iPad Art Tools

iPad Art Tools

Click here to learn about my iPad art classes, and click here to learn about my new series of iPad art online training videos.



I would like to share with you some of the tools and apps I use for creating art on mobile devices (see my Mobile Art gallery page on my art site JeremySutton.com). Whilst on this page I refer primarily to the iPad, the styluses will work with most mobile devices with capacitive screens. A number of the apps I reference on this page are currently only in the iOS platform, such as Sketch Club. I also use other mobile devices besides the iPad for making art, including the Microsoft Surface Pro and the Wacom Cintiq Companion. One of my inspirations for painting on the iPad was David Hockney, whose magnificent large format prints and video replays of his iPad drawings I first saw at the Royal Academy in London and then, subsequently, at the de Young Museum (where I performed live iPad drawing at the opening of the exhibition). The David Hockney: Bigger Exhibition at the de Young served as a great learning opportunity. I ran a couple of two day Inspired by Hockney iPad painting workshops based on visits to the exhibition. I am excited to bring the inspiration, lessons and energy of Hockney to my Paint on the Go! workshops.

For a general discussion on mobile digital art please see my Thoughts on Mobile Digital Art . Also worth a great resource worth visiting is the new site MobileArt.how, just launched by my friends who founded the mobile Digital Art & Creativity Summit.

Which Stylus to Choose?

Mobile painting is in an exciting period of growth with new styluses, devices and apps being developed, improved and introduced continually. I encourage you to try things and experiment. Whatever I share and recommend here on this page is simply a snapshot of my current faves at the time of writing and is likely to change! When it comes to styluses, there is a huge amount of choice. I find that different styluses are good in different circumstances. I should also add that using your finger, instead of a stylus, is also fine! Many artists do and with amazing results (see Kyle Lambert’s artwork as a wonderful example of what can be achieved with painting with your finger).

My current favorites are the Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 – Walnut (pictured below) and the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2 (CS600PK). I’ve heard the Wacom Bamboo Stylus fineline for iPad 3/4, iPad Air and iPad mini – Gray (CS600CK) is also very good and am looking forward to trying that out.

The Walnut Pencil by FiftyThree is very light and comfortable to hold, looks and feels like a carpenter’s pencil and gives a silent soft painting experience. In addition to be available for purchase online at Amazon through this link, it is now also available at all Apple Stores. Be aware that the rubber tips wear out fast so I recommend ordering some extra Pencil by FiftyThree replacement tips and erasers (53T003) when you purchase the Pencil stylus.


Others to consider include the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad – White (pictured below) that has a precision tip and pressure-sensitivity (with Jot enabled apps);


and the Sensu Stylus Brush (Black) (pictured at the top of this page) that is great for washes, glazes and watercolor type brush work. A downside of brush styluses is that in some apps when you press down and the brush hairs splay out, that causes the canvas to wildly resize and rotate.

Other pressure-sensitive iPad styluses you may wish to consider are the Ten One Design – T1-PGCT-302 – Pogo Connect 2 Bluetooth 4.0 for all iPads and HEX3 Jaja.

Painting in the Tate Britain cafe. The Sensu brush is on the iPad cover and I am holding the Adonit Jot Touch in my hand.

Which Painting Apps to Install?

Some of my current favorite painting apps on the iPad are Finngr for line work, Art Set Pro for realistic impasto oils; Pen & Ink and Sketch Club for sketching; and Auryn Ink and Art Rage for water color looks; and Zen Brush and Procreate for loaded ink brush looks. These are just a few of the many great drawing and painting apps out there, all inexpensive, mostly under $5. I would recommend experimenting with all the apps you can find and then honing in on the ones that resonate for you. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, each have their own fan base and loyal aficionados. As you experiment with them you’ll find some resonate for you and others don’t. You’ll also come across brush marks and looks you really love that you’ll want to come back to later. I list below of some of the creative apps I have on my iPad that you may wish to explore. I’ve included links to their iTune pages and current prices as of the time of posting this (subject to change and including the main in-app purchases and pro edition upgrades where available). If the list is too long then I suggest just starting off with the eight I mentioned above. They would be the eight painting apps I would take with me to a desert island (this is a reference to a BBC Radio 4 program called Desert Island Discs where celebrities share which eight records they would take with them to a desert island).

