iPads are known for being great and versatile tablets, but did you know they can also be used for drawing? If this sounds interesting to you, in this article I'll show you which iPad is best for drawing, what is the best drawing app for iPad, and what makes iPads great drawing tablets in general.
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Why Do You Need a Graphics Tablet for Digital Drawing?
Technically, you can draw on any device that supports drawing apps—be it a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. The problem is, when you can only use a mouse or a finger, it's hard to draw any precise lines. Even if you have a stylus, which allows you to simulate a pencil-holding experience, the effects may still not be satisfying.
The reason for this is that we are used to controlling the thickness and darkness of the lines by adjusting the pressure of the pencil. And most touch screens are not really capable of recognizing the pressure—they're designed to detect the presence of the touch, not the strength of that touch. Even if you use a stylus, its rubber tip only replaces the finger, without providing any information about pressure.
That's what graphics tablets were designed for. They are capable of recognizing the pressure (and sometimes even tilt) of the "pen", so drawing on them feels just like drawing with a pencil. To quickly give you an idea of the difference it makes, here are two lines: the upper one is drawn with a mouse, and the lower one is drawn with a graphics tablet.
Of course, not all brushes work this way—they need to be specially designed with pen pressure in mind. The brush above, for example, is a part of the Pencil Photoshop Brushes set. You can find more sets like this on Envato Elements (and download as many of them as you want within one subscription!).
The term "graphics tablet" usually refers to a special pad or a screen that you connect to a computer. But modern technology makes it possible to implement the same technology on standalone devices—and since the introduction of the Apple Pencil in 2015, iPad is officially one of them.
But can an iPad, which is a general-purpose tablet, be as good for drawing as the devices designed specifically for art? Besides, there are many iPads with different specifications—is an iPad Air good for drawing, or do you need an iPad Pro? Which iPad is best for drawing for beginners? If you need a cheap iPad for Procreate only, which model is good enough? I'll try to answer all these questions below, giving you all the information you need to decide which is the best iPad for drawing.
Which iPad Is Best for Drawing: A Comparison
The name "iPad" refers to a whole line of products, not just one device. Here are the types of iPad you can find on the market:
- iPad (the basic version)
- iPad Mini (a smaller, more portable version of the iPad)
- iPad Air (a more powerful version of the iPad)
- iPad Pro (the most powerful version of the iPad)
Of course, when comparing models, you need to compare them by their release date too—a newer iPad Air can be more powerful than an older iPad Pro. Be careful not to confuse the release date with the generation number—iPad Pro 11 4th generation and iPad Pro 12.9 6th generation were released the same year. The generation number should only be used to compare the models from the same line (e.g. one iPad Air to another iPad Air).
Let's now compare the features of iPads to the features of a traditional graphics tablet, and we'll see which iPad is best for drawing.
As mentioned earlier, pen pressure is the crucial function. The surface of a graphics tablet is designed to recognize the signals from the pen and learn how strongly you press it. That's why you can't just take a pen from a graphics tablet and start using it on any touch-screen device—these two have to work in tandem.
That's what the Apple Pencil was created for. It's a special stylus, designed to look and feel like a real pencil, that only works with iPads released since 2015. But how good is it when compared to the pen of a typical graphics tablet?
When graphics tablet companies advertise their products, they often boast about the pressure levels—that is, how many distinctive points of pressure the pen can recognize. The newest ones are supposed to have over 8,000 of those. Apple doesn't reveal that number publicly, but from my experience, the pressure sensitivity of the Apple Pencil is at least as good as in the high-end graphics tablets. To be able to use it, though, you need a tablet supporting the Apple Pencil. So here's a basic list of the tablets you can choose from:
- iPad (6th-10th)
- iPad Mini (5th-6th)
- Pad Air (3rd-5th)
- iPad Pro 9.7, 10.5, 11, 12.9
The Apple Pencil also offers tilt sensitivity—which means that you can draw "with the side of the nib" to produce wider strokes (depending on the settings of the brush).
In the past, tablet pens were often heavy and unwieldy because they had a cell battery inside. Today, most of them are battery-free, which means they don't even need to be charged—they get their power from the contact with the surface of the tablet.
