Skip to Content

What Stylus Pen do Artists use to Draw on iPad? A Beginners Guide

What Stylus Pen do Artists use to Draw on iPad? A Beginners Guide

What Stylus Pen do Artists use to Draw on iPad? The most common pen you will see a professional digital artists use to draw on the iPad is the Apple Pencil. This is because the Apple Pencil is designed to work more effectively than other stylus with the iPad screen and has pressure sensitivity levels that match that of professional, studio-level drawing.

The Apple Pencil is the stylus professional artists use to create digital art on the iPad. Apple Pencil models are the most used, most reliable, stylus pens with full compatibility for drawing on the iPad. This is because it’s created by Apple and communicates more effectively with the iPad than any other device.

Related: Best paper screen protector iPad (to assist artists and make the display feel like a traditional pen on paper experience)

In this Article I’ll be explaining what Stylus Pen artists use to draw on the iPad as well as the alternatives and every aspect and detail related to this for a beginner to draw on the iPad or for a professional looking to migrate from their pen drawing tablet over to the iPad for drawing.

Related: Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists

What Stylus Pens do artists use for Drawing on iPad? 

What Stylus Pens do artists use for Drawing on iPad

Unless someone already has experience with a drawing pen tablet like the Wacom Tablets or XP Pen devices they’ll likely use the Apple pencil 1 or 2.

Since there are so many different types of drawing apps for iOS devices it is difficult at first but with a little practice you’ll get the hang of it and be able to use any app designed for artists when you have the proper pen and iPad setup.

Features/AttributesApple Pencil 2nd GenAdonit Note+Wacom Stylus (for use with Wacom Tablets)
CompatibilityiPad Pro, iPad AirMost iPads (from 3rd gen and on)Windows-based systems, requires Wacom tablet
Tilt SupportYesYesYes
Palm RejectionAdvancedAdvancedAdvanced
ConnectionBluetoothBluetoothUsually USB to computer
ChargingMagnetic attachment to iPadUSB-CVaries by model
Shortcut Buttons/GesturesGestures (e.g., double-tap)Two shortcut buttonsVaries by model, usually has buttons
App CompatibilityHigh (Procreate, Photoshop, etc.)Moderate (Issues with some iPadOS apps like Procreate)High, but requires computer
Build QualityHighModerateHigh

The only other time you’ll see a professional artist use another stylus pen rather than the Apple Pencil on iPad is if their using a different operating system like windows; in which a laptop or desktop is required.

The Apple Pencil also has a pressure sensor that communicates via bluetooth, which makes drawing on the iPad more realistic than using a finger or another active/capacitive stylus without a bluetooth connection

These devices all accomplish the same goal, however the xp-pen and Wacom tablets actually convert the user’s hand movements into digital strokes using a separate tablet that connects to the laptop and work with Microsoft windows.

Related: See Wacom vs iPad: Which is better for digital art?

The Wacom Cintiq provides artists with the perfect pen and drawing surface. The Apple Pencil in the past was a bit more restricted when it came to drawing, but it’s improved since then. Especially for graphic design; it’s core drawing app, procreate, is one of the best for sketching and drawing.

Also see: Review of the Paperlike screen protector for iPad

Apple Pencil: why its the most common used Pen by Pro artists on iPad Air and iPad Pro

Apple Pencil_ why its the most common Pen used by Pro artists on iPad Air_Pro (2)

There are many reasons why the latest Apple Pencil 2 is used for drawing on iPads. Serious artists can’t compromise on quality. Likewise, because the Apple Pencil 2 has every feature a professional needs, it is the most popular drawing tool amongst iPad artists.  

Although Apple hasn’t revealed the specific pressure sensitivity its pens utilize, both the first and second-generation

Apple Pencils provide an amazing, lag-free drawing experience. Moreover, the breathtaking Retina displays of the latest iPad Pro and Air are great for drawing and aid in the Apple Pencil responsiveness. 

