Whether you are a professional artist or graphic designer, or just a hobbyist looking to level up your sketching game, having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. These days, most people consider iPads to be on a par with professional drawing tablets like Wacom. When it comes to iPads in 2022, there are at least five new models, so it can be difficult to know which is the best iPad for drawing.
We have compiled a list of the best iPads for artists. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to choose which tablet is best for you. We’ll break down the following 2022 models:
- Apple iPad Pro 11 inch
- Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch
- Apple iPad Air 5
- Apple iPad Mini 2021
- Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 2020 model
Let’s dive in and have a look at which are the best Apple tablets for drawing and which one may be right for you!
Why Should You Use an iPad for Drawing?
If you are a digital artist or graphic designer, you may be considering an Apple tablet for drawing. However, there are other solutions out there, like standalone drawing tablets, pen displays, and pen computers. So why choose an iPad?
If you are a professional artist, you may already have a drawing tablet or pen display that connects to your desktop computer. In that case, an iPad is a great addition for working away from your desk, as it’s much more portable.
For amateur artists and non-professionals, drawing-specific tablets and computers are very expensive, and they only do one thing. An iPad makes sense because it is a useful all-around tablet as well as a professional-level artistic tool.
How to Start Using an iPad for Drawing
One of the best things about using an iPad for digital art is that it is very easy to get started. Apple provides excellent documentation for their devices, as well as tutorials and free software that can get you up and running.
The Tayasui Sketching School app is an excellent app for beginners. It features a clean, uncluttered interface and just enough tools to get you started without feeling overwhelmed. The app has ultra-realistic stylus pressure support and a community where you can share your creations and get feedback.
Another excellent app for beginner artists on iPad is Sketchbook Express. This is a watered-down version of the professional Sketchbook app, so it’s a good way to get your feet wet while also learning how to use a professional tool.
Best iPad for Drawing 2022
iPad Pro 11 inch
This was our favorite overall iPad for drawing. It’s not Apple’s top model or flagship iPad (that’s the 12.9 inch, which we’ll review in a moment), but it still boasts some impressive features. On top of that, the price is more affordable than the 12.9 inch model. For most artists, professional or amateur, this model is the best iPad for drawing.
The 11 inch Pro supports Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2, and comes with the iPadOS14 and new Apple M1 chip. The 11 inch model doesn’t have the stunning display that the 12.9 inch model does, but in our opinion, the 1668×2388 pixel Retina Display is beautiful enough to get the job done. The money you save on the fancy screen makes this the best iPad Pro for artists of all levels.
Storage options range from 128GB up to 2TB. It has three rear cameras (12MP, 10MP, and TOF 3D LiDAR) and a 12MP front-facing camera.
Pros and Cons
- Lightning fast M1 processor
- Tons of storage
- More portable and lightweight than the 12.9 inch
- No mini LED screen
iPad Pro 12.9 inch
Best iPad for Artists Who Need the Best
The iPad Pro 12.9 inch model is without a doubt Apple’s finest iPad, and arguably the best drawing tablet on the market, period. You can really stretch out and express yourself with room to spare on the 12.9 inch screen. Not only that, the new Liquid Retina XDR display is a dream to look at.
The M1 chip (standard in all new iPads) makes this one of the fastest tablets on the market, and combined with the beautiful display, makes this the top drawing tablet for professional artists.
The M1 chip is what sets the iPad apart from other tablet options these days. The processing speed rivals that of a Macbook laptop, making this a computer replacement as well as a drawing tablet. The mini-LED backlit Retina Display is mainly what you’re paying for with this model. For professional artists looking for the best iPad for digital art, the cost is worth it.
When it comes to storage and cameras, the 12.9 inch model doesn’t give you anything more than the 11 inch model does. The 12.9 inch model is a bit larger and heavier than the 11 inch model, making it slightly less portable.
Pros and Cons
- Stunning mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR display
- Generous screen size
- M1 processor
- Cumbersome and difficult to carry
iPad Air 5
Best iPad for Drawing on a Budget
The newest iPad Air model, released in 2022, offers some similar features to the iPad Pro at a much lower price tag. With a generously-sized but not unwieldy screen and M1 chip, it’s as portable as a Mini and as powerful as a Pro.
The major distinction between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro is the screen—while impressively bright and clear, the iPad Air lacks the responsiveness of the Pros.
The Air 5 has a 10.9 inch screen with excellent backlighting and accurate color and contrast. However, the 60Hz refresh rate simply can’t keep up with the 120Hz rate of the Pros, meaning you will experience some lag waiting for your drawing to appear on the screen. This makes drawing on iPad Air less intuitive than drawing on the Pro.
When it comes to camera and storage, the Air also trails the iPad Pros, offering only a single 12MP rear camera and 12MP front-facing camera, and up to 256GB of storage. However, the M1 chip, display, and portability make it a great Apple drawing pad for those who want more power than the Mini can offer, but don’t want to pay for the Pro.