The Apple Pencil uses a different technology, and it still has a battery inside. This battery is not replaceable, but you need to charge it. This is where the difference between the two currently available versions of the Apple Pencil—the 1st and 2nd generations—becomes the most obvious.
The 1st generation Apple Pencil is charged through the lightning connector. You need to remove its "cap" to connect the Pencil to the iPad, which is quite inconvenient—when the Pencil sticks out like this, it's very easy to hit it by accident and damage both devices. You can also easily lose the cap.
The 2nd generation Apple Pencil doesn't have this problem anymore. It charges wirelessly—you just need to magnetically snap it to the upper edge of the iPad. And there's no cap that you could lose!
Both Pencils charge extremely fast. In fact, one minute of charging will allow you to keep using the pencil for another 30 minutes or more. This means that you don't really need to take breaks for charging during drawing—you can easily recharge the Pencil during a bathroom break.
The 2nd generation Apple Pencil also offers one extra feature: it has an invisible button that you can double tap to quickly switch between the current tool and an eraser, switch between the current tool and the last used one, or show the color palette (as long as the app supports it).
Here's a list of the iPads that you can use with the 1st generation Apple Pencil:
- iPad 6th-10th
- iPad Mini 5th
- iPad Air 3rd
- iPad Pro 9.7, 10.5, 12.9 1st-2nd
And here's the list for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil:
- iPad Mini 6th
- iPad Air 4th-5th
- iPad Pro 11 1st-4th, 12.9 3rd-6th
Many graphics tablets don't support touch at all—you can only click on them using the pen. However, since the iPad is first and foremost a touch-screen device, it has to recognize the touch of your fingertips.
The problem is, you don't want this to happen when drawing. That's why iPads have a functionality called palm rejection, which turns off the touch detection when you use the Pencil. This means you can comfortably rest your wrist on the screen while drawing—no need to hover.
This functionality is offered in all iPads supporting the Apple Pencil, but it may work more or less successfully depending on the app. To ensure any accidental strokes never happen, you can do two things: turn off touch detection in the app, or use a two-fingered drawing glove. I recommend the latter, because it helps you slide your hand over the screen as well (and keep it clean for longer!).
When you hover your pen over the surface of a graphics tablet, you can see the outline of the brush, so you can adjust its size before touching the screen. For a long time, this simple feature was unavailable for iPad users. It has, however, been introduced in the newest models. Many users don't consider it a deal breaker, but it's worth knowing that this extra artist-oriented feature is available in some models. These models are, currently:
- iPad Pro 11 4th
- iPad Pro 12.9 6th
In the world of traditional graphics tablets, you can choose from many sizes: from a modest 13" to something as huge as 32". When it comes to the screen, usually the bigger the better. In your drawing app, you're going to have lots of tools and windows that can cover a part of the screen, and the bigger the screen is, the more space you'll have left for the actual drawing (and possibly a reference window!). You'll also see a bigger part of the drawing, without having to zoom out or move your hand out of the way.
That being said, you can be pretty happy with something as small as an iPad Mini, if your drawing process is based mostly on sketching. It's the big, detailed paintings that are more difficult to manage on a small screen (but they also can be difficult to manage on a mobile device in general).
iPads don't offer that much variety of size because all of them must be, first of all, portable. Here's a list of the sizes you can choose from:
- 7.9" - iPad Mini 5th
- 8.3" - iPad Mini 6th
- 9.7" - iPad 6th, iPad Pro 9.7
- 10.2" - iPad 7th-9th
- 10.5" - iPad Air 3rd, iPad Pro 10.5
- 10.9" - iPad 10th, iPad Air 4th-5th
- 11" - iPad Pro 11 1st-4th
- 12.9" - iPad Pro 12.9 1st-6th
When it comes to digital art creation, the quality of the display is probably just as important as pressure sensitivity. Two aspects are crucial here: screen resolution and colors.
The term "screen resolution" refers to the number of pixels that fit within the dimensions of your screen. Generally, the more, the better. Screen resolution is a tricky subject, though. These numbers, on their own, don't mean a lot. What matters is the relationship between the resolution and the size of the screen—1920 x 1080 looks crisp on a mobile phone screen, but not so much on a 50" TV.