Many professionals argue that the more expensive iPads and the Apple Pencil 2 offer the most natural feel an artist can find when drawing on a tablet. Accordingly, this natural feel is the main reason why many beginners prefer this combination, too, even though it’s pricey. 

The Apple Pencil is the stylus professional artists use to create digital art on the iPad. Apple Pencil models are the most used, most reliable, stylus pens with full compatibility for drawing on the iPad. This is because it’s created by Apple and communicates more effectively with the iPad than any other device.

Moreover, since the Apple Pencil 2nd gen and 1st gen is specially designed for iPads, it doesn’t have traditional shortcut buttons. Instead it uses gestures like double tapping; which you can swap between tools and eraser selections midst drawing, sketching or digital painting in apps like Procreate.

See our post: Zagg Pro vs Apple Pencil vs Adonit Note+ vs Adonit Pixel (3rd party Stylus Comparison for the iPad)

Most professional artists have embraced that Apple’s iPads introduce gestures instead of shortcut buttons on their Apple Pencil.

  • In fact, once you get used to them, the drawing experience on apps like Procreate automatically becomes much more efficient. Apart from the Pencil’s drawing capabilities, the brand introduced numerous other innovative features. 

The latest Apple Pencil can easily be paired to your iPad by attaching it to the wide side of your device and quickly charges in the same way. Because of all those specs, the Apple pencil is simply a top-tier drawing tool when paired with the latest iPads. Most creators find this active pen to be perfect for their projects, from digital drawing to photo-editing and note-taking.

Can I use an Alternative stylus for the iPad (besides the Apple Pencil)?

Apple Pencil_ why its the most common Pen used by Pro artists on iPad Air_Pro

On the flip side, some artists choose to purchase alternative pens to combine with their iPads. Apart from the Apple Pencil’s special features, we analyzed above, this is a brilliant choice, especially for those of you who are beginners on a budget. However, most professionals use Apple’s pen for drawing on an iPad. 

Let’s dive deeper into the reasons behind this preference by exploring an Alternate stylus for drawing on an iPad: the Adonit Note+.

What other alternative stylus pens do Digital Artists use besides the Apple Pencil?

Can I use an Alternative stylus for the iPad (besides the Apple Pencil)_

There are numerous other stylus professional artists prefer. However, both beginners and professionals choose to use a simple iPad and Apple pencil (active stylus) for digital drawing over expensive, professional digital art tablets like Wacom’s Cintiq Pro. 

Related: Krita vs Photoshop: Which software is better for artists?

This is because Apple’s new series of iPads along with the Apple Pencil includes everything an artist needs and more; making it the standard pen pro artists use to draw on iPad.

Adonit Note+: Alternate stylus for ipad drawing & art 

Adonit Note+_ Alternate stylus for ipad drawing & art

As mentioned above, it is unlikely to see a pro digital artist using any alternate pen over the Apple Pencil by choice other than price. Even though the Adonit Note + was developed for iPads, it still doesn’t work perfectly on iPadOS drawing apps like Procreate. Of course, this pen is as close as you can get, but the lack of the gesture feature is more than noticeable. 

While other Adonit Pens lack pressure sensitivity or compatibility, the Adonit Note+ seems to be the one model I would consider choosing over the others due to its ability to work well for pro-level drawing. It’s the closest contender to the Apple Pencil for drawing on the iPad that I’ve used. (and I’ve used a lot.

Apart from that, Adonit Note + is an amazing active pen with a high-pressure sensitivity (2048 levels) and can be connected to almost any iPad (from 3rd generation and on). It has two shortcut buttons, tilt support, and advanced palm rejection. You can easily connect it via Bluetooth and charge it through a USB-C connector. 

So if Adonit Note + is the best alternate pen to Apple Pencil 2 but can’t reach its quality and features, who is it for? Well, the Adonit line is specially created for beginner artists who don’t want to spend much on Apple’s stylus. 

