iPad Pro has often been hailed as the laptop alternative, while I do question this claim, the iPad Pro does offer amazing possibilities with it Apple Pencil. Apps like ProCreate have been helping designers sketch on their iPads. It offers an exhaustive set of brushes, advanced layer blending, 100 undo/redo strokes, auto-saving while you draw and much more. But there is one problem. ProCreate is an iPad exclusive app, what if you want to Procreate for Android or Windows? Well, since most of the apps have a steady supply of alternatives, the Procreate is no different.
1. Autodesk SketchBook
Best for – Professional who like to play with advanced tools
Autodesk is a renowned name when it comes to designing and modeling software suite. They are well known for AutoCAD solutions, a platform that changed the face of many industries.
Like Procreate, Sketchbook also features a pen-friendly interface. One can use colors, brushes, mirror images and draw other form factors. Other important options include the ability to store the images and also save the progress automatically. However, unlike Procreate, which is intuitive to use.
Interoperability is impressive, users can export the images to multiple formats including PSD export. Adding to that users can also choose the resolution of the images and they also get a pen option. The software is also capable of detecting false hand pressure and thus you can easily sketch.
- An exhaustive collection of professional tools at your disposal
- The learning curve is steep as compared with ProCreate.
- Requires users to be familiar with the desktop version of the Autodesk Sketchbook
Availability – Android, iPad, iOS, and Windows
Price– Free version/ Free to try Pro version/ Pro costs $10 Monthly/ $85 Year /$255
Best for – Old fashion Artists who would like to draw oil painting and watercolor
As I was having a conversation with an artist friend of mine, he casually remarked how tough it was to shift to a digital platform for creating artforms. If you prefer the old fashion drawing style, you would like ArtRage.
The best thing about ArtRage is that, is that it tries to mimic real paint as naturally as possible. You can mix colors like you do with real paint. Other important inclusions include tools to keep track of wetness, thickness and lighting direction.
- The most natural experience of using the digital medium to create art
- The interface is pretty intuitive
- Lack of advanced tools
- The app tends to get sluggish or gets hung up
- Upgrade to new version costs money everytime
Availability– Android, iPad, iOS, macOS, and Windows
Price: $79/50% discount for current users who wish to upgrade
3. Adobe Photoshop Sketch
Best for – artist who likes to use Photoshop’s brush features
First things first, I love the fact that this tool has been designed to create digital art, unlike the Photoshop which is more of a do it all tool. If you like to use Photoshop’s brush features, you will like using Sketch a bit more. Although, you don’t need to know Photoshop to use this app.
The best thing about the app is seamless Adobe product integration. For example, you can import the brush you have used in Photoshop or export your artwork in apps like Photoshop and Lightroom. It’s also a vector-based program the resulting files are smaller in size and thus can be shared easily.
That apart the renders are a more accurate reflection of how the digital art would look on a website.
Availability – macOS, Android, and iOS
- A Focussed app with highly accurate tools.
- The app UI and UX seems to be tailor-made to help retain your creativity
- 14+ different brushes to choose from
- The biggest downside is that it is only available for Mac
- Scarce third-party app/plugin support
- Lack of image editing tools
Best for – artist looking for a free, open-source Photoshop alternative for digital painting
I had heard about Krita from a friend of mine and he used the app for all of his sketching needs. Krita apparently focusses on offering the most natural sketching experience in a digital medium. It offers comic and textures and the default brushes should be more than enough for creating any type of arts. That apart, Krita also allows users to customize the brushes if the demand for the same arose. The best feature of Krita is that it has a color wheel and an integrated reference panel. Being open source the makers of Krita have always lent an ear to the community and thus have been very swift when it comes to implementing new features.
Availability– macOS, Windows, Linux, and iOS (Krita Gemini)
- Tailor-made software for the artist.
- Focus on quintessential
- Not on Android as of now
- Open, and edit Photoshop’s PSD files
- Interface lacks intuitiveness.
- Users complain of software lagging.
- The tablet version, that is Krita Gemini needs to be downloaded from the Valve Steam Store app
5. Sketches by A. Tayasui
Best for – people looking to draw small doodles and simple sketches
Sketches is a simple offering that will help the artists draw on tablets and macOS. The cornerstone of the tool is an array of artist tools including pencil, pens, erasers, and brushes. The layout of the tool also deserves a special mention. Other advanced features include the Fill Transfer function that will help you fill based on the created pattern. Furthermore, the Fill Transfer function will also help you create overlapping effects without the need for separate colors. I would like to mention that the Sketches free version feels inadequate for all the sketching needs and if you are a professional it is better to chip in for the Pro Version. That apart you can also try the Pro Version free for an hour and this should help you make up your mind.
Availability– macOS, iOS, and Android
- Nice interface, functional and clutter-free
- The Pro Version is priced at $1.99 which makes it relatively inexpensive
- Brush customization options are somewhat limited
- Cannot change the size of the canvas
- Layers are offered only on the Pro version
Price– Free version/ Pro Version free to try for 1-hour/ Pro License costs $1.99
We have curated some of the best Sketchpad tools to help you get onboard with digital sketching. That being said we do realize that at the end of the day it is artists personal choice. The utility of the features are subjective and we hope that this list will help you zero in on the best Sketchpad tool.