Hey, what drawing Apps on the iPad do you use?
An Almost Comprehensive Review of Drawing Apps on the iPad Pro Using the Apple Pencil
I am often asked what drawing apps I use on the iPad Pro. I sketch and draw using the Apple pencil, which works as well as any Wacom tablet and stylus combo I’ve even used. I was one of those ‘stand-in-line’ types who got the Apple pencil as soon as it came out and have found it to be worth the $90 many times over.
When people ask me what drawing app for the iPad they should get, I ask them what they want to create. I use the iPad like a sketch book. I rarely do final art for a client on an iPad (I’ve done exactly one drawing on the iPad for a client). I sketch, brainstorm and doodle. It’s really a digital sketchbook with no limits on the types of media or colors I can use. (I still have my travel watercolor kit but honestly, haven’t used it in 3 years.)
I use 3 or 4 apps regularly and one App probably 80% of the time. I will review the apps focusing on three criteria:
1- How well do the drawing tools work? They try and reproduce natural media experiences, do they succeed?
2- Is the interface easy to digest, does it let you concentrate on your work or does it overwhelm with choices?
3 - Sharing, file organization ETC.
Adobe Sketch (Adobe Photoshop Sketch - officially)
For me Adobe Sketch is the best drawing application on the iPad. It features comprehensive virtual drawing tools (pencil like lines, pen and ink style, basic wet media) that respond well using the Apple Pencil. Its interface is smart and clean and simple. It has great depth but doesn’t overload the App with features. I’ve grown accustomed to the interface and familiarity in software reinforces my desire to use it. How to select tools and fine-tune them is simple and elegant. File management is easy. I can send files to email accounts I can save files to to DropBox or iCould using the enhanced iOS file system, and I can easily save the files via the Adobe Creative Cloud including having them open directly in my desktop Photoshop or Illustrator.
Your individual drawings are kept in ‘Projects’. These projects are just collections of individual ‘pages’. You see each and every page when you open the app. You can scroll through the Projects and the individual pages change size the more pages that are in a Project. There is no ‘sketch book’ metaphor. It’s very utilitarian and I like that.
I find myself going back to Sketch even though I try almost every drawing app on the App Store. This is because of habit and their successful app design of letting you get to the tools you most need quickly and easily. Highly Recommended.
SKETCHES by Tayasui
I've been using this app since day one on the iPad and it’s really turned into a powerhouse.
It lets you easily share files (save to various cloud services) or email.
There is a $4.99 upgrade that lets you have more than 2 layers, adds additional tools, colors pickers and more.
They use a sketchbook metaphor for saving pages. You can create multiple sketchbooks, say one for each project, and easily name them and right swipe through them. Once in a chosen sketch book you see all the pages you have started.
It has a robust set of drawing tools and drawing interface is intuitive and clean. Tool controls are readily accessible and for a sketcher like me it has just what I need and doesn’t complicate matters. It features one of my favorite tools that I don’t find in many drawing apps. This is a pattern tool where you can draw shapes and apply patterns. For those who did graphic design work in ‘the old days’ it’s basically digital Screentone (or what I called Zip-A-Tone). Highly Recommended.
PAPER by FiftyThree
Paper was my favorite drawing app before the Apple pencil. They created a stylus called the 53 Pencil (I think). I had two of them and they worked as well as you’d expect in pre iPad-Pencil-days. The original iPads didn’t have a screen designed for a stylus…like really. Like, why try? Well, many people did including me and I felt the 53 Pencil was the best back then. I even did one project on deadline using the App and 53Pencil and did roughs for other projects with it. It hinted at how valuable the iPad as a mobile, digital, sketch book would become with a well designed screen that supported a stylus.
It offers all the standard options for saving drawings including support for the iOS file management system (using an App called FILES).
It’s a solid drawing app with all the tools you’d expect - eraser, pencil, ink pen ETC. I especially like the ‘pen and ink’ line in this app. It is very responsive (more pressure creates a heavier line) and a blast to doodle and sketch with. They also sell a ‘PaperPro’ version that supports unlimited color swatches and different covers for your notebooks (which is how they organize your drawings). It’s a solid drawing app with some nice extras, like templates with graph paper, story board formats ETC. Recommended.
That’s it for now. I still have 5 more Apps to write up but this has taken me two weeks to finish and who knows until I get through reviewing all the rest. Happy drawing!