Although this is a great choice for those of you who aren’t sure if you want to keep drawing digitally, we believe that going straight to Apple Pencil is a better solution. It will save you money (in the long run), and you will unlock all the features that make the drawing experience on an iPad amazing.

Should I use a drawing pad like Wacom or an iPad for drawing?

Should I use a drawing pad like Wacom or an iPad for drawing_

So, should you buy a Wacom drawing pad or one of the latest iPads and the Apple Pencil? Well, if you asked ten professional artists the same question, you would probably receive ten different answers. However, we could say each choice has its pros and cons:

Drawing on Wacom tablets is amazing for cartoonists and animators that need a big screen to draw on. For example, there is simply no better option than Wacom Cintiq 24 for large animation projects.

On the flip side, the same device is extremely pricey for a beginner artist that wants to experiment with his/her talent on drawing software like illustrator. Moreover, for you to use a Wacom drawing tab, you have to connect it to a computer.

IPads, on the other side, are standalone devices that act both as tablets and drawing devices. Thus, even though they have a smaller screen, they are more flexible devices. Apart from that, the Apple Pencil 2 is an amazing drawing tool that offers a top-tier digital painting experience on iPads. 

However, if you need a drawing tab for demanding animation software, iPads can’t handle it. Thus, it all comes up to your needs and expertise as an artist, designer, or photographer.

What apps do Artists use for drawing on ipad?

What apps do Artists use for drawing on ipad_

When it comes to drawing on an iPad, there is no better app than Procreate. Many professional artists prefer drawing on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, just because of this Apple-exclusive software. 

Even though Apple has created iPads to act like tablets and not computers, there are many apps for creators for numerous graphic design and drawing projects. Apart from that, the latest iPads can also be easily connected to your Macbook, meaning you can use the iPad to draw on the full version of apps like PS and Illustrator can be used with a stylus. See the best stylus for adobe illustrator and photoshop.

Let’s have a look at the best apps that Artists use (compared to Apple Pencil) on iPad Pro and iPad Air:

  • Procreate: Best overall for pro level digital art.
  • Photoshop: Best for photo-editing and graphic design projects.
  • Illustrator: Best for branding and logo designs.
  • Canva: Although you can’t draw on Canva, it is great alternative to PS for creating designs for social media (quickly & easily, best for beginners)
  • iMovie: Best for Video-editors

What size iPad is best for drawing on iPad?

What size iPad is best for drawing on iPad_

Although the perfect screen size for drawing is subjective, most professionals agree that any tablet above 12 or 13 inches is sufficient. Thus, even though the latest iPad Pro has a relatively smaller screen (12.9″) than Wacom’s Cintiq and other drawing tabs, it proves to be an amazing drawing canvas for artists.

Although the 10.9″ Retina display of the latest iPad Air is even smaller, many artists like the tablet’s ultimate portability. Thus, the 2020 iPad Air is also an amazing drawing tool, and when combined with the Apple Pencil 2, it can provide an amazing on-the-go experience. If you simply want a device for drawing on Procreate, then the iPad Air is a great (slightly slower) alternative to iPad Pro.

On the other hand, the 2020 iPad proves to be a good choice but is more uncomfortable to draw on, mainly because of its small, 10.2 inches screen. 

To conclude, although the iPad Pro is a performance-beast with an amazing, comfortable screen for drawing, the iPad Air is also an amazing choice for those who want to draw and not run 10+ apps at once.

Can I use Apple Pencil 2 on all iPads for drawing?

Can I use Apple Pencil 2 on all iPads for drawing_

Although the Apple Pencil 2 is an amazing drawing tool, you can’t use it on all iPads. Connectivity is a big issue for artists, and the Apple Pencil 2 only works on iPad Pro and the latest version of Air. 

So, If you want to draw with the best active pen on the market, you have to choose one of those iPad models. On the other hand, if you already have an older iPad (e.g., 2018 Air or the 2020 iPad), the 1st gen Apple pencil is also a reliable, amazing tool, especially for beginners.

