The all new iPad Pro is one of the most powerful tablets out there. Combined with the Apple Pencil, it can be the only tool one needs to embark on their creative journey. Not only Apple Pencil acts as a stylus, significantly improving input accuracy, but its pressure and tilt sensitive tip really enhances how you can interact with a blank canvas. Of course, you’ll need an app or two to kick off your artistic career and if you’re not really sure which one to go with, we’ve compiled a list of the best Apple Pencil apps that you should try. The apps included in this list aren’t just for the artistic type, with quite a few options that can be quite helpful for professionals and students. So, without much further ado, let’s take a look at the best Apple Pencil apps available on the App Store.
Best Apple Pencil Apps You Should Use in 2020
We have divided this article in several sub-categories so you can easily find the apps that suite your needs. You can click on the link below to quickly move to the section you are interested in.
- Best Apple Pencil Apps for Drawing and Editing Photos
- Best Apple Pencil Apps for Productivity
- Best Apple Pencil Apps for Taking Notes
Best Apple Pencil Apps for Drawing and Editing Photos
1. Autodesk SketchBook
Starting off with what’s most likely the highest rated Apple Pencil app on the App Store – Autodesk SketchBook – a compelling drawing and sketching app that features over 170 different customizable brushes. The app is designed for professionals and it includes features like Photoshop document support, layers and blending, making it a rather powerful app that allows you to create some stunning art. Thanks to the Apple Pencil support, sketching or drawing on Autodesk SketchBook feels pretty much like drawing on paper and the seamless controls make using the app as intuitive as you’d imagine.
Download Autodesk SketchBook (Free)
2. Adobe Comp CC
Adobe Comp CC is another great Apple Pencil app which is targeted at UX designers and allows them to create wire-frame mockups for mobile, web or print. The app seems like a stripped down version of Adobe InDesign CC, and although it doesn’t offer all the features as InDesign, it manages to retain all the core tools that will help you create a basic design. The app comes with a bunch of preset layouts to choose from and it also allows users to create their own custom dimensions from scratch. What’s really great, however, is that Adobe Comp CC automatically saves all layouts to the user’s Creative Cloud account, which means that you can quickly transition from your iPad to your system whenever you need to do some heavy lifting.
Download Adobe Comp CC (Free)
If you’re just starting your artistic journey and don’t really want to pay for advanced professional tools, then you should check out Concepts, a great drawing app for iOS with Apple Pencil support. The app has a beginner friendly user interface and it offers a bunch of free tools, including color and brush wheels, grids, and measurement tools. Once you get a hang of the included tools, the app also gives you an option to purchase advanced tool from within the app itself. Another great aspect of Concepts is that it includes support for HTML color codes, which differentiates it from other apps drawing apps for the platform.
Download Concepts (Free with in-app purchases)
4. Adobe Illustrator Draw
Another great app from Adobe’s stable – Adobe Illustrator Draw – is a really capable drawing app for the iPad which also offers complete Apple Pencil support. The app allows you to sketch vector graphics and then easily edit them on your desktop afterwards using the ‘send to desktop’ feature. Adobe Illustrator Draw includes basic shape stencils to kickstart your design work and offers five customizable brushes, support for up to 8k resolution and great optimizations for the Apple Pencil. Adobe Illustrator Draw is a great drawing app that you should definitely use if you’re already a part of the Adobe CC ecosystem.
Download Adobe Illustrator Draw (Free with in-app purchases)
In case you’re looking for an app that will allow you create impressive 3D models on your iPad, then you should check out Shapr. An impressive mobile CAD app, Shapr is great for everyone from engineers to architects who often have to create detailed 3D models of their projects. Despite your level of expertise, Shapr is rather easy to use and once you get a hang of it, you’ll be able to create some stunning models with the app. All of the modeling tools in the app are available for free, but if you wish to transfer your models to another software you’ll be required to pay a premium.
Download Shapr (Free with in-app purchases)
Paper is another great option to go for, if you’re looking for a simple and immersive drawing/sketching app that allows you to quickly create anything on the go. The app has a rather simple and straightforward interface, without any buttons or dials getting in your way, and its fluid gesture navigation ensures that every control is accessible to the user seamlessly. Paper features a wide selection of tools to aid your drawings, including a pretty capable auto-correction tool that snaps rough drawings to straight lines and shapes to help you draft more professional looking pieces.
