Digital Art: Getting Started

I got an iPad Pro just before Christmas, and have been having fun with it and the Apple Pencil (which arrived a couple of weeks later than the iPad). My review is short and sweet: the iPad Pro w/Pencil is the best tool available for sketching and drawing. For actual digital painting, a Windows tool (e.g., Surface Pro) will sometimes be a better choice, depending on the simulated medium. Why? Because for watercolor/acrylic/oils, it’s hard to beat Corel Painter (Windows only). But if chalk/pencil/ink/etc. are your medium, then I prefer the iPad Pro w/Pencil because the Pencil is really the best drawing tool available today.

Here are what I consider my first-tier apps for drawing. Nearly all of these support the Apple Pencil for things like pressure (usually for line thickness/weight) and tilt (increasing tilt buys you much thicker coverage in many apps):

  • Procreate (best iPad Pro support; good variety of tools, and useful settings)
  • Zen Brush 2 (nice implementation of sumi-e, but with a few issues, such as poor handling of end-of-stroke)
  • Sketch Club (no iPad Pro support yet, but has some extremely fun-to-use brushes, especially one called Sketchy)
  • Sketches (good variety of tools; intuitive to use)

My second tier of tools are ones that I either use less often, and/or don’t support iPad Pro:

  • ArtRage
  • Sketchbook
  • Animation HD
  • UMake (3D drawing)

Here are two early attempts with the Apple Pencil on iPad Pro. The first one is “Happy as a Flutterby, a simple sketch done with Sketch Club, and the second one is “Clowns all around,” vaguely styled after Miró, also with Sketch Club.

Happy as a flutterby
Happy as a Flutterby

Clowns all around



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