Best Apps For The Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil is a fantastic tool for artists, designers and other creative types. But it can also be used for more practical purposes by everyday people. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best apps for the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil is an excellent device to help you be more productive when using your iPad. It’s great for taking notes, sketching ideas and more. There are many apps available that will let you take full advantage of what the Apple Pencil has to offer.

Here are our favorites:

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Best Apple Pencil Apps -

Best Apps For The Apple Pencil

  1. Nebo: Take notes
    Nebo: take notes iPad Pro app

(Image credit: Nebo)
Requirements: iOS 13.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Nebo: Take Notes from the App Store
Nebo is the go-to app for digital note-taking as it’s praised highly for its handwriting recognition. Nebo has the ability to understand a whopping 66 languages and can even translate your handwritten notes into a format that can be sent as an email – how nifty is that? Using your Apple pencil, you can also create a range of shapes and sketches, making your digital notes feel just like the real thing.

On Nebo, you can also insert images and diagrams, and also annotate external media. Then once you’ve finished all your hard work, you can save/export your notes as HTML, PDF and text formats that are compatible with Microsoft or Powerpoint and iCloud. This means that you have so much flexibility with the Nebo app, but if you ever find yourself stuck or need some guidance, there’s a whole community of Nebo users ready to help you over on the Nebo tips and tricks videos.

  1. Noteshelf
    Best iPad Pro apps: Noteshelf

Noteshelf is a great notetaking app that’s improved on its original functionality
Requirements: iOS 13.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $9.99/£8.99
Download Noteshelf from the App Store
Noteshelf is jam-packed with features like pressure sensitivity, double-tap support and integrated Siri to make sure it’s the best note-taking app it can be. With Noteshelf, you can record audio notes, mark up PDFs or images as well as accurate handwriting recognition and autoshapes.

  1. Notability
    Best iPad Pro app: Notability

Notability is so good you might want to ditch the Moleskine
Requirements: iOS 14.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Notability from the App Store
Notability is so much more than a note-taking app with its combination of handwriting, photos, typing and drawing tools. Meaning that you don’t have to hop to a totally separate app to get your sketch on. One of the coolest features of the Notability app is the palm rejection feature. This means you can rest your hand on the screen without having to worry about it affecting your work. Notability will also straighten any lines you’d like to be ruled, so all your notes will look as neat as neat can be.

  1. Evernote
    Best iPad Pro apps: Evernote

Evernote is a rich, capable iPad Pro app
Requirements: iOS 13.2 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Evernote from the App Store
Evernote is a notetaking iPad Pro app but it’s a little like marmite because some people love it and others, well, not so much. It’s a great app for collecting sketches, notes, to-do lists and websites, but some users find it a little difficult to navigate.

One of the cool things about Evernote is that you can record audio while sketching, meaning that you can work as you listen. But the fun doesn’t stop there, the Evernote app also offers automatic palm rejection, as well as pressure sensitivity, meaning that you can really fill your notes with expressive lines strokes.

  1. LiquidText
    Best iPad Pro apps: LiquidText for iPad

This PDF document reader enables you to annotate and excerpt texts
Requirements: iOS 14.1 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download LiquidText from the App Store
LiquidText is the perfect app for reading and annotating. The app allows users to annotate PDFs, Word or Powerpoint documents and even web pages. LiquidText prides itself on its ability to support active reading, which means that you can highlight sections of what you’re reading to come back to later, or collapse parts and sections of the document so you can refer to different parts at once.

Again, having the Apple Pencil will benefit you greatly when it comes to using these iPad Pro apps. The Apple Pencil will make it faster to use the app with its pressure and tilt sensitivity features, making LiquidText feel similar to the real thing. And if you’ve bagged yourself the Apple Pencil 2 then you can also use LiquidText’s adjustable double-tap compatibility.


  1. Illustrator for iPad

Adobe’s vector drawing app for the iPad shoots straight to the top of the class (Image credit: Ben Brady)
Requirements: iOS 14.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Illustrator for iPad from the App Store
Adobe’s Illustrator CC is one of the industry-standard programmes for digital art, so it stands to reason that the vector art iPad Pro app is a great addition for the Apple Pencil, allowing you to design on the go with your Apple device. We tried it out it in our Illustrator for iPad review and found, though it is a streamlined version, it still works brilliantly as a standalone program (note: we tested a full version of Illustrator for iPad on the 11-inch iPad Pro (M1, 2021), using an Apple Pencil 2.)

We especially love how the Apple Pencil works seamlessly with the software and the fact it is way more accessible and simple to navigate than the desktop version. Illustrator for iPad lets you create lines, shapes, type, gradients, and effects, and you can use your Apple Pencil to merge and cut graphics with quick gestures, removing unwanted areas.

You can add effects such as point gradients, radial repeats, patterns, and symmetry, and invite others to edit your projects, too. There are over 18,000 fonts, as well as seamless cloud integration so you can work across your Creative Cloud apps. There’s also a large community accessible via live streams on the app, including tutorials and inspirations from creative professionals. For the best current prices on an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which includes Illustrator in all its versions, see the details below.