The Apple Pencil 1st gen can be used with: iPad 10.2″ (2020), iPad 10.2″ (2019), iPad mini (2019) the iPad Air (2019) iPad 9.7″ (2018), iPad Pro 12.9″ (2017), iPad Pro 10.5″ (2017), iPad Pro 9.7″ (2016), and iPad Pro 12.9″ (2015).

The Apple Pencil 2 can be used with: iPad Air (2020), the 11″ iPad Pro (2018 and later) and the iPad Pro 12.9″ (2018 and later). You will certainly need to figure out which Apple Pencil is most compatible for your device if you plan on drawing, see our post: Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: what are the differences as there’s compatibility discussed.

Can an iPad replace a professional drawing tablet?

Can an iPad replace a professional drawing tablet_

An iPad can replace a professional drawing tablet such as the Wacom pen tablet for 2d art. For Digital art in general, the iPad is capable of replacing a drawing tablet for basic gestures and simple art.

The iPad can be used to create quick sketches, drawings from memory, or doodles of ideas in the moment, typically on the Procreate app. I know several digital artists that use their mobile devices as sketch pads or in place of a electronic notepad while on vacation, in the car, in the park, and at meetings because they don’t need to carry around a huge cumbersome laptop with them.

The best part about the iPad for digital is that it’s portable and can be used in any lighting.

In previous models, the iPad used to not be great for all the technical drawing tools, such as pressure sensitivity and pen tilt features that are found on a Wacom tablet. However, now you can create pro level art on the iPad with an active stylus or capacitive stylus.

There are all the different types of digital art the iPad can handle, such as 2d Art, Graphic design, and even some video production tools. One thing the iPad can’t handle for digital art is advanced animations as many of these tools are on the windows operating system and not iOS.

The different ways to draw on the iPad is with a stylus pen or your finger, which also works well for quick sketches because it’s less of an investment than buying a professional drawing tablet like Cintiq, XP-Pen,  or Wacom. It’s also better for those artists that want a device that integrates with the apple eco-system since the iPad will integrate seamlessly with the MacBook Pro or air as well as the iPhone, enabling you to transfer your art from one device to another.

Related: Comparison of Goodnotes vs Noteledge for note taking

Switching from a pen tablet like Wacom to iPad for Digital Art

The Digital Arts Tablet has been on the market for a decade now and many artists are turning away from their trusty Wacom tablets. The reason for this is that the new generation of iPads are powerful enough to give you a decent drawing experience. So is it worth switching? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons:

The Pros: The iPad offers more stability because, unlike drawing on tablet monitors, it allows you to bring your sleek tablet anywhere; photoshoots, park benches, a friends house, and allows you to even draw on airplanes and long lights.

Some artists that have made the switch from professional drawing tablets are now using a stylus pen for their digital art, with popular brands being Apple Pencil and Wacom Inkling Stylus as well as FiftyThree’s Pencil.

Is it worth switching from Wacom to iPad?

Switching from Wacom to iPad is only worth it if you are eager to try the procreate app or iOS only apps and really need the portability. Not everybody favors the high price point of the Wacom mobile studio. However, with the iPad you can turn your Apple tablet into mobile art studio and bring it anywhere and everywhere you couldn’t with the Wacom, XP-pen and other pen tablets/drawing pads.

The iPad can also be used for touch-ups on photo editing, which is a great feature since many photographers would like to use the iPad on the go as well as show their clients the photos being used. This is very tough and cumbersome to do with a bulky setup such as a pen tablet like the Wacom or XP-Pen attached to a laptop.

For beginners, I think the most important thing to do when drawing art digitally on an iPad is to find out what kind of stylus you’re using and whether that stylus works with your app- if not then it’s time for some exploration!

Some popular apps include Procreate, Sketch, Artstation, Medibang,  watercolor, and Paintstorm.

If you’re looking for a stylus pen that doesn’t require Bluetooth or connection to your device then a capacitive stylus is perfect since it has no battery. however, the downside is that it doesn’t have the same style of communication with the iPad as the Apple Pencil does.

