In this blog post we compare Sketchbook vs Procreate, two of the most popular digital drawing software on the market.
This guide is ideal for an artist that wants to take their first steps in digital drawing & sketching… or maybe you are studying graphic design and want to find the best digital art software for your assessments.
Even though Procreate has several advanced capabilities for serious artwork compared to sketchbook, you can only utilize the app on the iPad. Sketchbook on the other hand is easy to use and allows you to download the app on Windows, Android, iPad and even iOS devices. If you use iPad, Procreate is hands down the better choice for advanced artists.
Related: How to Get Procreate on Windows)
You have likely come across Procreate and Sketchbook and then mentally debated between the two – which software you choose means investing your time into the learning and expansion of your digital painting toolset
We’ll further explore each software’s features and special functions; we hands-on tested and researched the main differences and identified the drawing features and tools of each app.
For example, Procreate allows for Apple Pencil usage, has more brushes, more tools, and is significantly more intuitive, but does that really mean it’s better for you as an artist?
In most cases, yes… but there’s a bit more to it than that depending on what level of an artist you consider yourself, your goals, and which operating system you prefer.
From brushes and painting toolbars to photo editing tools, nothing is left out from our ultimate comparison. Let us find out which app is better for drawing: Procreate or Sketchbook.
Procreate vs Sketchbook: Which is better?
Procreate is an innovative digital illustration app available only for Apple mobile devices. The app was launched in 2011 at App Store and is compatible with iPads and iPhones.
Unlike Procreate, you can easily download Sketchbook and use it on any Windows, Mac OS, Android, iPadOS or iOS device. So when it comes to compatibility, Sketchbook is simply the best app. And while Procreate costs about $10 (one-time purchase), Sketchbook is completely free to use.
See our hands on video of our sketchbook vs procreate comparison below:
What makes Procreate so popular? Let’s face it, Procreate has the intuitive design and interface that Apple has made so easy for creators to love. The way the features brushes, and tools are integrated into the Procreate app is unmatched and allows for some really interesting pieces of art.
Procreate also allows for a community that makes it very easy to integrate different brushes, textures, and how to guides. This is something a beginner or intermediate artist may find very attractive when choosing between sketchbook and procreate apps.
With more than 200 brushes (more can be imported) and an endless number of tools, Procreate is a frequent software choice for professionals. Although the learning curve is quite high, it’s also an excellent choice for beginners who want to create serious artwork.
More recently, Savage Interactive Pty Ltd has developed two different versions of the software: one for iPads and one (Procreate Pocket) for iPhones.
Why is Sketchbook useful? On the other hand, Sketchbook is also popular for good reasons. It closely mimics and competes with photoshop, which means manipulation and photo editing is capable (and rather fun).
The software was released by Autodesk, the most popular developer of 3D modeling software (AutoCAD, MAYA, 3DS MAX, and more).
Recently, its ownership was transferred to Sketchbook Inc. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. The company has quickly focused on improving the software to make it one of the best on the market.
Stylus differences: Procreate also requires an Apple Pencil for most artists, since the alternative stylus can’t match up to the intuitive, precise integration between the Apple Pencil and iPad.
With a super simple interface and hundreds of brushes, Sketchbook is a great choice for professionals and beginners alike. Of course, it does not have as many advanced features or intuitive hand gestures as Procreate. But that’s also why it’s more beginner-friendly than Procreate.
So what’s the best app for you? That depends entirely on your needs. For example, if you own an iPad Pro and need powerful software, Procreate is the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to quickly sketch a graphic or edit an image, Sketchbook is an excellent free alternative.
Core differences between Procreate and Sketchbook
Although Procreate and Sketchbook are primarily used for the same purpose of creating and editing digital art, there are some core differences.
First of all, Sketchbook can be used on all operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, Android, iPadOS and iOS). Therefore, you can easily download and use Sketchbook no matter what kind of touchscreen PC, tablet or smartphone you have.
See our post on Sketchbook vs Photoshop: Which Drawing Software is Better?
Procreate, on the other hand, is specifically designed and can only be used on iPadOS and iOS operating systems. This results in a difference in system requirements and supported devices.
- Has Free version
- More compatible (ex. Windows)
- Powerful for photo editing & graphic design
- Has most of what a beginner or professional requires for digital art
- Costs $10, a relatively low price point for most
- Works with the apple pencil
- Strong design capabilities for digital painting
- Highly customizable; texture and brush bundles to download
- Extremely high number of brushes to choose from
The next major difference between the two programs is their price. Sketchbook is a free illustration app. If you want to draw with Procreate, you need to make a one-time purchase on the App Store.
