30+ Back to School Resources for Digital Creatives

30+ Back to School Resources for Digital Creatives

With a new school year comes a lot of goal setting and refocusing, but what does this mean if you’re a digital creative?

With an overwhelming amount of resources to choose from, it can be a lot to sort through.

That's why we've put together the ultimate list of resources specifically for digital artists, photographers, and designers.  The tools, apps, and guides on this list are here to help you create your best work.

Let's jump in!


01. Hardware

These accessories will make using and creating on the iPad comfortable and stylish. To see our full list of recommendations for digital artists, check out our buying guide.

#caption#Image: Paperlike

#alt#An image of the Screen Protector by Paperlike and the words "Draw and write like on paper."

Paperlike by Paperlike

  • Price: $39.99.
  • What is it? A screen protector for iPad that helps you write and draw like you would on real paper.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who prefer using digital tech over traditional pencil and paper.
Why you’ll love it

The Paperlike allows you to get the most out of your iPad as a digital creative.

The slick, glass screen of the iPad can make it difficult to create confident strokes as you draw.  The Paperlike adds friction and resistance, making writing and drawing feel more natural.

Plus, you can take your iPad anywhere and not have to worry about screen glare, so your outdoor creative sessions will be even better.

Get your Paperlike here.

Paperlike also offers a set of pencil grips for the Apple Pencil and a cleaning kit for your digital screens.

You can buy all accessories individually or get them at a discount by picking up the Paperlike Pro Bundle.

#caption#Image: Paperlike

#alt#Image of an iPad in the Paperlike Folio case.

Paperlike’s Folio Case

  • Price: $69.99.
  • What is it? A folio case that protects your iPad, holds your Apple Pencil, and doubles as a stand with two tilt positions.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to protect their iPad and use it as a secondary screen.
Why you’ll love it

It's no secret that an iPad is a big investment. And with its variety of uses, you should protect it as much as possible. 

That's why we created the Paperlike Folio Case. It has a stylish fabric exterior while still being sturdy enough to protect your iPad. The interior is a soft microfiber lining that keeps dirt and scratches off your device.

When you're creating, you have the option to fold back the cover to prop your device at two angles for a more comfortable viewing experience. This makes watching tutorials or shows on your iPad simple and hands-free.

The oversized magnetic flap on the case also doubles as a way to secure your Apple Pencil to your iPad without covering any charging ports or cameras.

Check out Paperlike’s Folio Case today.

#caption#Image: Sketchboard Pro

#alt#Image of an iPad in the Sketchboard Pro with a picture of a cartoon pig painting on the screen.

Sketchboard Pro for iPad

  • Price: $129.
  • What is it? A drawing board that allows you to use your iPad at a more natural and comfortable angle.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want a more posture-friendly or traditional setup while drawing on the iPad.
Why you’ll love it

After a long day of classes, the last thing you want to have to do is slump over and use your iPad.

The Sketchboard Pro was designed specifically with iPad artists in mind. It has two fold-out legs to prop your iPad at the perfect angle while drawing.

While your iPad is in the Sketchboard Pro, it's completely flat (flush with the edges of the board) and can charge at the same time. Plus, you get the added flexibility of working in portrait or landscape mode.

If you're creating on your iPad a lot, Sketchboard Pro can save your shoulders and back a lot of pain down the line.

Check out the Sketchboard Pro.

#caption#Image: FancyCase A06 / tomtoc

#alt#Image of the tomtoc Fancy Case with an iPad and accessories stored inside.

tomtoc Fancy Case

  • Price: From $31.99.
  • What is it? A sleek and sturdy sleeve to store your iPad and other accessories.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to be able to carry and protect their iPad while also keeping their other tools close.
Why you’ll love it

While you may already carry a bag for school, not all bags are made to safely carry your electronic devices. 

The tomtoc Fancy Case is great for creatives on the go who want a stylish and sleek way of carrying their iPad with additional room for essential accessories.

The outside of the case is durable enough for daily use, is water resistant, and has a comfortable handle for easy transport while on the go.

You also have the option of choosing between three styles — Lite, Standard, or Plus. Each one offers more space to fit the tools you need the most. They also come in fun and bold designs to help express your personal style. 

See a selection of tomtoc Fancy Cases here.

02. Learning apps

Take your creative classes on the go with these learning apps.

#caption#Image: Skillshare
#alt#Image of the words “Skill Share.”


  • Price: From $13/month.
  • What is it? An online platform with creative classes to help you learn new skills.
  • Who should get it? Artists and creatives who want to add to  their skill set.
Why you’ll love it

Skillshare is a membership-based learning platform with thousands of different classes and courses. Most of these classes are designed specifically for creative individuals, and you’ll find topics covering fine art, video animation, illustration, photography, and much more.

