For those iPad users who also happen to be into digital art or those who have friends and family indulging in digital art as a hobby or profession, it is glaringly obvious that for all of its spectacular features, the iPad wasn’t really created as a drawing tablet. If you belong to either of the above-mentioned groups, I’ve got some good news for you.
There are a lot of third-party developers and manufacturers who have released some great apps and accessories for iPad users in order to make the drawing experience as perfect as possible. There are a lot of such apps and accessories out there, but if you want to find out the best product in each of these categories, you might want to stick till the end of this post in order to get all the necessary information you’ll need before using any of these.
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Top iPad apps for digital artists
Procreate is a widely used versatile art app that is perfect for anyone wanting to create expressive artwork or beautiful animations. It has a simple interface which allows newbies to learn their way around the app in a really short amount of time. With its many features and intuitive tools, Procreate is the perfect art studio to take with you anywhere. Using this app is quite the experience for first-timers. The way this app is designed has led to it being awarded the Apple Design Award two times and has gotten glowing reviews from users all around the world.
Procreate provides its users with a comprehensive library of brushes, from pencils and inks to charcoals and artistic brushes that create beautiful painterly textures. Each brush can be customized using the Brush Studio, or you can download thousands of brushes to suit any style you can imagine. But if that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, you’ll be surprised to know that you can even create your own custom brushes in the app.
Another area that Procreate shines in is colorimetry. The app allows you full control over the colors you want to put in your art, and the easily movable color wheel happens to be a great help in this regard. So if you happen to be a bit picky with your colors and are always trying to find just the right shade for your art, this app is something you should definitely use.
- Simple interface.
- Easy to learn and use.
- Lots of features like brushes, pencils, pens etc.
- Vectors are not supported
- Cannot create high-resolution images in large print
- Is a paid app.
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2. Adobe Illustrator
Artists who have some experience in doing artwork on Windows or Mac computers will definitely be familiar with this app. Adobe Illustrator happens to be one of the most used computer programs for creating stunning digital artwork. Even though it’s been a historically desktop-oriented program, Apple has added an iPad and iPhone compatible version to the App Store in 2020 along with other Adobe applications.
Even though the features available in the iOS version of Illustrator have been diminished when compared to the desktop program, it offers a great user experience. The layout of Illustrator is very easy to get a hang of, and the emphasis on more tablet friendly tools is a great thing to see. You can download this app for free from the App Store as a stand-alone app, but if you’ve got a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud as a whole or Illustrator as a standalone app, you can use the same credentials for the iPad app too.
- Easy to use.
- Smart editing tools.
- Intuitive for beginners.
- Great to use with other Adobe Apps.
- Premium features require a subscription.
- Only available on devices above iOS 14.
3. Clip Studio Paint
The Clip Studio Paint app is well-known among desktop users of artwork programs, but you can also choose to use it on an iPad in case you want a more mobile setup. With this app, it is easier to create animated characters and subjects. You can import your files from here to another app on your device. You can use it to animate characters too, and it also has a smart fill tool for easy coloring of the illustration.
When you’re using Clip Studio Paint, you can create art on whatever device you own without any hassle. Connecting your iPhone or Android smartphone to your main computer or tablet device over Wi-Fi in Companion mode will allow you to use it as a handheld shortcut remote. That way, you can easily preview your projects as you work on them, mix colors, and import reference photos from your smartphone’s camera roll straight to your canvas.
- Accessibility is very good.
- Compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS.
- Phones and Tablets can be used as drawing boards when connected to computers.
- Animation mode.
- AI technology.
- Pro and Ex tier pricing varies a lot.
- Animation does not process audio.
4. Affinity Designer
If you’re a fan of vector designing on your iPad, this app is just for you. The Affinity Designer app has been developed with good optimization for people using their Apple Pencils or styluses. Originally developed as a desktop program, Affinity Designer has since been launched for iPads in order to appeal to a wider consumer base.
Now, we’ve tried out a lot of vector graphic apps on the iPad, and Affinity Designer is undoubtedly one of the best. It’s got all of the core features that you need, like shape creation and editing, drawing curves, brush and symbol editing, gradient creation, and more.
There are also some great UI features that make using the app more intuitive, such as the toolbar automatically hiding when you start to draw over a section of the canvas. This is especially useful when working on a smaller iPad. You also have a lot of options for customizing shapes, and a handy asset manager for creating reusable elements. UI designers will find this particularly useful.
- Vector designing is possible.
- Advanced creative tools
- Only one-time payment needed
- New features not being added
- Different controls and shortcuts than other programs, resulting in a learning curve.
5. Sketch Club
Sketch Club is a design app that allows you to create stunning digital art without having to pay large fees for the more expensive programs and applications. This app also has an integrated community which helps newbies in terms of motivation and inspiration.