So a better measure of the display quality is PPI, or pixel density—how many pixels you can see in the area of one inch. The higher the number, the smaller the pixels and the sharper the image. Tech companies usually try to outdo their previous models when introducing a new product, increasing the resolution more and more. That's where terms like HD, QHD, 4K, and 8K come from.
Apple has a different approach. They decided that the human eye loses the capability to recognize the individual pixels (at a normal viewing distance) at a certain PPI. The closer the viewing distance, the higher that value. For iPhones, it's above 300 PPI. For iPads, it's defined as above 200 PPI. That's why when iPads increase in size, their resolution increases only as much as necessary to keep their standard pixel density at 264 PPI.
This means two things: first, when switching to a bigger size, you can expect the elements of the interface to stay roughly the same size, providing a more consistent experience across devices. Second, choosing an iPad with a higher resolution will not improve anything in the image quality. So if you're looking for the best iPad for artwork, you can actually ignore the resolution.
There's only one exception to the rule: the iPad Mini sports a PPI of 326. The reason for this is, probably, to keep the interface from covering too much of that small screen—or maybe it's expected that you will keep it closer to your eyes. In any case, the iPad Mini is the only model where you can expect a slightly sharper image quality.
Although all modern screens seem to display a full spectrum of colors, they're all limited to their color space—a standard describing the range of colors they cover. sRGB is a standard color space used in the majority of monitors. Most internet media is standardized for it, so if you use sRGB when creating your artwork, you can be fairly sure that others will see similar colors on their screens.
There are other, wider color spaces, though. Adobe RGB and P3 cover a larger range of the spectrum (about 35% and 25% larger, respectively), so if your screen is designed to cover one of those, you should see slightly more vibrant colors and smoother gradients.
Here's the kicker: while the P3 screen may look better to you, your image is likely to be converted to sRGB when you share it online—so even people using the same iPad as you may not see what you saw during creation. Those extra colors will be useful if you decide to create a print of your artwork, though!
Here are the models displaying colors in sRGB:
- iPad 6th-10th
- iPad Pro 12.9 1st
And here are the ones using P3:
- iPad Mini 5th-6th
- iPad Air 3rd-5th
- iPad Pro 9.7, 10.5, 11 1st-4th, 12.9 2nd-6th
The color space is not the only thing that affects the look and feel of the image. Depending on the screen technology used, the black may be darker or less dark, and the white brighter or less bright. While on traditional screens you may find technologies described as IPS, TN, VA, or OLED, Apple uses its proprietary technology for iPads.
This technology, in its most basic form, is called Retina, and it's based on the IPS technology. On newer models, you'll find it called Liquid Retina, which refers to the rounded corners of the screen, but that doesn't change much in terms of image quality.
The highest models, such as the iPad Pro 12.9 5th-6th generation, bring quite a big improvement—they sport a Liquid Retina XDR display with a superb level of contrast (1,000,000:1, which is supposed to make it look close to an OLED display). This can make the image look amazing, but you still need to keep in mind that after sharing your work online, most people will not see it the same way you did.
On some iPads, you may also find something described as "pro-motion" technology. It refers to the adaptive refresh rate, and while it may make everything look smoother, it doesn't affect the image quality or the objective speed of your work. So this is something you don't need to pay attention to when searching for the best iPad for artists.
Because graphics tablets are designed specifically for working with pens, they usually have a matte surface—it gives a satisfying resistance to the pen's nib, at the cost of image clarity.
iPads are supposed to be more versatile, so it wouldn't make sense to make them matte by default. This means you're basically drawing on glass—the pen moves extremely smoothly, which may make it harder to control (especially if you're used to drawing on paper). This is true for all models.
To make the screen rougher, you can use a matte screen protector, preferably one designed for drawing. It will make the nib wear out faster and will introduce a bit of noise into the image quality—but it can be an acceptable trade-off if your precision benefits from that. Reducing the glare of the screen can also count as a beneficial side effect of a matte protector.
On all screen graphics tablets, there's a layer of glass between the pen nib and the screen. This may lead to a feeling of the pen "floating" over the screen and not really touching the image. It's called the parallax effect.
Luckily, none of the iPads have a problem with this—the parallax is not noticeable at all, so you're going to feel as if you're drawing directly on the screen!
