One of the many awesome things you can do with an iPad is drawing on it. There are many free and paid apps on the Apple Play Store that allow you to draw, sketch, and design on iPads, but many free apps are just as good or even better than paid apps.
New iPads support Apple Pencil, a type of wireless stylus pen that you can use to write on and draw on iPads. If you have an older iPad, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t draw on your iPad – if the iPad version you have doesn’t support Apple Pencil, you can still use many free drawing apps to create designs and sketches.
If your iPad is newer and supports Apple Pencil, make sure to check which version it supports – there is the older Apple Pencil version and a newer model.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I will start going through the list of the 15 best free drawing apps for iPads. While some of these apps may have premium versions as well, all of them have one thing in common – you can use them for free, or they at least have a free version as well.
Let us get into it.
1. Adobe Fresco
Adobe Fresco is my #1 drawing app for iPads, including the iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro. You’ll need iOS 14 or later to use Adobe Fresco, as it’s a powerhouse, full of amazing features, that requires powerful technology.
With a massive collection of raster and vector brushes, Adobe Fresco is designed for digital artists and illustrators who require a virtual workspace to create their art.
You can paint with watercolors and create a 3D effect by building up paint thickness, working in full-screen mode to give yourself more space and minimize distractions.
Adobe Fresco is definitely the app for you if you already work with other Adobe products and tools, such as Photoshop. That’s because Fresco integrates with Creative Cloud, meaning you can use your favorite brushes and fonts, as well as upload media from Adobe Stock.
Adobe Fresco works particularly well with Photoshop. Whether you are using a touchscreen or stylus device, you can use Photoshop together with Fresco to work on layers, merge images, and retouch your art.
Not only can you work with layers, but you can do so with non destructive editing, adding an unlimited number of adjustment layers to add special effects without hindering your ability to undo your edits.
You can even animate your drawings by guiding them along a motion path or using frame-by-frame animation. The drawing aids help you get your shapes perfectly right.
Adobe Fresco comes with a 30-day free trial, allowing you to try it out before signing up for a subscription.
Charcoal is a cool little sketching and drawing app for iPads. While there are many tools and beautiful color palettes available for you to use when creating your designs, the actual app is easy to use and navigate, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.
I recommend Charcoal if you are looking for something simpler and easier to use. It doesn’t have confusing layers or features, and you can get started right away – just create a sketch and get to work.
There are various brush and pencil types you can use, as well as many different colors. You can make your idea come to life while enjoying features like the dark mode.
You can also work on multiple windows and sketches at once.
Charcoal has excellent reviews on the app store.
3. Linea Sketch
Linea Sketch is an excellent iPad drawing app for kids and adults alike. It is free to download and use, although you can buy an in-app subscription to remove ads and the like.
Linea Sketch is incredibly easy to use, with minimal clutter and an easy-to-follow user design. It has easy-to-use color palettes, but in addition to the ready-made color options, you can customize and create your own colors and shades.
There are two banks of colors in the app, and you will see them on the screen. Various shades and hues are available, and in addition to creating your custom shades, you can also import colors from other apps.
A bunch of brushes and pencils are available. For example, you can use the technical pencil for hard and thin lines or the classic pencil for soft and thick lines.
You can use the wide tip marker for fat lines or the felt tip pen for pen-like lines.
It is easy to create straight lines and other shapes, and you can add various layers to your designs.
There are numerous backgrounds and textures available to work with, such as paper grain.
I like how Linea automatically syncs your work on iCloud so that you can get it back later and sync your work across multiple devices.
If you don’t like an edit you made, you can use the built-in eraser tool, which allows you to erase using your finger.
Once you have created your design, you can export it in a few ways. For example, you can export it as a PNG file or as a PSD file for use in Photoshop.
Penbook is a free iPad app that allows you to sketch and draw on your own digital notebook. There are many beautiful colors and stationery that you can use to create your digital “notebook,” and once you have it, you can start writing and drawing in it, whether you want to write down ideas or create sketches or doodles.
There are over 100 types of notebook and stationery styles available, so you won’t be limited to personal notebooks or diaries. There are notebook styles for scientific and academic notebooks as well, for example, so you can create a notebook for scientific sketches.