These apps also have very similar functions as Krita, but Krita is less complex than photoshop and more on par with procreate if we had to compare our hands on testing of all the apps.
When it comes to the actual drawing and editing functions, both apps are very powerful. However, Procreate is better for professionals for many reasons. For example, with Procreate you can easily work on multiple layers and then export the project unchanged.
It also offers more choices for artists (more brushes, etc.) and is the software with the most extensibility options. Now let us take a closer look at the features and tools each software offers.
Both softwares have the art tools such as rulers, color palette, shape tools, painting tools, and work great for realistic drawings and concept art.
Features and tools
As an app designed only for mobile devices (iPads and iPhones), Procreate is a pocket-sized art studio. In fact, this software has managed to integrate numerous hand gestures for the ultimate drawing and editing experience.
Apart from that, Procreate offers one of the most extensive collections of tools ever created. The app has countless brushes, pens, inks, and charcoal. And even if this collection is not enough for you, you can easily import any external brush manually.
Finally, Procreate includes a variety of other drawing and editing tools. The user-friendly toolbars and panels let you easily add filters and manipulate things like motion and streamline shape.
Note: Procreate does not work with Bluetooth Drawing Tablets or drawing tablets with a screen. Atleast not in the same way a laptop does, but if you see iOS compatibility this means you may be in luck.
On the other hand, Sketchbook is an amazing digital art app for beginners. Of course, Sketchbook Pro is also preferred by many professional designers. Still, Sketchbook perfectly combines a beginner-friendly interface with plenty of essential and advanced tools.
It has many brushes (more than 190) and editing tools like fill, perspective, crop, rulers, guide, and selection. There are of course disadvantages with each app, but I found less with procreate than sketchbook since I’m already using my stylus on my Apple iPad Air for some time.
In conclusion, Procreate is simply the best app when it comes to advanced features and tools. And when combined with the Apple Pencil, it offers an amazing drawing experience. However, that does not mean Sketchbook doesn’t have everything a beginner or professional artist needs.
Comparison Table: Procreate vs Sketchbook
Our in house digital artist team tested procreate and sketchbook before evaluating the pros and cons on paper and found compatibility benefits for sketchbook, but a more intuitive experience can be found on Procreate.
Below is a comparison table that shows the differences in features, tools, compatibility and price between Sketchbook vs Procreate:
|Graphic design, digital art, photography editing
|Graphic design, digital art, photography editing
|Sketchbook Inc. (initially released by Alias System Corporation)
|March 16, 2011
|September 17, 2009
|5X Patch 8 (v5.1.8) as of May 27, 2021
|V5.2.5 (July 30, 2021)
|$9.99 (Procreate), $4.99 (Procreate Pocket)
|Free-to-use (Sketchbook), $19.99 (Sketchbook Pro)
|iPadOS, iOS. Check the supported devices or Procreate and Procreate Pocket here
|MacOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS. Check the system requirements for Sketchbook here
|Procreate is available in many languages (English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish)
|Sketchbook offers multilingual support as well (English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and more)
When making the switch from sketchbook to iPad (or vice versa), you’ll want to take into consideration keyboard shortcuts, widgets, erasing, stroke stabilization, and accessibility when considering which app you’ll want to use since different devices are required.
What is Procreate?
As the most popular digital illustration software for iPads and iPhones, Procreate is an advanced app for artists to design everything from digital painting to drawing and graphic design. It is a top-notch app that will help you express your art and create beautiful digital drawings and animations in no time.
If you’re using procreate on a phone, see our list of Phone Ring Holders that work with Wireless Charging.
Procreate includes numerous advanced features and comes with an endless library of drawing tools and brushes. This means that you will have ultimate control over your projects.
This software is very well known among professional designers and artists for good reasons.
It can be combined with the best active stylus out there, Apple pencil. If you add the endless hand gestures it provides, Procreate is an amazing software that makes designers and artists feel like drawing on physical paper.
What is Sketchbook?
Sketchbook is one of the most beginner friendly digital sketching software on the market. This isn’t the only reason why Sketchbook has become extremely popular. The most interesting feature of Sketchbook is that it allows you to quickly transport any idea on digital paper.
For this reason Sketchbook is considered one of the best software for draft projects. Most professionals use Sketchbook to quickly conceptualize ideas before they lose them. The fact that Sketchbook can be used on any Windows, MacOs, Android and iOS device is also really helpful.
Finally, Sketchbook also offers an extensive collection of creative tools and features. With a huge collection of brushes and numerous editing tools, Sketchbook simply makes digital art easy.
Procreate vs Autodesk Sketchbook: Which is better for student artists, designers?
