Apple-Reviews,  FAQ

iPad Pro Artist Review: Is the iPad Pro good for art? 15 Pros, Cons, & Myths

Whether you are a full-time artist or beginner, you’ve probably heard Apple’s 3rd Gen iPad Pro can be used for art.

With a price range of $799-$1,899, most artists are wondering if it’s the right drawing tablet for them. After doing a little research & owning the latest model this is what I found.

So is the new iPad Pro good for art & drawing? Yes, the 3rd gen iPad Pro is great for creating art because it reinforces natural drawing coordination, has zero parallax, high pixel density for detail, a large display, portability combined 10-hour battery life for drawing on the go, tru-tone color accuracy, & the best touch screen on the market.

While the 3rd gen iPad Pro is a great investment for artists, you should still do your research before purchasing one because it does come with its fair share of flaws. I use mine daily for art & business, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that the iPad Pro is not for everyone.

In this post, I’ll go through why it’s good for artists, why it’s not good for artists, & debunk some common myths so that you can decide if it’s the right tablet for you. 

If after doing some light research you decide the iPad Pro is not worth it, I provided a list of cheaper iPads w/ drawing capabilities below

Table Of Contents

  1. iPad Pro Pros
    • Drawing Coordination 
    • Zero Parallax
    • Best touch screen
    • High Pixel Density
    • The App Store 
    • Tru-tone & Color Accuracy 
    • 2nd Gen Apple Pencil 
    • Portability 
    • Pro Motion removes latency
  2. iPad Pro Cons
    • Price
    • Pen Pressure
    • Accessories 
    • No EMR charging 
    • Glass Screen
  3. Myths
    • No Full-Featured Drawing Apps
    • Does Not Offer CMYK 
  4. Cheaper iPads You Can Draw W/

1. Every Reason The iPad Pro Is Good For Art

The iPad Pro isn’t a flawless device, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty great. Overall I’ve enjoyed creating art with it, & currently, it’s the only drawing tablet I use.

So let’s get into why it’s my primary drawing tablet starting w/drawing coordination.

Drawing Coordination 

Natural drawing coordination is the coordination utilized when you’re looking at your hand creating the drawing.

The iPad Pro reinforces natural drawing coordination by allowing you to draw directly onto the screen.

Because you’re drawing directly on the screen you can watch your hand make the lines as if you were painting or drawing on an actual surface.

This is why we call it natural drawing coordination.

Unlike graphics tablets, which force you to stare at a screen while your hand is drawing in your blindspot.

Natural Drawing Coordination

When you can watch your hand draw an image. 

Unnatural Drawing Coordination

Drawing on a pad/tablet that is outside of your view, while you watch the image being drawn on a screen. 

Here a few reasons why using natural drawing coordination is important.

  • Its easier to use natural drawing coordination than an unnatural one. 
  • The more you use unnatural drawing coordination the more difficult traditional art forms like drawing on paper or painting become. This is due to the fact that traditional artforms require you to you use natural drawing coordination. 
  • It reinforces & preserves coordination that is used for traditional arts like drawing & painting. 

This doesn’t graphics tablets don’t have their place in the digital art world. 

If you’re a beginner or someone who doesn’t want to invest over $100 for a drawing tablet, a graphics tablet is most likely the best fit for you. 

If you’re curious about graphics tablets, I wrote a post detailing a wide range of graphics tablets under $100 here.

Zero Parallax 

Just in case you’re new to the word parallax, here’s a quick definition & visual example of parallax. 

Parallax: the effect whereby the position of the pen tip on your screen appears to differ from the line being drawn on the display.

Your display is the image underneath the screen of your tablet. Typically thicker the distance from the surface of the screen to display the more parallax you’ll experience. 

Parallax

Line not matching up w/ tip of the stylus.

Zero Parallax

Line matching up w/ tip of the stylus.

The 3rd gen iPad Pro has achieved zero parallax due to the distance of its new laminated display being so small it’s practically invisible to the human eye. 

Zero parallax allows artists to accurate lines as if they were using an actual pencil.

