Digital Art, iPad Apps

7 Best Graphic Design Apps for iPad

Graphic design apps for illustrators, artists, and graphic designers

Nothing unleashes creativity quite like iPads. Don’t let the ultra-compact, slimline style fool you. Illustrators, graphic designers, and hobbyists all over the world use iPads to bring their ideas to life, boost their designs into the public consciousness, and nurture their passion for creativity. 

There are thousands of apps to choose from, but which are the best graphic design apps for iPads? 

Astropad Studio

iPad and laptop side by side with the ipad mirroring the desktop screen. Photoshop is open on both screens with a drawing of a woman

Astropad Studio lets you mirror any desktop creative program directly onto your iPad. Digital artists use Astropad Studio to combine the full power of their desktop applications with the flexibility of Apple Pencil – transforming their iPads into high-end graphics tablets.

You can completely customize your digital art workflows with features built specifically for artists:

  • Magic Gestures – Instantly change tools with fully customizable finger tap and Apple Pencil gestures.
  • Shortcut Sidebar – Customizable sidebar shortcuts allow you to quickly access your favorite tools and automatically match whatever desktop application you’re using.
  • Pressure Curves and Smoothing – Choose between hard and soft pressure curves and adjust your level of pressure smoothing to match your workflows.

Astropad Studio is compatible with all of your favorite desktop apps including Illustrator, Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Blender, Zbrush, and more!

Join the ranks of over 100,000 digital artists who use Astropad Studio today. 

Price: 14-day free trial, then $79 a year for individuals

Rating: 4.7/5 stars 


ipad with drawing of flowers in procreate
Image from Skillshare

We can’t talk about the best graphic design apps for iPad without mentioning Procreate. It is one of the most sought-after illustration tools, and it has earned its reputation as a creative powerhouse. This app is ideal for people who want to experiment with art tools, sketch characters, and even design overall concepts for marketing projects. 

Graphic designers can purchase the app for a one-off fee of $12.99 and start drawing straight away. The vast array of paintbrushes, sketching pencils, and calligraphy tools creates a super-low learning curve that appeals to beginners, intermediate, and advanced artists alike. 

Price: one-off purchase of $12.99 

Rating: 4.4/5 stars 

Photoshop for iPad

ipad with photoshop open and an image of people riding clouds on the screen
Image from Adobe

Photoshop is part of Adobe Creative Suite, and it can be purchased separately or alongside the entire package. This creative tool mainly benefits photographers who need tools like dodge, burn, color picker, and clone stamp, but lots of niche artists and marketers also use Photoshop. 

The iPad version does not have all the same capabilities as the desktop version, but the recent updates show that the app is heading in the right direction. Photoshop for iPad might not be the best option for artists who want to focus on hand-drawn creations. 

You can use the full desktop version of Photoshop on your iPad with the help of Astropad Studio. Gone are the days of being limited by half-scale versions of your favorite app. Instead, Astropad Studio gives you access to all the tools that you know and love. 

Price: $20.99 per month

Rating: 4.2/5 stars

Illustrator for iPad

ipad with adobe illustrator app open showing user interface
Image from the Creative Bloq

Like Photoshop, Illustrator is part of the Adobe Creative Suite. This vector app allows you to draw characters and objects and then resize, bend, and move each line. If you are looking for precision, Illustrator is the iPad app for you. It is brilliant for artists, employees, and contractors who need to create symmetrical designs with consistent colors. 

Illustrator for iPad might not offer all the same tools as the desktop version, but it is effective enough to act as a standalone piece of software. 

If you want to use all your favorite Illustrator tools on your iPad, you should invest in Astropad Studio. Simply install the software, mirror your Mac or PC onto your iPad, and use the full range of Illustrator tools. 

Price:  $9.99 per month 

Rating: 4.6/5 stars

Adobe Fresco

ipad with adobe fresco app open and a drawing of a pear on the screen
Image from WIRED

Adobe Fresco has made it onto our list of the best graphic design apps for iPads because it has a fantastic range of brushes and an intuitive user interface. This app focuses on painting and drawing. Users can experiment with all sorts of brush strokes and textures. 

Hobbyists, hopeful digital artists, and experienced professionals all use Adobe Fresco to create eye-catching designs. Fresco isn’t the best option for people who want to use text and shapes, but it has gained traction among hand-drawn artists. 

Price: $9.99 per month

Rating: 4.7/5 stars


ipad with sketchbook app open and a drawing of a waterfall on the screen
Image from Sketchbook

Sketchbook has one of the best ratings of all the apps that we have mentioned. Surprisingly, this digital art app is entirely free. Even better, it comes packed full of brushes and tools that have an extremely low learning curve. Beginners can use symmetry, ruler, flood fill, transform, airbrush, and shape tools to bring their ideas to life. 

Fans of Sketchbook might want to upgrade to the Pro version, but the extra features are minimal. Users can create commercial pieces, marketing materials, and fun characters on the free version. 

Price: Free

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Ibis Paint

ibis paint app logo and an ipad with a drawing of a girl on the screen
Image from @ergojosh Youtube

Like a lot of the best graphic design apps for iPads, Ibis Paint has an almost perfect rating. This app is free to download, and it comes with over 15,000 brushes, 15,000 materials, 1,300 fonts, 80 filters, 46 screen tones… the list goes on! On top of the art tools, there are a lot of extra features such as stroke stabilization, the ability to record your process, and rulers. 

Ultimately, Ibis Paint is a great option for beginners who want to dip their toes into the world of digital art without spending a lot of money. It’s free, so why not give it a try? 

Price: $9.99 to remove ads, $2.99 per month, or $27.99 per year for a Prime subscription  

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Final Thoughts  

It can be tempting to stick to what you know, but there is a world of fantastic digital art apps just waiting for you to discover them. Why not try a few of the iPad apps on our list? Or, need another opinion? Check out this guide for best drawing apps from iGeeksBlog.

Put your creativity to the test and discover new digital art tools, resources, and communities today!