How to Draw on an iPad

By David Weedmark

A woman is using a stylus.
i Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Whether you're a professional artist looking to explore new mediums, or a student with time on your hands between classes, the Apple iPad has a range of apps you can use for sketching portraits, doodling or creating your own digital comics. As with any new medium, when you first start drawing on an iPad, don't try to be a perfectionist, at least for the first couple of days. Give yourself some time to get used to the technology while you explore the tools and options available in different apps. If you're looking for apps for your kids, the App Store has hundreds of drawing and coloring apps designed especially for children.

Drawing Professional Graphics

If you plan on drawing comics, advertising mockups or digital artwork you intend to sell online, there's no reason you can't get professional results using an iPad. For drawing of this type, you will need an app with a variety of pencils, pens and brushes, as well as the ability to work in layers as you would on a desktop graphic design app like Photoshop. Apps like Procreate, AutoDesk SketchBook Mobile and Adobe Ideas each offer these features as well as the ability to export your work in different sizes and formats. Adobe Ideas even lets you save your work in vectors, as you would in Illustrator. To get professional results, you'll also need a stylus. While any soft-tipped touchscreen stylus will work, iOS 8 has the ability to recognize different thicknesses, so a stylus with a taperered edge can give you different line weights simply by changing its angle.

Drawing and Sketching for Fun

Many of the apps designed for professional graphics are loaded with features that aren't always useful if you just want to have fun with your iPad. Apps like Paper by FiftyThree, Tayasui Sketches and Draw Free are great for doodling, sketching and drawing. You can use your finger or a stylus, while selecting from different brushes, pencils and colors. Most drawing apps have built-in wrist protection, so if you accidentally brush the screen with the palm of your hand, the app will ignore it. To draw fine details, like eyes or hair in a portrait, most apps give you the ability to zoom in and out using a pinching motion on the screen.

Drawing for Kids

Young children like to take a hands-on approach to their artwork. On an iPad, this often means fingerpainting, drawing with 3D pencils, crayons and brushes, adding stamps and stickers, as well as the ability to add their own drawing to photos and other pictures. For children, apps like Doodle Buddy for iPad, Drawing Desk and Coloring Book all feature such kid-friendly tools. Children don't necessarily need to use a stylus for these apps. In fact, Doodle Buddy for iPad encourages children to paint with multiple fingers at once.

Adjusting to a Touchscreen

Unlike drawing on paper -- and unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro -- the iPad can't distinguish pressure. Pressing down hard with a finger or sylus gives you about the same weight as a light stroke. Another thing you will have to get used to is that there is a slight delay between the moment you touch the screen and when the mark appears. Unlike drawing on paper, the marks you make need to be registered by the iPad's touchscreen and processed by the app before it appears on the screen. The delay is just a fraction of a second, but it may take a bit of practice to get used to it, especially for serious artists.