How to Draw on an iPad Pro for Beginners – ZUGU

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How to Draw on an iPad Pro: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Updated: 22 December 2023

Anyone can draw. It is not a club exclusive to the elite or those with visions like Picasso or artistry like Monet. In fact, drawing can be a great way of letting off steam or finding the creative streak you never knew you had.

Children love to draw without any concern about what others will think. They don't care about coloring within the lines or whether the shades match. Without a doubt, you should take a page out of their book. Let yourself loose and try your hand at drawing – after all, no one needs to see it. Drawing on your iPad can be a great way to get started, as it opens up vast worlds of tools and mediums — especially now that the Apple Pencil has landed. Let us show you how to draw on an iPad Pro.

Top Five Drawing Apps

Digital art programs are a great way to wet your feet — or brush — into a drawing. You can choose between a range of paid and free apps that cater to complete beginners and those used by professional artists. We found the best top five apps to help you draw on your iPad.

1. Procreate (Paid)


This app is one of the top-rated for pros and aspiring artists. Procreate has all the tools you need to design anything: a rich, deep-hued canvas, vivid illustrations, realistic animations, and eloquent sketches. With 100s of handmade brushes, an advanced layer system, and a library of innovative artistic tools, Procreate gives you complete control over your work. 

Use the design tools you need, and take advantage of the full-featured layering system. Select multiple layers to move or transform objects. Crop and resize as needed and transform your drawing into an animation.

Procreate Key Features

  • Professional-grade tools: Procreate provides a comprehensive set of digital illustration and painting tools. It includes a variety of brushes, pens, pencils, and other customizable tools.
  • High-resolution canvas: The app supports high-resolution canvases, allowing artists to create detailed and intricate artwork. It takes advantage of the iPad Pro's hardware capabilities for smooth and responsive drawing.
  • Advanced layer system: Procreate features an advanced layer system that allows artists to organize their work efficiently. You can create, delete, and rearrange layers, providing flexibility in the creative process.
  • Animation support: Procreate has animation features that enable users to create simple animations directly within the app. This makes it a versatile tool for artists interested in both static and animated artwork.
  • Time-lapse recording: The app includes a time-lapse recording feature, allowing artists to capture and share their entire drawing process. This feature helps create speed-paint videos to showcase the evolution of a piece.
  • Export options: Procreate offers various export options, supporting common file formats like JPEG, PNG, and PSD. Users can easily share their creations on social media platforms or transfer them to other devices.
  • Custom brushes and brush studio: Procreate comes with a wide range of pre-installed brushes, and you can also create custom brushes. The Brush Studio allows for in-depth customization of brushes, allowing artists to tailor tools to their specific needs.
  • Gesture controls: The app supports gesture controls, making it easy to undo, redo, zoom, and navigate through the canvas using intuitive gestures, enhancing your overall experience.
  • Regular updates: Savage Interactive, the developer of Procreate, has a history of providing regular updates to the app. These updates may include new features, improvements, and optimizations.
  • Paid app: Procreate is a paid app, typically available for a one-time purchase. The pricing may vary based on the region and ongoing promotions or discounts.

2. Autodesk Sketchbook (Free)

Autodesk Sketchbook is a powerful but easy-to-use drawing app. With thousands of five-star ratings, this app has a minimalist, clean look that allows you to focus solely on drawing. Artists and illustrators worldwide love its highly customizable tools and elegant interface. 

You can choose between a vast range of brushes or customize your own. Precision becomes child's play with grids, stroke tools, and rulers. Autodesk Sketchbook allows you to layer your work with various blending modes to build depth and color.

Autodesk SketchBook Key Features

  • Intuitive interface: Autodesk SketchBook is known for its clean and intuitive user interface, providing a distraction-free environment for artists to focus on their creativity.
  • Wide range of brushes: The app offers a diverse selection of brushes, pencils, and other drawing tools, allowing you to experiment with different textures and styles in your artwork.
  • Customization options: Users can customize brushes and tools to suit their preferences. This includes adjusting brush sizes, opacity, and other parameters to achieve the desired artistic effects.
  • Layer support: SketchBook supports layers, enabling artists to work with multiple elements independently. Layers are essential for creating complex and detailed illustrations.
  • Symmetry tools: The app includes symmetry tools that allow artists to create symmetrical designs easily. This is particularly useful for character design, patterns, and other symmetrically balanced artwork.
  • Time-lapse recording: Similar to Procreate, Autodesk SketchBook offers time-lapse recording features, allowing you to record and share the progression of your drawings.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: Autodesk SketchBook is available not only for iPad but also for other platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Android. This cross-platform compatibility allows users to work seamlessly across different devices.
  • Community and resources: The SketchBook community provides a platform for artists to share their work, exchange tips, and connect with others.
  • Free version: Autodesk SketchBook typically offers a free version with essential features, making it accessible to a broad user base. Users can purchase a subscription for additional features or the Pro version for more advanced capabilities.
  • Regular updates: Autodesk provides regular updates to improve performance, introduce new features, and address any issues reported by users.

