Apple-Reviews

iPad Pro Artist 2019 Review: Is the iPad Pro Good For Drawing?

DISCLAIMER: I am not sponsored by Apple, all opinions are my own!

For the last 10 months, I’ve been using my iPad Pro for drawing & it’s been awesome. Before owning it, like many artists, I wondered if it was a viable drawing tablet. After owning it & doing a little research on the topic this is what I found. 

So is the iPad Pro Good For Drawing? Yes the iPad Pro is good for drawing because of it’s zero parallax, absence of latency due to ProMotion, incorporates a natural drawing coordination, high pixel density, portability along w/ a 10 hour battery life for drawing on the go, the most responsive touchscreen of any screen tablet I’ve used, & drawing apps w/ intuitive user interface & the presence of the new Apple Pencil 2nd Gen.

Although the iPad Pro is my daily drawing tablet, it’s not for everyone, in this post I’ll review every reason the iPad Pro is good for art while also including some of the cons to using it as a drawing tablet. This way you can decide if it’s right for you. 

If it isn’t right for you I’ll also provide some cheap alternatives to the iPad Pro. 

1. Why The iPad Pro Is Good For Drawing?

A quick synopsis of all the drawing Pros:

  1. Zero Parallax when drawing
  2. ProMotion decreases the Latency period so it is basically invisible to our eyes.
  3. Incorporates a natural drawing coordination
  4. High Pixel Density allows for creating detailed work
  5. Portability 
  6. The best touch screen of any drawing tablet, making touch gestures more responsive & controlled
  7. Intuitively designed apps optimize workflow
  8. The Apple Pencil is pretty good. 

Parallax

Before I breakdown the iPad Pro’s lack of parallax here’s a quick definition & visual guide of parallax.

 

Parallax is when the brush on your screen is not perfectly inline w/ the tip of your stylus. 

Parallax is bad because it makes the process of drawing inaccurate. A screen tablet should feel as close to drawing on paper as possible so when you draw a line it should be directly under the tip of the stylus.

Luckily Apple’s new iPad Pro has zero parallax getting you as close to drawing on paper as possible. 

ProMotion Decreases Latency So It Is Unnoticeable. 

Here’s a quick definition & video guide of latency just in case you’re unfamiliar with the term in context to digital art. 

Latency:  Refers to a short period of delay between when your stylus draws a line/stroke & when that line/stroke animates. 

In the video above you can see the lines being drawn lag behind the tip of my pen. This is due to latency. Because the animation of lines being drawn is slower than the movement of my pen there is a lag. 

If you put your brush on smooth when drawing in photoshop or Procreate the Lag becomes a lot more apparent. That said the iPad Pro has more responsive animation due to ProMotion making most lag you would experience invisible.

Why is latency bad for artists?

Latency is a bad thing similar to parallax it creates an unnatural drawing experience. The end of your line should always be underneath your pen for a natural drawing experience. 

How does the iPad Pro decrease latency? 

The new iPad Pro combats latency with Apple’s ProMotion. ProMotion increases the rate of animation on your display.

Increasing the rate of animation drops the latency period to about 20 milliseconds. Because the period of latency is occurring so fast our eyes cannot see it happening.

Making the animation of lines & brushstrokes more responsive & less unnatural when drawing. 

Natural drawing coordination

What is natural drawing coordination?

Natural drawing coordination is when you watch your hands draw onto the surface of paper, canvas or a screen. 

Natural Drawing Coordination

Because you can watch your hand draw the drawing coordination is natural.

Unnatural Drawing Coordination

Because you’re watching a computer screen while your hand draws on a pad/tablet outside of your line of sight this drawing coordination is unnatural. 

Why is Natural Drawing Coordination important?

Because it’s the first kind of coordination you learn as an artist & the easiest to master. 

A drawing tablet that requires the use of natural drawing coordination allows you to strengthen the same coordination you’ll need for painting & drawing.

Once you start to use unnatural drawing coordination you’re strengthening a skill you will rarely use outside of digital art. As well as allowing your natural drawing coordination to atrophy. 

How does the iPad Pro reinforce natural drawing coordination?

The iPad Pro has a screen you draw directly onto, with the edition of zero parallax and no visible latency it’s as close as you can get to traditional painting or drawing.

A lot of people complain a lot about the glass texture creating an unnatural feel when drawing but I personally disagree.

Paper texture is preferred because it is the most common texture traditional artist use. That said I don’t find glass to be an unnatural texture, just a rare one. Because many artists including myself paint on glass. 

The art below is a mixed media piece inside the layered glass. I thought it would be a good example of why glass texture although rarely used is not considered unnatural when painting. As well as it lets you guys know I’m an actual artist who uses natural drawing coordination for digital & traditional work. 

That said I do acknowledge most artists prefer a paper textured screen. & if that’s your preference Paper-like offers a great paper textured screen protector for the iPad Pro. Their product is available on Amazon here. 

High pixel density

What is pixel density? & why is it important?