Let's talk about the hardware now. If you use a graphics tablet connected to a computer, you have full control over the hardware—you can upgrade the components of your computer at any time, independently from the tablet (which just plays the role of a monitor in this configuration).
When you buy an iPad, it comes with specific hardware that will limit what you can do on it. That's why it's important to check the specifications first and make sure they meet your requirements. Generally speaking, the more powerful the iPad, the smoother and more pleasant the drawing experience.
RAM, roughly speaking, defines how much information the iPad can work with at one moment. For example, RAM takes care of every layer in your multi-layered file—so the more of these layers you have and the bigger they are, the more RAM you need. That's why apps like Procreate set a hard lock on the number of layers you can have in your file, depending on its resolution.
Here's how much RAM you can find in the models on our list. Keep in mind that some models come with multiple RAM versions.
- 2GB - iPad 6th, iPad Pro 9.7
- 3GB - iPad 7th-9th, iPad Mini 5th, iPad Air 3rd
- 4GB - iPad 10th, iPad Mini 6th, iPad Air 4th, iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 11 1st, iPad Pro 12.9 1st-3rd
- 6GB - iPad Pro 11 1st-2nd, iPad Pro 12.9 3rd-4th
- 8GB - iPad Air 5th, iPad Pro 11 3rd-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 5th-6th
- 16GB - iPad Pro 11 3rd-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 5th-6th
The CPU, the "brain" of the iPad, controls the overall operation of the device. The faster and more powerful the CPU, the quicker and smoother the iPad is at executing tasks. There's also the graphics processing unit (GPU), which takes care of the visual side of the tasks. Together, they make up the chipset.
Along with the amount of RAM, the type of chipset is the best measure of the iPad's overall efficiency. If you don't want to experience lags and instability, choose an iPad with a more powerful chip.
Understanding the efficiency of a processor just by looking at its description (CPU cores, GPU cores, frequency, architecture) can be impossible for a layperson. So you just need to follow the general rule: by default, every new chip is more efficient than the older one. So you can look at the number (which kind of states the generation of the chip), as well as the release date, in order to compare them—while also taking into consideration that the M series is more powerful than the A series.
Here are the types of chips used in our models:
- A9X (2015) - iPad Pro 9.7, iPad Pro 12.9 1st
- A10 (2016) - iPad 6th-7th
- A10X (2017) - iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 12.9 2nd
- A12 (2018) - iPad 8th, iPad Mini 5th, iPad Air 3rd
- A12X (2018) - iPad Pro 11 1st, iPad Pro 12.9 3rd
- A13 (2019) - iPad 9th
- A12Z (2020) - iPad Pro 11 2nd, iPad Pro 12.9 4th
- A14 (2020) - iPad 10th, iPad Air 4th
- A15 (2021) - iPad Mini 6th
- M1 (2020) - iPad Air 5th, iPad Pro 11 3rd, iPad Pro 12.9 5th
- M2 (2022) - iPad Pro 11 4th, iPad Pro 12.9 6th
Disk storage is another thing that could be upgraded according to your needs if you used a traditional graphics tablet connected to a computer. With the iPad, you're stuck with whatever your device has to offer. If you're serious about drawing, you'll create hundreds or thousands of files on your new iPad. You need to keep them somewhere! Here's how much space you can get depending on the model and the variant:
- 32GB - iPad 6th-8th, iPad Pro 9.7, iPad Pro 12.9 1st
- 64GB - iPad 9th, iPad Mini 5th-6th, iPad Air 3rd-5th, iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 11 1st, iPad Pro 12.9 2nd-3rd
- 128GB - iPad 6th-8th, iPad Pro 11 2nd-3rd, iPad Pro 12.9 4th-5th
- 256GB - iPad 9th-10th, iPad Mini 5th-6th, iPad Air 3rd-5th, iPad Pro 11 1st-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 4th-6th
- 512GB - iPad Pro 11 2nd-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 2nd-6th
- 1TB - iPad Pro 11 1st-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 3rd-6th
- 2TB - iPad Pro 11 3rd-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 5th-6th
Keep in mind that there's no reason to keep all your files on your iPad forever. You can send them to iCloud, or any other cloud service, or your computer. Smaller storage won't affect your workflow, as long as you remember to manage the older files regularly. So you can safely cut your costs by choosing a version with less storage.