Here are some other types of stationery available:
- Weekly and monthly planners so you can set goals and to-dos and track your progress
- Blank stationery
- Graph papers
- Engineering papers
- Tablature papers with vocal and chord charts
- Polar graph paper
- And many others
As mentioned, there are also many beautiful covers, but you can create your own cover as well.
One cool feature is that when you create a shape, the app will automatically recognize the shape and make it perfect, even if you did not sketch it perfectly. Also, you can use the search tool to search through text that you sketched with your finger.
Penbook does support Apple Pencil, but if you don’t have an Apple Pencil, you can still use it with your finger instead.
Penbook is, as I mentioned, free to use, but Penbook Premium can be obtained for a one-time fee if you want access to benefits like new stationery as it’s released.
Many of the drawing apps on this list have various types of color palettes, controls, and features. While those features might be important to some for creating the right type of drawings, to others, they might be distracting.
If you are looking for a clean drawing app that only provides you with a surface to write and draw on, without any distractions, check out INKredible. It is a simple app, and for the most part, you will have a blank screen that you can do anything on.
You can write text, create cartoons, or draw more complex designs. It’s up to you – and the app is entirely free to use, although there are in-app purchases available (for example, you can buy a ballpoint pen or a calligraphy pen).
The goal of INKredible is really just to replace pen and paper – nothing more, nothing less.
6. Bamboo Paper
Bamboo Paper is an app created by Wacom. Wacom is known for its digital pen stylus products.
Indeed, Bamboo Paper works with a Bamboo Stylus and other Wacom stylus products, so if you own one of those instead of an Apple Pencil, this might be a good app to try out.
A cool part about Bamboo Paper is that you can use it together with Bamboo Folio and Bamboo Slate. Bamboo Folio and Slate allow you to digitize your handwritten work.
In other words, it allows you to first start off with a real pen and paper, creating sketches and notes there. Then, using Bamboo Folio, you can digitize that and continue working on it in Bamboo Paper.
If you have a Wacom account (which is free to obtain), you can start syncing your work in the cloud so you can work on it on multiple devices.
There are awesome colors you can use in Bamboo Paper, and you can also create your own custom colors.
Although Bamboo Paper is free to use, various upgrades and premium tools are available for purchase as well.
7. QuickNotes X
QuickNotes X is another awesome app if you want to create quick designs and draw simple sketches. It is also a good app for jotting down notes using your hand or a stylus.
QuickNotes X aims to simplify note-taking. There are many colors to choose from – use the color pie to find the exact color you want, and then fine-tune the width and the opacity.
There are various covers and paper templates available that allow you to organize your notes into notebooks. Then, you can organize those notebooks into different folders.
You can quickly rearrange notes inside a notebook.
When you create a drawing or note, you can export it as a PDF or PNG image. You can export multiple notes at once as well.
In addition to being able to export drawings as PDFs, you can also import PDFs and edit them using the QuickNotes X app. Once you have finished your edits, you can share and export the PDF again.
QuickNotes X supports many different stylus tools, like Apple Pencil, but also others like Adonit Jot. That can make drawing and sketching even easier.
Although QuickNotes X is free, there are various premium tools and in-app purchases you can buy.
DrawingApp is an aptly named app for drawing on iPads. Using DrawingApp, you can create simple sketches or more complex designs for free.
There are over 40 brush tools to choose from, so you can create complex drawings. There are also millions of color options, so you will never run out of unique colors and shades to use.
Other features include an easy-to-use eraser, a ruler to help you create straighter lines and better shapes, and the ability to insert images.
Although DrawingApp is free to use, premium in-app purchases are available.
DrawingApp works with Apple Pencil (only on iPads that support Apple Pencil). It has good reviews on the Play Store, and it has a small size of less than 50MB, so it won’t take up too much space on your device.
9. Doodle Art
Doodle Art is perhaps a simpler app, for simpler drawings, but it is still very good. After all, it is meant for doodles, not complex sketches, but it does a pretty good job of what it was intended to do.
However, you can also create more complex masterpieces with this app. It all depends on your skills and how well you can use the many features and tools of the app.
There are many colors to choose from, and you can always customize colors to create your own. You can import an image and start drawing and doodling on it.
Also, there are 200 free stickers you can use in your sketches, doodles, and drawings. More stickers are available to be unlocked for a small fee, but the free stickers should be enough for most people.
