Charcoal is a sketchpad that’s easy to use for those who don’t need complexity. You can choose between three sizes of the iPad app. The canvas will appear flanked by tools to the left and a scrollable colour picker to its right.
The tools are responsive with an Apple Pencil or a finger, and you can also drag and tilt the ruler around to lay straight lines. That’s all. You might then want to know about brush sizes, text tools and layers.
This is a way to miss the point. Charcoal is a basic material. Autodesk SketchBook is a great digital sketching tool that allows you to do all the singing and dancing. Charcoal is a great alternative if you are tired of using this app.
VectornatorX is a professional-grade iPad vector art app that doesn’t have a price tag but offers the kind of toolset to appeal to anyone, from designers and jobbing artists to those who simply want to transform their photos into striking, poster-like pieces of art.
You can quickly create projects using shapes, types, paths, type and templates if you are an illustrator. The app can be used as a mobile sketchpad to create ideas that you can then export or import.
Even if you aren’t a common user, it’s still worth looking into. Select a photo to load, then unlock the layer. Tap the style tab and tap Auto Trace. In seconds, your photo will be transformed into vector art. This is also infinitely editable.
FlipaClip wants to let you unleash your inner Disney animator. You can create your own moving pictures by setting up a project. Although the toolset is simple, it offers enough flexibility to allow for some creativity. There are multiple sizes of brushes, a selection tool to grab large pieces of art and a flood fill to quickly color.
You can use the layers system to separate elements such as line art or coloring. As you create your masterpiece, grids and onion-skinning (to view previous frames on the canvas) are helpful. Audio capabilities make it possible to create silent movies. All of it feels professional and approachable, but still has a professional feel.
The free version of the iPad app has some limitations. Also, full-screen advertisements that pop up whenever you open a project are annoying. These ads can be easily removed by purchasing an IAP.
Desyne makes it easy to quickly create graphical layouts that can be used as flyers, posters, and online banners.
Start by choosing a template. You can edit almost everything, unlike many other similar apps. You can edit text or export it. However, the built-in tools allow you to create something completely different.
The app locks some content behind subscription IAP and adds a watermark to your creations, though it is only a small one. The free version is still very useful and has fun stickers as well as a simple, but powerful layers system. It also allows you to save projects and offers a variety of export options.
Universe – Website Builder
Universal – Website Builder (opens new tab) suggests that you should be able create a website within 60 seconds. Although this is a long time, Universe’s building blocks system makes it easy to get something online.
Every page is a grid. Drag a section and decide what to fill it with – text, photos, or social media buttons. You can either start completely from scratch or use a theme. Once you are done, press a button to upload your work.
Should you want more pro-oriented features – analytics; a store; a proper domain – you’ll need to pay $9.99/PS8.99/AU$14.49 per month. Universe, however, is an easy, intuitive, and free way to create a personal website. It’s simple to use, intelligent, and responsive to your touchscreen.
Autodesk SketchBook (opens new tab) is an app for drawing and sketching. The toolbars are located at the screen’s edges and provide quick access to a variety of editable brushes and a rich layers system. They also offer tools for adding text, drawing shapes and manipulating selections. The brushes palette has flow and size sliders that allow you to easily modify the properties of your brush.
Tap the full screen button to remove most of the interface. You are left with your canvas. However, brushes, color pickers, and layers remain easily accessible by pressing a small switch on the screen.
SketchBook is easy to use and requires little learning. It’s a great choice for anyone who is a hobbyist or an artist looking to create something useful and powerful on their iPad.
Unsplash (opens new tab) This app gives you quick access to thousands of images that have been generously donated to Unsplash by the photography community. These photos can be used for whatever purpose you choose and may be modified at your discretion.
Both the app and the available photos are very good. Search for something, browse new photos or search by theme. You can browse through hundreds of images on your iPad in a comfortable, lean-back position.
It’s disappointing that there is no way to download the photos or follow specific photographers. This one is all about immediacy and effortlessness. You can download any photo to your iPad’s Photos app in a single click.