When you have your tablet connected to the computer, you don't have to worry about running out of power. The iPad, however, as a mobile device, has a battery that limits the time you can spend on it. And using drawing apps is certainly a pretty demanding task for the hardware, so you can expect it to drain the battery very fast (especially since 100% brightness is often necessary to see the colors correctly).
Normally, if you care about mobility, you should choose a device with a more powerful battery. However, it can be tricky when comparing devices with different specifications. A more powerful iPad may need a more powerful battery just to keep the battery life on the same level as a lower model with a lesser battery. On the other hand, newer technology may bring improvements in power efficiency. So the numbers alone won't tell you much.
Generally, Apple aims for ten hours of web browsing/video playback on each of the iPads, and the battery quality is simply adjusted to reach that goal. So this is something you should expect from every model, with the caveat that used devices may be less efficient in that regard. Keep in mind that drawing apps (especially Procreate) can drain the battery pretty quickly, so those ten hours may not be achievable for a single drawing session.
Let's talk about apps now! Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular digital art programs, but it's only accessible to you in its full power on desktop. Its iOS version is more limited and is focused on photography mostly.
But this isn't really a problem because the iPad has its own apps, designed to work best within the limitations of its hardware. So what is the best drawing app for iPad?
This iPad drawing app is so popular that many artists get an iPad specifically for it. It has a simple interface and a series of powerful features designed to make the drawing process smooth and convenient—while Photoshop, no matter how powerful, is pretty lacking in this department. Just like in Photoshop, you can use layers, filters, transformation tools, and brushes (that you can customize, too!).
Speaking of brushes, because Procreate supports the ABR format, you immediately get access to all the fantastic custom brushes that Photoshop users have been creating for years. You can also find a growing number of brushes available online that have been created for Procreate and its specific capabilities. Here are a couple of brush sets from Envato Elements that I can recommend:
10 Portrait Brushes for Procreate [BRUSHSET]
If you're not sure what style you want to paint in yet, this set may be a good universal starter. You can use them for sketching, shading, texturing, and rendering—all in one!
10 Ink Brushes for Procreate [BRUSHSET]
Do you like the appeal of ink drawings, but you'd like to combine them with the convenience of digital art? Look no further because this set will allow you to create beautiful ink drawings in Procreate. These ten brushes can also be used for other purposes—their precision will make them great for the rendering stage.
10 Soft Watercolor Brushes for Procreate [BRUSHSET]
If you like the whimsical style of watercolor paintings but want more control over the behavior of the paint, this set—paired with Procreate—is exactly what you need! It includes both small and precise brushes, as well as big textured ones.
Shader Brushes for Procreate [PNG, BRUSHSET]
This legendary Photoshop set has now come to Procreate! It contains 7 scatter brushes, 7 noise brushes, 7 hatch brushes, 7 pressure brushes, 7 shadow brushes, and 12 textures. You can use them to create art in a minimalist style or to introduce more texture to your detailed artwork.
10 Sketch Brushes Procreate [BRUSHSET]
Digital painting can be overwhelming at times, but nobody said that you can't use your iPad to create... pencil drawings! This set will help you produce beautiful sketches, whether for standalone artworks or as a base for a future painting.
Set's say you have your brushes now, but how can you use them? Procreate is very intuitive (especially in comparison to Photoshop!), but if you want to kickstart your Procreate skills, here are some tutorials that will help you:
- How to Draw in ProcreateLauren's Scribbles10 Jan 2023
- How to Create and Customize Procreate BrushesDaisy Ein30 Dec 2022
- How to Color Fill in ProcreateNataliya Dolotko02 Dec 2022
- What Is Procreate?Nathan Umoh19 Oct 2022
- How to Use ProcreateAndrew Blackman08 Jun 2022
- How to Do Symmetry in ProcreateNataliya Dolotko21 Oct 2022
- How to Make a Perfect Circle in ProcreateAkanksha Rawat26 Mar 2023
- Gradients in Procreate: All You Need to KnowNataliya Dolotko14 Nov 2022
- How to Make Straight Lines in ProcreateGonzalo Angulo13 Jul 2022
- How to Erase in ProcreateGonzalo Angulo22 Nov 2022
- How to Copy and Paste in ProcreateAkanksha Rawat23 May 2023
- How to Change the Opacity of a Layer in ProcreateGonzalo Angulo22 Jul 2022
But the answer to the question "What is the best drawing app for iPad?" is not that simple. Although Procreate is the most popular drawing app, it doesn't mean it's objectively the best. There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to things like this—all drawing apps offer similar functions, but they all have their own unique approach. Some of those solutions may work better for you than others, so it's worth giving all these apps a try before you settle on one.
