How to Draw on the iPad

Turn your iPad into a drawing tablet

What to Know

  • Tap the Markup icon in the upper right corner of the Notes app to start drawing.
  • Draw basic shapes. Hold the tip of your finger or pencil down to trigger Shape Recognition.
  • Use more pressure to draw thicker lines.

This article will explain how to get started drawing with your iPad.

Can You Draw on Any iPad?

You don’t need a high-end iPad with a large display to start drawing. As long as your iPad works, you can use it.

What Do I Need to Draw on My iPad?

If you want to draw on your iPad, you can use the Notes app. For a better experience, consider getting a stylus, a matte screen protector, and a dedicated drawing app. Any stylus will work, but the Apple Pencil is a pressure-sensitive stylus built just for iPads. A screen protector will make the screen less slippery under the stylus, so it feels more like actual paper.

If you’re thinking about getting an Apple Pencil, make sure the Apple Pencil is compatible with your iPad.

How Can I Draw on My iPad for Free?

You can draw on your iPad without spending a penny. You can get started with just your fingers and the Notes app. Dedicated drawing apps for the iPad will offer more functionality, and they’re available at every price point, from entirely free to a monthly subscription fee.

How to Draw on iPad

Since you don’t need anything special, you can grab your iPad and start making art at any time. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Open your drawing app. If you’re using the Notes app, tap Markup in the upper right corner to see all the drawing tools.

    Notes app on an iPad with the Markup tool highlighted
  2. Draw some basic shapes. It’s easy to make basic shapes with your iPad’s Shape Recognition feature. When you finish drawing a shape, leave your finger or stylus on the screen. After a moment, the lines will snap into place, forming a perfect shape.

    Circles, squares, and triangles drawn in the Notes app.
  3. Vary your lines. Tap the tool to choose different line thicknesses and opacity. If you’re using a stylus intended for art, like the Apple Pencil or the Logitech Crayon, your lines will vary based on the amount of pressure you apply. You can even tilt the Apple Pencil to create wide, soft lines.

    Lines of varying sizes in the Notes app.
  4. Add the shadows. Even basic drawings will look better once you add some dimension. Use more pressure or opacity to create shadows on your drawings.

    If you’re using an art app, create a new Layer before shading your picture.

    A circle with shading in Notes.
  5. Use a reference. Choose something to draw, like a character you like or a picture of your pet. You’re not going to copy or trace, so you can even use a picture of someone else’s art. Drawing from reference is excellent for practice.

    A photograph of a flower.
  6. Use split-screen. Once you’ve found a reference picture, you’ll need to put it on the screen alongside your drawing app. Open the Multitasking menu at the top of your screen, then tap Split View.

    iPad Notes app with Split View highlighted in Multitasking menu
  7. Open your drawing app to make it appear on the right.

    The flower photo beside Procreate.
  8. Start drawing. Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to draw. Have fun!

    Starting a flower drawing.

If you are interested in getting started for free, check out Linea from The Iconfactory in the App Store.

  • How do I draw on Google Slides on an iPad?

    Open your presentation in the Google Slides app, then tap Present and choose where you want to present. At the top, tap Draw (pen icon) and use your finger to draw on the presented slide. To exit drawing mode, tap Draw again.

  • How do I mirror draw on Procreate on an iPad?

    To mirror draw on Procreate, tap the arrow to open the menu bar, then tap Freeform. You can now mirror your drawing horizontally or vertically. You can also make mirrored or symmetrical drawings by tapping Settings > Canvas > Drawing Guide.

  • How do I use an iPad to draw on a Mac?

    With your iPad nearby, open a compatible document (from Notes, TextEdit, Keynote, etc.) on your Mac and select File > Insert from > Add Sketch. A sketch window will open on your iPad; create a sketch and tap Done.

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