Pixel density refers to the number of pixels on the display. The more pixels the higher the quality of the image. High pixel density also allows you to maintain quality when zooming in.

The iPad Pro currently has a resolution of 2732 x 2048 which perfect for its display size. 

Below is an example of the corelation between pixel density & image quality. 

Portability 

Portability allows artists to work outside of their studios. This doesn’t directly affect your artwork but it does increase your overall productivity so I consider it a pro for artists.

In fact, This post was written with my iPad Pro at a cafe, not in my apt!

When discussing the iPad Pro’s portability it’s important to acknowledge some of the features built around the concept of portability.

Like charge time, battery life, airdrop, & find my iPhone.

The iPad Pro’s charge time was improved w/ the presence of Apple’s fast charge a feature only accessible to the Pro series of iPads.

Fast charge allows you to charge your iPad Pro to full power in about 2.3 hours. A larger improvement from it’s previous 4-6 charge time.

The lower charge time means you’ll spend less time charging your iPad Pro’s battery & more time drawing.

Speaking of battery, the iPad Pro’s battery lasts 10 hours meaning you can get hours of work in before recharging. This is a feature I enjoy when traveling.

Nothing is worse than constantly working about charging your device when moving around.

Touch Screen

The iPad Pro comes w/ the most responsive touch screen of any screen tablet I’ve used. 

In my opinion, the iPad Pro’s touch screen quality is most likely due to Apple’s experience creating 54 products w/ touch screens in the last 12 years. (21 iPhones, 7 iPod Touch, & 21 iPads) 

To my knowledge, no drawing tablet company has had that much experience designing touch screens. Why explains why most of them are so laggy. 

To illustrate how well the touch screen works on the iPad Pro I placed two videos below. The first is me using the touch screen on Wacom’s Cintiq Pro. This is the drawing tablet every pro is praising as a generation leap for screen tablets. 

The second video is a video of my iPad Pro. You’ll notice the iPad Pro’s screen is noticeably better than the Cintiq Pro. 

Why is a responsive touch screen important for drawing?

One of the pros of digital art is how quick & easy it makes the process of creating. Unlike traditional arts like painting, digital art has touch gestures designed to speed up an artist’s workflow. 

The touch screen is very easy to control, something I can’t say about the touch screen on the Cintiq Pro, in fact, most screen tablets can be a bit laggy when using touch gestures like zoom. 

I provided some of the most common touch gestures below to give you an idea of how crucial touch they are when creating digital art. 

Rotate Canvas

Rotates canvas when working, very helpful for finding the right angle when drawing complex lines. 

Zoom

Zooms in or out. One of the most important touch gestures for detailed work. 

Undo

Undoes the last action you made. Typically used to undo mistakes.

Redo

Redoes an action you undid. 

Intuitively Designed Apps

Another advantage the iPad Pro has over other screen tablets is drawing apps w/ a smooth user interface built specifically for touch screens.

For example if you purchase a Wacom screen tablet your default drawing program will most likely not be optimized for its touch screen.

Below is a video of me using photoshop on my Cintiq Pro. In that video, you can see all the layers, tools, & options are far too small to accurately access w/ my fingertips. 

Keep in mind the surface of this touch screen is bigger than the iPad Pro, yet the Cintiq Pro is far more difficult to navigate.

The video below displays me using the Procreate app on my iPad Pro. You’ll notice the layers are far larger, making them easier to tap using my fingers. 

Besides being able to access layers & buttons easily the overall organization of apps on the iPad Pro is also more intuitive to programs used on non-Apple screen tablets. 

I find it easy to get used to using an app versus using an app I already know in a completely different way. 

Apple Pencil Second Gen

The new Apple Pencil comes with a few new features. My favorite being the magnetic charging & pairing.  

The new Apple Pencil is matte not glossy like the previous model. It also comes w/ a flat side. 

These two slight improvements do make holding & controlling it when drawing a lot easier. 

It’s slightly smaller than the previous model in length but the width is around the same. 

It also has a shortcut feature built-in. By tapping the lower end of the flat side you can change drawing tools. It does help w/ workflow but I do wish Apple would do more of what Wacom does an include two shortcut features on their stylus. 

2. Why the iPad Pro isn’t good for drawing

A quick synopsis of all the drawing Cons:

  1. Price

  2. Pen Pressure

  3. Accessories 

  4. No EMR charging 

  5. Glass Screen

Price

The biggest issue most artists are going to have is the price. Like most luxury tablets its price range floats anywhere from $799-$1,899. 

That said there are a lot of other iPads that have compatibility w/ the Apple Pencil I cover more of that here. 

Pen Pressure

For some reason, Apple doesn’t advertise the pen pressure levels of the Apple Pencil anywhere. I’ve looked in the box, on their site & even asked Apple Employees. 

I would personally clock it at around 4,192. Which is good, but for a luxury tablet that makes me pay extra for the stylus, I expect 8,192 pressure levels. Considering Wacom & Huion tablets come w/ a free stylus, often one w/ 8,192 levels of pressure it just feels like Apple is a little behind. 