Increased accuracy improves the overall drawing experience & makes crating quality work easier. 

Best Touch Screen & Palm Rejection 

One of my favorite features of the 3rd Gen iPad Pro is the touch screen. I’ve used a lot of high-quality screen tablets, for example, the Cintiq Pro, & no one makes a better touch screen than Apple.

Apple has been working w/ touch screens since 2007 when they released their first iPhone.

According to Wikipedia Apple has released 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. 

The video below is me using my Cintiq Pro (01-11 second mark). The Cintiq Pro is regarded as one of the best screen tablets available. Yet the touch screen is noticeably laggy.

To be fair my computer is fairly old & the Cintiq Pro mirrors your computer so I’m sure a newer computer wouldn’t be as bad. But it’s still a pretty poor performance. 

Let’s compare the Cintiq Pro’s touch screen with my iPad Pro’s touch screen.

The difference in touch screen responsiveness is literally night & day. The iPad Pro’s touch screen is far superior to the Cintiq Pro. Keep in mind the iPad Pro above is about 2/3 the price of the Cintiq Pro used in the video demonstration. 

So why are responsive touch screens so important for drawing? They’re important because a tablet’s touch screen is used for multiple touch gestures when drawing. Some of these touch gestures are zooming, navigating, undo & redo.

For those of you unfamiliar w/ touch gestures, they are actions you make w/ your fingertips that perform a different task.

For example, the app Procreate allows you to use the undo touch gesture. This allows you to undo the last mistake you made by tapping your screen w/ two fingers. 

I provided a couple different visual examples of touch gestures below to further illustrate how useful they can be. 

An inaccurate touch screen will have laggy responsiveness. This will extend & disrupt your workflow.  

Palm rejection is another thing Apple did well w/ their iPad Pro series. Palm rejection essentially allows your computer screen to differentiate between your fingertips & palm.

Artists usually rest heir palm on the screen while they draw.

If your tablet didn’t have palm rejection it would confuse your palm for fingertips & perform touch gestures while you are drawing. The 

Which ruins the entire process by decreasing accuracy & the control you have of your display. 

In my opinion non of the big drawing, tablet companies have achieved palm rejection to the level Apple has.

In fact some companies have included touch buttons with their tablets because the palm rejection is so bad. A touch button allows you to turn the touch feature on & off. 

Liquid Retina Screen Allows For High Pixel Density

The iPad Pro comes w/ Apple’s new liquid Retina Display. It’s their most advanced LCD screen, & allows for high pixel density. 

Pixel density refers to the number of pixels on the display. The more pixels the higher the quality of the image you see on your display.

High pixel density also allows you to maintain quality when zooming in on an image. Conversely, low pixel density will cause images to become pixelated when you zoom into them. 

Below is an illustrated example of how high pixel density correlates with high image quality. 

Great Drawing Apps W/ Smooth User Experience

Another great feature of the iPad Pro is the wide selection of drawing apps they offer. The stand out art app would be Procreate which in many situations is as good as photoshop. & instead of being billed monthly like adobe programs do, most drawing apps are often a one-time purchase or free. 

Plus every app for the iPad Pro is designed specifically for IOS devices allowing them to have an optimal user experience.

Why is the user experience important? Because the easier it is to use & grow comfortable w/ a drawing program, the easier it is to create your best work with one. 

I provided two videos below to compare the user experience of drawing in Photoshop on Wacom’s Cintiq Pro & the Procreate App on the iPad Pro. 

You’ll notice when drawing on the Cintiq Pro the layers & tool icons are very small. This made it difficult to navigate photoshop w/ my fingertips accurately. 

The User experience overall felt overwhelming. Below is an example of me drawing in Photoshop on my Cintiq Pro. 

 

I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to navigate drawing programs on the Cintiq Pro, it’s just far more difficult than it should be.

Conversely, every drawing app on the iPad Pro is smooth, easy to navigate & well organized for that device. See the video below for example of my navigating the Procreate app on my iPad Pro. 

