Top Art Apps for Sketching, Painting and Applying Painterly Effects

Top Art Apps for Sketching, Painting and Applying Painterly Effects in 2016

Turn your iPad or iPhone into the ultimate digital studio with the most powerful and versatile apps available for artists on the go. Discover the best painting tools for both professionals and hobbyists.

Artsy techniques and apps for painting, sculpting and for applying painterly effects. Apps that will save your images at high resolution and are regularly updated by their developers. 

This list was updated on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

Powered by Creative Market

7 outstanding iPad apps for expressing yourself

artistically with your iPad. 

Painting Apps


This digital painting app for the iPad is easy to use and extremely powerful.

Work naturally and fluidly with beautiful customisable brushes, including natural media sets of pencils, charcoal, inks, oil, watercolor, spraypaint, airbrushing, abstract, textures and unique digital tools. 

Procreate offers exceptional performance. It's extremely responsive, precise and fast and automatically saves your art work in the background while you paint. Blend colours together with the built in Smudge tool and watch each stroke blend, decay, and even smudge in realtime. Paint organically in a minimalist interface that stays out of your way and easily export your artwork as a layered Adobe Photoshop PSD file. 

Procreate is available for iPhone and iPad. Designed and developed by Savage, Australia. 


Deco Sketch

Completely original modernist painting suite for abstract, geometric, digital art. 

Start with a clean canvas or import your own photo to paint over it. Pick a palette or sample colours from your imported image. Work with a diverse collection of unconventional, geometric and adjustable brushes and presets. Experimental and contemporary. 

Deco Sketch revolutionizes the possibilities of iPhoneography and tablet art.

Further readingBen Guerrette: on Creating Deco Sketch, the Geometric Effects and Drawing Suite

Deco Sketch is compatible with iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android and Nook. 


Tayasui Sketches

Easy to use and elegantly designed, Tayasui Sketches is a groundbreaking digital sketchbook for drawing, doodling, painting and sketching. Powerful and expressive inks and natural colour mixing. Smooth and natural brushes and pen tools. Superb watercolour effects with wet-in-wet washes and blending. 

Perfect for everything from note taking to quick architectural sketches, cartoon, illustration and water-colour painting served to you in an elegant, zen-like interface. 

Pro Mode brings you additional drawing tools as an in-app purchase.

Tayasui Sketches is available for the iPad. Developer: Tayasui in Paris, France. 


Apps For Painterly Effects


Choose between a wide variety of painterly effects to apply the look of an oil or acrylics painting, with the texture of thick paint strokes of paint. Enter the Workshop by clicking on the button with a hammer and wrench to generate a random effect or create your own unique styles. 

Pro Tip

Glazing is a painting technique where you apply translucent layers of paint that produce delicate and subtle shifts in colour, and unify a painting. In digital art, applying a thin layer of texture or colour plays the same role. Try blending your Glaze painting with your original image for a more subtle and natural painting look. 

Glaze is available for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Developed by The 11ers, USA. 



Distill your photos into luminous watercolour paintings with a realistic feeling of real paint. Features 12 pre-set styles to customise your watercolours by controlling wetness, pen outlines and color. Easy to use and generates beautiful results. 

Waterlogue is inspired by Moleskine watercolour journals, urban sketching, artist’s journals and en plain air painting. Made by Tinrocket, LLC, Brooklyn, USA. Waterlogue is available for the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Waterlogue reveals a new way of seeing: fluid, luminous, and lively.
— Tinrocket, LLC


Turn your image into a watercolor illustration with the graphic look of a woodblock printing.

Mix flavours (=colours) and add black, Indian ink outlines. Control how much colour you want on your image, and how you want the colour to blend and bleed. Enhance to bring out more details and accent your image. 

Popsicolor creates drips when you hold your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch upright while it's working. Turn the drip-effect off by keeping your device flat (face up) while Popsicolor is working.

Popsicolor is available for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Developed by Tinrocket, LLC, Brooklyn, USA.


123D Sculpt

Digitally sculpt clay in 3D on your iPad (without the mess), and 3D print your models.

Get started by picking a shape from the library of creatures, humans, vehicles, and more. Then push, pull and paint to make the sculpture your own. When you are finished you can take snapshots in the camera room or create animated QuickTime turntable movies to upload to YouTube or email to friends. State-of-the-art 3D software that's easy to use. 

123D Sculpt is free and available for the iPad. Developed by Autodesk, USA.