Painting Apps Overview

There are a number of painting apps of various skill levels available for the iPad/iPhone. Your own personal level of painting skills and how you plan to use your iPad as part of your creative process will be a deciding factor for which app to consider purchasing. You will find simple apps that will take a photo from your camera roll and turn it into a painting, to start from scratch bare canvas you make all the marks straight from your vision to the iPad.  Some of the apps have a desktop version as well that will allow you to move your creations from desktop and iPad easily.

It will be important to consider how you will be using your images once created. Check to make sure the app you choose will save your creation in a high enough resolution for the intended purpose.

As always this is not a complete list of all the options and we have not tested everyone of them.  It is a  guide of of highly rated app for you to get started with. With so many apps out there it is nice to have a starting place.
Painting on the iPad is much easier with done with a stylus. Many of the painting and drawing apps are now featuring simulated brush pressure, or support for the newer pressure sensitive stylus. If you have one of these, be sure to check which models of pressure sensitive stylus are supported.

Note: If you’re looking for a drawing app? Please check out the drawing apps overview blog entry.


Highly responsive and customizable make Procreate one of the most highly rated digital painting app available at the App Store.
This fast 64 bit openGL proprietary engine offers smooth and responsive interaction with your digital canvas.
Offers up to 128 layers though how many you have will depend on the size of the canvas. You have the ability copy and paste layers, have transparent  layers, import photos and other images, transform layers and apply all the usual photoshop like blend modes.
Procreate offers 250 levels of undo, has 48 preset brushes, with 30 customizable settings for every brush, and create your own brushes or buy some with in-app purchases. 72 optional timesaving brush sets available for download. Customize your canvass, has auto save, can create folders for organizing your work and even saves layered psd files, transparent PNG and JP and exports to your photos, iTunes and Dropbox. Ultra-High Definition 4K Canvas size, up to 4096 x 4096px (16.7 MP) for iPad 3/4, up to 4096 x 2616px (10.7 MP) for iPad 2/Mini
It is important to note that this is an iOS6 app and will not run on iPad1.
Price 99 – 5.00 depending if on sale or not
Watch a YouTube Video Overview: I didn’t find one great overview for this app. But, there are lots of videos you can view for this app. you can get an idea of how it works, and if it is something you might like to try.
The Creator’s Website: & Their support forums:

SketchBook Pro for iPad

SketchBook Pro by Autodesk is one of the most popular iPad art apps. It has all of the tools of a desktop painting program redesigned for a simple to use  iPad interface. For your painting and drawing needs, there’s lots of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes to choose from, lots of presets and customizable options. You will find plenty of creative option such as layers, transparency, and advanced blend modes. There is a great option for adding a protecting an area of your canvas so you can rest your hand on the iPad without leaving unwanted marks on your work.  The canvases can be as large as 6.2 MP, uses Multi-Touch gestures.
Files can be exported to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, saved your Camera Roll or sent to your Dropbox. You also have the ability to import and export Photoshop-friendly files. You can also use iCloud to update image if you own the desktop version of SketchBook Pro available at the App Store.
This app is 5.00
If you are looking for something that works well on a smaller screen, SketchBook Mobile, is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch.
You’ll find lots of information on how to use this product on the developer’s website and at YouTube.


ArtRage prides itself for being an art app with natural media simulation for artists with any skill level. You will find lots of painting and drawing tools in the app with many options to control them. There are many canvases to choose from all customizable.You can  import images from your camera roll and use them as tracing or reference images, there are layers with usual blend mores and opacity and transparency options you would expect. The interface is customizable, and you can use multi touch gestures to citric the interface and canvas.
ArtRages will save your images in its own file format, but you can export and import, PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP and others. you can also Import and export Photoshop PSD files complete with layers, groups and blend modes.  There is also a recording feature so you can playback your process. The main drawback according to reviews is it can run slow.
ArtRage has versions for your desktop (50.00) as well as all your idvices, so be sure you are looking at the info for your intended device when checking out the online reviews and video and the info on their web site.
ArtRage costs 5.00 at the app store.
The Demo version contains all the features of the Full Version of ArtRage 4 with limited save, export, and custom content features.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview: There are a number of overviews on YouTube, some of them are a few years old, but still give you some ideas about what it can do.
The Creator’s Website: & their support page :

Art Studio

Art Studio is a bit different than the other painting/drawing apps in that is also has photo editing built in. There is a version for both iPad and iPhone, the canvas sizes are different for them so be sure to check before you buy to make sure the app will save at the size you require. The same is true as is usually the case with the various iPad models.
Here are some features, canvas size, max: 2048×1536(iPad 1), 2592×1936 (iPad 2), 2448×3264 (the new iPad), 15 drawing/paining tools, 300 high quality brushes 150 free, the other 150 as in-app purchases, you can create custom brushes up to 500×500 px, brushes are fully customizable with the simulated brush pressure. There are your usual assortment of selections tools with options, the usual shapes tools, layers with locking and transparency, masks, transformations and the most popular blend modes. You will also find 15 filters, and adjustments including curves and white balance.
You can import images from you camera too, camera iTunes or clipboard and export was JPG, PNG, and PSD, to your camera roll, email, clipboard and iTunes.
The app is 5.00 at the app store, with 9 in-app brush packs for .99 each, or you can pick up all the extra brushes at once for another 5.00. Definitely a good deal there on the brush pack.
Manual, tutorials and videos on the developers website as well as lots of videos on YouTube just search for Art Studio and iPad.
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:

My Brushes Pro

My Brushes Pro offers you more than 100 preset realistic brushes, enabling you to create brush, watercolor, oil, Chinese painting styles, as well as, drawing and calligraphy. You’ll also get unlimited canvas sizes, unlimited undo/redo steps, support for retina displays. Various styles of traditional canvas and some patterned ones area available to draw on as well as the ability to bring in an image from your camera roll, which come in full resolution to draw over the top of.

You can record your sessions, auto saves and supports pressure sensitive stylus.

The app is 3.00
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website:
Check it Out at the Apps Store:


Brushes is a full featured app that allows you to create canvases of up to 2048×2048 (1024×1024 on older hardware)  pixels.
It offers full support for all Retina devices has background autosave with unlimited undo and redo.
There are 14 brushes with fine adjustments to space, jitter, scatter, opacity, etc.  Sizes are easily adjusted and can be up to 512×512 pixels. Brushes also includes simulated brush pressure all 64 bit on the latest hardware. On the iPad you can adjust cold balance and Hue, saturation, and brightness.
The app is integrated with for easy transfer to desktop. Files can be saved as native Brushes, JPG and photoshop files with layers 9if you have the upgrade).  An added feature is the ability to record and replay your paintings.  Great if you are an educator and want to show a technique to your students.
The base version of Brushes 3 is limited to a single layer, but is otherwise fully functional. Upgrade will get you up to 10 layers through the in-app purchase! The upgrade price for the free single layer version is 3.00
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website:

Auryn Ink

This app focuses on the simulation of authentic watercolor painting and features the tools of a watercolorist. For some people this may seem a bit limited,  for others all you need to do watercolor painting. Key features include choice of paper and canvas (wet or dry), brush size selection and brush pressure effects, bleeding colors, full color wheel of paint color choices, ability to blend pigments and allow for paint to “air dry” or dry instantaneously, paint and water level controls: concentration or water dilution and ability to lift color with water.
Brush strokes speed can produce pressure sensitive like effects.
This app is 3.99
Watch a YouTube Video Overview:
The Creator’s Website:


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