Whether you need to brush up on how to use software like Procreate or the Adobe Suite, or you want to learn new skills like hand lettering or designing digital art, there’s a course for you. With so many topics, you’re sure to find something that’ll help you improve your skillset. Check out our list of recommended courses for digital artists.

Get a Skillshare membership today.


#caption#Image: Domestika
#alt#Collage image of digital art with the word “Domestika” in the center.


  • Price: From $10/class.
  • What is it? An online learning platform with a large community of creative professionals.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to learn new skills online with the ability to connect and interact with teachers, students, and other professionals.
Why you’ll love it

Similar to Skillshare, Domestika also offers online classes for artists and creatives, covering topics such as illustration, 3D & animation, design, photography, calligraphy, and more. You’ll find a few differences between the two platforms, though.

First off, Domestika offers both a subscription to the platform (with free or discounted courses) or class-by-class prices. This is nice if you only need to take one or two classes and don’t want to pay for a full subscription.

The other difference is that Domestika started as an online community for creatives, and each course has its own internal community where you can share ideas, ask questions, and more.

Start learning with a Domestika course.

#caption#Image: School of Motion
#alt#Image of the words “School of Motion” with three multi-colored triangles on a navy background.

School of Motion

  • Price: Free to $400+ per course.
  • What is it? An online learning platform where you can learn about animation and design from industry professionals.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to learn new skills in motion and graphic design programs.
Why you’ll love it

The School of Motion is a flexible way of learning animation and graphic design. You can choose from their courses and workshops to take your learning into your own hands.

These comprehensive courses span multiple weeks, giving you an in-depth experience. You can connect with your fellow classmates and instructor.

Don't have the time to commit to a course? You can check out a number of free tutorials from the School of Motion YouTube Channel.

Start animating your work with School of Motion.

#caption#Image: Udemy

#alt#Image of the Udemy logo.


  • Price: From $14.99.
  • What is it? An online learning platform where you can learn about a number of topics ranging from business to design.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to learn about how to develop and market their creative skills.
Why you’ll love it

If your interests span beyond art and design, this is the learning platform for you. For over a decade, Udemy has been a place for learning about business and technical skills to get you ready for a career.

With a catalog of over 100,000 courses, there are topics ranging from drawing and photography to graphic design. Once you enroll in a course, you can take it at your own pace with on-demand videos. 

You'll also get access to downloadable materials from the course instructor. Udemy will keep your creative skills sharp and inspire a curiosity for business and marketing to prepare you for work outside the classroom.

Enroll in Udemy courses today.

03. Stock images & videos

Need professional assets but don't have the right gear? Use photos and videos from these sites for your next creative project.

#caption#Image: Pexels
#alt#Image of the word “Pexels” next to a green square with a white outline of the letter P in it.


  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A site and app with free stock photos and videos for personal and commercial projects.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who need high-quality photos and videos for their projects.
Why you’ll love it

Have you ever needed a specific image or video for a project but couldn't capture it yourself? Pexels exists to help creatives get the assets they need.

The great thing about Pexels is that you can browse a variety of high-quality photos and videos from fellow creatives and download them for free.

Copyright is very important, and Pexels’ users allow you to use their assets for commercial and personal projects. That means you don't have to worry about using them for school, social media, or future client projects.

Download photos and videos from Pexels.

#caption#Image: Pixabay
#alt#Image of the word “pixabay” and a camera on a black background.


  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A site and app with free high-resolution photos, textures, illustrations, and more.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to browse a wide variety of free assets, from photos to music.
Why you’ll love it

If you ever need a single place to go to for all things creative, Pixabay is it. Not only will you find high-resolution photos and videos, but you'll also find music, vectors, and illustrations.

This is how Pixabay stands out from other stock asset sites and apps.

All you need is to create an account, and you'll have access to assets you can use anywhere.

You might recognize Pixabay as an add-on from inside the Affinity Designer app, but you can use it as a solo app on the iPad for free as well.

Check out the latest images and assets from Pixabay.

#caption#Image: Adobe Stock
#alt#Image of a black square with white letters “St” next to the words “Adobe Stock.”

Adobe Stock

  • Price: Free and Premium.
  • What is it? A site with high-resolution photos, videos, and vectors.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who use Adobe Creative Cloud and want to keep their assets within the cloud.
Why you’ll love it

Adobe is the ultimate source for all things creative. Adobe Stock's impressive search features allow you to get the specific topic, quality, and even angle that you want!

While many of Adobe Stock's assets are free, you'll get expanded access with a premium subscription. You can pay monthly or annually or purchase credits to access a certain number of assets.

Beyond your standard images and videos, you can license mockups of 3D models and templates for Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Once you download assets from Adobe Stock, your license history is saved so you can remember what you've downloaded.

