With the iPad’s ever-increasing processing performance, many people use it as a laptop replacement and all-in-one computer. It’s not only for word processing.  The iPad is also built to withstand the rigors of full-scale photoshop and many other apps. You don’t need a workstation anymore. You can work wherever inspiration strikes.

For graphic designers, this is excellent news! You’ve been waiting for this day – when the software and hardware are both powerful enough for you. 

Now, you can truly flesh out your designs without needing to be sitting in your office. 

The best iPad Graphic Design Apps are also available on iPhone and desktop. As an artist, you can jot down your initial ideas right on your phone, capturing the colors or shapes that inspire you.

Then, you can pick up your iPad and continue to flesh out your thoughts with a little bit more screen real estate and processing power.

Later, back at the office or at home, you can fine-tune your artwork and get it ready to share. Graphic designers are always going back and forth with their clients.

With the iPad and these professional graphic design apps, you can bring your work right to your clients, get feedback and make the edits right then and there.

The iPad has never been more potent before now for graphic designers or illustrators just entering the industry.

You’re here to discover the best graphic design apps available today for iPad. Maybe you’re just getting started with an iPad, and you need to work your way up to a pure iPad workflow. 

Or, suppose you’re an advanced user, and you’re looking for the best Illustrator alternatives.

Let’s dive in and find out the best apps for iPad for graphic designers today.

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer has long been one of the primary apps for severe graphic designers on iPad. It includes powerful vector editing tools straight from its companion desktop application, and it also allows users to work with a suite of drawing and painting tools.

Paired with the Apple pencil, Affinity Designer is a workhorse application, perfect for sketching out your next big ideas.

With its layers, functionality, and blending, there are many crossovers with Photoshop or more advanced applications.

Designer shines committed to iPad, Apple Pencil, and offering a smooth and enjoyable experience, whether you’re a finger painter or prefer a stylus.

Affinity Designer is $19.99 on the App Store.

Vectornator

Vectornator is one of our top picks for the value proposition it creates. Compared to other apps, it wins merely on the fact that it’s completely free. It’s also built from the ground up to work on iPad and macOS.

Both versions function nearly identically, with no sacrificing of features when moving over to the iPad version.

Vectornator is an advanced vector editor, similar to Adobe Illustrator. Vectornator is designed to create vector objects from just a concept, such as UI or UX designs, wireframes or prototypes, and even custom typography.

It also appeals to novice users with its extensive library of templates, icons, and starter objects. With these, users can create a beautiful piece of art, graphic design, or app prototyping just using drag and drop. 

Of course, it’s fully compatible with the Apple Pencil and also leverages extensive use of gestures in-app to simplify and accelerate your workflows. Vectornator is made to play with others- with leading support for external formats, including AI and SVG.

Get Vectornator from the App Store or Free, no in-app purchases- actually free.

Adobe Photoshop

Once reserved only for high-performance PC users, Adobe Photoshop’s full version now runs on iPad. Photoshop is a proper powerhouse application meant for photographers and digital artists. 

It can be great for graphic designers because it gives such a wide range of capabilities, including usage of filters, editing raw imagery, and a plethora of digital painting and drawing tools.

Photoshop for iPad includes every tool that desktop Photoshop has in 2021. Plus, it’s fully compatible with the Apple Pencil and uses extensive multi-touch gestures support to accelerate your workflows.

When you’re done with your on-the-go sketching, you can save and synchronize your Photoshop documents directly with your workstation computer. If you use Photoshop daily, Photoshop for iPad is a no-brainer.

Photoshop for iPad is available on the Apple store with a Creative Cloud Photography plan subscription starting at $9.99/mo.

Assembly

While Vectornator and Adobe Illustrator are great at creating brand new vector graphics from scratch, Assembly is great for the novice designer who wants to make their artwork from pre-built shapes and forms.