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  1. Inspire Pro
    Best iPad Pro apps: Inspire Pro

Inspire Pro delivers professional results (Image credit: Snow Canoe)
Requirements: iOS 13.6 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $7.99/£6.99
Download Inspire Pro from the App Store
One of the best iPad Pro apps for digital painting, Inspire Pro offers a surprisingly realistic art experience with an impressive feature set that can deliver truly professional results. With mediums such as oil, chalk, pastels and paint, the app offers multiple blending options (including blending paint with the dry brush), which are based on painting using real materials.

The software is intuitive, and the Apple Pencil works with it like a dream. Rendering time is super-fast, and the neat Canvas Playback feature lets you watch your process afterwards, stroke by stroke.

  1. Astropad
    Astropad iPad Pro app

(Image credit: Astropad)
Requirements: iOS 9.1 (iPad) and 10.11 (Macs)
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $29.99/£25.99
Download Astropad from the App Store
Astropad was built by former Apple engineers with the objective of turning the iPad Pro into a graphics tablet for the Mac. When we tested Astropad (See our Astropad 2.0 review), we found that downloading Astropad and its free Mac companion app allows you to treat your iPad just like a graphics tablet and couldn’t come up with any downsides. You can use the Apple Pencil to draw directly in any Mac app, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity Designer and so on. The result gives you the high-end experience of a Wacom pen display (without actually having to buy a Wacom tablet), and you can connect it to your Mac wirelessly or via USB. Neat!

  1. Adobe Fresco
    Best iPad Pro apps: Adobe Fresco

Fresco mimics apps like Procreate (Image credit: Phil Galloway)
Requirements: iOS 14.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Adobe Fresco from the App Store
Adobe’s drawing app, Fresco, mimics other fine art drawing apps, bringing a natural painting and drawing experience to the iPad. It has a lot of strong features, including brilliant brush capability, an intuitive interface and super-smooth running, although when we tested it we found it does fall short in other areas and needs some depth to be added to make it truly great (see our Adobe Fresco review).

Its full integration with the Apple Pencil combined with its powerful brush features plus the ability to invite others to edit make it one of the best iPad Pro apps around, though. The basic version is free, it then costs $9.99 a month. See our full for more details.

  1. Procreate
    best iPad Pro apps Procreate 5.2 screenshot

Procreate is the king of natural media apps for the iPad Pro (Image credit: Savage)
Requirements: iOS 14.4 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $9.99/£9.99
Download Procreate from the App Store
Procreate is the king of iPad Pro natural media apps, and the addition of the Apple Pencil offers a wonderfully fluid analogue-like experience. In part, this is due to the Apple Pencil’s fine tip, its low latency and double-speed sampling rate, and in part it’s because its palm rejection is nearly flawless. But all the technical stuff fades into the background when you experience the joy of sketching with a 6B pencil, turning it flat to block in big areas of shade, or playing about with paints.

When we tested Procreate 5.2, we were blown away by its new 3D painting features (including compatibility with other 3D apps like Zbrush and Blender). Find out more about those, and the other remarkable updates, in our Procreate 5.2 review.

  1. Photoshop for iPad
    Image of Photoshop for iPad in front of buildings

The first release of Photoshop for iPad is encouraging, and we can’t wait for the rest (Image credit: Matt Smith)
Requirements: iOS 14.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Photoshop for iPad from the App Store
Photoshop for iPad is included with all Creative Cloud subscriptions and can be downloaded from the App Store. While we’re including it in our list of the best iPad Pro Apps for Apple Pencil, note that it’s designed as a complementary companion for the desktop version of the photo-editing software, and it can’t replace it. That said, it does offer some powerful features.

Our Photoshop for iPad review shows we weren’t blown away because of the lack of features, but some have been added since then, including Curves and the Subject Select tools so it’s clear that the app will only get better. It does allow you to composit and retouch workflows (making selections, masking, blend modes, painting and adjustment layers and so on), and the app can handle a heavy workload so there’s no danger of overloading it. It also has the ability to invite others.

  1. Affinity Designer for iPad
    Best iPad Pro apps: Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer for iPad is quickly becoming the new go-to tool for designers and artists on the go
Requirements: iOS 11.1 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $19.99/£19.49
Download Affinity Designer for iPad from the App Store
Serif’s Affinity Designer for iPad is right up there with the best iPad Pro apps for Apple Pencil for designers and artists that want to work on the go. It offers complete support for the Apple Pencil’s drawing capabilities in terms of precision, pressure sensitivity and tilt functionality.

Fully optimised for iPad without compromising on power, we think the Affinity Designer for iPad offers the functionality of a professional desktop app, adapted to a tablet workflow. We especially like the seamless switching between drawing modes and the extensive import/export modes. See our Affinity Designer for iPad review for more details.

  1. Affinity Photo
    Affinity Photo iPad Pro app

(Image credit: Serif)
Requirements: iOS 11.1 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $9.99/£19.49
Download Affinity Photo from the App Store
Another one from Serif, Affinity Photo is a fantastic Photoshop alternative thanks to its solid toolset and one-off cost rather than a subscription. The iPad version – in fact it’s been used by Apple to demo the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. The app is compatible with earlier iPad models, but paired with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, that Affinity Photo really comes alive, taking full advantage of the Pencil’s pressure and angle sensitivity.

