Drawing programs have come a long way since the early days of doodling on MS Paint in class. Nowadays, styluses and sleek touch screens offer the same feel as the art canvas with the power of technology and editing software behind it.

While the ipad and Windows Surface offer the greatest space to experiment, there are sophisticated digital art apps available for virtually any OS and device. Being the manufacturer of an award winning art app ourselves, we thought we’d offer our two cents on essential drawing programs and apps that all artists need. 

Essential Drawing Apps

1. Adobe Illustrator Draw

– Free

Adobe Illustrator Draw is the best free app on the marketplace for vector designs. Combine your sketches with basic shape stencils to make your designs easier to incorporate to a digital template.

With a single tap, you can upload your design to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for editing. What the Adobe suite gives you access to is some of the most sophisticated tools on the market for cross-platform editing. 

Easy to use and free, this app is designed for simplicity on the go. 

2. ArtStudio for Ipad

– $4.99

ArtStudio definitely requires a higher learning curve then most other painting apps on the market, but that’s because it’s jam packed with endless features. This painting app also has one of the most powerful graphical user interfaces available on the market. 

Artists can choose between twenty different brushes and hundreds of effects to both assist in the creation and editing of their designs. Even photo editing software is integrated into ArtStudio for even more fun.

Finally, the online gallery offers a great place to showcase works and upload them to other APIs for further editing. 

3. Procreate


Considered one of the best painting apps on the market, Procreate 4 (it’s latest iteration) is powered by one of the best 64-bit engines for artists opn the iOS market. Procreate comes equipped with over 120 different brushes and loads of customization options for your illustrations. 

It’s easy-to-use UI and intuitive slider menus don’t get in your way like other painting apps and artists can leverage the brush tool to perfectly incorporate colors with any brush on the program.

Sophistication meets power to provide one of the most comprehensive and intuitive drawing programs on the market.  

4. Brushes Redux


This classic app won awards close to a decade ago for its responsiveness and design. Nowadays, it’s an open source software that recently got a makeover for the Ipad. 

This app allows artists to record each brush stroke so that artists can playback their creation and show off their skills. Best of all, the Brushes Redux edition comes with a more powerful engine and more responsiveness than ever before.

5. ArtRage


ArtRage is one of the most realistic painting apps available for iOS. One of the features we really love is the ability to create water brush strokes for extra effect.

Intuitive and realistic, ArtRage is maybe the best app visually for painters. Artists can either paint directly on the screen or use separate tools to spread paint on the screen like a true painter. Best of all, painters can adjust opacity and add layers comfortably to their illustrations or paintings without interfering with the design process. 

Apps for Animation and Graphic Design

6. Sketchbook Motion


While there are plenty of animation tools available on the market, we like this one the best because it’s free. Using screenshots or illustrations from Sketchbook pro, you can add motion to your illustrations to create smooth animations. Forget flash, with this software you can create animated shorts or complex narratives using your very own designs!

7. Vectr


Vectr is a much more complex graphics editing software that is free to artists interested in graphic design. This free online vector graphics software enables users to create cards, web pages, and other UX wireframes using advanced vector graphics techniques. Give it a shot and play around to see if you have what it takes to be a graphics designer. 

Apps to Sell Your Art

8. Etsy


For the serious artists out there, we thought we’d include a few apps and platforms where you can show off your skills and get paid. Etsy is by far the most prominent art network across the globe and now it’s available on your mobile device. Create your own Etsy page and set up a shopping cart using Shopify to get started. 

Sell everything from prefabricated table designs to custom t-shirts or even your paintings. Check out this guide to marketing on Etsy for more information. 

9. French Girls App


We created the award winning French Girls App to connect artists with people. Using this app, users can submit a screenshot to a community of artists who will paint a rendition of the picture for the community to share. It’s the perfect platform to show off your skills, connect with other artists, and even just have fun. 

10. Redbubble

Instead of selling paintings, Redbubble offers a marketplace to sell custom designs, whether it’s t-shirt logos, custom greeting cards, or anything in between. It’s a great place for artists to make some money off of their ideas for any custom products they have and even support a bit of a side gig. 


With new hardware being developed to support digital artists, the marketplace for apps and drawing programs can be hard to navigate. At Appek, we continue to support artists in their endeavours by developing award winning apps that celebrates the creativity in all of us. Check out the Special Guest App and our work for more examples.