Pros and Cons
- Cheaper than an iPad Pro
- The screen is nothing to sneer at
- M1 processor
- It’s not an iPad Pro
iPad Mini 2021
Best iPad for Procreate 2022
When it comes to drawing apps for everyone, Procreate is one of the best around. Not only is it incredibly powerful, but it is also incredibly cheap—just $9.99 in the App Store! At that price, you can’t beat it as a hobbyist or amateur artist. It also makes a great add-on tool for professionals.
Although Procreate isn’t fully-featured enough to be a single solution for professional-grade art, it’s perfect for small drawings. It’s also a great portable tool for amateurs and professional artists on the go. That’s why we think the iPad Mini is the best iPad to use with Procreate.
The Mini is the only new model that doesn’t come with the M1 Processor. However, the A15 Bionic chip is more than enough to power this nippy little device. Despite being small, it works with the Apple Pencil, making it a good iPad for drawing with a pen. Surprisingly, the Mini is touted as a better iPad for drawing than the standard iPad due to its superior processor.
At just 293g, it weighs less than some phones while still offering up to 256GB of storage and 12MP front and rear cameras.
Pros and Cons
- Super portable and fun to use
- Respectably fast processor
- Not suitable as a standalone professional tool
- Small screen
iPad Pro 12.9 inch (2020 model)
Best iPad Pro for Artists on a Budget
If you’re looking for the screen, camera, and storage options of an iPad Pro and the iPad Air doesn’t cut it for you, the previous generation iPad Pro might be the choice for you. While it doesn’t boast the stunning new Liquid Retina display of the latest models and lacks the M1 chip, it’s still an incredibly powerful device.
Unless you’re a professional artist or animator, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in processing power between this and the new Pro, and if you like a big screen with a high resolution, you’ll get that with the 2020 model. The specs on the previous generation iPad Pro make this a serious competitor for the title of best iPad for drawing.
The 2020 iPad Pro has a 12.9 inch, 2732×2048 pixel screen, offers up to 1TB of storage, and has the same rear camera setup as the newest model. The front-facing camera is slightly lower quality, at 8MP. It supports the Apple Pencil 2 (as do all the models on this list) and up to iOS 13.4.
The only thing this model is really lacking is the new display and the M1 chip (it has the A12z Bionic chip, which is still a very powerful processor.)
Pros and Cons
- Cheaper than the newest iPad Pro
- Nice big display
- Lacks the M1 chip
- Less storage
When it comes to the question “what is the best iPad for drawing” we believe the iPad Pro 11 inch is the answer for most people. It gives you all of the features that the flagship 12.9 inch Pro gives you, minus the fancy mini-LED backlit screen. It’s also a bit more portable and comes at a lower price point. For most artists, even professionals, the 11 inch Pro is all you need.
For hobbyists and people looking to dabble in art while also enjoying the other benefits of a fully-featured tablet, the iPad Air 5 is a great option. For those looking for something very portable but still powerful, you can’t go wrong with the iPad Mini.
In our opinion, the best iPad for drawing and animation, as well as for graphic design and professional illutration, is the 2021 iPad Pro 11 inch. The 12.9 inch model gives you a bit more space to stretch out and has a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display that renders your creations in unbelievably clear detail, but we think these features are “nice-to-haves” rather than necessities. For professionals who want to splurge and don’t mind paying extra, the 12.9 inch is an incredible device, but for everyone else, the 11 inch model is a great choice.
The iPad Pro is the best iPad for artists, Reddit artists and others agree. Some professionals even prefer the 2021 12.9 inch Pro over dedicated drawing tablets like Wacom. Most artists who work professionally tend to have a couple of devices—they might have a Wacom connected to their desktop computer for work at home or in the office, and an iPad for working on the move.
The iPad can be a great resource for beginner digital artists who have some background in art and are looking to make the jump into graphic design, illustration, or other forms of digital art. There are lots of inexpensive apps and tutorials for iPad that teach you how to get the most out of it, such as Procreate and In Design for iPad.
We don’t think there is a “best iPad for art” for people who have no experience with art whatsoever. The iPad is an expensive piece of equipment and it’s not worth spending the money until you’re ready to use it to its fullest potential. If you intend to use the iPad primarily as a tablet or secondary computer and want to dabble in art, that’s fine, but buying an iPad specifically for art if you’re not an artist will likely be a waste.
By far the cheapest iPad for drawing is the iPad Air. Although the iPad Mini is slightly cheaper and just as powerful, we don’t recommend it as your only device if your primary intention is creating art. The screen is too small to be used as a primary device—though it makes a fine on-the-go tool if you have something else at home. The iPad Air is big enough to be useful as a primary device, and the most budget-friendly option when it comes to the best iPad for drawing.