My Desert Island Eight

Other Painting & Drawing Apps

Image Processing Apps

If you’re attending one of my studio iPad classes and wish to be able to print out your work on my Canon PIXMA printer, then please also install this app on your iPad:

Click here to learn about my classes that teach you how to use these tools

One of the challenges I initially found exploring many different painting apps on the iPad was simply recognizing which app I was in! It was surprisingly difficult since most do not have an identifying name or logo within the app UI (user interface) itself. Each app involves finding things in different places and using different shortcuts and conventions etc, so recognizing which app you’re in is essential. Each app allows you to create a unique look and feel of artwork that is specific to the range of brushes and media of that particular app, and you can easily move work from one app to another, building up on different looks. Here are screen captures showing the look and feel of some of the apps listed above.

Sketch Club


Zen Brush

Auryn Ink


Inspire Pro


SketchBook Pro



The Kit: Case, Bag, Easels & Stand


iPad case with adjustable stand and a place to hold your stylus – great for general purpose painting anywhere and always having your Pencil by 53 with your iPad. Also includes very useful hand-strap for supporting iPad with one of your hands when standing
Lynktec iPad Case (lets-0002)


Handy shoulder bag that protects your iPad and is easy to carry with you – great for carrying your iPad painting kit with you everywhere
STM Scout 2 iPad Shoulder Bag, Black (dp-1800-03)


Wood mini-easel for sketching at a table – great for still life painting and portraiture
Winsor & Newton Brent H-Frame Table Easel, Mini

Light weight metal tripod easel for vertically mounting your iPad – great for plein air painting and presentations
Napoli Easel with Carrying Case – Black

Light weight portable adjustable stand for placing your iPad on – great for plein air painting and presentations
insTand CR3 Portable Laptop Stand for Standing or Sitting

iKlear iPad screen complete cleaning kit
iKlear Complete Kit – Eco-friendly Package

Jeremy Sutton

Originally from London, I studied drawing, sculpture and print-making at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, Oxford University (while earning a degree in Physics), and subsequently studied at the Vrije Academie in The Hague, The Netherlands. I\'ve been using digital paint since 1991, including every version of Painter. I love teaching and have taught workshops and given presentations all over the world for the last twenty years. I create commissioned fine art paintings and perform live action painting and digital portraiture. I founded PaintboxTV in February 2009. Thank you for being part of this creative community!

Leave your Comment:

