Favortie Four: iPad Painting and Drawing Apps

Posted by Lisa Caplan on August 19th, 2011

The multi-touch screen has allowed the creation of apps that make digital painting feel as natural as dragging a finger across a canvas. That’s because that is precisely what they do. The iPad changed the digital painting scene even further with its large bright screen capable of replicating the size and feel of a sketchpad or canvas. This week we’ve collected or four favorite apps that let us paint and draw like the pros.


With a powerful paint engine, desktop-quality tools and brushes Procreate is a standout. Work effortlessly with up to 16 layers with 100 undo/redo levels. There is zero lag –painting is in real time. The interface is clean and intuitive. What separates procreate from other painting apps is the brush selection. There are 12 pre-sets, which allow for an amazing amount of configurability, but Procreate is also the only app that allows users create and import their own brushes. This gives the serious and detail-oriented artist the tools to create precisely what they need.

Sketch Club

Aside from offering high quality standard painting and sketching features Sketch Club also lets users create pixel-art. Another feature that makes Sketch Club an original is that users can record themseves making art and upload the video to YouTube from within the app. There is also an active user-community where are masterpieces can be shared and even critiqued.

Zen Brush

Whether for sketching, doodling or calligraphy, Zen Brush is an amazingly simple, elegant and fluid app. Background templates simulate 29 surfaces, many porous most distinct. Users control brush size and opacity, but that’s about it. Its simplicity is truly Zen and the results anyonecan achieve regardless of training or experience are stunning. Easy posting to Twitter is incorporated.


ArtRage may not the professional’s choice, but no other painting app we’ve tried does so much so easily. It keeps track of how much paint is on the canvas, so users can blend colors under the brush, or lay down thick lines of pigment from a tube for flattening with palette knives. Watercolors react to the wetness of the brush and paper beneath, and canvas grain affects the look of brushstrokes. Drier pigments break up on the surface to create textured effects. ArtRage allows photo to be imported and converted them to oils for smearing. Pics can also be pinned to the canvas to serve as a guide.