Top 10 Best Drawing Apps for iPad in 2023 (Free & Paid)

Digital art has revolutionized the way we create and appreciate visual creativity. It transcends traditional boundaries, offering artists an infinite palette of tools and techniques at their fingertips.

This evolution has been significantly propelled by the advent of advanced technology, particularly tablets like the iPad. Renowned for their portability, high-resolution displays, and powerful processors, iPads have become a staple in the digital artist’s toolkit.

The seamless integration of the Apple Pencil enhances this experience, providing precision and fluidity that mimics traditional drawing instruments.

In this era where digital art is not just a hobby but a profession for many, choosing the right software becomes crucial. This article aims to guide budding and seasoned artists alike by listing the top 10 drawing apps for iPads in 2023.

These apps are chosen for their ability to transform the iPad into a dynamic canvas, where imagination meets innovation.

How to Choose the Ideal Drawing App for Your iPad

As a reviewer who has extensively explored the realm of digital art apps, I understand the importance of selecting the right tool that aligns with your artistic aspirations and workflow. Here’s how you, as an artist, can discern the best drawing app for your iPad:

  1. Assess the Feature Set: Look for apps that offer a comprehensive set of features. A diverse range of brushes, advanced layer management, and extensive color palettes are essential for flexibility and depth in your artwork. Consider how these features align with your specific art style and genre.
  2. Prioritize the User Experience: An intuitive user interface is crucial. The app should facilitate a smooth drawing experience, minimizing distractions and maximizing creative flow. Customization options, gesture controls, and an organized layout can significantly enhance your efficiency and comfort.
  3. Consider Your Budget: Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, the price is an important factor. Evaluate free apps for their capabilities and limitations. For paid apps, consider the long-term value they offer in terms of updates and customer support. Sometimes, investing in a premium app can be more cost-effective in the long run.
  4. Check Compatibility: Ensure the app is compatible with your specific iPad model and Apple Pencil generation. This guarantees optimal performance and takes advantage of your device’s capabilities, such as pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition.
  5. Read User Reviews: User feedback is a goldmine of information. Look for reviews from users with a similar art profile as yours. Pay attention to comments about the app’s stability, responsiveness, and how it handles larger or more complex projects.
  6. Test the App Yourself: Many apps offer free trials or basic versions. Use these to get a firsthand feel of the app. Notice how it responds to your drawing style, the responsiveness of the tools, and whether the interface feels natural to you.

The best drawing app for you should feel like an extension of your artistic hand. It should cater to your specific needs, be it in terms of features, budget, or compatibility. By carefully considering these aspects, you can find an app that not only enhances your artistic skills but also elevates your entire digital art experience.

Comparison Table for The Top 10 Drawing Apps for iPad

App NamePriceKey FeaturesEase of UseBest For
Procreate$9.99 (one-time)Extensive brush library, layer system, animation toolsIntuitiveGeneral-purpose art, animation
Adobe Illustrator$9.99/monthPrecision vector tools, Adobe CC integrationModerateProfessional vector design
Adobe Fresco$9.99/monthLive brushes, vector and pixel tools, Adobe CC integrationIntuitiveDigital painting, illustration
Photoshop for iPad$9.99/monthPhoto editing, brushes, layer managementModeratePhoto editing, digital painting
Affinity Designer$19.99 (one-time)Vector and raster tools, precision drawingModerateVector and raster design
Autodesk SketchbookFreeCustomizable brushes, user-friendly UIEasySketching, general-purpose drawing
ArtRage Vitae$4.99 (one-time)Natural painting tools, realistic texturesIntuitiveTraditional-style digital painting
MediBang PaintFreeBrushes for manga, pre-made backgrounds, cloud-sharingEasyComic and manga creation
Inspire Pro$9.99 (one-time)Fast rendering, diverse brushes, color blendingEasyQuick sketches, detailed artwork
Zen Brush 2$2.99 (one-time)Realistic ink brush simulation, minimalistic UIEasyCalligraphy, ink painting

Best iPad Drawing Apps to Have A Try

Exploring the best iPad drawing apps, we start with an in-depth review of Procreate, known for its versatility and rich features. This series of reviews aims to guide you in choosing the right app for your artistic needs. Let’s dive into what makes Procreate a top choice for digital artists.

1. Procreate


Procreate stands out as a flagship drawing app for iPad, renowned for its versatility and a comprehensive suite of tools that caters to both amateur and professional digital artists. Unlike Fotor’s focus on AI-driven tools, Procreate empowers users with hands-on creative control, offering an incredibly intuitive interface that feels natural, especially when paired with the Apple Pencil.

