The 13 Best iPad Drawing Apps of 2024

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Thanks to a robust marketplace, there’s a wide variety of drawing apps to meet your specific needs. Each of these apps has the potential to become the preferred daily drawing app on your iPad.

What We Like

  • Free app on every iPad.

  • Easy to change stroke weight.

  • Includes 120 colors.

What We Don’t Like

  • A limited set of pens.

  • No infinite canvas feature.

  • Better for sketching than complicated art.

The Apple Notes app is installed on every iPad. As a result, it’s often the first one people open when they want to sketch. For a quick back-of-the-napkin scribble, the basic pen, pencil, and highlighter tips work well, and it syncs with all your devices through iCloud. Notes has a good selection tool and a search feature that finds handwritten phrases.

Here’s a cool feature for Apple Pencil users. Tapping a locked iPad screen with the Apple Pencil opens a blank note on most iPad models.

Notes is available as a free download from the App Store if you removed it from your iPad. Apple Notes works on an iPhone, too.

What We Like

  • Excellent balance of capability and complexity.

  • Exports as a layered Photoshop file or transparent PNG.

  • Erase with your finger.

What We Don’t Like

  • Fewer pen and tip customization options than similar apps.

  • A subscription is required.

  • Doesn’t have vector graphic capability.

Linea Sketch strikes a nice balance. It’s a relatively simple sketching app with five drawing tips (each tip offers three sizes) and an eraser. Linea Sketch also gives you access to five layers on which to draw or import photos. It includes a selection tool to cut, copy, duplicate, flip, or clear any area of a drawing.

Share your work, view it on Apple TV, or export it as a layered Photoshop file, a transparent PNG file, or a flattened JPEG.

Linea Sketch is free to download. It offers monthly and yearly subscriptions as in-app purchases. Linea Sketch supports Apple Pencil.

What We Like

  • Free version is a step up from Apple Notes.

  • Free trial for the Pro version.

What We Don’t Like

  • It lacks support for layers.

  • Subscription required for Pro version.

The free version of Paper by WeTransfer offers fewer tools than many drawing apps. However, the tools it has are well-designed and draw exactly as you might expect.

Each tool offers three sizes of tips. You can select a section, cut it out, or tap while holding it to paste it many times on the page. The blend mode lets you smear a drawing with your fingertips.

Paper is a free download at the App Store with in-app purchases for multiple paid add-on options and a Pro version with enhanced features. Paper by WeTransfer works well with Apple Pencil. The Paper app also works on an iPhone.

What We Like

  • An intuitive interface with easy-to-use tools.

  • The basic app is free.

  • Strokes look realistic.

  • Designed for use with Apple Pencil.

What We Don’t Like

  • Can’t change the canvas or background texture.

  • Only 2 GB of storage with the free version.

  • A premium subscription is $10 a month.

Adobe Fresco is a free drawing and painting app designed for Apple Pencil, iPhone and iPad. This app is friendly for beginners and professional enough for artists. Anyone who is familiar with other Adobe software will have no trouble using Fresco. Fresco is easy to use compared to Photoshop or Illustrator. The free version has 85 live, raster, and vector brushes, and it includes 2 GB of storage.

The premium edition of Adobe Fresco isn’t necessary unless you need hundreds of brushes and additional storage on Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Fresco is a free download at the App Store. A premium subscription is available but not required to create stunning graphics.

What We Like

  • The free app is packed with features.

  • Clever interface is simple to use but robust.

  • Supports Apple Pencil.

What We Don’t Like

  • More fun than professional.

  • So many options can be intimidating.

Anyone looking for realism in their drawing app will be thrilled with Art Tools 4 from LOFOPI for their iPad. The hyper-real drawing tools include oil paint, watercolors, oil pastel, pencil marker, crayon and others. Try out 3D Paint—a thick paint layer you can etch back into—and custom color blending. The app even keeps track of where the canvas is “wet” or “dry.” All in the free app. Looking for metallic colors? Art Tools 4 has them. No need to be overwhelmed by all the choices. An in app user guide comes with an instructional video.

A pro version with more features than most people will ever need is available via in-app purchase.

What We Like

  • A full-featured, multi-platform drawing app.

  • The formerly paid app is free now.

  • One, two, and three-point perspective guides.

What We Don’t Like

  • You must log in to use the app.

  • A bit of a learning curve for new users.

Import images, choose from a huge number of brushes, draw or paint on multiple layers, and then export your work in multiple formats. SketchBook is for professionals who use the iPad (and iPhone), and it offers versions for macOS, Windows, and Android devices. Previously a paid app, SketchBook became free for people in April 2018.

SketchBook is available as a free download from the App Store. The app supports the second generation of Apple Pencil.

What We Like

  • Drawing tools and controls are easy to select.