Sketchbook (formerly Autodesk SketchBook) is the mobile version of Sketchbook Pro. While it's not nearly as popular as Procreate, it doesn't really fall short. It has a more accessible interface (all the important tools stay on the screen at all times, without covering too much space). It offers nicely organized brushes with customizable icons and color stamp support, and it doesn't limit the number of layers as strongly as Procreate does (you can have up to 20 layers in a 6000 x 6000 file, even on older models).
You can get the primary version of Sketchbook for free. If you want extra features (like clipping masks or a handy photo reference window), you can get them as a one-time payment (currently about $2). After paying once, you get access to all features introduced in the future as well.
ibisPaint X (Free+)
ibisPaint X is another free app that can be very intuitive for new users. It welcomes you with a short tutorial to give you a quick overview of the features, and then you can just start drawing! Its interface is pretty similar to Procreate (many important tools, including the layers, have to be opened to be visible), but it has a nice, big toolbar on the side with all crucial tools easily accessible. There are lots of brushes and filters available, including the Liquify filter.
The app is free, but there's an ad displayed on top, which takes up a bit of space and can be distracting. Some of the brushes are also locked until you watch an ad—then you get them all unlocked for 24 hours. You can remove the ads with a one-time payment of about $10, and a subscription of $2.99/month gives you a few extra features (like new filters, materials, and cloud access).
Clip Studio Paint (from $4.49/month)
If you find Procreate (or the free apps) too simple and you'd prefer something closer to the functionality of Photoshop, this app may be for you. The interface is customizable, and it gives you easy access to plenty of tools. It allows you to use poseable 3D models for reference, and there are lots of assets (brushes, materials, patterns, and swatches) that you can get directly from a dedicated store. It's a powerhouse for sure, but it can be pretty intimidating for new users.
The app offers a three-month free trial, but you can also test it in "doodle mode"—you can download and use the app for free, but it won't allow you to save your file.
Artstudio Pro ($39.99 or $9.99/year)
Artstudio Pro can be a very nice alternative to Procreate. It has a similar interface and offers similar tools, but it also has its own features—an unlimited number of layers, adjustment layers, layer effects, opening multiple documents at the same time, and a brush engine that simulates the effects of real painting media. You can also customize the interface—for example, make the layers panel stay on top, in any area of the screen you need!
To test the app, you can download it and use it for free—but just like with CSP, you won't be able to save your file.
Adobe Fresco (Free for CC users or $9.99/year)
This app has been designed to simulate the traditional painting experience. Its watercolor brushes, for example, create splashes of colors that keep flowing and bleeding into each other, even after you pick up the pen. The colors mix naturally, like real pigments, so if you're used to working with traditional media, this app may be more convenient for you than the others. Fresco also offers vector brushes that work just like normal brushes but can be scaled infinitely.
If you have a Creative Cloud subscription, it's likely that Fresco is already part of it—you just need to log in with your Adobe ID credentials. Otherwise, this app can be purchased as a separate license for $9.99/year.
Infinite Painter (Free+)
If you can tolerate no distractions, Infinite Painter is even more minimalist than Procreate. But just because it looks simple, it doesn't mean it is—it has a huge variety of tools and brushes, and the brushes can be customized precisely to look and feel like traditional tools (for example, you can adjust the pressure and tilt curve individually for each brush!). It even has adjustment layers that you can use to edit the other layers non-destructively, like in Photoshop.
Infinite Painter can be downloaded and used for free, but most of its tools (other than the most basic ones) are then locked behind the paywall. The one-time license to unlock them all costs $9.99.