You can add many shapes to your drawings and use the ruler to make the lines of the shape straight. All in all, Doodle Art is a great app for doodling and drawing on your iPad.
10. Drawing Desk
Drawing Desk is an excellent free drawing app that will allow you to create beautiful sketches and drawings. It has many colors and shapes you can choose from, and there are also many free stickers that you can add when you are drawing or sketching.
When you create a drawing, it will save itself to your photo gallery so you don’t lose it. It is free to use and has good ratings on the App Store.
This drawing app is a little different. Its goal is to mimic a coloring book on an iPad.
It has many drawings that you can fill in with colors. If you are not an experienced artist but would like to let your imagination run wild and create beautiful designs and drawings, why not use a coloring book?
A coloring book can be to artists like training wheels are to cyclists. Even adults can have fun using this coloring book app, but many students and children will love it as well.
When using a coloring book, you don’t have to concentrate as much. Many people find it more fun than creating a new drawing from scratch.
There are over 80 color palettes you can use, with eight colors in each palette. Therefore, even if you are only filling in the empty spaces, you can still use your creativity to create unique art.
You can also blend textures to give your final image a more realistic work. There’s a lot you can do with this app, and it is free to download.
Moving back to more serious apps, Vectornator is a free app you can use on iPads for drawing and design purposes.
It allows you to create beautiful graphic designs for any purpose, whether you want to create a company logo or a website design. There are various pen and brush tools, as well as other tools that make designing easier, such as the ability to scale or duplicate your work.
Also, you can do vector operations like combining and outlining paths. There are many colors to choose from, and you can customize your colors using gradients, color blending, and many other options.
Vectornator allows you to turn bitmap images into vectors, and it also has 80,000 icons you can work with from the icon library.
The tool is compatible with Adobe Illustrator, so you can work on the same projects using both tools.
All in all, Vectornator is one of the best drawing tools for serious graphic designers and those who enjoy working on vectors who are looking for a free iPad drawing app.
FlipaClip is a bit different, as it allows you to create cartoon animations from your drawings. Most of the apps on this list let you draw, but they don’t let you turn those drawings and sketches into animations, but that’s where FlipaClip comes into the picture.
FlipaClip is one of the best iPad apps that you can use for drawing and animating cartoons for free. Whether you want to create video animations or GIFs, you can use FlipaClip to do it.
FlipaClip allows you to start from scratch, even if you don’t have any animation experience, and create frame-by-frame animations for YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, or your own website. You can even make animations just for fun or to share with friends – the choice is yours.
You can add images to your animations and add audio clips and voiceovers. There’s a lot you can do with the app.
There are many drawing tools you can make use of, like brushes, erasers, rulers, and more. It supports Apple Pencil, so you won’t have to draw with your fingers, and you can create custom canvases and use up to three layers for free.
The premium version will give you access to additional features, like more layers.
Remember, FlipaClip is for 2D animation only.
14. UBrush Pro
UBrush Pro is an excellent free drawing tool for iPads (UBrush is for iPhones and UBrush Pro is for iPad Pros).
There are nine brushes and pens you can use, and there are many colors to choose from. You can add up to 10 drawing layers and one photo layer.
UBrush Pro supports Apple Pencil. One of the cool features of the UBrush Pro app is the ability to create videos out of your drawings – the app will record your strokes as video animation and you can then export it to share with friends and family.
All in all, UBrush Pro is a good option if you are looking for a free iPad drawing app. However, I would venture to say that most of the other options on this list are better.
The final entry on our list is Paper By WeTransfer, which is an excellent app with a free version for sketching and drawing on iPads. Whether you want to create art or educational sketches, you can do so with the Paper app.
You can organize your sketches into journals and add beautiful colors to your journals. You can also add and edit photos and create collages.
There’s a lot you can do with the free Paper By WeTransfer app, but you can always upgrade to premium if you feel like you need more advanced tools. The choice is yours, however – many people will find the free version sufficient for their needs.
Adobe Fresco is the best drawing app for iPads, by far. There are many other good options as well, including those that are pretty easy to use, but Adobe is known for its great products for a reason.
One of the advantages of using Fresco is that it integrates with other Adobe tools, like Photoshop. You don’t need to be an existing Adobe user or have exceptional design skills to use Fresco either, as it’s pretty intuitive (you can also check out these Fresco tutorials from Adobe).
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.