  • Zen mode hides most controls, so you can focus on drawing.

What We Don’t Like

  • In-app purchases are required for additional coloring books, stylus pressure, and layers.

  • Zooming in and out is glitchy.

The free, standard set of drawing tools gives you access to a variety of pens and brushes you can use to draw. An upgrade to Pro for a one-time purchase adds additional controls for each tool, unlimited layers, a fill tool, and more color and palette controls, among other capabilities.

Tayasui Sketches is a free app with in-app purchases for the Pro version. The app supports Apple Pencil and works on iPhone, with versions available for macOS and Android tablets.

What We Like

  • A responsive drawing and painting system.

  • High-quality artwork. 

  • Thousands of importable brushes.

What We Don’t Like

  • Not a technical drawing tool with dimensioning.

  • No free version or free trial.

With a large set of brushes and pens, Procreate may have the type of tool you need. If not, you can create brushes. Drawing and painting in Procreate feels smooth, whether you use the Apple Pencil, another iPhone-compatible stylus, or your finger. Procreate supports multiple layers, and you can view a time-lapse replay of your work.

Procreate is a paid download at the App Store.

What We Like

  • Precision measurement drawing tools for engineers and architects.

  • A variety of payment options.

  • Editable vector sketching.

  • Free with in-app purchases.

What We Don’t Like

  • The circular menu and customizations take time to learn.

  • It lacks advanced typographic features.

  • Free 3-day trial for subscription features.

The Concepts vector graphics sketching app seeks to serve everyone from the casual drawer to the product design professional. With a distinctive circle of controls in the corner of the screen, you have fast access to brushes, layers, and precision alignment aids.

The free version includes access to 16 brushes and five layers. A one-time purchase of Essentials lets you create custom brushes, add infinite layers, and export your work in more formats, among other things. A paid-for subscription to Everything+ brings more brushes, objects, and sharing capabilities.

Concepts is a free download at the App Store, and the sketching capability is free. However, the app offers several one-time, monthly, and yearly in-app purchases, which are necessary for many of the bells and whistles. Concepts is also available for Windows.

What We Like

  • An impressive combination of vector and pixel drawing tools.

  • Tap the question mark in the corner to display the name of every feature on-screen.

What We Don’t Like

  • It takes time to learn and perfect the controls.

  • Can’t export files in AI format.

  • It doesn’t have a perspective grid.

  • It’s expensive for an app.

For a one-time purchase, the pro-grade Affinity Designer gives you a full-featured vector graphics app that allows you to add raster layers. This means you can create images that you can resize without losing resolution. With so many controls, options, and settings, novice illustrators may find the feature set daunting, while professionals may appreciate the power.

Affinity Designer is a paid app available from the App Store. Versions of Affinity Designer are available to purchase separately for macOS and Windows.

What We Like

  • Includes stickers and shapes for people who don’t sketch.

  • The Pro upgrade delivers a capable vector app.

  • There’s a free trial of the paid Pro version.

What We Don’t Like

  • Browsing the shapes and stickers takes a lot of time.

  • The Pro version requires a weekly, monthly, or yearly auto-renewing subscription.

In Assembly, you build an image from shapes. Choose from hundreds of built-in shapes and stickers or purchase additional packs. Quickly rotate, resize, or align each element. Select one or more shapes to move forward or behind others.

An upgrade to Assembly Pro allows point editing. Tap a shape, select the pen icon, then adjust the position of any point in the shape or add additional points.

Assembly is a free download from the App Store, but it comes with several in-app purchases that are needed for many of the app’s features. Assembly works on the iPhone, as well.

What We Like

  • A combination of script, pages, and lettering in one app.

  • Lots of export options.

  • It has a simple interface.

What We Don’t Like

  • There aren’t any pre-made panels.

  • It’s usable without an Apple Pencil, but barely.

  • It doesn’t have gradients.

Comic Draw by Plasq gives you everything you need to create a comic on your iPad, with full editing features available with a one-time purchase. Write a script, layout pages, sketch panel art, add ink and color, then add lettering to finish the task. You can then print or export your work, or share it to the Comic Connect iPad app.

A free trial of Comic Draw is available at the App Store. A one-time fee unlocks it after the trial. A version of the app is available for educators to use in a school setting.

What We Like

  • Don’t need to plug in an old computer to create pixel art.

  • Layers plus pixels plus animation equals fun.

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s high price may only appeal to pixel artists and animators.

Easily the most full-featured pixel art app for the iPad, Pixaki 4 includes support for multiple layers, selection tools, and multi-layer color fill options. Import photos to use as reference layers as you draw a pixel-based image. When you’re finished, export your image as a GIF. a sprite sheet, a Photoshop file, or as a PNG (or several PNG files bundled into a ZIP file, in the case of an animation).

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