6 Best iPad Apps for design and illustration

April 16, 2014

The iPad has become a go-to device for designers and illustrators, particularly with the added flexibility of using a mobile device and the large selection of apps for performing their work. Here are some of the best iPad tools for creating great design.



Notability has had a pretty successful run as an app for sketching, drawing, and note-taking. Its most recent update adds a new navigation tool that streamlines the process of scrolling through notes or finding saved audio recordings. All work can be backed up to main cloud services, like Dropbox or Google Drive. Additionally, attach your iCloud account to have all content available on an iPhone



Concepts: Smarter Sketching


Concepts has a diverse enough set of tools to be useful for technical drawing or more artistic projects. For designers, the application can export drawings to a vector-based program for more sophisticated manipulation on the desktop. The app is free to try out, with popular in-app purchases such as more precise illustration and sketching tools available.





AutoCAD is one of the benchmark applications for graphic design on the desktop. The company behind it has also built a powerful mobile app that allows for a strong workflow from an iPad, including moving and scaling objects, validating distance measurements and interacting with other users through the company’s Design Feed service. Subscription plans begin at $4.99 monthly for connecting your work to the company’s online service.



iAnnotate PDF


Adding in illustrations is sometimes necessary in a variety of files. For marking up a PDF, consider iAnnotate PDF. Users can read, mark up and share PDFs along with Word and PowerPoint-compatible files.


Paper by Fifty-Three


If there is an app that has distinguished itself as a premier tool for drawing, sketching and art in general it is Paper. The company behind it even makes its own stylus designed for more accurate contact and a built-in eraser that you use just like a pencil. Paper has a pretty broad stretch of use cases, with design and schematics certainly being among them. The best in-app upgrade is the Essentials pack, which gets you all the tools for $6.99




Penultimate is more built for casual drawings than high-intensity vector graphics, though it does the former very well. It is also a good resource for including text in a file that requires an illustration to make sense. Penultimate also has the added advantage of being owned by Evernote, which means you can sync notebooks to your Evernote account. If you are a heavy user of the remember-everything service this could make important drawings easy to find.



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