Get quality stock images from Adobe Stock.

#caption#Image: Unsplash

#alt#Image of the Unsplash logo.


  • Price: Free and Premium.
  • What is it? A site with high-resolution backgrounds, images, and wallpapers.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who need high-quality images for a variety of personal and professional projects.
Why you’ll love it

A global community of photographers fuels the creativity behind Unsplash. With millions of photos in their curated library, you have access to images across a number of categories. Their visual search feature makes it easier to find the right photo for your projects.

What makes Unsplash unique is the flexibility to use their images anywhere. Through the Unsplash License, you can use their images for both commercial and non-commercial projects.

There's also the option to upgrade to Unsplash+, their membership platform. It gives access to members-only images, extended license protections, and more. 

Get your next project images from Unsplash.

04. Digital resources

With all the amazing creative apps out there, we can always use some more fun add-ons. Check out these digital resources, including brushes, texture packs, and more!

And, for a limited time, you can get our Paperlike Essentials: Back-to-School Kit, which is full of digital goodies.

#caption#Image: Paperlike
#alt#An image of two floating iPads with Procreate brush samples around them.

Paperlike Brushes

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? Access to multiple brush sets for Procreate.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who use Procreate for digital illustration, animation, and more.
Why you’ll love it

Paperlike has collaborated with some of your favorite artists to create amazing brushes for Procreate.

Into lettering like I am? Then you'll want to try Stefan's 5 Favorite Brushes. It also features samples of Stefan Kunz's popular Letter & Grid Builder brushes to make lettering easier.

To add texture to your drawings, look no further than the Better than the Basics brush pack by Jimbo Bernaus. These 10 brushes use textures and patterns sampled from real life to push your work into another dimension.

These brushes are completely free and are offered as goodies to the Paperlike community.  Grab them right here, and add them to your brush library today!

Download our brushes for Procreate.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Photoshop
#alt#Image of a hand holding an Apple Pencil and drawing on an iPad with the words, “Kyle’s brushes are available to Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Fresco subscribers” in the forefront.

Adobe Brushes by Kyle T. Webster

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? Brushes for use in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Fresco.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
Why you’ll love it

Adobe programs can be a significant investment, but having access to their software isn't without perks.

One of those perks is the Adobe brushes by illustrator Kyle T. Webster. These brushes are free to download and use for Adobe Photoshop and Fresco.

Once you have a subscription, you can access the entire brushes archive AND future brush releases. Every quarter Kyle releases a new seasonal brush pack for you to enjoy.

Check out the archive here and start exploring.

#alt#Image of a cartoon of a demon in a suit standing in front of a giant eyeball with a child on a pink background with the words, “True Grit Texture Supply Sampler.”

True Grit Texture Supply Co.

  • Price: Free to $150.
  • What is it? Access to a variety of digital assets, from brushes to textures, templates, and more.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to explore their creativity with assets for Photoshop, Procreate, and Illustrator.
Why you’ll love it

True to its name, True Grit Texture Supply knows a thing or two about amazing textures.

While texture is their specialty, they also offer a variety of brushes, swatches, and fonts.

Part of what makes True Grit Texture Supply a great resource is its offering of tools and effects for a number of programs for iPad, including Procreate, Affinity Designer, and Illustrator.

While you can shop the site for direct purchases, you can also get a peek at some of these assets for yourself by subscribing to their mailing list.

Explore the assets from True Grit Texture Supply Co.

#caption#Image: Creative Market
#alt#Image of the words "Creative Market" written on a dark grey background.

Creative Market

  • Price: Free or Premium.
  • What is it? An online marketplace with various creative resources from fonts to templates.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to expand their asset library with digital tools made by fellow creatives.
Why you’ll love it

Even with all the fonts, brushes, and assets that our programs come with, sometimes you just want something custom.

Creative Market is a site where you can browse through thousands of resources in popular categories like graphics, templates, and photos. The site has resources for a wide range of programs, from Adobe to Procreate to Affinity, so there's something for everyone.

You don't have to worry about always paying for your assets, either. When you create an account, you get access to a free weekly download.  You can also follow favorite creators and get notifications whenever they update their shop.

Browse the marketplace for your next project.

#caption#Image: Design Cuts
#alt#Image of a small blue circle icon next to the words "DesignCuts" written in black on a white background.

Design Cuts

  • Price: Varied.
  • What is it? An online marketplace with various creative resources and a learning hub of tutorials.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to save money on digital assets and learn from professionals.
Why you’ll love it

Who doesn't love a good deal? Design Cuts makes it possible to bundle digital products, helping you save up to 30%.

