What’s the best iPad stylus for drawing?
Wacom Bamboo Styluses for iPad
Looking for the best iPad stylus for drawing? (Most of these work on Android tablets as well). Many artists enjoy drawing and painting on their iPads. An accurate iPad stylus is great for note-taking as well. An iPad is a valuable digital sketchbook, and styluses and art apps have made fast progress in expanding the iPad’s art capabilities. While tablet PCs, Cintiqs and similar art tablets are still the usual choice for professional artists, and you can now do sophisticated art on the iPad.
Yes, you can get pressure sensitivity
Some iPad styluses use Bluetooth to get 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, as much as any art tablet does. These styluses only achieve the pressure sensitivity in that are designed to provide it. There are art apps for Android that get pressure sensitivity as well.
Here’s a handy comparison chart that will help you shop for the best iPad stylus for drawing.
|Stylus||Features||Our Rating/Check price on Amazon|
|Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint||Bluetooth; 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity; |
shortcut buttons; diskless, precision tip;
connects to Adobe Creative Cloud; works with many apps
|Pencil 53||palm rejection; eraser; blends; best with Paper app; wood or metal; rechargeable; magnet snaps to Apple Smartpad case; Bluetooth; surface pressure (change marks according to how you hold the tip). For writing, try Noteshelf app||4/5|
|Sensu Artist Brush and Stylus||Brush and stylus. Achieve a painterly style. Best with the Procreate app.||4/5|
|Adonit Jot Pro Fine Point Stylus||fine point; magnetic cling; rubber grip; |
metal tip with circular plastic disk; sound dampener
|Wacom Bamboo Stylus for iPad/Tablet||Solid build; thin, rubber tip. Replacement tips available. |
Has Bamboo app
|AluPen by Just Mobile||Solid aluminum; soft rubber tip; chunky; good for drawing and for older kids.||4/5|
|DotPen Active Stylus||Aluminum barrel with hard, fine-point plastic nib; rubber grip; glides smoothly; replacement tips available; takes AAA battery (included). No palm rejection.||4.5|
Although Steve Jobs famously said, “If there’s a stylus, they blew it,” plenty of people choose to use them with their iPads. In 2011, Apple filed for a patent for an active stylus. UPDATE: We now of course have the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. The Apple Pencil is made only for the iPad Pro. Lots of people are still using regular iPads, and the styluses below will work on any iPad.
Write and draw on Android as well
If you can draw and write using a stylus on the iPad, you can use it on other capacitive touchscreens too, such as the iPhone, nearly any smartphone, computer touchscreens, Android tablets, and Kindle Fire. The best Android styluses for drawing are pretty much the same list, but those that works with apps are OS-specific.
Pencil by Fifty-Three only gets pressure via the iPad Paper app, so won’t work with Android, but you can use it without pressure. However, Microsoft worked with Fifty-three to create a Windows Paper app, so you can use it with Windows.
Adonit and DotPen have apps for iOS and Android.
What to look for in a stylus:
Pressure sensitivity. This feature is only possible via Bluetooth with specific apps, and only some iPad styluses offer it. It means you can vary the width of the line, just as if you were drawing with a real pencil, pen, or brush. The sensitivity should work as a smooth curve, not suddenly changing line width.
Apps are what make variations in pressure possible on an iPad or iPhone. Otherwise you will get a same-width line. Most artists prefer a varied line, but it depends on your own art style. Examples of iPad styluses with pressure sensitivity are the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint and Pencil by FiftyThree.
Palm rejection. The things to look for in choosing the best stylus for iPad for drawing are accuracy, responsiveness, ease of use, and reliability. You also want palm rejection. Without palm rejection, the iPad cannot distinguish between your hand and the stylus, since you can finger paint on the IPad.
If your stylus doesn’t have palm rejection, you have to do a Michael Jackson move and wear a glove with cut-off fingers on one hand. And even with that, it may not be enough. The best is not to touch the screen at all with your hand. Still, some of the most popular IPad styluses for drawing do not feature palm rejection. Artists are a resourceful lot and work around this problem.
Pencil by FiftyThree, Walnut
Rechargeable. Also desirable is having a rechargeable stylus. While some of the best styluses for iPad lack rechargeable batteries, this becomes an added expense, and creates waste, not to mention your stylus may suddenly stop working when you’ve forgotten to tote an extra battery. But, some of the best iPad styluses for drawing use nonrechargeable batteries. You can always buy a separate rechargeable battery and a battery charger.