At the heart of Procreate’s appeal is its extensive brush library. Artists can choose from a vast array of brushes for every conceivable painting and drawing style, from delicate watercolor effects to bold oil paint strokes. These brushes are not just varied but also fully customizable, allowing artists to tweak them to their exact preference.

Another standout feature is Procreate’s advanced layering system. It brings a level of depth and complexity to artwork, allowing for intricate compositions while maintaining ease of use. The app supports high-resolution canvases, making it a great tool for detailed work.

Procreate also includes animation tools, offering a simplistic yet powerful way for artists to bring their creations to life. This feature, along with the ability to record and share time-lapse videos of your artwork, adds an engaging dimension to the creative process.

Key Features:

  • Extensive and customizable brush library.
  • Advanced layer management system.
  • High-resolution canvases, ideal for detailed artwork.
  • Animation tools and time-lapse recording feature.
  • Seamless integration with Apple Pencil for a natural drawing experience.


  • Procreate offers a one-time purchase model, priced at $9.99. This single payment grants access to all features with no additional subscription fees or in-app purchases.

This pricing model, combined with its rich feature set and user-friendly design, makes Procreate an outstanding value for digital artists seeking a robust, versatile drawing tool on their iPad.

2. Adobe Illustrator for iPad

Adobe Illustrator iPad app

Adobe Illustrator for iPad is a powerful vector graphics app designed to meet the needs of professional designers and artists. It extends the renowned capabilities of its desktop counterpart into the portable and touch-friendly environment of the iPad, offering advanced vector tools and features that are essential for high-end design work.

One of the app’s most significant strengths is its precision. The vector-based nature of Illustrator ensures that designs remain crisp and scalable, ideal for branding, illustration, and other design projects where detail and scalability are crucial. The app provides a comprehensive set of drawing tools, including various pen and shape tools, that allow for the creation of complex vector artwork with ease.

Adobe Illustrator for iPad also excels in integration with other Adobe products. Users can start a project on the iPad and seamlessly continue on their desktop, or vice versa, thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud connectivity. This feature is a huge boon for professionals who need to work across multiple devices.

The touch interface of the iPad is utilized effectively in Illustrator. The app supports gestures and the use of the Apple Pencil, offering a tactile and intuitive drawing experience. Users can draw with precision and control, a testament to the app’s well-designed user interface.

Key Features:

  • Advanced vector tools for precision drawing and scalability.
  • Comprehensive pen and shape tools for creating detailed vector artwork.
  • Seamless integration with Adobe Creative Cloud for cross-device work.
  • Intuitive touch interface, optimized for Apple Pencil.
  • Robust typography tools and extensive color management options.


  • Adobe Illustrator for iPad requires a subscription. It is available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, with various plans to suit different needs. The individual plan for Adobe Illustrator is $9.99/month, while full Creative Cloud access is $52.99/month.

Adobe Illustrator for iPad is a standout choice for professionals seeking advanced vector drawing capabilities. Its integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, precision tools, and optimized iPad interface make it a top-tier app for serious design work.

3. Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco is a dedicated digital painting app for the iPad, designed specifically for artists who specialize in painting and sketching. Its crown jewel is the unique “live brushes” feature, which brings an extraordinary level of realism to digital watercolor and oil paintings.

Live brushes in Adobe Fresco mimic the behavior of real paint, offering a fluid and natural painting experience that is unparalleled in the digital realm. The watercolor brush, for instance, blends and bleeds just like real watercolor on paper, while the oil brush gives a thick and textured application of color. This feature is especially appealing for artists who wish to combine the practicalities of digital art with the tactile feel of traditional painting.

Besides live brushes, Fresco also includes a vast array of vector and pixel brushes, catering to a broad spectrum of artistic styles and preferences. This versatility makes it suitable not only for painters but also for illustrators and graphic designers.

Adobe Fresco’s integration with Adobe Creative Cloud adds another layer of convenience, allowing artists to sync their work across devices and access it on other Adobe apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. This connectivity is particularly beneficial for professional artists who work within the Adobe ecosystem.

Key Features:

  • Revolutionary live brushes for realistic watercolor and oil painting effects.
  • Extensive collection of vector and pixel brushes.
  • Seamless integration with Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Layering and masking capabilities for complex artworks.
  • User-friendly interface optimized for touch and Apple Pencil inputs.