No EMR charging 

On the topic of the Apple Pencil, although I do like the magnetic charging it still feels a bit outdated. Considering Wacom has offered battery-free stylus now for years. 

I know Wacom currently owns a patent on that technology so I can’t really fault Apple. but it would be nice to see them develop a pen that is battery-free like Wacom’s. 

Drawing On A Frictionless Glass Screen

One common complaint about the iPad Pro is the frictionless glass screen can be difficult to draw on. Most artists prefer a screen w/ a paper-like texture like Wacom’s Cintiq Pro. 

I don’t mind the glass screen but I can see people having hand cramps more frequently due to it. 

Accessories 

This is something that always frustrates me w/ Apple. They constantly nickel & dime you for every little accessory. I understand why they do it, not everyone wants an Apple Pencil when they by the iPad Pro. But it would be nice if they offered an artist bundle deal, something w/ that includes the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil & a Stand all in one. 

Best Price and Accessories

The official retail price for the 3rd Gen iPad Pro is $799-$1,899 but currently, Amazon is selling the 11″ & 12.9″  for a reduced price of $674-$1,449.99 

If you’re interested in creating art w/ the iPad Pro there are a couple accessories t you’ll need. 

  • Apple Pencil 2nd Gen – Click to view on Amazon (The best stylus for the iPad Pro)
  • Case/Stand on Amazon (Will probably save you money on repairs. & allow you to draw more ergonomically) 

3. What’s In The Box

  • iPad Pro
  • USB-C Charge Cable (1 meter)
  • 18W USB-C Power Adapter

The iPad Pro does not come w/ the Apple Pencil, unfortunately it’s sold separately.

4. What I Made W/ It

Timelapse videos

A couple videos of me drawing on the iPad Pro in Procreate.

Art

6. Related Questions

1. What is the best drawing app for the iPad Pro?

Currently, the best drawing app for the iPad Pro is Procreate

2. Is procreate only for iPad Pro? 

No Procreate works for all iPads, & there is a limited iPhone version. 

3. How much does procreate cost for iPad pro?

Procreate costs $9.99.

What You Should Do Now

Follow me on Instagram & Youtube

to see what I’m currently working on

14 Comments

  • Sonia

    I’ve always wanted to take up art, this makes my fingers itch. Love your artwork and style. Would love to see some timelaspe videos from you!

  • Nate

    Thanks for the really good review. I had not heard about the recent version of the ipad pro. I think what i like most about it is the pretty screen and the app features. Their seem to be quite a few options.

    I could see myself getting lost in time enjoying this ipad. I had to bookmark this one because I already know someone who I can buy this for.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Dovey

    Thank you for such a detailed review. My youngest is into art and loves to draw. She is even determined she is going to an animator when she grows up.

    I was looking for Christmas presents ideas for her when I stumbled across your review. I appreciate the level of information you go into.

    Forgive me if this a nieve question as I am new to all this technology. Will she be able to transfer drawings between her Windows PC and this Ipad?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Gaius

      Hey Dovey, thanks so much for the kind words. & that’s awesome to hear she’s into art & animation.

      On the topic of Compatability, the iPad is compatible with windows. But, it can be more difficult sending files to a windows. You’re better off getting Wacom Drawing Tablet for 1/8 of the price.

      I have a post where you can find some.
      https://blogbygaius.com/best-cheap-drawing-tablets-under-100/

      it won’t have a screen. But It will allow her to draw directly on her computer. disclaimer they dont come with drawing programs so you’d have to download a free one or buy one but its still alot cheaper & probably a better fit for your daughter.

  • ty Chan

    I really want one now. Especially considering they’re so cheap. It’s nice, Your drawings are really beautiful. What I like most about Ipad pro is the beautiful screen and the numerous apps with it. I am also a blogger. Maybe the 11 inch is a nice option.

    • Gaius

      Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, the apps are amazing, I’ll be sure to check out your blog as well, & lmk how it goes with the 11″ model.

  • Carol Celestine

    A really in-depth review and I love your honesty in there. Which size and storage would you suggest for someone who does art as a hobby?

    • Gaius

      Hi Carol,
      Thanks for the kind words!

      I think the 64 GB is more than enough, I know a lot of people laugh at storage that low. But I think its enough for all your apps.

  • Carol Celestine

    Oh one last thing Gaius, sorry for double commenting. Do you sell prints? I showed my co-worker your site yesterday and we were kind of wondering if you did. Would love to support an artist as talented as yourself.

    • Gaius

      No need to apologize, I’m just happy people are taking the time to engage with my content. Two comments is a compliment to me, & I’m happy to help anyone who took the time to read my post. As of now, I’m not producing prints, my goal is to create a bigger more engage following before I sell a product.

      But thanks for asking!

  • Dawn

    I’m not in the market for an iPad but this looks pretty sweet and I can buy one as a gift for my cousin who’s an artist. Good looking out!

    Thanks,
    Dawn

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