Artomaton – The Motion Painter
Artomaton-The Motion Painter is a bit like Prisma in that it uses AI transform photos to look like they were drawn or painted. Artomaton isn’t just a filter app. It wants to give you some control over what you create.
You should start by painting in natural media effects. You will get the most subtle sketches. If you cover the entire canvas, you’ll end up with more art. There are many settings you can play with.
Although the images don’t always look realistic, they are always good. You can get many materials for free, even though they are restricted by IAP.
Children tend to shift quickly from finger-painting and using finer tools to finger-painting. But the iPad shows that there is plenty of power in their digits if they are using the right app.
Autodesk SketchBook (opens new tab) offers all you need to digitally sketch, from simple doodles to complex and painterly masterpieces. You can also time-lapse record your sessions to save them to your camera roll, if you want to share your techniques.
You can download the core app for free. However, to unlock the pro features, it will cost $4.99/PS4.99/AU$7.99
In the early days of the iPhone, the original Brushes app was a key feature. Jorge Colombo used it to paint a New Yorker magazine cover. This was a great example of the potential of the technology and showed that the iPhone could be used for more than just consumption.
Although Brushes were eventually removed from the update list, they were made open-source before that. Brushes Redux (opens new tab) is the final result.
The iPad has a larger screen that you can use. The app’s main advantage is its easy-to-use nature. It is extremely simple to use but has plenty of power for those who require it. Not least in the layering system or the amazing brush designer.
Canva is designed to make it easy to create stunning layouts using your photos. The app will give you templates to use for any type of layout (presentation, blog graphics, invitations, etc.).
These templates are smart and can be used to create new pages or swap out existing images.
Canva’s scope means that it isn’t as easy to use as other one-click apps in this space. However, the interface is simple enough to grasp. The only problem is the inability to select multiple items. However, Canva is an online service so you can still fine-tune your iPad creations from a browser on the desktop.
Pixel art editor – Dottable
Despite having a confusing name,pixel art editor – Dottable is an easy-to-use and well-designed app. Select a canvas size, then the interface splits between your drawing area and layers.
While the basics of creating pixel art are easy, Dottable offers more than just fills and brushes.
You can import an image to trace it and convert it to pixel art. You can also export your image as either a PNG or convert each layer into an animated GIF.
All of this doesn’t seem to be enough for the Pixaki (opens new tab), but Dottable, a freebie for pixel artist, is quite impressive.
The app revolution has many great aspects. These bits of software can allow you to experience creative stuff that was previously impossible if you didn’t have a lot of money and lots of time. Folioscope is an example of this, which provides the foundation for creating your own animations.
It is important to note that Folioscope is not the next Disney. The tools are very basic and the output tends towards ‘wobbling sticksmen’.
You do have a variety of brushes, of different sizes and textures, as well as several drawing tools (pen eraser flood fill, marquee, flood fill and marquee) and onion-skinning which allows you to see faint impressions from adjacent frames to align everything.
It’s easy to use and friendly, so anyone can access it. You can also export your projects as GIFs, movies or upload them to Folioscope if you have an account.
MediBang Paint (opens new tab) Feels like an app where you wait for the catch. You can create a new canvas, and then you’ll be staring at what can only described as a simplified version of Photoshop on your iPad. You have a lot of drawing tools and a layer system, including photo import.
You can access more features by opening menus, such as rotation, shapes and grids. However palettes can be hidden so that you can concentrate on drawing. MediBang’s in-app gallery shows that it is popular among manga artists. However, its tools can support a wider variety of digital painting and drawing styles, all without you having to pay a penny.
PicsArt Animated Gif & Video Animator
PicsArt (or PicsArt Animated Gif & Video Animator) won’t bother Hollywood (opens new tab to see its full name). It is an excellent introduction to animation, and also serves as a sketchpad for those who are already working in this field.
An animation frame can be drawn on a blank canvas, paper texture or photo background. To aid in smooth transitions, add frames to the background and let previous frames show through.
Explore the app for more advanced features, such as brush options and a layer system that is extremely useful. Export to GIF, video or save your projects for later refinement. It is amazing that this all happens for free, and without ads.