Before the release of the iPad and touch-based mobile devices, if there was one creative field taking advantage of touch screen technology it was visual artists. Weather it be designers, animators, or comic artists, touch screens have always been the best way for traditional artists to play in a digital world.

It’s not surprising that drawing apps of varying levels of quality have popped up quickly up in the Apple Store, especially with the release of the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil still forthcoming. Thankfully, designers have been gifted a whole range of really amazing products and applications, and we felt it was time to shed some light on some of our favourites.

Flip through them below.


Paper by fiftythree

fiftythree released Paper in March of 2012 and it has been blowing away people ever since. It hosts some of the most effective drawing tools of any app we used. Instead of focusing on trying to recreate the look of specific tools(ie: a pencil, pen, or paint brush), Paper’s tools were designed to recreate the experience the tool provides (ie: sketching, writing, or colouring). The app also has a really intuitive colour mixing interface that needs to be experienced first hand. The app has recently become completely free, added a new collection of useful tools(Diagram, Fill, and Cut), and in our opinion is the best reason to leave your sketchbook at home.

Draw by Adobe

Adobe Illustrator Draw

The unlimited possibilities provided by a digital drawing app means that your doodles can become something more useful. Adobe’s Draw embraces this concept by being the only vector-based graphics system on the list, and was conceived as a smaller sibling version to Adobe’s popular desktop application Illustrator. The scalability provided by vector graphics makes Draw a great app for graphic designers and illustrators, and it’s connection to Creative Cloud means the ideas you create on your tablet can be fully realized back on your desktop.


Forge by Adonit

Adonit has been in the tablet drawing business for a while, producing a range of popular stylus’ designed to provide a more fluid and precise drawing experience. Earlier this year, Adonit decided to take things to the next logical step and released their own drawing app called Forge. When drawing, Forge provides you multiple layers to work on, and also provides you the ability to copy those individual layers into completely new files. All your files, including imported photos, are further organized into projects. Utilizing these two features provides a designer with a unique way to develop and iterate on their ideas. The app also takes advantage of a great UI trick that lets you place any file off screen, where they can then be accessed and used anywhere in the app.



Astropad Graphics Tablet

While this app costs a whopping $22.99, it allows you to do a lot more than the other apps in this round up. With Astropad Graphics Tablet you’ll be able to draw right into Photoshop or another desktop applications including  Illustrator, Lightroom, Corel Painter, Manga Studio, Pixelmator, and more. It also features palm rejection, pinch and zoom, customisable shortcuts and more to make the user experience pressure sensitive.


Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

This Autodesk app may not be free, but for $4.59 you get a sophisticated tool for sketching, painting, and drawing on iPad (if you don’t want to pay, you can also download the free version). On the basic level Sketchbook offers ten different preset brushes, sixteen blending modes, synthetic pressure-sensitivity, a layer editor, as well as transformative tools. On the pro side, you get a hundred different brushes, the entire Copic Color Library, even more blending modes and layers, as well as gradient fills and other selection tools.

This app also features pressure-senseitive controls which will work beautifully with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, but if you need to get more complex, you can always export your project to Photoshop.