  • Adobe Fresco is available in a freemium model. The basic version is free, which includes a subset of the brushes and features. The full version, offering access to all brushes and features, is available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Plans start at $9.99/month for Fresco alone, or as part of the full Creative Cloud suite for $52.99/month.

Adobe Fresco is a top choice for digital painters and artists who value a natural and intuitive painting experience. Its unique live brushes, combined with a comprehensive set of digital art tools, make it a standout app for iPad users looking to explore the realms of digital painting.

4. Photoshop for iPad

Photoshop for iPad

Photoshop for iPad brings the immense power and versatility of Adobe’s flagship photo editing and digital art software to the portable, touch-friendly iPad. Tailored for both photo editing and digital painting, this app is a go-to choice for professionals and hobbyists who need a wide range of features at their fingertips.

At its core, Photoshop for iPad maintains the essence of its desktop version, offering a familiar interface to those accustomed to the Adobe ecosystem. The app excels in photo editing, providing tools for complex tasks like layer manipulation, masking, and retouching. The level of detail and control available in these features is impressive, making it a reliable tool for professional-grade photo editing.

In terms of digital painting, Photoshop for iPad doesn’t fall short either. It comes equipped with a variety of brushes and drawing tools that cater to different artistic styles and techniques. The app’s compatibility with the Apple Pencil enhances this experience, offering precision and a natural feel that artists seek in digital drawing tools.

Photoshop for iPad also shines in its ability to handle large and complex files. Artists and designers can work on high-resolution projects with multiple layers without significant performance issues, a testament to the app’s robustness.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive photo editing tools for professional-grade results.
  • A wide array of brushes and drawing tools for digital artists.
  • Advanced layer management, masking, and retouching capabilities.
  • Seamless integration with Adobe Creative Cloud for file syncing and cross-device work.
  • Support for high-resolution images and complex file structures.


  • Photoshop for iPad is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. It’s available as a standalone app subscription starting at $9.99/month, or as part of various Adobe Creative Cloud plans, which start at $52.99/month for full suite access.

Photoshop for iPad is an indispensable tool for those who require a robust, feature-rich app for both photo editing and digital painting. Its comprehensive feature set, coupled with the reliability of the Adobe brand, makes it a top choice for creative professionals and enthusiasts alike.

5. Affinity Designer for iPad

Affinity Designer for iPad

Affinity Designer for iPad is a powerhouse of a design app, specifically tailored for vector and raster work. It stands out for its precision and array of professional-grade tools, making it an ideal choice for graphic designers, illustrators, and anyone who demands high-quality vector graphics capabilities on a mobile platform.

A key strength of Affinity Designer is its seamless handling of both vector and raster design elements within the same project. This dual functionality enables artists to switch between vector and pixel environments effortlessly, offering unparalleled flexibility in their workflow. The vector tools are particularly impressive, providing razor-sharp accuracy and control for creating crisp, scalable graphics. Whether you’re working on intricate illustrations, branding projects, or UI/UX designs, Affinity Designer meets the challenge with finesse.

The app’s user interface is well-organized and intuitive, making it accessible to both beginners and seasoned professionals. The zoom and pan capabilities are outstanding, allowing users to work on detailed sections of their artwork with remarkable clarity and smoothness.

Another notable feature is the app’s performance optimization for the iPad. Affinity Designer makes full use of the iPad’s hardware, delivering a smooth and responsive experience, even when handling complex projects with multiple layers and effects.

Key Features:

  • Advanced vector tools with high precision for scalable graphics.
  • Robust raster tools for detailed pixel-based artwork.
  • Seamless integration of vector and raster workflows in one app.
  • User-friendly interface with efficient tool organization.
  • Exceptional zoom and pan capabilities for detailed work.
  • Optimized performance for iPad, ensuring smooth operation on large files.


  • Affinity Designer for iPad is offered at a one-time purchase price of $19.99. This pricing model is particularly attractive as it grants full access to all features without the need for a subscription or additional in-app purchases.

Affinity Designer for iPad is a standout choice for those seeking a versatile, high-performance design tool on the go. Its blend of precision vector tools, effective raster capabilities, and a one-time purchase price makes it an attractive option for professional designers and hobbyists alike.

6. Autodesk Sketchbook

Autodesk Sketchbook

Autodesk Sketchbook is a well-regarded drawing app known for its natural drawing experience, facilitated by an extensive variety of brushes and tools. It’s designed to cater to artists who crave a digital canvas that closely mimics the feel of traditional drawing, making it a favorite among illustrators, concept artists, and hobbyists.

