Drawing Apps on the iPad

So I’ve been working on the iPad recently and have tried out some different apps for making art. I figured I’d get my thoughts down and give my impressions of the drawing apps that I’ve used. Also, I’m hoping to get some feedback on other apps I could try to achieve the effects I’m looking for. I’m using a 10.5-inch iPad Pro with Apple Pencil.

The Adobe apps: Adobe Sketch and Adobe Draw

These are both free apps and very full-featured. I can only guess that Adobe is starting us off with free goodies to get us hooked as these are not “lite” apps by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps someday in the future, Adobe will drop the hammer and make use of the apps dependent on subscription, but for now, they are free. Both apps have a similar user interface, with brush selection along the left and layers along the right. Sketch is pixel based, Draw is vector.

Adobe Sketch:

Adobe Sketch has a good assortment of brushes and drawing tools. It doesn’t have a particularly good pen tool however (perhaps they expect you to go into Adobe Draw for that) the pen tool just below the pencil in the screenshot is more like a marker, and doesn’t really allow you to do crisp variable width lines of the sort I’m partial to. The pencil effect is not as sensitive or variable as it is in Procreate or the Apple Notes app (which has a really excellent pencil effect.)


Adobe Sketch Screenshot

Adobe Draw:

I really like the way that Adobe Draw allows you to create just incredibly complex, sharp and clean vector images. The resulting image is very clearly a computer generated artwork, and in that it’s very true to itself and its nature. So I’m philosophically quite partial to it; it’s not trying to be something it’s not. That said, I’m still enough of a traditionalist that I prefer my images to look like ones that were drawn by my hand on paper.

Adobe Draw Screenshot



Yes. That’s really the name. I think of all the apps I tried (admittedly, only a few so far) Procreate may be my favorite. Although I like Adobe Draw’s extremely clean, sharp lines, Procreate is the app which has allowed me to approach my own personal style most closely. Fans of Machiavelli will recognize the doorway to Machiavelli’s Albergaccio, where he wrote the Prince and the Discourses. The UI is a bit more complex than Adobe’s, but there are a lot more (and better) types of tools to use.

Zen Brush

Here’s a bit of a fun app. If it had layer support and support for image resolutions other than screen res, I’d rate it higher, but it does a really excellent job of simulating sumi ink on paper, with options to use black, gray or red and wet or dry ink. There are a number of traditional papers, textures and backgrounds you can select. It’s quite nice:

Zen Brush Screenshot

Please feel free to direct me to any good drawing apps you feel that would be good to try. I’m still trying things out and experimenting. Although I literally stood on a stage and promised to make my next book entirely on paper, even doing calligraphy for the text, it looks like I may be moving in an opposite direction entirely. Who can know what the future holds?


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