22 Comments added

  1. February 12, 2013
    Very interesting subject Jeremy!! Love to read and see it I think a lot of people 'need'that information. What brush is your favourite so I can buy one too!! Does these brushes work on all tablets because I've got a Asus..? greetings from Holland Ad Reply
    • February 12, 2013
      Hi Ad, Great to hear from you! I am an admirer or your wonderful paintings, both digital and non-digital, and can't wait to see what you do with "mobile" painting (of the words are inadequate - plein air painting is already "mobile"...) Currently, if I were to recommend just one brush (meaning stylus), it would definitely be the Sensu brush. I love the feel of this brush. I have only used it on an iPad so I can't vouch for other mobile devices. On their web site (https://www.sensubrush.com/home/apps/) they say the following: "The Sensu works with capacitive touch screens like the iPad and iPhone (all versions), Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, HTC Desire S, Google Nexus S, the Motorola Atrix, and many more." Not sure if your Asus will come under the "many more". Hope this was helpful and look forward to seeing you in the Netherlands sometime. Tot ziens! Jeremy Reply
  2. February 14, 2013
    Jeremy, Enjoy getting your periodic updates. Really like the info on ipad art. Thanks for sharing. Gerry Triangle Institute, Pittsburgh, PA Reply
  3. March 11, 2013
    Hello! I'm pretty excited with my new iPad mini! (Of course I run Painter 12 on my iMac with a Wacom Board).. I am so used to my stylus, that I got a sore finger going through the iPad tutorials! I have been navigating on this site, as well, and have been looking at the different 'brush' - stylus types. I looked at the Jot Touch, but felt it was more than I needed. I'm glad I read through the page to find your comments! I'm going to check-out the Sensu brush, after all! And, THANKS! Kathy Reply
    • March 14, 2013
      Hi Kathy, Thanks for your comment. The more I use the Adonit Jot Touch the more I love it!! Once you start using the pressure-sensitivity in apps like Sketch Club, Art Rage, Brushes, etc it's difficult to go back to anything else, even the Sensu. I would say the Jot Touch is well worth the investment. The newest version, Jot Touch 4, is the best yet and works with the iPad Mini. Cheers, Jeremy Reply
      • March 18, 2013
        Brilliant! Thanks for your reply! I just got my Sensu brush, and agree the Jot would be helpful ... Now I want to know where to get painting Aps for my iPad! I'm still looking through your suggestions! Thanks again, and I wish I could get to your class in SF on the 30th. It's just a day trip from the Sierra Foothills, if I can 'Paint' by then! Kathy Reply
  4. March 30, 2013
    Hello Jeremy! I'm enjoying the site. If you could pick an app for iPad that will save and send my drawings to my computer somehow, that would be great. I'm going to be using an iPen 2 when it comes out. Kathy Reply
    • March 31, 2013
      Hi Kathy, Thanks for your comment and question. Glad you're enjoying the site. You can save your paintings from any iPad painting app into the iPad Camera Roll Photos Album and export from there to your regular PC or Mac for printing, or just email from the app to yourself and then download via email. In any case there is no limit on the apps you can use with regard to printing. As to which of the many painting apps you'll enjoy most, that is very dependent on what your style is and what you're trying to create. I love using Zen brush for simply black and gray ink brush painting, Auryn Ink for watercolor, Sketch Club for quick sketching and convenient exporting of replay to QuickTime with musical accompaniment, and ArtRage for oil effects. Cheers, Jeremy Reply
  5. January 7, 2014
    Happy New Year, On this iPad just to make sure, you can download painter X3? Reply
    • January 21, 2014
      Hi Donna, Thanks for your question. Corel Painter X3 exists for Mac and PC but not iPad (oh how I wish it did:-). There is a Corel iPad app called Cinco that is a companion for Painter X3 and allows you to control shortcuts from the iPad but Cinco is not a painting app. The closest to Painter on the iPad is Art Rage. Cheers, Jeremy Reply
  6. February 27, 2014
    Loved your presentation in Marin last Monday the 25th-- 'm trying very hard to change my plans on 15th so that I can take your class on the iPad Painting. I'm scheduled to teach an iPhone Workshop that day-if I don;t have enough students I will be able to cancel my workshop and take yours-- Love your ART !!! Reply
  7. March 21, 2014
    I loved the Hockney exhibit and was searching for ideas to introduce IPad art to my 3rd grade students. Is there a free app you would suggest we start with? Reply
    • March 21, 2014
      Hi Gwen, Thanks for your comment and question. The Hockney exhibit was indeed very inspiring. For getting going in iPad painting there are two wonderful free apps: Paper by Fifty Three (in app purchases offered) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paper-by-fiftythree/id506003812 Brushes (the app Hockney uses) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brushes-3/id545366251?mt=8 Please let me know if you have any other questions and whether I can be of any more help. You'd be welcome to bring your kids down to visit my studio one day if you wished.... All the best, Jeremy Reply
  8. October 31, 2014
    Just found your website. Very informative. Are you planning any classes in Marin or the bay area in February or early March? Reply
  9. January 15, 2015
    This is a very interesting blog to read, as I'm just learning how to use my Wacom Intuos 2 pen , and finding out which app suits me best! Thanks for the info and advice. Reply
    • March 28, 2015
      Hi Elaine, Thanks for your comment. I just uploaded a video, part of my new iPad Art Training Online course (http://www.paintboxtv.com/paint-on-the-go-ipad-art-training) that includes the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. It's a great stylus! Cheers, Jeremy Reply
  10. March 24, 2015
    Just got an iPad air two weeks ago.....Can't wait Reply
    • March 28, 2015
      Hi Carole, That's great to hear! Please check out the new series of iPad art videos I am starting here on PaintboxTV: http://www.paintboxtv.com/paint-on-the-go-ipad-art-training Enjoy drawing and painting with your iPad Air! Cheers, Jeremy Reply
  11. April 20, 2015
    Thank you so much for up graded information. Reply
  12. April 20, 2015
    I just got I pad, so i need time to search and learn. Thank you so much for this information. Reply
  13. July 15, 2015
    I am a newcomer to painting on an iPad & don't know where to start. I wish your classes were available where I live (in London, Ontario, Canada). Are any of your classes available online? I have a mini iPad but nothing else. I have never even seen any paintings done on an iPad . I have never seen any iPad classes around here but I certainly intend to start looking. Reply