6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad



Someone either much wiser or just much snottier than me once said, “Painting is easy. Art is hard.” These apps can get you painting on your iPad. Is it art? It depends who you ask – just don’t ask that guy.

brushes ipad appBrushes - iPad edition ($7.99. Steve Sprang) I know, I know, “stop right there.” For years, Brushes has been the gold standard of painting apps for the iPhone, and the iPad edition was re-engineered to take advantage of the new platform. Work in up to 6 layers, and blend them in various modes. Select from a full desktop-worthy color picker, save your favorites as swatches, and undo and redo to your heart’s content. The kicker: a replay of every brushstroke, in-app. That means you can work on a smallish file on your iPad, and replay the work you did on a higher-resolution file on your desktop computer. No wonder national magazine covers have been painted with this app. (Also, read our Brushes for iPhone review.)

layers app for ipad artLayers – Pro Edition for iPad ($5.99, J. Benjamin Gotow) Like Brushes, Layers allows playback of your painting, but only to “watch it come to life.” Its canvas is limited to two sizes, neither larger than one megapixel (1028 x 1028.) But within these limitations, Layers packs a wallop. Up to five layers with adjustable, fifteen customizable brushes, intuitive pinch-and-spread pan/zoom, and minimal lag time make Layers perfect for the digital painter that isn’t wedded to the print medium at the end of the line. Compare paintings with a Layers community, comment, and receive feedback.

sketchbook pro create art on ipadSketchbook Pro ($7.99, AutoDesk) AutoDesk’s been making graphics programs for desktop computers for as long as there have been desktop computers, and Sketchbook is the App they ported first to the iPhone and then to the iPad. It’s just what it sounds like: a single sub-megapixel resolution of 768 x 1024, with a lot of artistic freedom and tools. AutoDesk thought through their multi-touch interface and brought a whole new meaning to “fingerpainting” – you use swipes, pinches, and spreads to get around, pan, and zoom, and Sketchbook brings pressure sensitivity to its brushes.

art studio ipad appArtstudio for iPad ($2.99, Sylwester Los) Artstudio offers the standard painting tools, like brushes, buckets, and airbrushes, and borrows tools like dodge/burn from the photo editing world. Artstudio takes pains to bring the beginner along, offering tutorials in styles of art, and within a 1-megapixel or smaller world, delivers fast performance for its impressive level of complexity. Multi-touch navigation, nearly unlimited undo/redo. If you never need to move to print reproduction, this is a full-fledged professional painting app.

artists touch painting ipad artArtist's Touch for iPad ($5.99, Artamata, Inc.) If you’re a photographer but wish you were a fine artist, Artist’s Touch is for you. Artist’s Touch will turn your source picture into a “digital blueprint,” then let you fill in the textures and colors, or you can work from a blank canvas. Artist’s Touch doesn’t think in terms of painting effects; it more accurately gives you digital art tools modeled on real world equivalents, like charcoal, pen, oil paint, or watercolor, and includes the texture of your canvas in your options.

sketches 2 drawing app for ipad artSketches 2 ($4.99, LateNightSoft X.L.) Easy and intuitive, Sketches 2 is not an art app that makes you feel you got maximum bang for your art school buck. In fact, it’s more an app for making flyers for your non-art-school party. It’s a sketching program “for the rest of us,” and it does things the rest of us do, like integrating maps and type so you can make a map to the non-art-school party, and clip-art, so you can illustrate it. If you never painted a bowl of fruit or a reclining nude, but you want to draw a mustache on a photo or devil horns on a downloaded painting, Sketches is your app.

Do you draw, paint or sketch on your iPad? Which is the best app for making art on the go?

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  • http://twitter.com/ustechtweets/status/16723026748 technology updates

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad - AppCraver http://goo.gl/fb/BdLoV #ipad #news #apple

  • http://twitter.com/audio_college/status/16727118218 firescience

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad: AppCraver
    Artist's Touch doesn't think in terms of painting effects; it mo... http://bit.ly/9pdLYr

  • http://twitter.com/windygardener/status/16728443955 Fiona Cox

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad http://bit.ly/90VJDo

  • http://twitter.com/just_ask_ellen/status/16741158103 Elllen Roberts

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad http://bit.ly/9vs7Rz

  • http://twitter.com/argentbeauquest/status/16793741625 Lisa Oram

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad http://bit.ly/9apKRW #iphone (via @appcraver)

  • http://twitter.com/thebookwright/status/16794370753 thebookwright

    RT @argentbeauquest: 6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad http://bit.ly/9apKRW #iphone (via @appcraver) - agreed & I wud add Drawing Pad

  • http://twitter.com/manikarthik/status/16833744460 Mani Karthik

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad http://bit.ly/bpzn3e

  • http://editorialengine.com Michael Alexander

    What about Adobe Ideas? Adobe claims this digital sketchbook is competent enough to be an extension to Adobe Illustrator. That's probably a bit much but it's certainly as capable--if not more--than the apps you mentioned. Best of all, it's free.

