The good news is that all reasonably modern iPads are decent for drawing on and work well with Procreate, as long as they are new enough to support the Apple Pencil and the latest iPadOS.
The most important factors when choosing an iPad for Procreate and other art software are:
- Apple Pencil support is of course most important - for Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, and all the other nice apps out there. Recent models support it.
- Screen size - important for portability and art-working size. This is mostly dictated by the type of iPad you pick.
- Processing power and RAM - the more CPU and Ram power you have, the larger your Procreate canvas can be and the more layers you can use. These are mostly dictated by how new the iPad is.
- SDD GB size - at least 256GB is recommended for general use; if your ipad is a dedicated painting machine and for nothing else, then you can get away with less.
- Weight and dimensions - all iPads are pretty light and portable, even the 12.9” Pro, but obviously there are degrees of portability here.
- And of course, price - everyone has a budget.
With these things in mind, the different lines of iPad each have their strengths and weaknesses in these areas, and even older models have the particular strength of being cheaper than current models—sometimes the extra cost to have a newer model isn’t always worth it.
So, it depends what you’re looking for when you say you want to draw on an iPad.
The best I can do is look at the best option for a few different use cases:
First, the Best iPad for Professional Art
Professional art can definitely be made on an iPad, and if you want to make professional quality work, it’s going to be easier on a more powerful device, with the largest screen you can get.
Undoubtedly, this is going to be the latest, largest iPad Pro model, currently the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2, 2022).
All iPad Pros support the Apple Pencil first and second generation, as well as Procreate and Clip Studio Paint, so don’t worry on that front.
The cheapest version of the current 12.9” iPad Pro is $1099 without Cellular, and $1299 with.
The lowest specs I could personally recommend are 12.9”, Wifi, 256GB with an Apple Pencil 2. That comes to $1328.
If you can afford another $200 for the 512GB it’s probably worth it, as it’ll prevent you having to push files to the cloud and back all the time. I’m not sure the huge costs to jump to 1TB or 2TB are worth it, not when you can use cloud storage instead.
The Best Portable iPad
No surprises here; it’s the Mini.
If you’re looking for a super portable machine to sketch on while you're out and about, without breaking the bank, the Mini is the iPad for you.
Note that you have to either buy the latest 6th generation or a 5th generation Mini for Apple Pencil support.
I actually wish it was a little smaller, as then I‘d use the Cellular version instead of a smartphone and I could always have it on me, but at 8.3” across the Mini is too big to fit comfortably in my pocket. I’d need to carry it in a bag, and if I’m going to do that I’ll just bring a iPad Pro instead.
The Mini’s not really powerful enough to cope with making large, complicated pieces of art, and it has a very small screen, so I wouldn’t try to do professional work on one. It’s a better as a portable secondary device than a primary one.
The cheapest version of the current iPad Mini starts at $499 without Cellular and $649 with, which is a lot lower than most other iPads.
The lowest specs I could personally recommend are Wifi, 64GB with an Apple Pencil 2. That comes to $628.
If you hope to use it as more than just a portable sketching device, you might want the 256GB version bumping the price up to $778.
Since some might be willing to use this as a phone, adding Cellular would cost an extra $150.
The Best Value-for-Money iPad
The iPad Air is an extremely balanced piece of kit for the price. You might be wondering what sets the iPad Air apart from the iPad Pro and the standard iPad.
The Air fills the space between the standard iPad and the iPad Pro, at similar prices to the Mini. Externally it looks a lot like the typical iPad, but has more of the power and functionality of the Pro.
If the Pro is too expensive for you, the standard iPad isn’t powerful enough, and the Mini is too small, the Air is waiting!
The latest version, the iPad Air 5, is compatible with Apple Pencil, and has a screen size of 10.9”.
Prices for the iPad Air range from $599 and up for the Wi-Fi only, and with Cellular from $749.
The lowest specs I would personally recommend are Wifi, 256GB with an Apple Pencil 2. That comes to $749
Best Budget iPad
If your budget is too limited for an iPad Pro or an Air, and you want a larger screen than the 8.3” of the Mini, then I’d recommend getting an older model of the standard iPad.