How to Draw Art on iPad (iPad Pro, iPad Air)

It’s possible to create professional level art on the iPad. In fact, this is possible with Procreate. While iPad is known to not be compatible with certain animation apps, such as Toonboom, or blender, it’s fantastic for creating any type of digital painting or drawing. It’s particularly good for drawing logo’s, landscapes, faces, people, cartoons,  and more.

The mediums, brushes and pens offered in these apps for iPad artist are phenomenal and vary greatly. The best part about having “professional quality” on the ipad is that it’s all so portable! With a digital pen or pencil you can work anywhere with your iPad which means professional artists have access to their tools no matter where

The first step to drawing on Procreate using the iPad is to get a stylus pen. The best way to do this is by getting an Apple Pencil, which will work with any iPad Pro (including 2017) and the latest version of iOS 11+. There are other popular options for digital drawing pens that artists love such as Adonit Jot Touch and Wacom Intous Creative Stylus, however these will only work with specific iPad models, specific apps and the newer versions of iOS.

Once you’ve selected the pen, it’s time to get drawing! To start off your journey as an artist on Procreate, tap or click “New Document” in the upper left corner of Procreate. This opens a new file where all your artwork can be saved.

I personally had mimicked and learned from a digital artist on YouTube,  and it was a great way to start. You can find tutorials on YouTube that will teach you the basics of drawing, shading and coloring in adobe Photoshop or Procreate (if they are beginner-friendly).

However, it’s important to know the stylus pen most digital artists use on the iPad is based on the type of art they do. For example, using toon boom is only possible on a laptop and can’t be used on iOS; this app allows you to create animated cartoons on a professional level like the studios.

What ipad set up do professional artists use?

Can an iPad replace a professional drawing tablet_ (2)

The best iPad set up that professional artists to use is the Apple iPad Pro or iPad Air in combination with the apple Pencil 1 or 2. They don’t need gloves as the Appel Pencil has palm rejection.

By using the Apple Pencil you’ll have features such as pressure sensitivity, tilt as well as palm rejection. This is a great set up for drawing on the iPad with apps like Procreate, Adobe Photoshop or Sketch.

Related: How to fix Photoshop pen pressure sensitivity not working

The Apple Pencil has features that will make your drawings even more precise such as directly communicating with the iPad via bluetooth technology; something other stylus have a hard time doing correctly without stuttering, delays and palm rejection working properly.

Accessories for iPad that digital Artists use

As a Digital Artist myself, I would also consider getting a Smart Keyboard to protect your Apple Pencil and when not in use remove it to give you more space for drawing. There’s also a tablet stand you can use to tilt the iPad up properly.

The keyboard is only $129, which isn’t too pricey considering the cost of an iPad Pro or Air starts at around $699.  this also lets you turn your iPad into the functionality of a 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop, like the Lenovo Yoga or the Surface Pro.

Also see: How to fix a Surface Pen & Surface Sim Pen 2 not working

Stylus and Apple pencil for Professional art

One big advantage of using the Stylus Pens on the iPad is that it doesn’t use the same kind of battery as the Surface Pen does. The iPad Air for example can last 9 hours or longer (what feels like an entire day) without needing to be plugged in all day long like other digital drawing tablets with built-in keyboards such as those by Wacom or other popular pen tablets.

Many people are wondering if an Apple Pencil iPad Pro is a good replacement for an expensive drawing tablet. The new iPad Pros are very functional, but they’re more on the pricey side of digital tablets with built in keyboards and stylus pens.

On the flip side, these professional digital tablets like Wacom require a tablet… the iPad does not! The price stays competitive for this reason.

Still, since iPad is so versatile with a high price tag, consumers are still left wondering if the Apple Pencil is worth it, because they aren’t sure whether apple specializes in digital art or not. In the past models, they needed some improvements, and they have created this with the Procreate app. Tou can utilize our guide, the 7 Best stylus for Procreate.