Download Paper (Free with in-app purchases)
If you’re not that great at drawing, but still want to do some artsy things with your iPad+Apple Pencil combo, then you should check out Pigment – an adult coloring book that offers over 2600 professionally illustrated drawings that you can color. The app includes 24 different types of pencils, markers and brushes which you can use to color the drawings with an almost unlimited number of colors. Pigment even allows you to share your colored drawings with friends on social media, email or text, and it even allows you to print out the drawings directly via AirPrint.
Download Pigment (Free with in-app purchases)
Procreate is another great sketching app for creative professionals that comes with complete Apple Pencil support and a wide array of tools that will allow you to create some stunning artwork on your iPad. The app features 136 unique brushes, an advanced layer system, support for ultra high definition canvases up to 16k, 250 levels of undo and redo, and a QuickShape feature that allows you to make shapes instantly. The app has an intuitive interface which is easy to get a hang of, which means that you’ll be creating stunning art pieces in no time.
Download Procreate ($9.99)
9. Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer is another great app that you can take a look at if you’re a vector graphics designer who creates designs for marketing, websites, icons or UI. The app features a wide variety of tools, along with live effects, blend modes, image adjustments, and a high quality raster tool for texturing and masking. Affinity Designer boasts of great Apple Pencil support with accurate pressure, tilt and angle sensitivity.
Download Affinity Designer ($19.99)
10. Sketch Club
For a simplified drawing experience, Sketch Club is one of the better options. Aside from letting you get a good grip on drawing, the app can also help you enhance your painting and typography. Featuring a variety of tools including brush, pen, smudge, blur, and vector, the app can enable you to create impressive arts. Moreover, it also comes with layer filters so that you can fine-tune colors, edges, vignette, and blurs with precision.
On the customization front, I think Sketch Club is up to the task thanks to the presence of color themes and shortcut bar. As it offers full support for Apple Pencil, you will enjoy using the app on your iPad. Beyond creating commendable arts, the app lets you join the community of artists to share thoughts with like-minded people and also derive inspiration from notable creations.
Download Sketch Club ($2.99)
11. Linea Sketch
If you are after an iPad app that can let you sketch with much-improved precision, Linea Sketch has to be your go-to pick. Whether it’s drawing or storyboarding, or prototyping an app interface, it excels in most aspects. One of the highlights of this app is color customization which comes in really handy when you want your art to stand. And with the wide range of pre-defined colors at the disposal, choosing the one that can light up the entire appearance of your creativity remains easy-picking.
As an artist, you would also find its library of a variety of grids, professionally-designed templates, and 3D isometric lines highly appreciable. But what has caught my eyes in Linea Sketch is the flexible exporting that lets me export my work not only as a layered Photoshop document but also transparent PNG. Not to mention, the classic pencil that kind of compels me to brace up the traditional style of sketching.
Download Linea Sketch ($4.99)
12. Inspire Pro
For those of you looking for a full-fledged Apple Pencil drawing app that can get the most out of your iPad, Inspire Pro appears to be the right contender. What gives this app a clear edge over many other rivals is a library of 150 top-quality brushes divided into 15 sets. So, whether you are a fan of oil paint to create classy looking arts or have a penchant for graphite pencils to make your creativity look pleasing to the eyes, the app has got you fully covered. Just in case you find the predefined offerings not living up to your mark, the app provides around two dozen settings to let you customize your brushes.
Another department where Inspire Pro has looked efficient to me is the full support for all the gestures like pressure, double-tap, and tilt angle for Apple Pencil. Thus, you can use your digital pen to draw images or sketch your thoughts with precision. As it has the support for 1000 levels of undo/redo, you also get the desired liberty to go back and forth based on your needs. Not just that, this iPad only app comes with over 20 keyboard shortcuts to let you get your work done faster.
Download Inspire Pro ($9.99)
Pixelmator is a powerful image editing app for the iPad that comes with complete Apple Pencil support, allowing you to edit your images with great accuracy. The app features a ton of beautiful templates, tools to enhance photos, and a wide array of effects to improve or completely change the appearance of a picture. On top of that, Pixelmator also offers drawing tools which will not only let you create art from scratch, but will also allow you to add your own take to the images you’re editing.