The best example of good UE is the layer page. Notice how it isn’t visible until I click the layer icon opening up all my layers in a slightly transparent menu. 

Each layer in Procreate is about 1/2″ in height making them easy to access via touch. 

I also find that it’s really easy to learn & get used to using Procreate. which makes it my preferred drawing program. 

Apple’s Tru-Tone & Great Color & brightness

True Tone

Devices featuring True Tone technology feature sensors that measure the ambient light colour and brightness. The device then uses this information to automatically adjust its display, so it can correct white point and illumination based on your environmental lighting in order to render the right kinds of white under any conditions. This technology isn’t new as some desktop monitors have been offering it for a long time.

The thing to remember is that the human optical system is constantly comparing near-white to perfectly white, and that a “better” white can affect our perceived contrast of whatever we’re looking at, meaning an adjusted white point should be more comfortable on our eyes. It also means that devices with True Tone should be more readable in direct sunlight, thus improving their usability ever so subtly.

There’s another important element here for creatives though, and that’s ensuring that the colors displayed remain consistent and accurate. In terms of the MacBooks with True Tone, the technology makes for a natural viewing experience that’s not skewed by ambient light.

Color & Brightness

The 3rd iPad Pro’s brightness is the best of any screen tablet I’ve used. Even eclipsing my Cintiq Pro, which is highly regarded as the best screen drawing tablet out right now. 

I would say the color is also better than the Cintiq Pro. When comparing the color on my iMac screen to both the iPad Pro & the Cintiq Pro the iPad colors seem less dull. The difference is subtle but still noticeable. 

The 2nd gen Apple Pencil

Now admittedly this isn’t the best stylist out, in fact Wacoms Pro Pen 2 currently owns that title, but it provides a great user experience & is a massive improvement from the first-gen Apple Pencil. Here are some of the new editions to the Gen 2 Apple Pencil

  1. Magnetic pairing, so you no longer have to manually connect your apple pencil via Bluetooth
  2. Magnetic charging allows you to charge the Apple Pencil when attached to the iPad Pro. 
  3. Shortcut feature, allowing you to change drawing tools when you double tap the lower section of the pencil.
  4. Lower latency. 

Portability 

The 3rd iPad Pro is incredibly portable because of its size, battery life, charge time, & the fact that you don’t need an internet connection to use drawing apps or transfer files. 

Size & Weight

Having a drawing tablet that easily fits into your bag is key if you want to create art on the go. Apple has made its 3rd gen iPad Pro even smaller than previous models without shrinking screen size. For example, the 12.9″ model has the same size screen as previous models but takes up less overall space.  

The photo above shows how the second-gen 12.9 iPad Pro (white) has the same screen size as the 3rd gen iPad Pro (black). But you can see a massive difference in the overall surface area. 

The old iPad Pro was very portable fitting into most medium-sized bags, making the 3rd gen smaller just increases this portability. 

The weight of both the 11″ & 12.9″ 3rd gen iPad Pros are barely over a pound, making travel with them easy. 

Battery Life 

Drawing on the go is a great way to get work done without being stuck in the house all day, but if your device doesn’t have a good battery life you won’t be able to get the most out of your device. & no one wants to carry around a dead tablet. 

The iPad Pros battery life is about 10-11 hours depending on the app you use, making it top tier compared to the computer drawing tablets available now. I provided a chart displaying the battery life of the best computer drawing tablets on the market to further illustrate this point. 

The models on the chart above are all the current iPads, Wacom Mobile Studio, & The Surface Pro. 

Charge Time

If you want to make the best of portabilty you’re going to want to limit the amount of time you charge your device. Because charging means you have to be stationary while your device is connected to an outlet. 

With Apple’s new fast charge the iPad Pro’s typical 4-6 hour charge has been reduced to 2-2.6 hours. Because of fast charge the 3rd gen iPad Pro has the fastest charge time of any computer drawing tablet available. 

I provided a chart below to illustrate the charge time of popular computer drawing tablets. 

Drawing Apps & Transferring Files Don’t Require Internet Connection 

Drawing apps like Procreate, Sketchbook, Art Set can all be used without access to wifi or cellular data. So you can draw anywhere you want without worrying about wifi connection. 