Finally, let's talk about the price. If you already have a computer, you can get a non-screen graphics tablet for as cheap as $50 and a screen one for about $200. But since an iPad is more than a drawing tablet, and its mobility and convenience of use are incomparable to any of the cheaper graphics tablets, getting an iPad can still be a good investment for you. As of the day of writing this article, these are the current official prices of the models:
- iPad 9th - $329+
- iPad 10th - $449+
- iPad Mini 6th - $499+
- iPad Air 5th - $599+
- iPad Pro 11 4th - $799+
- iPad Pro 12.9 6th- $1099+
You also need to add the cost of the Apple Pencil:
- 1st generation Apple Pencil - $99
- 2nd generation Apple Pencil - $129
Of course, you can get both the newer and the older models in used or refurbished versions. This may be the best option for you if you're looking for the best budget iPad for drawing.
Best iPad for Drawing: Model Comparison
Let's take a look at all the models, comparing the devices of each line separately.
|iPad Model||Apple Pencil||Screen Size||Resolution/PPI||Colors||Screen Technology||RAM||Chip||Storage||Price|
iPad 6th (2018)
|1st||9.7"||2048 x 1536 / 264||sRGB||Retina||2GB||A10 (2016)||32/128GB||-|
iPad 7th (2019)
|1st||10.2"||2160 x 1620 / 264||sRGB||Retina||3GB||A10 (2016)||32/128GB||-|
iPad 8th (2020)
|1st||10.2"||2160 x 1620 / 264||sRGB||Retina||3GB||A12 (2018)||32/128GB||-|
iPad 9th (2021)
|1st||10.2"||2160 x 1620 / 264||sRGB||Retina||3GB||A13 (2019)||64/256GB||$329+|
iPad 10th (2022)
|1st||10.9"||2360 x 1640 / 264||sRGB||Liquid Retina||4GB||A14 (2020)||64/256GB||$449+|
iPad Mini (5th-6th)
|iPad Model||Apple Pencil||Screen Size||Resolution/PPI||Colors||Screen Technology||RAM||Chip||Storage||Price|
iPad Mini 5th (2019)
|1st||7.9"||2048 x 1536 / 326||P3||Retina||3GB||A12 (2018)||64/256GB||-|
iPad Mini 6th (2021)
|2nd||8.3"||2266 x 1488 / 326||P3||Liquid Retina||4GB||A15 (2021)||64/256GB||499+|
iPad Air (3rd-5th)
|iPad Model||Apple Pencil||Screen Size||Resolution/PPI||Colors||Screen Technology||RAM||Chip||Storage||Price|
iPad Air 3rd (2019)
|1st||10.5"||2224 x 1668 / 264||P3||Retina||3GB||A12 (2018)||64/256GB||-|
iPad Air 4th (2020)
|2nd||10.9"||2360 x 1640 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||4GB||A14 (2020)||64/256GB||-|
iPad Air 5th (2022)
|2nd||10.9"||2360 x 1640 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||8GB||M1 (2020)||64/256 GB||$599+|
iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5, 11 1st-4th, 12.9 1st-6th)
|iPad Model||Apple Pencil||Screen Size||Resolution/PPI||Colors||Screen Technology||RAM||Chip||Storage||Price|
iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)
|1st||9.7"||2048 x 1536 / 264||P3||Retina||2GB||A9X (2015)||32/128/256GB||-|
iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
|1st||10.5"||2224 x 1668 / 264||P3||Retina||4GB||A10X (2017)||64/256/512GB||-|
iPad Pro 11 1st (2018)
|2nd||11"||2388 x 1668 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||4/6GB||A12X (2018)||64/256/512GB / 1TB||-|
iPad Pro 11 2nd (2020)
|2nd||11"||2388 x 1668 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||6GB||A12Z (2020)||128/256/512GB / 1TB||-|
iPad Pro 11 3rd (2021)
|2nd||11"||2388 x 1668 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||8/16GB||M1 (2020)||128/256/512GB / 1/2TB||-|
iPad Pro 11 4th (2022)
|2nd (+ hover)||11"||2388 x 1668 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||8/16GB||M2 (2022)||128/256/512GB / 1/2TB||799+|
iPad Pro 12.9 1st (2015)
|1st||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||sRGB||Retina||4GB||A9X (2015)||32/128/256GB||-|
iPad Pro 12.9 2nd (2017)
|1st||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||P3||Retina||4GB||A10X (2017)||64/256/512GB||-|
iPad Pro 12.9 3rd (2018)
|2nd||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||4/6GB||A12X (2018)||64/256/512GB / 1TB||-|
iPad Pro 12.9 4th (2020)
|2nd||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina||6GB||A12Z (2020)||128/256/512GB / 1TB||-|
iPad Pro 12.9 5th (2021)
|2nd||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina XDR||8/16GB||M1 (2020)||128/256/512GB / 1/2TB||-|
iPad Pro 12.9 6th (2022)
|2nd (+hover)||12.9"||2732 x 2048 / 264||P3||Liquid Retina XDR||8/16GB||M2 (2022)||128/256/512GB / 1/2TB||1099+|
Which iPad Is Best for Drawing, Then?
