This guide covers all the basics of how to draw on an iPad, from the critical features to set up your Apple pencil, and frequently asked questions.
iPads are versatile for many activities, from playing popular games like Roblox and reading comics to creating beautiful digital art. If you’re looking for devices that will help you start drawing or want to foster your children’s or teenagers’ love of art, you can’t go wrong with an iPad.
That said, getting the hang of using your iPad to draw can take time and effort. We’ve made a comprehensive guide on how to go from an empty canvas to a masterpiece.
How to set up your Apple Pencil
For this guide, we’ll assume that you’ll be using either the original Apple Pencil or the newer Apple Pencil 2.
Remember that Apple Pencils are not cross-compatible, so check your model and which stylus works with your device.
Connecting an Original Apple Pencil
Connecting the first-generation Apple Pencil to your iPad is relatively easy! Just remove the round cap of the pencil’s end, revealing the connector.
Plug the connector into an available port of your iPad, and you should see a prompt to pair your stylus to the iPad. Once you’ve tapped it, your Apple Pencil should be paired – easy as that!
Connecting an Apple Pencil 2
Before connecting your Apple Pencil 2 to your iPad, ensure your Bluetooth is on. Once you’ve confirmed your Bluetooth is on, click the pencil to the magnetic connector on the right side of the iPad, and this should connect your second-gen Apple Pencil to your device.
Features of your iPad Drawing Tablet
Whether you’re a budding artist using the iPad to hone your craft or a more experienced user who wants to integrate the iPad into external tools like Cricut, you’ll be able to unlock a wide variety of features with your Apple Pencil.
We’ll cover the best drawing apps, helpful settings, and other unique features so you can start drawing as soon as possible.
You have all that you need to get started right away! With the factory apps that your device comes with, like the Notes app, you can test the responsive functionality of your Apple Pencil and explore your creativity immediately.
If you’re looking for other options, you can explore the App Store and find a drawing app that will suit the art you’re trying to create. Some of the most common ones we recommend are the following:
- Adobe Illustrator (Paid). Professional graphic design software specialized in 2D designs. Adobe Illustrator is considered a standard for many artists with any tablet device.
- Procreate (Paid). A powerful tool that helps support many artists in designing a wide array of 2D and 3D artwork, including vector art.
- Linea Sketch (Free). A drawing and painting app with different tools that cohesively work with the Apple Pencil.
These are the best drawing apps that let you put a stylus to the screen and bring to life your creations, no matter if you’re at home or traveling.
Vary Lines with Pressure Sensitivity
Pressure Sensitivity is a revolutionary feature that mimics the natural changes in the darkness and thickness of your lines when you draw with a pencil or pen. It’s extraordinary but may take a while to get used to when you first try it.
Make sure to take adequate time to practice and get a feel for the pressure sensitivity by intentionally increasing and decreasing the pressure you apply to the Apple Pencil. Always ensure the pencil tip is firmly screwed on, as this may cause differences.
Comfortable Palm Rejection
Elevating the experience even further is the Palm Rejection that you’ll find with your iPad device. Palm Rejection transforms your screen into a piece of paper on which you can comfortably place your palm or hand without interfering with your strokes.
No more hover handing! Although this feature is also challenging to get used to, make sure to get to grips with having your palm placed on your screen as you would with a piece of paper and take your art to new levels!
This feature allows for easy note-taking and handwriting during challenging college courses like engineering or 3D modeling.
Shading with Tilt Sensitivity
One nifty feature of the Apple Pencil is its Tilt Sensitivity, which mimics pencils even more by allowing you to tilt the stylus to its side and shade your heart’s content.
The nib of the Apple Pencil is specially designed to morph the lines you draw based on how much you tilt the stylus. You’ll need to hold the Apple Pencil perpendicular to the screen for clean, horizontal lines. For a thicker and shaded line, tilt the stylus more and more parallel to the screen – it’s as easy as that!
Change Options with Double Tap (Apple Pencil 2 Only)
You can double-tap on your iPad if you’re lucky enough to own the newer second-generation Apple Pencil. Simply tap the flat edge of the Apple Pencil twice on your screen, and you’ll be able to quickly switch between several features.
You can switch between your brush and eraser tool, your current tool, and the last one, show the color palette or turn off the Double Tap feature. Once you get used to it, you’ll be able to integrate it once you’ve started drawing seamlessly.
Remember that the Double Tap feature only works in apps that support it, like Notes.
We often see these central questions come up when people ask how to draw on an iPad, so we’ve attached answers to these frequently asked questions.
Does Apple have a free drawing app?
Apple devices like an iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch come with a free drawing app called Notes. In Notes, you can practice writing, drawing, and editing to your heart’s content. With a quick bit of internet browsing and on the App Store, you can find plenty of other free apps to use with your Apple Pencil.
What can be used instead of Apple Pencil?
Apple Pencils are one of many ways to draw stylus tools you can use. If you’re planning to purchase a cheaper tablet device, then consider purchasing one of these other stylus tools:
- Logitech Crayon
- Adonit Note+
- JamJake K10 Stylus Pen
Why can’t I draw with my finger on my iPad?
Your iPad will default have an option with Settings that enables Apple Pencil. By disabling this option, you should be able to use your finger on your drawing app of choice.
We highly recommend purchasing a professional stylus if you play to draw or write seriously, as taking notes or creating designs can be difficult if you use your finger.
An iPad isn’t just a way for children to use programs like ABC Mouse or to enjoy video streaming platforms like Netflix; it’s a powerful tool you can use to produce fantastic works of art.
We’ve covered the essential tools and features that inform you on how to start drawing on your iPad, but there are many other secret tips and tricks you’ll learn – all you have to do is discover them!
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.