& If you have an iPhone you can transfer files saved in your iPad to your phone via Airdrop using Bluetooth, which doesn’t require wifi or cellular data. Quick disclaimer using airdrop only works with Apple products so if your phone is an android you won’t be able to take advantage of this. 

So why is this a good thing for an artist? It’s a good thing because it allows you to share your work via social media email or text without worrying about your iPad having service. 

 This also allows you to send photographs taken on your iPhone to your iPad then use them as a reference via split-screen when drawing. 

The photo above is a split-screen of my iPad Pro. On the left is a reference photo taken w/ my iPhone, & the right is a drawing in the Procreate app based off the reference photo. 

Find my iPad

Admiralty this feature isn’t going to help your art much.

But I did feel it was necessary to include considering most artists will take advantage of the iPad Pro’s Portability. 

It’s easy to set up & can really come in hand if you ever do lose your iPad Pro!

ProMotion Removes Latency

 To understand why Apple’s ProMotion is important you have to understand what latency is. So here’s a quick definition

Latency: A delay in the animation on your display. In regard to drawing it’s a slight delay in the animation of a line or brushstroke when drawing. 

I also provided a video of me drawing lines on the iPad 7th Gen which does not have Apple’s ProMotion. Because of this the animation of the lines have a slight delay due to latency.

It’s subtle so I had to slow the video down a bit to make it more visible. 

The iPad Pro does not have this latency issue because it has ProMotion. ProMotion smoothes animation which makes drawing w/ the Apple Pencil more responsive & less laggy. 

2. iPad Pro Drawing Cons

Price

The iPad Pro is an expensive tablet, to be fair its one of the more affordable Computer Drawing Tablets considering Wacom’s Mobile Studio is around $3,000.

That said $700-1400 is a lot. & although I think its reasonably priced, I understand it’s not going to fit everyone’s budget. 

That said there are a lot of affordable alternatives to the 3rd Gen iPad Pro. If you’re interested in learning more about where to find them on sale I cover that here. 

Pen Pressure

The Apple Pencil has good pen pressure but it isn’t great.  After using Wacom’s Pro Pen 2 it’s hard not to notice the difference. In fact, Apple doesn’t even advertise the exact pressure level of either Apple Pencil. Which to me is weird considering they do advertise that it does have pressure sensitivity. But maybe I’m reading too deeply into this. 

My best guess is the Apple Pencil has around 4,096. You don’t need 8,192 pressure levels but considering I’m purchasing the Apple Pencil seperaly it would be nice if it wore a more premium stylus. 

Accessories 

One of the most frustrating things about own the iPad Pro is having to buy necessary accessories separately after paying so much for the iPad Pro. Artists will most likely have to buy a stand, case & Apple Pencil separate.

I understand why Apple does it this way, I just wish they had some sort of bundle deal for artists because it’s annoying spending so much after you’ve already purchased a $700-$1400 device. 

No EMR charging 

Before I detail why this is a bad thing, it’s important that I explain what EMR is. 

EMR charging is wireless charging that is used with Wacom drawing tablets. It stands for Elector Magnetic Resonance. It allows your stylus to work without needing to be charged. It uses the EMR from the tablet for a power source rather than having its own

Now I love that Apple’s 2nd gen Apple Pencil charges magnetically but it’s still not as good as a stylus that charges wirelessly while you use it.

& considering  Wacom has had this technology for years it just makes the Apple Pencils charging technique feel antiquated.

To be fair Wacom does own the patent on battery-free stylus tech, & I understand it’s probably not fair to expect Apple to solve there way around this. 

But this does make the Apple Pencil feel a little overpriced considering its using tech that kind of behind the times. 

Screen

Although the iPad Pro’s screen is the best touch screen I’ve ever used nothing is perfect. 

There are 3 major issues most artists have w/ the iPad Pro’s screen, I don’t particularly mind these common issues but a lot of artists do so here they are.