3. Adobe Fresco: Sketch & Draw (In-App Purchases)

Adobe Fresco: Sketch & Draw

Unleash your inner artist with Adobe Fresco and sketch, paint, and draw as though your life depended on it. Use the app's live brushes that smudge, smear, blend, and blossom watercolor and oil paint, just like in real life. You have access to more than 50 brushes in the free version. If you upgrade to premium, you will have a library of more than 1,000 brushes at your fingertips. Change the brightness, saturation, and hue with the color adjustment layers, or bring your artwork to life with the motion tools. The app also has built-in video and blog tutorials to guide you every step of the way. 

Adobe Fresco Key Features

  • Live brushes: Adobe Fresco is known for its innovative Live Brushes that simulate the behavior of real-world brushes like oil and watercolor. This includes effects such as smudging, blending, and realistic brushstrokes.
  • Extensive brush library: The app provides a vast library of brushes, including pixel and vector brushes. Users can choose from various brushes to achieve different textures and artistic effects.
  • Multi-layered canvas: Adobe Fresco supports multi-layered canvases, allowing artists to work on different elements independently.
  • Motion tools: The app includes motion tools that allow you to add movement to your artwork. This can be particularly useful for creating animated effects within illustrations.
  • Color adjustment layers: You can adjust the brightness, saturation, and hue of your artwork using color adjustment layers. This provides greater control over the overall color palette of the composition.
  • Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe Fresco seamlessly integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud, enabling users to access their work across different devices and applications. This integration facilitates a smooth workflow for artists using various Adobe tools.
  • In-app tutorials: Adobe Fresco offers in-app tutorials and guides to help you explore and master the app's features. This is particularly beneficial for beginners or those looking to enhance their skills.
  • Compatibility with Photoshop: Artwork created in Adobe Fresco can be easily transferred to Adobe Photoshop for further editing and refinement. This compatibility enhances the flexibility of the creative process.
  • Subscription model: Adobe Fresco typically operates on a subscription model, offering free and paid plans. The paid plans may include additional features and access to a broader range of brushes.
  • Regular updates: Adobe tends to provide regular updates to improve performance, introduce new features, and address any issues reported by users. 

4. Linea Sketch (In-App Purchases)

Linea Sketch

Linea Sketch brings out your artistic talent with its easy-to-use interface, especially when in a budding phase. Elegant and clean, the app keeps your workspace free from clutter and controls until you need them. The app has a simplified set of layers that can be adjusted, locked, rearranged, or merged. It's ZipShapes and ZipFunction clean up lines and shapes, polishing them to perfection before you adjust for size. Use its range of brushes to create a dreamy watercolor painting or the lasso to freehand your sketch.

Linea Sketch Key Features

  • User-friendly interface: Linea Sketch is known for its clean and user-friendly interface, providing an intuitive environment for sketching and drawing.
  • Simplified set of layers: The app offers a simplified set of layers that can be adjusted, locked, rearranged, or merged. This simplicity keeps the workspace clutter-free until users need additional controls.
  • Brushes and tools: Linea Sketch includes a range of brushes that cater to various artistic styles. The app may also provide tools such as ZipShapes and ZipFunction to clean up lines and shapes easily.
  • Watercolor painting and freehand sketching: You can utilize Linea Sketch's brushes to create various effects, including dreamy watercolor paintings. The app also supports freehand sketching, allowing for creative expression.
  • Adjustment features: Linea Sketch may include features for adjusting elements such as brightness, saturation, and hue.
  • Zoom and pan: The app typically allows users to zoom in and pan across the canvas, facilitating detailed work and precision in sketching.
  • Export options: Linea Sketch provides options for exporting artwork in standard file formats, allowing you to share or use your creations in other applications.
  • Clean workspace: Linea Sketch is designed to keep the workspace clean and clutter-free, providing controls only when needed. This can be particularly appealing if you prefer a streamlined and focused drawing environment.
  • In-app tutorials: The app offers in-app tutorials and guides to help users explore its features and make the most out of the available tools. This can be beneficial for both beginners and experienced artists.
  • Compatibility: Linea Sketch is specifically designed for iPad, utilizing the platform's touch and stylus capabilities to provide an optimal drawing experience.