Download Pixelmator ($4.99)
Best Apple Pencil Apps for Productivity
1. PDF Expert
PDF Expert, as the name suggests, is an expert level tool for people who frequently reads PDF files on their iPad and wishes to use the Apple Pencil to highlight, sign and fill out PDFs on the go. The app allows you to add simple annotations to PDF files, including highlight, underline, strikethrough, etc, insert predesigned stamps to the file, and create diagrams and schemes using the host of tools available at your disposal. PDF Expert is definitely a must have for anyone looking to step up their PDF reading game on their iPad.
Download PDF Expert (Free with in-app purchases)
LiquidText is another great app that you can use to annotate and review documents on the fly. The app allows you to gather and organize information across all your documents and webpages and use to write reports or create prep notes. LiquidText offers complete compatibility with a variety of different file formats, including support for PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and it also allows you to import content from webpages. To keep all your notes easily accessible, LiquidText also features a powerful search function which allows you to search for keywords across all LiquidText documents.
Download LiquidText (Free with in-app purchases)
3. MyScript Calculator
Need help with some difficult math problems but can’t really use your regular calculator to get the job done? Check out MrScript Calculator, an easy to use app that allows you to write down your math problems and get results in real time. The app features a large set of operations, right from simple addition and subtraction to complex trigonometry and logarithmic calculations, making it a great tool for students.
Download MyScript Calculator ($2.99)
Best Apple Pencil Apps for Taking Notes
1. GoodNotes 5
GoodNotes 5 is a pretty capable note-taking app for your iPad that comes with complete Apple Pencil support, allowing you to take handwritten notes in class or annotate your study material on the go. The app features optical character recognition (OCR), allowing you to easily search for your handwritten notes, and it even comes with complete keyboard support if you aren’t too confident about your handwriting. GoodNotes 5 is also a pretty capable annotation tool, with support for PDF, Word and PowerPoint files.
Download GoodNotes 5 ($7.99)
Rounding off the list is Notability, another great note taking app which not only allows you to take handwritten notes with the Apple Pencil support, but also features a bunch of great annotation tools to add your ideas and thoughts to whatever material you’re reading on your iPad. The app also allows you to search for your handwritten notes and even has the ability to convert handwriting to text. On top of that, Notability features support for voice notes, allowing users to quickly add notes to their documents with the tap of a button.
Download Notability ($8.99)
3. Notepad+ Pro
If you don’t want to settle with anything less than the best Apple Pencil app for your iPad, Notepad+ Pro is the one name that you should keep in mind. What puts this app ahead of the curve is the versatility to excel in many aspects. Whether it’s taking notes or annotating PDFs or drawing arts, the app is fully equipped to live up to the billing. Based on your needs, you can edit PDF files and annotate them using different tools.
And with the availability of many template galleries like lifestyle, education, sports, games, and music, you can give your file a more suitable appearance. Moreover, Notepad+ Pro has the support for several formats including Excel, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Powerpoint, Word so that you can deal with a variety of files without facing incompatibility issues.
Download Notepad+ Pro ($19.99)
Should your priority lie with a simple note-taking experience, I would recommend you to go for Bear. Probably, the best part about this iPad app is an impressive assortment of themes that can fit into your various needs. Using your Apple Pencil, you can draw arts and sketch nice-looking designs. That aside, I like the flexibility to use custom icons to tag items as they make it a bit convenient to find specific files.
Speaking of customization, the app comes with a unique feature called “emoji autocomplete” that allows you to personalize your tasks and headings. Better still, Bear has got the support for many export options such as HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG, EPUB, and TextBundle so that you can comfortably deal with different file types.
Download Bear (Free with in-app purchases)
Try Out These Apple Pencil Apps Right Now
Well, that rounds up our list of some of the best Apple Pencil apps available on the App Store right now. The apps can be utilized for a wide variety of use cases and I’m sure you’ll find something that fits your bill. If you loved this article, you should also read our article on best Apple Pencil accessories. Also, if you cannot afford to buy an Apple Pencil, we have create a list of Apple Pencil alternatives that you might enjoy. Do check these out and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.