Both Procreate and Sketchbook are popular software for art and graphic design students. The question of which software is best for a student is not easy to answer. In fact, both apps offer many student-friendly features and are perfect for getting started in digital art.
However, there are a few things to consider before choosing the best software for you. First of all, while Procreate is not expensive, Sketchbook is completely free to use. This is a plus, especially for students on a budget.
Also, Sketchbook supports Windows, macOS, and Android devices. So if you do not own an iPad or iPhone, you do not have to buy one to use Sketchbook. Then, when you consider that Sketchbook has one of the best user interfaces for beginners and numerous creative tools, it’s clear why many students prefer it.
On the other hand, Procreate is by far the more powerful software of the two. There are many reasons why numerous professionals prefer it over Sketchbook. Therefore, it may be the better choice for students who want to become serious professionals in the future.
And if you already own an iPad, Procreate is very affordable and can be paired with the latest Apple Pencil.
Note: See our post on the Best Adjustable iPad Stand holders as these can help with ergonomics when drawing for long periods of time.
So even though Procreate is a pay-to-own software and is only compatible with Apple devices, it is a better choice for professionals. It becomes obvious that the final choice depends on the personal needs of the student.
What Software is better than Procreate?
Procreate is definitely one of the best software ever developed for digital art. It has numerous advantages over its competitors and is the perfect choice for iPad users. However, the app is not ideal for every professional.
For example, there are numerous advanced apps out there for photo editing on a tablet or desktop.
Although you can edit photos with Procreate, the tools provided are pretty basic.
Therefore, if you are a photographer and need the most advanced photo editing tools, Procreate might not be the best choice for you. You’ll want lightroom or photoshop type apps for this.
Adobe Photoshop, for example, has countless photo editing features and is by far the best choice for photographers, wether they use a stylus in Adobe photoshop or not.
When it comes to creating digital art, Procreate is a very powerful software. However, many professional artists prefer to use software like Adobe Illustrator or Sketchbook. Why is that? Well, Procreate cannot be used on a Windows or Android device.
Note: Some tablets for Lightroom & Photo Editing work better than others for artists based on their goals.
This means you can not use Procreate to draw on modern graphics tablets like the latest Wacom Cintiq Pro. Although Procreate offers a great drawing experience, graphics tablets like Cintiq Pro 24 are designed exclusively for this purpose.
Which is better for professionals: Sketchbook or Procreate?
Procreate works best for professional artists who plan to utilize an iPad. However, if you’re using windows, then Sketchbook is the better choice. If you enjoy drawing on a piece of paper and then transferring/converting the sketch into a digital drawing, then SketchBook is also the better choice.
However, in the past, Sketchbook wouldn’t let you export files that had layers in it, we have yet to test this to confirm if this is still an issue, but Procreate allows for layer export within files. When using selection tools, I found Sketchbook to be easier to use, which isn’t a surprise since I was taught how to draw digitally on windows originally.
Why is Procreate so Popular?
Procreate is popular for the same reason final cut pro and other software made with Apple products in mind: because they work very smoothly without flaws and are very intuitive to navigate. The user interface of procreate feels more smooth and easier to adapt to compared to other drawing applications.
However, Procreate is most likely not worth the usage if you’re not using an apple pencil. There are too many benefits to the apple pencil for creatives to take advantage of, however the zagg pro seems to be the best fit if you do decide to take this route of using an alternative stylus.
Should I get and use both Sketchbook and procreate?
I personally recommend learning one tool at a time and become a master with the toolkit it provides. However, if you really want to compare the two, then hands-on testing which you prefer is ideal. You can of course use both together, but keep in mind that Pro create is not able to be used on windows, so you’ll need different devices for the two if you don’t have an iPad just yet. (or Procreate pocket).
When comparing procreate vs sketchbook, both apps have excellent reviews and a large following, it’s not always easy to decide which one is better depending on your needs on your own.
If you’re using an iPad and Apple Pencil, then Procreate is the ideal choice for digital artists who want to learn and stick to apple devices. Otherwise, Sketchbook has greater compatibility and is ideal for anyone who wants to utilize a desktop using windows/mac, or android in addition to iOS.
Sketchbook is free, while Procreate costs $10. Sketchbook closely functions like photoshop, while procreate behaves uniquely as its developed by apple and thus, has the Apple sleek gestures and intuitive app design & interface.
Procreate is a powerful tool, that allows you to easily swap between your kit; colors, brush library, color wheel, eraser, layers and more. However, many artists want to use a Wacom or drawing tablet with a screen in addition to their windows laptop; which sketchbook allows for.