Nibs that last a long time or do not cost a lot to replace. Some tips or nibs wear out quickly with use, so you should check into ease and cost of replacement before choosing your iPad stylus.
Compatibility with your favorite apps. The quality of compatibility of styluses with apps can vary quite a bit, so try out different apps with different styluses. You can’t pick the best iPad stylus for drawing without taking what apps you want to use into consideration.
Other things you may want to consider:
Noise. Some styluses make a clack-clack sound. Are you noise-sensitive? Will you be using your stylus in classes and meetings, to take notes or sketch? The model of the Adonit Jot Pro (without pressure sensitivity) has a plastic disk on the end that clacks on the screen, but they added a “dampener” to soften the sound.
Traction and glide. Make sure you are happy with the relative slipperiness of your stylus across the iPad glass. A screen protector can add traction with some apps; others, such as Paper, advise against using one. Your drawings can be affected; some people prefer a lot of glide for long lines, others don’t. Some users have mentioned in reviews that though they thought they were getting the best iPad stylus for drawing, but slipperiness was a big enough issue that they ended up returning the stylus.
Looks. Do you get inspired by a sleek, or maybe a funky art implement? While I wouldn’t pick by looks, if all else is equal you might want to make a fashion statement.
Comfort. Very important, especially if you draw for hours on end. Does the stylus feel good in your hand? Are there certain angles you need to hold it at to get it to work best? Is it lightweight, or heavy? Is the length of the stylus comfortable to you? What about the thickness?
Grip. Does it have a good grip in your hand, or does it slip?
Writing. Everyone has to write sometimes, and sometimes a stylus that’s good for drawing is also good for writing, but that’s not always the case. It’s often app-dependent. You might have trouble writing in some art apps but do fine writing in note-taking apps.
The best iPad stylus for drawing is not always the best iPad stylus for writing. For writing, you want a fine-tipped stylus such as the Adonit Jot Pro. The Apple Pencil is excellent for notetaking. However, the Sensu paint stylus obviously is not. The Bamboo one is OK but it’s not my favorite for writing due to the tip size being fairly large. That doesn’t affect the line size, but it just feels a little more difficult.
Painting. Some styluses are actually like paintbrushes. While you can do digital painting with any stylus, if you want a painterly look you might want one of these brush styluses in your toolbox. These are not that expensive and you can get beautiful effects with them. The Sensu brush and tablet stylus gives you both a brush and stylus, and we recommend this painting and drawing tool as a good addition in your search for the best iPad stylus for digital artmaking.
If you want to read more, here’s an interesting New York Times article about styluses for the iPad.
With all these options, you can enjoy your Apple technology and be creative as you wish.
Learn about how to pick the right tablet.
End of Best iPad Stylus for drawing
Damn this is a lot to take in. I didn’t even know all of this mattered!!
I never realised stylusses need batteries. The pressure sensitivity is nice I guess but I don’t need it.
Palm rejection? Magnetic tips? Traction and glide??
All I want is a simple stylus that has a thin tip so I can actually see where I’m drawing instead of using my finger and hoping I got it right. Holy hell.
Please tell me there are much simpler stylusses on the market..
lol it is pretty complicated but that’s because these have specialized features. The iPad is not really made for fine-point styluses, and you will see that many of them have a disc on the end to get the fine point. You might like this Adonit Jot Pro fine point, you don’t need batteries or Bluetooth or anything.
this is a very helpful post!! but as an artist who likes a lot of slip/glide and not a lot of traction, i was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for that kind of stylus? thanks! ;D
Hi, the TruGlide styluses are slippery. There are a lot of different types. That one I linked to allows you to change to a brush tip, or you can get one that’s just the stylus or comes with both stylus and tip. You can also replace the tips, which is nice!
Thank you for the post! It’s very helpful. 😀
Do you have any advice on which Ipad is good for drawing? Since it’s got to be a rather good one to be able to handle bigger resolutions. You don’t want to only draw tiny pictures, right?
Glad you found it helpful. IPads are the same as far as resolution, which is dependent on the art app you’re using. Some art apps, such as AutoDesk Sketchbook Ink, can allow you to create high-resolution art. You might want an iPad with more memory, or else you can store things in the iCloud. I agree that drawing on a larger screen is better, so that means the regular size iPad, such as the iPad Air 2. (That model has retina display, but you do not need to have retina display to use the apps that let you do high res–you could use an older iPad or a mini.) Some styluses allow you to get pressure sensitivity with some apps, you can read my post about those here.