The 3 main issues are the smooth glass texture, glare, & hand oil build-up when drawing. 

Smooth Glass Textured Screen

The glass screen provides zero friction when drawing. It feels like your drawing on glass.

& if you’re new to drawing one a glass screen tablet it will take some time to get used to it. 

The 2nd Gen Apple Pencil does have a matte finish which provides more friction than the previous model’s glossy finish did.

But you will still use more grip strength then you’d use w/ most Wacom drawing tablets.

So why is friction so important when drawing on a tablet? Because the absence of friction on your screen makes it easier for the tip of your stylus to slide uncontrollably. The more friction the fewer strength you use to control your stylus. 

I have pretty big hands so this doesn’t bother me at all, but I know a lot of artists prefer a textured surface over a glass one.

& the small sample size of people who’ve used my iPad for an hour or more all say they experience hand fatigue. Nothing intense but enough to be aware of it. 

You can remedy this by buying a textured screen protector. My number one recommendation would be paper-like on Amazon. 

Glare

Another small issue that can be resolved in one of two ways. But before we discuss the solutions, let’s dive into why glare is an issue. 

Glare can distort your perception of what’s on your screen. & although moving your head or tablet slightly can get rid of it it’s still an annoyance. 

The Paper-like screen protector is matte. 

Hand Oils

After using your iPad for an extended period of time the oils from your hand will build up creating a barrier between your stylus & the screen. This can cause broken lines & your tablet’s screen to become unresponsive to touch from time to time. 

I personally hate broken lines so I wipe my iPad Pro’s screen down from time to time w/ a clothe. I could also use a matte screen protector but I prefer not too. 

 

Myths

There are two popular myths that greatly discourage artists from purchasing the iPad Pro. 

They were either once true or based on one’s incomplete knowledge of Apple’s App Store. Let’s start with the first.

No Full Featured Apps

Yes, it is true the App Store does not currently have a version of photoshop or illustrator with all the features of their desktop counterparts.

But it honestly doesn’t need to because Procreate, Affinity Designer, & Affinity Photo are three apps that recreate the feel & features of both photoshop illustrators.

Are they perfect replacements? No, but they’re pretty damn close. 

You can use anyone one of those apps to create a professional work of art, illustration or graphic design, without slowing down your usual workflow. 

Does Not Offer CMYK

Before I debunk this myth, I would like to explain the importance of CMYK to any artists who might be unfamiliar. 

CMYK is short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. These colors are used as a base for printing colored images. CMYK is a color format that is slightly different from the format used on computer screens & tablets.

Your computer screen uses an RGB color.

& to make things simple RGB is typically more vibrant than CMYK. If you want to print business cards, prints, or stickers, there is a big chance you will need a file that is converted into CMYK.

The easiest way to do this is to use photoshop on a desktop. Because you cannot convert RGB images into CMYK images in photoshop on your iPad most people believe it’s impossible. It is not

To convert images to CMYK you can use Affinity Photo. 

Non-Pro iPads You Can Draw On

The iPads on the chart bellow all have compatibilty with the Apple Pencil, unfortunatly 

Model Price Stylus Stand/Case/Legs
iPad 6th gen
$280-$380
$99.00 (Apple Pencil 1st Gen)
$20-$120
iPad 7th gen
$329-$429
$99.00 (Apple Pencil 1st Gen)
$20-$120
iPad Mini 5th gen
$399-$549
$99.00 (Apple Pencil 1st Gen)
$20-$120
iPad Air 3rd gen
$499-$649
$99.00 (Apple Pencil 1st Gen)
$20-$120

If you’d like to learn more about the iPads above check out this post where I review them & provide links to the best prices online.

What iPad is best for digital art?

The best iPad for digital art is the 3rd Gen iPad Pro.

Difference Between iPad And iPad Pro?

The iPad Pro has a

  • Laminated display that removes the parallax issues of Non-Pro models. 
  • ProMotion removes the latency of Non-Pro models.
  • Apple Fast Charge charges the iPad Pro to %100 battery in 2-2.6 hours.
  • Apple Pencil Compatibility. 

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