The standout feature of Autodesk Sketchbook is its brush library. The app offers a wide range of customizable brushes, from pencils and inks to markers and textures, each designed to replicate the feel of its real-world counterpart. This diversity allows artists to explore different styles and techniques with ease. The customization options for brushes are vast, enabling users to fine-tune them to their specific preferences.

Another significant advantage of Sketchbook is its user-friendly interface. The app boasts a clean, unobtrusive design that maximizes the drawing space, allowing artists to focus on their work without distraction. The intuitive layout makes it easy for beginners to get started, while offering depth and flexibility for experienced users.

The app also includes features like layers, blend modes, and a robust set of drawing and selection tools, adding to its versatility. The support for pressure-sensitive styluses, like the Apple Pencil, enhances the natural drawing experience, offering precise control over line weight and opacity.

Key Features:

  • Extensive range of customizable brushes for various artistic styles.
  • User-friendly and unobtrusive interface, focusing on the drawing experience.
  • Layer support with blend modes for complex compositions.
  • Compatibility with pressure-sensitive styluses for precise control.
  • Guide tools like rulers and symmetry for accurate and proportionate drawings.


  • Autodesk Sketchbook is free to download and use, offering full access to its features without a subscription or in-app purchases. This makes it an incredibly appealing option for artists looking for a professional-grade drawing tool without the financial commitment.

Autodesk Sketchbook’s combination of a comprehensive brush library, user-friendly interface, and free price point makes it an excellent choice for anyone seeking a natural and versatile drawing experience on the iPad. Its accessibility and depth cater to a wide range of artists, from beginners to professionals.

7. ArtRage Vitae

ArtRage Vitae

ArtRage Vitae stands out in the digital art space with its emphasis on natural painting tools and realistic textures. This app is specifically tailored for artists who favor a traditional painting approach, offering a digital platform that closely simulates the experience of painting on canvas.

The hallmark of ArtRage Vitae is its lifelike painting and drawing tools. The app offers a range of brushes and tools that mimic real-world counterparts, such as oil brushes, watercolors, palette knives, and rollers. What sets these tools apart is their impressive ability to replicate the textures and fluidity of physical media. For instance, the oil brush produces strokes that appear to have actual thickness and texture, giving a 3D effect that’s strikingly similar to actual oil paint.

Another notable feature is the app’s canvas texture customization. Artists can adjust the grain and feel of the canvas, which influences how the paint interacts with the surface, further enhancing the realism of the painting experience. This level of control allows traditional artists to transition into digital art without losing the essence of their preferred medium.

ArtRage Vitae’s interface is intuitive, with a focus on ease of use. Tools and settings are easily accessible, allowing artists to change brushes, colors, and textures without disrupting their workflow. This accessibility makes it a great choice for artists at all levels, from beginners to professionals.

Key Features:

  • Realistic painting and drawing tools that mimic traditional media.
  • Customizable canvas textures for varied painting experiences.
  • Intuitive user interface with easy access to tools and settings.
  • Advanced color mixing and blending for natural-looking results.
  • Support for layers, allowing complex compositions and editing.


  • ArtRage Vitae is available for a one-time purchase of $4.99, making it an affordable option for those seeking high-quality digital painting tools without ongoing costs.

ArtRage Vitae is a superb choice for artists who want to bring the feel of traditional painting into the digital realm. Its focus on natural textures and tools, combined with an affordable one-time purchase price, makes it an appealing choice for traditional-style artists transitioning to digital art or digital artists seeking to replicate traditional techniques.

8. MediBang Paint for iPad

MediBang Paint for iPad

MediBang Paint for iPad is a specialized digital art app that caters primarily to comic and manga artists. It stands out with its array of tools specifically designed for creating comic panels, characters, and backgrounds. The app’s focus on the unique requirements of comic creation makes it a popular choice among manga enthusiasts and graphic novelists.

One of the key features of MediBang Paint is its extensive library of brushes. These brushes range from basic inking pens to textured brushes for shading and detailing, all tailored to mimic the style and feel of traditional manga art. The variety allows artists to experiment with different line weights and styles, essential in comic creation for conveying mood and action.

In addition to the brushes, MediBang Paint offers an impressive collection of pre-made backgrounds and comic panel layouts. These assets save artists considerable time, especially when working on complex scenes or needing to meet tight deadlines. The ability to drag and drop these elements into a comic strip simplifies the process, making it accessible even for beginners.