Apple currently sells the 10th and 9th generations of the standard iPad.
The 10th generation has a screen size of 10.9” and supports the Apple Pencil 2.
Prices for the 10th gen range from $449 for the Wi-Fi version to $599 for the Cellular version.
I would recommend a 64GB Wifi version, with an Apple Pencil (USB-C). That comes to $528. Perhaps splash out on the 256GB for $678.
The iPad 9th generation supports the Apple Pencil 1, not 2, and has a screen size of 10.2”. It’s older tech, but still Procreate runs great on it - you‘ll just be limited more on canvas size/number of layers.
Prices for the 9th gen range from $329 for the Wi-Fi version to $459 for the Cellular version.
Since you’re on a budget, I would recommend going for the 64GB Wifi version, and an Apple Pencil 2. That comes to a total of $428, Much more affordable than everything else on this list.
Do Professional Artists Use iPads?
Yes, many professional artists use iPads in their artistic process, though to what degree varies person to person.
For many, it is only one part of the process, perhaps starting a piece in pencil or finishing the art on a PC, and for others they create their work start to finish on their iPad.
I fall into the second camp; nearly everything I paint nowadays is made start to finish on my iPad. Rarely, if I need to, I’ll take a painting into Photoshop to finalise it.
Can an iPad replace a Drawing Tablet and PC?
Most would say an iPad can only replace a drawing tablet as long as you also have a laptop or PC with Windows for certain tasks.
I disagree though. I think you can replace the laptop/PC too, as long as you have an internet connection and use a cloud computer service like Amazon Workspace.
Most of the time I do absolutely everything on my 12.9” iPad Pro; not just making my art, but all other computer tasks like running this site as well. And this is coming from someone who’d always had a PC and had never owned an Apple device before.
I actually get on absolutely fine without a PC. Anything the iPad can’t handle can usually be done on my Android phone, and if I ever need to do something those two can’t handle, I remotely connect my iPad Pro to a Windows cloud computer via Amazon Workspaces and voila, it’s like I have Windows running on my iPad.
Can I Make My iPad Better for Drawing?
If you mean improving the hardware, there’s not really much you can do.
If your iPad is laggy when you paint, try reducing your canvas size and see if it runs better.
If it’s slowed down since you bought it, you also might try a few of the things listed over here and see if they help reduce lag in your drawing software.
Otherwise, accessories like the Astropad Slate and the Paperlike screen covers can improve your drawing experience. I personally like the way the iPad screen feels without a cover or anything, but many disagree.
What is the Ideal GB for making art on iPad?
I went for a 512GB iPad Pro and I currently have used 106GB for all my apps etc, not including files. I’m pretty liberal with installing apps when I feel like it.
With that in mind I would recommend 128GB storage as the minimum feasible size, though at that size you’ll really have to limit the amount of apps and files you keep on your iPad. 256GB would be more comfortable.
I use Apple’s iCloud storage to overcome the GB limits, paying $9.99 per month for 2TB of cloud storage. It’s pretty good at automatically keeping frequently used files on your iPad, and ones that you don’t use often just up in the cloud.
They also have a 6TB plan for $29.99 and 12TB for $59.99.
Is Procreate Exclusive to iPad?
Yes, Procreate is designed exclusively for Apple iPads.
Are Procreate and CSP supported on my iPad?
The current versions of Procreate and CSP are both supported on the following iPad models:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation)
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch
- iPad (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th generation)
- iPad mini (4th, 5th and 6th generation)
- iPad Air (2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation)
How to find out your iPad Generation
Check the back of your iPad for the model number starting with 'A' e.g. A2229
If you google that model number, the full details of your iPad including the generation and year of release should come up right at the top.
You can also visit the Apple support website to identify the model, or this page on Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_iPad_models, and find your model number with ctrl+f.
Hey, I’m Christopher
I started making digital art in 2009, became a full-time freelance artist in 2016, and now I’m able to work on my own schedule from anywhere in the world.
I created this blog to help other artists make the same journey.