I spend a great deal of my time drawing digital art on my iPad, usually, it's label art for Potions Candle Co, or just doodling until inspiration hits.
Over the past two years drawing digitally, I've tried a fair few apps available on the Apple and Android App stores, and I have my favourites. I can’t say that I’ve tried every one available, and I definitely haven’t used each one to its full capacity, but I do get asked about this quite often, so here are my top five digital art apps.
MediBang Paint is a powerful free app that I wish I knew about at the beginning of my digital art journey. I don't have a lot of experience using this one, but from the short time I have spent on it, I was very impressed, especially considering it's free.
The reason this one isn’t higher on my list is due to the ease of use. I’ve always found it particularly difficult to find my way around this app. The interface has a lot of features, and it may be more familiar to people with more experience with other (perhaps desktop?) drawing apps, but for me, I like my canvas to take up most of the room on the app, not for all the bells and whistles to get in the way.
Though, I must say, the variety of brushes available is definitely a major plus. It also has pressure sensitivity with the Apple Pencil (I’m not certain about any other brands of stylus). In my perusing of the interwebs, MediBang Paint seems to be the free app of choice of many experienced digital artists and graphic designers.
Pros: Powerful, Free
Cons: It looks a little cluttered to me, and I find that quite distracting.
Adobe Sketch was the second digital art app that I ever used, and I loved its artistic brushes. The fact that I could use a watercolour brush on a digital interface just blew my mind. You don’t need to pick up a paintbrush, but if you hit print, it looks like you actually did some traditional art. Obviously, that’s not a perk of the app itself, because any app that has paint style brushes can accomplish that, but still, I was blown away.
Sketch has five brushes plus an eraser, pressure sensitivity is available with the Apple Pencil (I’m not sure about other brands of stylus, though I’m 90% certain it should work with the adobe draw stylus). I like the way that Adobe Sketch is presented, the interface is clean, and the canvas takes up most of the screen.
I didn’t use Adobe Sketch a lot, purely because it wasn’t suited to the style of art I was productions at the time I used it, but when I did spend time playing around with the app, I really enjoyed it.
Pros: Interesting artsy brushes
Cons: Limited number of brushes
Autodesk Sketchbook is another app I found a lot later than the Adobe apps. I haven’t used it an awful lot, because I found my number 1 app shortly after, but I’d say that Autodesk Sketchbook is my second most used drawing app nowadays, and that’s all for one feature - it is the only app on this list that has a text feature.
Sometimes you just can’t hand letter everything. I use this app exclusively for that feature now, but when I first tried to use the app for illustration it was hard to find a brush that I actually liked. Don’t get me wrong, they have a great selection, but none of them were what I wanted. There was always just something off. Of course, you can adjust them in settings but I could never tweak them to be exactly what I wanted, hence why I don’t have a great lot of experience using it.
Pros: Wide array of brushes, text option, easy to use
Cons: Brushes are unusual, and I never managed to find one I loved
For the first two years of my digital art journey, this was the app I loved. I was quite happy to use it forever, it did everything I needed at that point.
The app has a heap of great features, including shape templates and a ruler, the interface is clean and easy to use. It’s limitations were what pushed me to find a new app. Like Adobe Sketch, there are only five brushes available, plus an eraser. On top of this, your drawings can only have twenty layers. The brush limitations didn’t other me an awful lot, because I generally only used one (my drawings were very basic), but the limited number of layers were definitely an issue.
Having layers is hands down one of my favourite aspects of digital art. I love being able to change a lower layer without it affecting the top layer - imagine doing that in traditional art! Being limited to twenty was very difficult in some of my more complex drawings, especially when I had to merge some and then I wanted to go back and change something I’d merged.
Having said that, I definitely think Adobe Draw is a fantastic app and I enjoyed the two years I used it.
Pros: Easy to use
Cons: Limited brushes
Procreate is the only app I have ever paid for. I ummed and ahhed about it for so long after seeing that it was the app of choice for artists and illustrators all over the internet. I begrudged paying the $14.99, especially having not trialled it first, but one day I bit the bullet, and reader, I'm so glad I did.
Procreate is a game changer. It is hands down my absolute favourite digital art app.
It took a while for me to get the hang of it, and for the first few months of having Procreate, I still favoured Adobe Draw, but slowly I found myself opening Procreate a lot more than I opened Adobe Draw, especially when I got my Apple Pencil.
Honestly, I’m yet to find something that Procreate can’t do. I don’t want to count the amount of brushes available, but if you find you need something that you don’t have, someone online has probably made one and made it available for free, so you can simply download it and use it.
You can even edit photos in Procreate.
If I’m being completely honest, there’s nothing about Procreate that I don’t like. If I ever find a shortcoming, I google it and discover a way around it. No ruler? No worries, just draw a line and don’t release it. It’ll come straight. Keep holding the line and press another finger on the screen and the line will move about in forty-five-degree increments. Want a circle? Draw one and don’t let go, it’ll form a perfect circle. Procreate is now the only app I use for my illustrations, and labels.
Cons: Only available on the Apple App Store
Do you create digital art? What is your favourite app?
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