The iPad accessories (including the Apple Pencil) in general have a higher price tag than others. This is a result of its brand, it’s popularity and the higher quality available in similar products that integrate with each other amongst the Apple line of products.

As we can see, there are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is ideal. One thing is for sure, it’s great for digital art that doesn’t require high-cpu intensive tasks.

What kind of Art can I make on Procreate?

What kind of Art can I make on Procreate_

The types of art you can make on procreate are nearly limitless when digital painting or drawing is the goal. Here are some of the things Procreate can do for artists on iPad:

  • Use tools such as paintbrush, pencil and marker modes (and switching with them
  • Digital Painting with tools that mimic: watercolor, acrylics, oils or crayons
  • Streamlining  sketches for digital artwork by using the clone tool to fill in details (makes art much less cumbersome than the standard tools)
  • Utilizing layers & brushes to create digital art properly

It even has additional features such as:

  • Ability to import images and take screenshots to share with friends or on instagram.
  • Importing vector art into the app with drag & drop from other resources.
  • Creating Artwork in a variety of styles (e.g.: graphic design, cartoon drawing)
  • Color blending tools that mimic natural tones for digital artwork such as grayscale and more.

Since Procreate runs on iPad, there are many different models for iPad that can be used for digital art. However, the question is… Which iPad is best for Procreate? There are pros and cons to each and which you choose will dictate how much storage, canvas size, screen display size, room for drawing, and multi-tasking that is done while using procreate.

Does the iPad have palm rejection when using the Apple Pencil?

The Apple Pencil has palm rejection, which allows you to rest your hand on the touchscreen while drawing without interrupting the digital art you’re working on.

As an artist and graphic designer who primarily uses iPad Pro for digital art work since it was first released, I find that the iPad Pro is a great drawing surface for digital art because it has these additional features we all need as artists such as pressure sensitivity, realistic digital brush strokes, eraser and tools that allow for tones amongst different colors and art styles as a whole.

The combination of palm rejection and the additional features mentioned places the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil on a whole other level than any of its competitors.

How to fix apple pencil palm rejection not working

When you are using the Apple Pencil on procreate, Medibang, Artstation or other iPad apps for drawing. Sometimes, your iPad might do a random gesture shortcut/event or place a random stroke, line or dot.

I’ve even seen it zoom in and out before with no trigger but my palm. This typically isn’t common with newer model Apple Pencil and iPad Pro device combinations.

Here is what you need to do in order to fix the Apple Pencil palm rejection not working bug:

  • Ensure palm mode is on if you are using procreate and test it on both settings: on and off.
  • Make sure Palm rejection is on by going to general, accessibility, and locating interaction or palm rejection (and turning it on.
  • Make sure your iPad and Apple Pencil have a charged batter with the latest updates
  • Disable Zoom feature, restart the iPad, and test again

If your palm rejection is still not working on your iPad with the Appel Pencil,  please contact apple support as in most cases palm rejection works near flawlessly (for all the models I’ve tested).

How to draw on iPad without Apple Pencil

How to draw on iPad without an Apple Pencil

You can draw on the iPad without the use of an Apple Pencil by using your finger. If this doesn’t work for you, then you’ll want to locate settings in your notes app on iPad Pro or iPad Air and then deselect the feature ‘Only Draw with Apple Pencil’. This will allow you to draw on the iPad without the Apple Pencil. There are even some DIY stylus you can use.

This is a great way to sketch out quick ideas and rough art concepts without the extra cost of an Apple Pencil.Some apps like Jot or Notability allow users to draw on the iPad using their fingers as well.

There are also some other cheap drawing tools that allow you to do this, such as very low-cost, capacitive stylus from Amazon. Alternative, you can use a Lenovo or surface pro to draw using their respective native stylus pens (or adonit), if you don’t want to use the Apple Pencil. See the best stylus pens for Lenovo Yoga and Thinkpad.

