When Clip Studio Paint announced that feature updates for every full numbered version of its app require a subscription, illustrators from around the world, professional and amateurs alike, lamented.
If you are an illustrator, and like most of us, do not like software as a service or be anchored down by subscriptions, here are some alternative sketching and illustration iPad app recommendations, just for you.
Some of these apps have a perpetual license, a few with premium paid features while others are free.
Procreate (One Time Purchase)
A creative app made for the iPad, Procreate features hundreds of brushes, a powerful graphics engine, and tools that would satisfy any creative.
It’s also a favourite of illustrator Lyn-Hui Ong who has been a creator since 2014. You can check out her tips on how she uses Procreate in her creative workflow in her artist highlight feature here.
Of course, you can do even more than just illustrations with Procreate. Check out this “Today at Apple” video and learn how to create your alter ego on the iPad with Teri Coker.
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It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert, everyone can appreciate the number 1 app on the App Store for Graphics and Design.
Despite being totally free, Sketchbook has all the tools you’d expect from a full-fledged professional drawing app like layers, a large diverse selection of brushes, and a library of Copic colours.
Underneath its clean distraction-free interface is a plethora of editions tools, that at first blush, can be intimidating. But these are mostly standard tools for digital illustrators. If you are one, using it will be second nature, and if you are new, learning these tools could level your skills up.
If vector graphics is your thing then try Voltornator. This number 8 entry in the top Graphics and Design app list on the App Store allows you to draw the shapes you want first and manipulate them later.
You can even use its Auto Trace tool to turn any image into vector shapes.
It also has typography tools for making unique eye-catching signs, or just art using text. Best of all, it supports layers and unlimited undo.
Paper By WeTransfer (Free with Microtransactions)
Unlike our previous recommendations, Paper By WeTransfer is free but you can buy extra features and extra paper (pages).
Designed to emulate a paper sketchbook, this award-winning sketch app lets you virtually flip through sketchbook pages, and use virtual pens, pencils, paintbrushes, and even scissors for that almost real sketchbook experience.
Tayasui Sketches (Free with paid premium features)
This deceptively simple-looking drawing and scratching app aim to inspire fun and whimsy. Free to use with the ability to pay for extra features, Tayasui Sketches is like a well-stocked personal studio.
The tools at the artist’s disposal in the app are vast and range from realistic stationery to precise tools.
Adobe Fresco (Free with paid premium features)
As the name suggests, this app is made by one of the biggest names in software for creatives.
The free version of Adobe Fresco is no slouch, it comes with all the illustration and editing tools you’d expect from an app by Adobe. Get the premium version and you’ll get access to premium brushes, fonts, shapes, and increased cloud storage.
All the apps that we recommended here are designed to be used with an iPad and are made all the more powerful when paired with an Apple Pencil.