5. Paper by WeTransfer (Free)

Paper by WeTransfer

This drawing app is ideal for those who want to try their hand before paying for any programs. Paper by WeTransfer is extremely popular, with more than 30 million people using it. Use its journals to save notes and sketches. Sketch, collage, paint, or draw with its easy-to-use interface. There is no getting lost in Paper by WeTransfer with its extensive library of tutorials, how-tos, and artist tips. Paper by WeTransfer also has a pro edition, which costs $6 for six months or $12 for a year. 

Paper by WeTransfer Key Features

  • Intuitive interface: Paper by WeTransfer is known for its simple and intuitive user interface, providing a minimalist and distraction-free environment for drawing and sketching.
  • Journals for organization: The app allows users to organize their sketches and notes into digital journals.
  • Drawing and painting tools: Paper by WeTransfer provides a variety of drawing and painting tools, including pens, pencils, and watercolor brushes. Users can create a range of artistic styles using these tools.
  • Ease of use: The app is designed to be user-friendly, making it accessible for both beginners and experienced artists. The focus on simplicity allows users to dive into the creative process without a steep learning curve.
  • Collage and sketching: Paper by WeTransfer supports traditional sketching, drawing, and collage creation. You can combine various elements to create visually interesting compositions.
  • Extensive library of tutorials: The app includes tutorials, how-tos, and artist tips. This resource is valuable for users looking to enhance their drawing skills and explore new techniques.
  • Free version with in-app purchases: Paper by WeTransfer is typically available for free, allowing users to try out its basic features. The app may offer in-app purchases for additional tools, brushes, or features to enhance the drawing experience.
  • Multi-touch gestures: The app supports multi-touch gestures, allowing you to zoom in, pan, and rotate your canvas for detailed work and navigation.
  • Export and share options: You can export your creations in various formats and share them with others. This includes sharing through email or social media platforms directly from the app.
  • Responsive stylus support: Paper by WeTransfer is designed to work seamlessly with styluses, providing a responsive and natural drawing experience. This makes it suitable for users who prefer using a stylus such as the Apple Pencil for precision.

Key Accessories

key ipad accessories for drawing

1. The Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil transformed the world of drawing. Professional and amateur artists love it for its precision and control while giving them freedom of movement. Use it to draw without smudging the painting with your fingers. Draw a straight line or create perfect shapes. Activate the eraser instantly by double-tapping the Apple Pencil or switching back to the previously used tool. 

Get used to using the Apple Pencil. Keep in mind that the Apple Pencil is a new tool, so it will take time to get the hang of it. Practice is vital to determine how much pressure you need to apply, which angle works, and how to hold it.

2. iPad Screen Protector

Your iPad Pro takes a lot of handling, especially if you use it to draw. Invest in a durable screen protector that does not get loaded with smudged fingerprints after a few taps. ZUGU's iPad screen protectors, for example, offer you superior screen protection with its 0.25 Japanese tempered glass. The screen is antibacterial and fingerprint and smudge-resistant, saving you from wiping it down every time you use it. 

3. iPad Case with Apple Pencil Holder

Protecting your iPad is a must. So it's a bonus if your case works with you and is an iPad case with a pencil holder. ZUGU cases offer maximum protection and have at least eight different angles to stand your iPad. Each of the slots has a magnet that holds the case firmly in place, leaving you to focus solely on your work. 

The ZUGU iPad Pro 2018 11-inch case has reinforced corners and will protect your iPad from a five-foot fall on concrete. In addition, it can wirelessly charge your Apple Pencil and has a snug little pencil holder to keep it in place.

Related Reading: The Best iPad 5th Generation Cases of 2021, According to Designers

Unleash Your Creativity

The world of digital art has never been more accessible and engaging, thanks to the remarkable capabilities of iPad Pro drawing apps. Whether you're a seasoned artist or a beginner eager to explore your creative side, the array of tools provided by apps like Procreate, Autodesk SketchBook, Adobe Fresco, Linea Sketch, and Paper by WeTransfer offer boundless possibilities.

Paired with essential accessories like the Apple Pencil, a reliable screen protector, and a versatile ZUGU iPad case, the iPad Pro becomes not just a canvas but a personalized studio for artistic expression. So, let your creativity flourish, dive into the world of digital drawing, and discover the joy of crafting visual stories on the sleek canvas of your iPad Pro. The journey of self-expression and artistic exploration awaits at the touch of your fingertips.

Embrace the future of iPad protection with ZUGU — where innovation meets elegance. Join our mailing list and get 10% off your first order.