How to draw on the iPad with your finger

How to draw on the iPad with your finger

To draw on the iPad with your finger, you’ll need to de-select the feature ‘Only Draw with Apple Pencil’ in settings on your Apple iPad device.

The downside of this method is that it can be difficult to draw finer details without lag from time-to-time, and also a bit more frustrating than using an apple pencil because finger gestures are used rather than a stylus pen that is created specifically for digital art and note-taking.

The pros of using the iPad to draw with your finger is that it is great for very quick sketches, because you can just use your finger to draw and then erase the mistakes.

Another pro of using this method is that there are many apps available on iPad app store to be used like Procreate or Medibang, these both allow a variety of different drawing tools such as brushes, pencils.

Alternatives to drawing with your finger on iPad include Digital Media Styluses such as the Apple Pencil, which are designed for drawing on iPad devices.

There’s a lot of apps available for finger drawing and if you’re using a stylus of any sort you won’t have to deal with an oily iPad screen. It’s also much more comfortable to draw using your palms and fingers rather than the finger tips when drawing.

While most artists use a stylus to draw on an iPad as it’s much more comfortable if you’re using your palm/finger tip, not only because it’s less tiring, but because most people are used to using a pen to draw manually.

How does drawing with a pen work on the iPad?

How does drawing with a pen work on the iPad_=

If you are an experienced paper-n-pencils artist and want to transition to digital drawing, now is the best time to do it. During the last five years or so, brands like Apple and Microsoft have improved their technology when it comes to digital drawing on their tablets. 

Experienced artists and designers developed the latest iPad Pro to introduce a new era and provide the ultimate digital drawing experience. The brand new iPadOS 14 was recently released and included numerous advanced technologies that help artists. See our post, Best iPad Air stylus for note-taking and drawing.

From finger gestures to better drawing response rates (only 9ms with the Apple Pencil), there are many reasons why iPad Pro (and iPad Air) can easily produce pro-level art. Most professionals argue that the combination of iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil 2 is arguably as good as for advanced drawing tablets and simply the best amongst tablets (e.g., Microsoft Surface Pro).

With Apple’s OS and apps like Procreate, the Apple Pencils (1st and 2nd gen) are commonly used by many professional artists, designers, and editors (photo and video). Let’s explore the main reasons why the Apple Pencil is the best active pen someone can use to draw on iPads.

Alternative ways to create digital art on iPad

Alternative ways to create digital art on iPad

With all these options available, there are inevitably more ways to make digital art on an iPad than just using the Apple Pencil and Procreate app. I this section I’m going to discuss these alternative ways that are modern; particularly because technology is advancing so quickly as is the iPad and similar tablets.

Animation apps used on the iPad to make professional cartoons

You can use the iPad for animation, and many creatives make a living by using one app, such as toonboom, krita, tvpaint, maya, and more. However, many of these can’t be used on iPad’s iOS, making it a difficult choice for serious professional animators until iPad comes out with a model and a iOS version that gets adapted by studios.

Related: Krita vs Sketchbook: Which is better for Artists & Designers?

Good alternatives to get started as an animator or with  cel animation on the iPad is an app like animation desk or. It’s not usually used as an animation device like the Mac or Windows PC attached to a pen tablet would be, but there are some more light, casual programs that will help you with this. 

Animation desk is a good one for this purpose and they have a free trial. They also have a strong user interface that is easy to navigate and it’s fairly cheap. Not a bad place to start for beginners.

However, most Cartoon art studios use apps like ToonBoom, Krita, TVPaint,  or Adobe suite (Illustrator, after effects, Photoshop) to create animated art. This means you need to purchase an app in addition to a drawing tablet. You usually have to use a combination of apps and drawing tablet to make the art you need.

When using motion graphics on iPad pro, what is the best app for that?

I see many artists rave about adobe After Effects. There are various other apps you can use on iPad Pro but I find that the adobe suite really make a difference in my workflow and it’s also more in-depth than procreate. For example, if you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud

Using the stylus to edit photos on iPad

In addition to a stylus, you don’t need any extra equipment or software other than what’s already built into your device. 