It’s great for tasks from painting with its professional brush engine, or for applying realtime lighting effects. Affinity Photo is also built for a professional workflow, with support for raw and PSD files. It offers full cross-platform performance and file compatibility in case you feel the need to add some final polish on your desktop, although you probably won’t need to.

  1. Pixelmator
    Best iPad Pro app: Pixelmator

iPad Pro app Pixelmator makes the most of the Apple Pencil’s features
Requirements: iOS 12.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: $4.99/£4.49
Download Pixelmator from the App Store
The stalwart iOS bitmap editor Pixelmator is another of the best iPad Pro apps for Apple Pencil for creating digital art. It’s a mature, well-developed app that offers natural media drawing tools that work well with the Apple Pencil. Pixelmator allows you to tweak colours either by applying Instagram-style filters, or with sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation, RGB and white balance – or indeed by tweaking the curves.

Pairing Pixelmator with the Apple Pencil works very well when it comes to doing touch-ups or object isolation. The touch-up controls – repair, dodge, burn, sharpen, saturate and more – are easy to apply with the Pencil especially given its precision. When painting out backgrounds this precision, plus the various different eraser types available, are hugely welcome. If we have one criticism, it’s that we’d like the option of pressure-sensitivity to affect the size of an eraser rather than its opacity. Check out our Pixelmator review for more info (we reviewed Pixelmator 2.2, which has been updated since then.)

  1. Clip Studio Paint
    Clip Studio Paint iPad Pro app

(Image credit: CELSYS)
Requirements: iOS 14.0 or later
Double-tap support: Yes
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Download Clip Studio Paint from the App Store
Clip Studio Paint replaced the popular Manga Studio and inherited its legions of users thanks to its specialised features for drawing comics and cartoons. Instantly familiar to anyone who has used the desktop version of the app, it allows you to create full-colour comics and cartoons with ease.

The desktop-style UI means an Apple Pencil is virtually essential here unless you have particularly slim and pointed fingertips. But once you’ve familiarized yourself with the fiddly buttons and menus, you have a feature-dense drawing app to use. There are many cheaper apps, but if you specialise in this area of art and design, there are few better and with such a vast repertoire of tools. See our roundup of the best Clip Studio Paint tutorials if you want to improve your skills.

best apple pencil apps for kids

Did you know that using a pen on paper as opposed to a keyboard can boost your memory and creativity? Makes you feel better about having countless notepads covered in doodles and designs.

Problem is, overflowing art supplies, notepads, and sketchbooks lying around add clutter to your already busy life- and clutter kills creativity.

Luckily, if you’re a doodlebug, you have the next best thing to a fully-stocked art studio with the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. Here’s a collection of easy-to-use drawing apps available for artists of all levels who have the urge to express themselves without the mess.

    iPad Pro and Apple Pencil App – Tayasui The clutter-free, minimalist interface and variety of options are what make Tayasui Sketches a favorite drawing app among beginners. Users love Tayasui’s ultra-realistic pressure stylus support that adapts the angle and width of lines to every stroke of your Pencil. If you’re feeling the need to exhibit your work, you can share to the Sketches community or get a little inspiration from other members’ artwork.



iPad Pro and Apple Pencil App – Sketchbook Express

In case you haven’t heard, adult coloring books are totally a thing. They’re a wonderful way to unwind from a stressful day and focus on a quiet activity without having to bring a ton of concentration to it.
The Pigment app has over 1,000 beautiful illustrations for you to fill in, and you can use 11 kinds of coloring tools. It offers a remarkably realistic experience because the software responds to the pressure of your Pencil, darkening or thickening the lines as you press harder on them.
Pigment is available as a free app in the iTunes store, but you can add more features and coloring pages with a Premium Access subscription.




iPad Pro and Apple Pencil App – Sketchbook Express

This is a simplified version of a favorite program among professional illustrators– Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If you’re a beginning graphic artist, Sketchbook Express will give you a variety of tools without overwhelming you and you can work with up to three layers at a time– just right for sharpening your skills without being overly ambitious. Many pros swear by the intuitive user interface and recommend Sketchbook Express as an intro to the world of digital illustration software.



iPad Pro and Apple Pencil App – Drawing Pad

Do you have a budding artist in the family? This simple app designed for kids, has an ample collection of drawing and painting tools, paper styles, and coloring pages to meet your kiddo’s need for self expression. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself doodling on Drawing Pad as well!



iPad Pro and Apple Pencil App – Inspire

If painting is more your thing, Inspire Pro will have you channeling Van Gogh. With every color combination imaginable and 70 different paint brushes that mimic painting techniques (including dry brush for blending), your next masterpiece awaits. The user interface is super fast and sensitive to the slightest graze of your Apple Pencil on the surface, giving you the ability to make subtle brushstrokes or splatters of color.


Inspired to give one of these apps a try? All are available in the iTunes Store for download. If you’ve discovered a drawing or painting app for beginners that we’ve missed, please leave a comment!


Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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