Another significant advantage of MediBang Paint is its cloud-sharing feature. Artists can save their work to the cloud, enabling them to access and continue their projects on different devices. This feature is particularly useful for artists who like to work on-the-go or collaborate with others.

Key Features:

  • Wide range of brushes designed for manga and comic art.
  • Pre-made backgrounds and comic panel layouts for efficient workflow.
  • Cloud-sharing capability for cross-device access and collaboration.
  • Layer management and vector tools for precise drawing and editing.
  • Text tools for adding dialogues and narration in comics.


  • MediBang Paint for iPad is free to download and use. It offers most of its features at no cost, with optional in-app purchases for additional materials and functions.

MediBang Paint for iPad is an excellent tool for comic and manga artists, blending specialized features with ease of use. Its focus on the essentials of comic creation, coupled with the convenience of cloud integration and the advantage of being free, makes it a standout choice for artists in this genre.

9. Inspire Pro

Inspire Pro

Inspire Pro is a dynamic drawing app for the iPad that is recognized for its fast and smooth rendering capabilities. It’s designed to cater to artists who require speed and efficiency, making it suitable for everything from quick sketches to detailed, high-quality artwork.

The standout feature of Inspire Pro is its impressive rendering speed. The app can handle rapid brush strokes and complex layers without lag, ensuring a seamless drawing experience. This responsiveness is particularly important for artists who work on time-sensitive projects or prefer a fast-paced drawing process.

In terms of tools, Inspire Pro offers a wide range of brushes that simulate real-world drawing and painting mediums. These tools are optimized for the iPad, providing a natural and intuitive drawing experience. The app also boasts a color blending feature that mimics the behavior of real paint, adding depth and realism to digital artwork.

The user interface in Inspire Pro is streamlined and user-friendly, designed to minimize distractions and maximize canvas space. This focus on a clutter-free environment allows artists to concentrate fully on their creative process.

Key Features:

  • Fast and responsive rendering for a smooth drawing experience.
  • A diverse array of brushes and tools for various artistic styles.
  • Natural color blending for realistic painting effects.
  • Simple, uncluttered user interface that maximizes workspace.
  • Advanced layering system for complex compositions.


  • Inspire Pro is available for a one-time purchase of $9.99. This makes it an affordable option for artists looking for a high-performance drawing app without recurring fees.

Inspire Pro is an excellent choice for artists who prioritize speed and efficiency in their digital art workflow. Its combination of fast rendering, diverse tools, and a user-friendly interface makes it suitable for a wide range of artistic endeavors, from casual sketches to intricate paintings.

10. Zen Brush 2

Zen Brush 2 iPad app

Zen Brush 2 is a unique drawing app for the iPad that specializes in calligraphy and ink painting. It is celebrated for its simplicity and zen-like user experience, making it ideal for artists and enthusiasts who appreciate the aesthetic and technique of traditional East Asian ink art.

The app’s primary focus is on emulating the feel and appearance of ink brushes on paper. Zen Brush 2 provides a realistic ink brush experience, where the brush strokes respond sensitively to the touch and pressure applied, closely mimicking the behavior of actual calligraphy brushes. This sensitivity makes it perfect for practicing calligraphy or creating ink paintings that require a high degree of control and subtlety.

Zen Brush 2’s simplicity extends to its interface, which is clean and minimalistic. This design choice aligns with the zen philosophy of focusing on the essentials, allowing users to immerse themselves in the art-making process without unnecessary distractions.

Another appealing aspect of Zen Brush 2 is its background selection feature. Users can choose from a variety of paper types, each affecting the ink’s spread and texture, further enhancing the authenticity of the calligraphy or painting experience.

Key Features:

  • Realistic ink brush simulation for authentic calligraphy and ink painting.
  • Sensitive response to touch and pressure for nuanced brushwork.
  • Clean, minimalistic interface for a focused and serene drawing experience.
  • Selection of paper types to influence ink spread and texture.
  • Ability to create and save high-resolution artworks.


  • Zen Brush 2 is available for a one-time purchase of $2.99, offering an accessible entry point for users interested in calligraphy and ink painting.

Zen Brush 2 is a standout app for those who are fascinated by the art of calligraphy and traditional ink painting. Its focus on delivering a realistic and serene brush experience, combined with its affordable price, makes it a favorite among both seasoned artists and newcomers to the art form.

Leave a Comment