OK, let's sum it up by answering a few common questions:
Which iPad Is Best for Drawing for Beginners?
All the iPads supporting the Apple Pencil are good for drawing, so as a beginner, you can choose any model from our list. Even the less powerful ones will be enough to allow you to start practicing your digital art skills. You shouldn't feel as if you need a more "professional" iPad to be a professional artist. It's usually the other way around—professional artists buy more professional tools after they become professionals, not before.
What Is the Best iPad for Digital Art?
If we're looking for the best of the best, it will clearly be the iPad Pro 12.9 6th generation. But if you're more interested in "good enough", here's the second and third place on the podium:
- 8GB RAM and more: iPad Air 5th, iPad Pro 11 3rd-4th, iPad Pro 12.9 5th
- 6GB RAM: iPad Pro 11 1st-2nd, iPad Pro 12.9 3rd-4th
Keep in mind that I'm using RAM here as a shortcut for measuring the overall efficiency of the device. As with any shortcut, it doesn't capture the whole picture, so you should still compare the other specifications to see if the chosen model is a good fit for you.
Is the iPad Air Good for Drawing?
iPad Air vs. iPad Pro for drawing—which one is better? As you can see in my list above, the iPad Air 5th has more RAM than some of the iPad Pros, so watch out for the trap—just because an iPad has "Pro" in the name, it doesn't mean it's above every other iPad, regardless of the generation. So yes, an iPad Air is good for drawing—especially the iPad Air 5th. The iPad Air 4th with its 4GB RAM should not be much worse (and it supports the 2nd Apple Pencil!), and the iPad Air, while less powerful, still meets the requirements to be good enough for drawing.
Which iPad Is Best for Procreate?
The current version of Procreate is supported on all the iPads from our list. If you're looking for a cheap iPad for Procreate, just find the cheapest used/refurbished model from this list, and you'll be fine! If you're more interested in efficiency, check out the answer to the question "What is the best iPad for digital art?" above. As mentioned before, RAM directly correlates to the number of layers accessible in Procreate, so this (along with the chipset) should be the most important metric for you.
What's the Best Budget iPad for Drawing?
Let's say you're looking for the best compromise between price and efficiency. Which model would be the best in this regard? I believe that 4GB and 10" is the absolute minimum for comfortable artistic work, so my recommendations for the best budget iPad for drawing would be iPad 10th, iPad Air 4th, iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 11 1st, and iPad Pro 12.9 1st-3rd.
In the end, the answer to the question of which iPad is best for drawing is pretty simple—it's the one that you can afford. You're going to improve faster by buying an older iPad and starting to draw right away than by waiting until you can afford one of the high-end models. All Apple products are good at what they're designed for—just because new models keep appearing on the horizon, it doesn't mean the older ones suddenly lose their capabilities.
If you want proof, here's an illustration that I drew on my iPad. It's an iPad 6th generation—the lowest one on our list, with only 2GB RAM, A10 chip, 9.7" screen, and 32GB storage. And yet it would be hard to argue that it is not good for drawing! As an owner of a 27" Wacom Cintiq, I find my iPad just as capable when it comes to digital art, and I think that says a lot. It could be bigger, and it could work more smoothly, but its portability more than compensates for that. So as you can see, you can't really go wrong here!
I know that when it comes to buying a new device, especially one as expensive as an Apple product, making the choice can be very stressful. I hope this overview will make the decision-making process easier for you.