10 Great Drawing Apps for Your iPad

One of my favorite things about the iPad (and its nice big screen) is the ability to draw, sketch and take notes on it. I think it offers a unique experience as far and going paperless goes, and a lot of developers have put time and effort into designing apps that emulate drawing with a pen and paper. In this roundup, were going to look at a few!

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Adobe Ideas

Let’s start things off right! This is bar none my favorite drawing app. It’s super smooth, offers a wide range of drawing opions and syncs to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Possibly the best part is that from Creative Cloud you can download Adobe Illustrator compatible files and work with them on your computer!

Price: $9.99
Requires: iOS 4.2+
Developer: Adobe

Paper by Fifty Three

If Adobe Ideas is No. 1, Paper is a close second. This is a free app with upgrades for drawing tools so you can mix up what you draw with. With a beautiful interface and fantastic touch interactions, you can create some really nice pictures with this app.

Price: Free
Requires: iPad with iOS 5.0+
Developer: Fifty Three

Ghostwriter Notes

Ghostwriter Notes is a really nice app for note taking and drawing. There are several different paper and pen types, as well as different input modes, including freehand drawing or a zoomed, line-by-line feature for more accurate writing. You can also import and annotate PDFs, export notes, print over the air and more.

Price: $4.99
Requires: iPad with iOS 4.3+
Developer: Michael Privat

Bamboo Paper

This great app from Wacom, the makers of the Bamboo Stylus, allows you to take clean and crisp notes and sketches organized into notebooks. You can also import photos, choose from different types of paper and notebook colors, as well as pen types for fine writing, highlighting and more. While Ideas is my favorite drawing app, this is my favorite for note taking and accopanying sketches.

Price: Free ($1.99 for full version)
Requires: iPad with iOS 5.0+
Developer: Wacom


Skitch from Evernote takes a different approach to drawing. While you can definitely start from scratch to create drawings and even diagrams, it’s billed mostly as an annotation tool; take a photo, make annotations and add notes. The best part about this app is that it automatically imports into Evernote. So if you’re an Evernote user, this app is definitely for you.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 5.0+
Developer: Evernote


You probably know about the legendary Moleskine notebooks, but did you know there is an iOS counterpart? Taking skeuomorphism to the next level, this is a full digital “port” of a Moleskine notebook, complete with inner pocket where you can store photos and text that you reference often. The app also comes with all of the paper types offered in Moleskine notebooks, as well as a color wheel and Artist’s Toolset that comes with a paintbrush, Moleskine pencil and pen, and a highlighter. I had a OK experience with this app, but it looks like some great improvements are just around the corner!

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 5.0+
Developer: Moleskine

Drawing Pad

This cool app, which is billed as a “mobile art studio” offers all the tools you’d fine in one of those art kits for kids! Choose from several different types of paper, as well as pencils, pens, crayons, markers, paintbrushes, chalk and more. You can even download coloring books, illustrations and stickers, making this a fun app for the whole family.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iOS 4+
Developer: Darren Murtha Design


Like a lot of the other apps we’ve seen here, MagicSketchApp allows you to create notebooks of sketches and notes, as well as export those sketches. What I thought was interesting about this app was the type of drawing tools it offers. Aside from the usual suspects (pen, pencil, marker) it offers charcoal, and it allows you to set the brush size for more fine-grained control. At $0.99, this app is definitely worth the look.

Price: $0.99
Requires: iPad with iOS 4.3+
Developer: nLinea Ltda.


This was one of the first drawing/note-taking apps I purchased, and it’s come a long way since. Its toolset is more basic than other apps, with just a pen, eraser and one kind of notebook paper, but the interface is nice and clean. You also have the ability to “cut” areas- circle something with your finger and then drag it along the page. This makes for a really easy way to rearrange things, and Penultimate is the only place I’ve seen this sort of thing implemented.

Price: $0.99
Requires: iPad with iOS 3.2+
Developer: Evernote

Jot! Whiteboard

As a programmer, it would be wrong of me not to include at least one whiteboard app. After trying a few, I settled on Jot! Whiteboard. This awesome app emulates a whiteboard, as well as whiteboard use, pretty well. Along with being able to draw with it, you can do live sharing with other people to show them your ideas in real time — in my opinion, it’s the best way to use a whiteboard. Plus, with lots of export options, you can make sure your work is saved wherever you’d like.

Price: Free or $4.99
Requires: iPad with iOS 4.0+
Developer: Tabula Rasa


So there you have it. Ten iPad apps that I have used at one point or another to do drawing, sketching or note-taking. Today, I use Adobe Ideas, Bamboo Paper and Jot! Whiteboard. Now seeing as there are a TON of these types of apps, what do you use? Did I miss you favorite? Let me know in the comments!

  • Marc

    “Drawing” apps?
    You mean “Taking notes”, don’t you?

    Otherwise you would have listed Procreate, Sketchbook Pro, Artrage, Sketchclub, etc…

    • Drew

      This! ^

      Procreate or Brushes not even on this list, let alone #1?!

  • http://www.heymonkeydesign.com Hey Monkey

    What Marc said… SO many great DRAWING apps out there and you listed two.

  • Keith

    Uhhhh where is Sketchbook Pro, Sketchbook Ink, Brushes, Procreate, Art Rage…. Etc.

    These are more like doodling apps.

  • http://twitter.com/johnmadrak John

    I was just wondering what kind of drawing apps were out there. This list is awesome, I’ll have to check them out!

  • Gerrit

    For taking notes, you could have mentioned NoteShelf, Notes+, GoodNotes to name a few.

  • Diogo

    If you’re not listing Notability, you’re doing it wrong…

  • J.B.

    I bought my iPad 2 primarily as a device to draw with. As others have noted, most of the apps listed here are more for sketching and doodling than they are for drawing. If you want a really good drawing app try Procreate or Sketchbook Pro for raster based drawings, and TouchDraw or iDraw for vector based drawings. Adobe Ideas is decent, but really feels more like an app to augment their desktop software than a standalone drawing app. The other nine apps listed I wouldn’t even categorize as drawing apps.

  • B.F.

    Adobe Ideas? Not bad, but try Procreate, Pen & Ink, Brushes, Artrage, etc. There are many better drawing and sketching options. Penultimate has barely been updated since the iPad 1 came out.

  • Phil

    I have over 60 art//photo type apps. I’ve used every one in this article and all mentioned in the comments. Bottom line is there is only one app that comes close to Photoshop on a desktop… that is ArtStudio! The latest version is so polished that it’s replaced Photoshop for many of my art tasks. If you tried ArtStudio a couple years ago, try it again, it now has no equal on the iPad.

  • AB

    Great selection.
    Check this one. This seem to have some promising features too. http://www.getideacatcher.com

  • Maxx Well

    Thanks for the apps.
    Here’s also an article about 5 drawing apps for iPad.