Assembly includes a large variety of beautiful shapes and forms that are easily searchable and categorized. All you have to do is drag them onto your canvas and create beautiful vector artwork. 

Assembly is extraordinary for creating infographics, UX framework or prototyping, and creating vector illustrations for web or mobile applications.

If you want to start with graphic design, but you don’t have time to learn the pen tool, Assembly is for you.

Assembly is available on the App Store for a free download with an upgrade available to the pro subscription for $4.99 per month.

Graphic by Picta

Graphic, initially introduced by Autodesk in 2015, is a fully-featured vector drawing and illustrating app designed just for iPad.

It’s great to make custom vector illustrations, concept designs, and even forms and tools for architectural layouts.

It’s also a cross-platform application, allowing you to save and continue working on your Mac or iPhone. Whether you need to make a custom infographic or create a new logo for your company, Graphic has built-in tools to make it easy. 

If you need to create a prototype interface for a new app, Graphic has rich instructional tutorials to get you up to speed quickly. 

Whatever your interest in graphic design, Graphic for iPad is there to teach you everything you need to know.

Graphic is available on the iPad app store for just $2.99.

Paper by Wetransfer

Paper is loved by many for its attempt to feel like a paper notebook on the iPad. 

Although it doesn’t include as many features as most of these vector editing apps, the pen, pencil, and marker tools available in paper feel like the most polished graphic design tools available on iPad.

With very little technical skill and merely a vision for the artwork you want to create, Paper by Wetransfer can unlock your imagination and create something beautiful on the page.

It’s excellent to make infographics, presentation slides, custom artwork and even allows you to import other graphics or images for editing.

For typography or calligraphy, Paper makes most written handwriting look beautiful, making it an ideal option for creating digital handwritten notes.

You’ll need to get a subscription to unlock most of the features for Paper by Wetransfer, but once you do, it’s as close to having a digital sketchbook as we have seen anywhere on iPad. 

If you have an Apple Pencil, Paper should be a mandatory install for you if you desire to use your iPad for sketching at all in the future.

Procreate

Procreate is another great creativity app designed to meet the sweet spot between professional creative designers and novices just trying to learn the art.

Procreate includes hundreds of custom brushes, which allow you to make truly unique artwork. It’s highly recommended to use the Apple Pencil combined with this app, which is fully optimized and provides a smooth and natural experience.

With Procreate, you can get lost in your art because of the minimal fullscreen interface. With all of the tools at your fingertips, or focusing on just one, Procreate gives you everything you need as a professional artist or beginner.

Even before the iPad Pro Series, Procreate was smooth and natural to work with, and with the new iPad Pro, Procreate is strikingly close to a pen and paper experience. Procreate is available on the Apple App Store for $9.99

As you can see, many of the apps on this list are hybrid apps. Their features fall somewhere between graphic designers and illustrators. 

Graphic design can sometimes mean vector graphics, meant for blogging, or meant for landing pages on a website. 

In other cases, graphic designers may use the same apps to adjust typefaces, creating custom fonts, or integrating text in a novel way into their art.

Commercial artwork often works unusually compared to artists’ workflows that many people are familiar with as a hobby. 

Professional artists need specific tools to continue their workflows quickly, get concepts to their clients, and capture inspiration when it strikes.

It’s essential to have these graphic design apps with you wherever you go: to capture inspiration and share it. With an iPad in 2021, it’s almost like you have a physical sketch pad with you wherever you are (one that can instantly share its content with anyone you like.

Whether you’re a digital artist or a graphic designer, or you’re just trying to find a way to practice more often, the iPad is a compelling way to get your ideas in to do a digital form and share with the world.

Don’t forget to use sharing sites like Dribbble, Behance, or Instagram to see what other artists are doing and share your artwork.

Start with just one or with many of the tools above, and you’ll be off to a great start towards creating new artwork.

Meanwhile, graphic design communities on the web will be waiting to see what you make and see what your imagination and your tools produce.