9 Tips Artists Should Know When Drawing on an iPad

Setting up your iPad for drawing is a straightforward process. You just only need to have a stylus and a drawing app installed.

But mastering drawing and painting on your iPad is not easy. I will explain 9 tips you should know to make drawing and painting easier on iPad

9 Tips for Drawing on an iPad

1. Use Procreate as your main drawing app

list of drawing app ipad

Procreate is the best drawing app I have ever used on my iPad Pro. It has so many features yet a simple UI that is easy to use, even for beginner artists.

When we think about digital art software, we often think about Photoshop. But Photoshop was created as photo editing software. It includes many features that are not necessary for drawing and painting. Yet, many drawing apps like CSP or Krita have UIs similar to Photoshop’s.

But Procreate is different. It’s built for the iPad. It’s designed for small tablet screens.

You can just start drawing on Procreate without opening guides or YouTube videos. It’s a different experience from when I started learning to draw in Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint.

Of course, you need to pay for Procreate. But it’s just a one-time payment of $13. Other software like Medibang Pro Premium or Clip Studio Paint for iPad requires a subscription to use.

If you want alternatives, here is the list of Procreate alternatives:

  • ibisPaint
  • Medibang Paint
  • Sketchbook
  • Adobe Fresco
  • Adobe Photoshop for iPad

2. Consider not using a screen protector

Many artists use a screen protector like Paperlike when they’re drawing on an iPad. In fact, I don’t use a screen protector on my iPad. A screen protector makes my non-art-related purposes worse on my iPad.

Check out Drawing on iPad Without a Screen Protector: Pros and Cons

I don’t feel like the iPad is too slippery without a screen protector. I have no problem creating digital art in Procreate on my iPad, which is not protected with a screen protector.

Of course, if you’re careless with your device, having a screen protector is necessary to prevent your iPad from getting damaged. Think carefully before removing your screen protector on your iPad.

3. Choose the correct accessories 

Apple pencil

Accessories for drawing are important. You should always use an Apple Pencil for drawing on an iPad. 

Choosing an alternative brand like Adonit or Logitech Crayon is indeed not a bad option. But only the Apple Pencil (1 or 2, depending on which iPad you use) allows the pen pressure sensitivity feature on your iPad. 

Unless you switch to an Android tablet, third-party brand styluses can’t have pen pressure sensitivity on an iPad.

If you encounter any difficulties drawing with your Apple Pencil, you can refer to our guide on How to Fix an Apple Pencil Not Drawing in Procreate: 15 Solutions.

If you’re drawing without an Apple Pencil, you can enhance your control using a stylus with a fine tip. Familiarize yourself with the app’s zoom and undo features to make detailed adjustments with your finger or a basic stylus.

4. Focus on a limited number of Brushes

Brush studio

I know some artists like to hoard hundreds or even thousands number of brushes.

Let me tell you important tips -> Brushes don’t matter that much.

There won’t be a magical brush that suddenly makes your art look better. The default brushes that are available in Procreate, Clip Studio Paint or any drawing app you use will be good enough 95% of the time.

You should learn to utilize the available brushes before using custom brushes.

5. Use the layers feature correctly

Layer tool in Procreate

Layers are important for digital art creation. It makes sketching, drawing and painting easier.

Let me outline my workflow for you. Remember, the top item on this list corresponds to the lowest layer, so you’ll need to invert the order when applying it.

  1. Background: This is your canvas’s initial layer. Do not make changes to this layer.
  2. Sketch Layer: This is the first layer above the background layer. You start sketching out your rough ideas.
  3. Line Art: I will create a clean line art layer using a specific brush on top of your final sketch.
  4. Base Color: Above the line art layer, I add flat colors as preparation for the next layer
  5. Shading and Shadow: Then, you can introduce depth by adding shading and shadows above the base color layer.
  6. Final Details: The last layer is reserved for final details if needed

Of course, I don’t only use six layers. Sometimes, I use up to 15 layers, depending on how complicated the artwork is.

6. Clean Your iPad Before and After Drawing

Always clean your iPad before and after drawing. Dust and smudges can reduce your Apple Pencil’s sensitivity when drawing on an iPad.

Cleaning your iPad also has added benefits, like making your screen look cleaner and helping your iPad last longer.

7. Frequently Replace Your Apple Pencil Nibs

Your nibs will slowly wear out after using your Apple pencil for a long time. You can still use the Apple Pencil, but sometimes the drawing input won’t register, and it can break your iPad screen.

I always replace my Apple Pencil nibs every 6-9 months for optimal performance.

Always use the original Apple Pencil nib released by Apple. Third-party nib has a risk of damaging your iPad.

8. Customize Your Workspace Settings

Customizing my workspace on the iPad is pivotal for an efficient workflow. I take the time to set up my most-used applications to show the tools I frequently need and hide those tools that I rarely use to prevent clutter. 

I always customize my Procreate workspace to make it quicker when I’m drawing. 

The iPad’s flexibility ensures I can have my setup tailored to my liking and autopilots my productivity.

Don’t forget to use features like double-tap to switch between tools or undo, and the auto-save feature to save time.

I also use gestures to access shortcuts and commands, which lets me stay in the flow and avoid disruption.

9. Draw every day

I always allocate at least 15 minutes of my time to draw in Procreate every day. By drawing daily, sometimes I discover a way and trick to improve my digital art skills. 

Just draw an everyday object available in your house, like a shoe or a smartphone. Believe me, after trying to draw on my iPad every day, drawing on the iPad become easier and quicker.

Photo of author
Kenny HD
Hi, I’m Kenny. I’m a digital artist who began learning art at the age of 21. I enjoy drawing cartoons and fan art.

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