Many Photographers edit photos on the iPad professionally by using certain apps and using them on their photo shoots to show the client photos they took live immediately after the shoot in apps like Adobe lightroom.

This is a cool alternative because it’s very reliable and can be done quickly with the iPads Pro’s advanced processor and RAM compared to other less powerful tablets like the Amazon Fire HD.

Related: 7 Best Stylus for Amazon Fire HD 8 & 10

Drawing with-in the notes or pages app on the iPad

You can also draw within the notes or pages app on iPad; this is especially useful for those in remote learning or just taking notes in class. A good feature of drawing with in the iPad’s notes for school, class or work is the ability to seamless share it to your macbook or computer using teh cloud. If you’re using iPad to windows, it’s possible to do this using a cloud app such as Google Drive or OneDrive.

Keep in mind if you’re remote learning and students or those attending lectures need to see what your doing physically you can use your iPas as a document camera by utilize a stand. See our post, Best iPad Document Camera stands.

Sharing drawings or notes you’ve made with your stylus pen on iPad is possible-You can set this up by opening notes or pages apps within your iPad and selecting the drawing tool, then you can export and send to your cloud app In my case I use Google drive because I prefer it over OneDrive. 

One drive and google drive both have a free limit of storage that should be enough for most starting out. These cloud apps all connect to other devices such as laptops or iPhone to use on the go. It’s best to get used to one app instead of multiple as each are slightly different, yet accomplish the same thing for those using a stylus pen to draw on the ipad within the notes app.

You can also turn these into pdfs and other formats. By using the notes app or pages app in iPad you have the possibility to export your text or drawings as pdfs which can be sent to other devices. Files such as .pdf are more difficult to view with the iPad, so you need a desktop application that will open these files.

If you have an apple laptop like macbook and want access to all of your PDF’s on it then simply export them from notes and turn these into pdfs and other formats such as


If you’re an artist, then you know that the iPad is a great drawing tool to use in your creative process. Digital Artists can draw, paint, sketch or animate on the iPad.. However, many beginners are left wondering what stylus pen artists use to draw on iPad? In this blog post we covered this by discussing how the Apple’s stylus pen (Apple Pencil 2nd gen and 1st gen) is the most popular and often used by digital artists on iPad Pro.

The tip of this device feels like an actual pencil or marker, allowing for pinpoint precision when drawing thin lines. It also has palm rejection so you don’tApple’s new series of iPads along with the Apple Pencil includes everything an artist needs and more. Both beginners and professionals choose to use a simple iPad and Apple pencil (active stylus) for digital drawing over expensive, professional digital art tablets like Wacom’s Cintiq Pro. Some artists choose to purchase alternative stylus pens to combine with their iPads. 

For example, the Adonit Note + is an amazing active pen alternative  that artists can use to draw on the ipad. This is because it has a high pressure levels that works on the ipad, but not for every single app and certainly not as well as the Apple Pencil in terms of pairing, stuttering, delay etc, but it does have all the core functions needed. 

On Procreate you can even configure the third party stylus, but it just doesn’t feel the same way as it does with the Apple Pencil. This comes to no surprise since the stylus most artists use to draw on the iPad is the Apple Pencil. When you see a video of someone drawing on an iPad, it’s almost always the apple pencil.

It’s true that digital drawing has been around for several years now, but it wasn’t until the last five to ten years when new technology started being developed. Apple and other brands have made some amazing improvements in their most recent models for drawing, but when it comes to iPad, Apple creates and designs their product to work best with their products. They have the budget, technology and team to do so.

There are many other stylus professionals who prefer (over expensive professional art pen tablets) an active stylus which is simple yet very effective. The most popular being adonit or the Logitech Crayon, the less effective, yet still very popular option being the capacitive pens because they don’t work great for drawing pressure sensitive art.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