As far as the features included in this app go, there are a lot of tools in this app that go a long way in providing you with a good experience. Brush tools, smudging, blurring, filling, procedurals, selection, smudging, text, vector tools and shape tools are some of the highlights of this application.
- Not expensive
- Great features.
- Layer support
- Canvas can go to 16K with presets
- Not available for Windows
- Collaborations require Apple devices (iPad, MacBook)
Top iPad accessories for Digital Artists
1. Apple Pencil
The Apple Pencil is a stylus created specifically with the iPad and iPad Pro in mind. Even though there are many other styluses out there, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. The Apple Pencil, on the other hand, has been optimized according to the hardware and software of iPads. That’s why you can observe pixel-perfect precision, imperceptible lag, tilt and pressure sensitivity, and support for palm rejection. Hence the Pencil is extremely easy to use whenever you need to use it.
- Almost lag-free experience
- Optimized for iPad
- Optimum sensitivity
- No eraser end.
- The back cap is easy to lose.
- Tends to role
- Too long for kids
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2. Paperlike Screen Protector
The Paper-like screen protector allows digital artists to be mentally free from the fear of damaging their iPad screen. The features of this protector include scratch resistance, anti-glare etc. If you’ve been browsing about iPads, it is pretty evident to bump into this brand quite often and rightly so. If you regularly use your iPad for drawing or sketching, it’s possible that you already have this accessory equipped to your device.
The Paperlike screen protector, as its name suggests, is a screen protector that provides the screen of the iPad with much-needed protection while providing a paper like user experience. Fingerprint and scratch resistance features take the user experience of people using these protectors to the next level.
- Scratch resistant.
- Paper-like feel
- Fingerprint resistant
- Anti-glare display
- The rough texture of the protector.
- Not easy to install for beginners.
3. Magic Keyboard
The Magic Keyboard by Apple is a great accessory to have when using an iPad, especially if you use your device to create digital art. Even though this product was not created with the iPad in mind, a keyboard can come in very handy for the user.
They can speed up your workflow by providing easily accessible and simple shortcut keys. In the case of the Magic Keyboard, it’s comfortable to type on, features a USB-C connector to keep your iPad charged, and its built-in trackpad is the best in the game. Due to this, having a magic keyboard with your device is something not to be missed.
- Easy to use
- USB-C port
- Good quality trackpad
- Very expensive
- Uses an iPad battery for its charging.
RELATED: Cheaper Yet Effective Alternatives to the Magic Keyboard
4. Desktop mounts and drawing stands
Whatever position you like to keep your iPad in while drawing, having a good quality stand goes a long way to keep the iPad in your desired orientation. This allows you to work in an efficient manner without needing to put your body through contortions and undue stress. Creating art is something that definitely gets affected by the mood and overall feel of the artist, and being in an optimal position definitely has a positive impact.
There are lots of drawing stands available online, and most of them have the same make, so buying one is a simple business all things considered. We’ve covered some of the high-rated desktop mounts for iPad that will be relished by artists and notetakers alike.
- Suitable for uneven surfaces
- Keeps the device in the required orientation.
- Usually not too strong
- Can break easily.
5. Power Bank
Being able to draw or sketch on your iPad on the go is an excellent facility nowadays, but what if you didn’t remember to charge your iPad the night before? Or what would happen if you had a full battery but you used up all of that already? In such cases, it is always good to have a backup in the form of a power bank.
There are a lot of companies out there that sell power banks for iPads, but a discussion about the best out of those is a topic for a different post. Suffice to say that if you are a digital artist, having a power bank handy can save you in some tough spots.
Here we have covered some of the best portable chargers and power banks you can get for the iPad and keep the device juiced up on the go.
- Recharge your iPad wherever you are
- The same power bank can be used for recharging a number of devices
- Easy to carry and set up.
- Has a limited capacity.
- Could be bulky
- That’s expensive.
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Do specialized apps & accessories make a difference
Well, I don’t happen to be a digital artist myself, but according to the reviews shared by the professionals in this niche, having specialized apps and accessories has turned drawing on an iPad into a surreal experience.
According to them, using these apps and accessories allows the artists to fully utilize their muse and talents in a comfortable yet productive manner. Having these apps and accessories also means that you do not need to buy a dedicated drawing tablet when you can just use your iPad to create art.
In conclusion, there are a lot of apps and accessories available for digital artists that can be used by digital artists to great effect. The lists shared above are by no means complete, but they do have some of the top-tier apps and accessories mentioned. Designer App, Adobe Illustrator etc. are hand down some of the best and most popular iPad apps among designers.
Similarly, different accessories have different sorts of accessories that can help them make the most out of their abilities. It is our hope that after reading this post, you’ll be able to find a good combination of apps and accessories to make the most out of your workflow.