tap three fingers: re-do your work.
- Super-fast- A common problem with drawing software is the lag between drawing a line and *seeing* the line on the screen. No such thing with Procreate. You never have to worry about having to wait while your app “thinks about” drawing your line. Some pros have noted that their workflow is faster with Procreate on their iPad Pro than on their laptop.
- Hyper-realistic tools- The huge selection of paints emulate the tactile qualities of traditional media such as drippy inks or thick oil-based paints– even turpentine for blending.
- Auto-stabilization- Real-Time stabilization let you draw perfect curves and flourishes.
- Perspective drawing- Perspective Guide allows you to ad vanishing points to draw perfectly aligned perspectives.
- Procreate Pocket– Combine Procreate with your iPhone and your Apple Watch to benefit from additional great features to enhance the versatility and functionality.
- Export: are possible in PDF and PSD format.
- Plans- 5.99$ + in-app purchases.
4. Concepts by TopHatch
More of a designer than an artiste? Here’s an app that helps you take your best ideas and turn them into reality.
Think of Concepts as a cocktail napkin on steroids: it’s a place to sketch your idea and then transform it into an actionable vector based design through the power of CAD.
- Vectorization- Concepts allows you to convert hand drawn lines into vectors.
- Stabilization- Let the app control the tremble of your lines continuously.
- File Formates- Export different file formats- PNG, WVG, DXF, PSD and CPT
- Vector objects- You can even purchase vector object packs for architecture, landscape, and interior design separately through the iTunes Store.
- Plans- The basic version is free. A variety of in-app purchases let you upgrade to your specific individual needs.
5. Paper by FiftyThree
If you’re in search of an all-in-one app that lets you capture your ideas in note or drawing form, Paper is an all-around favorite. Paper is the perfect app for an organization nut bursting with creative ideas.
Not only can you create sketches, notes and checklists, you can also keep your ideas organized in handy folders.
- Sketch Books- Intuitively sort your notes and drawing in beautiful sketch books.
- Boards- See each element laid on an Pinterest-style inspiration board.
- Plans- The basic version is free. In-app purchases allow to add tools and color mixer.
Alright: that’s it for today! Let us know which app you’re going to try out– and share some of your creations!
Have you discovered a fantastic app to use with the Apple Pencil that you want to tell the world about? Leave a comment!