  • Barbara Holbrook

    Hmm... I haven't tried that yet, but FREE?! That's too good to pass up. Thanks for the tip, Michael.

  • Matt

    Personally I prefer Sketchbook Pro from Autodesk, I like the interface and it seems to flow nicely for my method of working.

    I like to use it not only for sketching - which has since buying the iPad drastically cut down on my paper and pen costs, but also as a web developer it allows me to actually sketch out a a mock up concept or wireframes while with the client present to get feedback as it is being done.

    Sketches 2's interface felt kind of childish to me and was just more annoying then intuitive, thought I can understand why they went that route. Since I am use to being in Photoshop, inDesign and Illustrator all day I guess I am not the target market for it. Overall the app itself does work very well.

    I have also tried Layers and Brushes and though both are great apps, I prefer the work flow of Sketchbook Pro. I have not yet tried Adobe Ideas, I will have to give it a go - especially since it is free lol.

  • http://twitter.com/peterdurand/status/17684303719 peterdurand

    6 Drawing Apps to Make Art on the iPad - http://b2l.me/5jd6u (Now then. If I only had an iPad!)

  • Nik

    I own just about everyone of those! Galaxart is pretty cool too if you're into spacey art.

  • Melissa

    I have both ArtStudio Pro and Brushes, and I have to say that Brushes is hands down the best drawing app I have tried. It's intuitive, easy to use, powerful, easy to sketch, paint, draw, and doodle. I find that I keep trying to do things on ArtStudio Pro that it just can't do, or is limited, or is just frustrating to actually do.

    My children have tried both as well and they like Brushes much better (ages 8 and 5). We've made some lovely things on it. I have it both on my iPad and on the iPhone and love it on both platforms.

  • Kara

    Adobe Ideas is free, but to add layers, it'll cost you. Pretty sneaky.

  • Joe

    iDraw n Paint, low cost fun drawing app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idraw-n-paint/id376110891

  • http://blackpawn.com blackpawn

    a new sketching app that is really great is Sketch Club. definitely worth checking out! (http://app.sketchclub.com)

  • http://www.adtwik.com Omar

    With this apps getting more and more powerful every day I was thinking in creating a website dedicated to just showcasing art created with the ipad. I even registered ipadarts.net but have no idea were to start....

    I personally use Sketch Pro and Brushes.

  • Draweripad

    Sketchbook pro is the best one, long steps ahead the other Apps... If u Are looping for something professional, this is the only option... Together with a one pogo stylus for iPad

  • http://www.agoodread.com Judith

    The absolute best painting app that simulates traditional painting is ArtRage.

    For sketching, I like iDraw.

    Both apps are intuitive, EZ to use and produce really great art.

  • Roberta Faulhaber

    I completely agree that ArtRage is incredibly painterly. I also use Brushes and Sketchbook Pro. The fun part about Brushes is you can play back the creative process, and if you have a mac, you can import it into imovie and have fun with it...

    I'm all for participating in a website to showcase art with the ipad.
    How can we proceed?

  • Roberta Faulhaber

    Oh yes, and Sketchbook pro has great "brushes"...

  • http://www.ionyo.com SG

    I personally like Draw Perfect it a well-focused and intuitive drawing application. Other drawing applications either oversimplify or offer tons of features you probably don’t need.
    Draw Perfect offers a balance between ease of use and powerful features.

  • http://www.ionyo.com SG
  • Dan Sopala

    Artrage is the shiznit! the accuracy in which it blends an smudges color is unmatched. This is an incomplete list without it.

  • Hansi

    Try out Paint from ABCiSoft. It is the Funniest Paint App for both Iphone and Ipad.

  • Phil

    All the comments are wrong. There is no 'best' app. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I own all the apps mentioned and find most to be frustrating in one way or another.
    There are three aspects to consider when using any art app...
    1) features
    2) speed
    3) intuitiveness

    When you gain one area, you usually make a compromise in another. For instance, ArtRage has the most features of the bunch, but it's by far the slowest. ArtStudio can fill-in for a photography app, but it's interface is frustrating.

    Perhaps the one app which gives the best all-around strengths in all three areas is Sketch Club. It's low price also make it the overall best of the bunch if you can only have one app.

  • rinkey dinky


  • Josh Drawer

    You should try this one, it's my favorite drawing app, by far the fastest engine.

  • MikiDraw

    what about the apple app 'sketch club' is that a good system to make art with?

  • http://www.effectmatrix.com/total-video-converter hoo9

    There's a wonderful iPad drawing app named MyBrushes is missing in your
    list.The whole drawing process could be saved as drawing video and playback

  • Espazo En Branco

    Unlike any other, very new, but surely the most creative http://2dapp.es
    Painting, Drawing but also for Collage, Mixed Media, Illustration,Text, Photo Manipulation, Textures...
    Beautifully Designed Interface and fully customisable Toolsets! iPad only though....