That goes a long way — especially on a student budget. In addition to finding digital resources, you can also learn new techniques using the Design Cuts platform.

Have you ever watched a tutorial and wondered what tools, brushes, and effects were used? Design Cuts always links directly to the assets featured in their tutorials in their marketplace, so you can easily recreate the projects.

And don’t worry if you can't catch the lesson live.  You can always watch the replay.

Sign up for Design Cuts to get over 20 free products to start.

05. Design apps

Creativity can be difficult to summon at a moment’s notice. The templates and built-in features of these apps will help you handle the creative heavy lifting.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Express
#alt#Image of a black square with a multicolored, interconnected swirls next to the words “Adobe Express.”

Adobe Express

  • Price: Free or Premium ($9.99/month).
  • What is it? A site and app allowing you to create quick graphics with easy-to-use templates.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to create professional-looking graphics using templates and schedule their social media posts.
Why you’ll love it

Creating professional-looking graphics doesn't have to be difficult. With Adobe Express, you can leverage the power of templated assets to create logos, graphics, animations, and more.

Adobe Express is available for free, making it perfect for non-creatives. There are a number of categories to browse to create your next graphic.

Even if you have access to more powerful tools like Photoshop or Illustrator, Adobe Express can be a comfortable middle ground to help you create clean designs quickly.

The premium features include a GIF converter and access to Adobe Stock photos. You can even easily incorporate animations into assets and text.

Need to schedule your social media posts? You can use their built-in content scheduling tool to create, save, and schedule posts for your favorite platforms.

For early access to the latest features in Adobe Express, you can sign up for the Beta version.

Try Adobe Express today for free.

#caption#Image: Canva
#alt#Image of a teal, blue, and purple ombre square with the cursive word “Canva” in white.


  • Price: Free or Premium ($119/year).
  • What is it? A site and app where you can create beautiful graphics, videos, slide decks, and more.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to create professional-looking graphics and videos using templates.
Why you’ll love it

Canva is responsible for making non-creatives feel like they can create just about anything. But that doesn't mean that, as a creative, you can't take advantage of all that it has to offer as well.

There are several different types of graphics that you can create, from brochures and social media content to video animations.

I enjoy the versatility of Canva and how it really is an all-in-one creative powerhouse, no matter your skill level.  If you need quick and fun designs, don’t underestimate this powerful app.

Start creating in Canva.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Capture
#alt#Image of a black square with the white letters “Ca” in it.

Adobe Capture

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? An app that can convert images into patterns, color palettes, brushes, and more.
  • Who should get it? Creatives using Adobe Creative Cloud who want to use their assets in a variety of ways.
Why you’ll love it

You can think of Adobe Capture as the ultimate creative companion. Just by taking a picture on your phone, you have the ability to create everything from funky patterns to inspired color palettes.

The real power is in the way Adobe Capture supports other Adobe Programs. Once you create a new asset, Adobe Capture will tell you which programs it's compatible with.

This opens a world of possibilities for your creativity. Additionally, you can access your assets in any of your Adobe programs through the Creative Cloud Library.

Start using Adobe Capture with your favorite Adobe programs.

#caption#Image: Shutterstock / PicMonkey
#alt#Image of a cartoon winking monkey over the words “PicMonkey.”

PicMonkey by Shutterstock

  • Price: From $7.99/month.
  • What is it? An app and site where you can create graphics from templates and do photo edits.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to create professional-looking graphics while using templates to save time.
Why you’ll love it

PicMonkey was designed to help you save time when creating the graphics you need. They have templates for popular platforms like Instagram and YouTube, as well as for flyers and presentations.

If you're ever on the go, you can start a project online and finish it on the app on your phone or iPad for added flexibility.

Need to fix that photo you took? With PicMonkey's Photo Editor, you can resize and retouch your images with their built-in tools. With a Pro account, you can instantly remove the backgrounds of your photos.

Check out PicMonkey for quality templates and graphics.

06. File management

One of the worst things that could happen to a digital creative is losing their files. These apps will help you manage all your art files across your devices.

#caption#Image: Apple / Files App
#alt#Image of a blue file folder icon in a rounded white square.

Files App

  • Price: Free (5GB) or Premium (starting at $0.99/month).
  • What is it? An app for storing your files across your Apple devices.
  • Who should get it? iPad users who want to save their files and protect them from data transfer and loss.
Why you’ll love it

I know from personal experience that one of the worst things that can happen to a creative is to lose their files. This is where the Files App comes to the rescue.

The Files App comes on your iPad and is a way to store and organize your files. By default, you get 5GB for free, but if you're planning on backing up significant art files, you're probably going to want to upgrade.

This is especially important if you use programs like Procreate that don't have automatic file backup. I suggest doing routine backups of your important files, especially if you want access to them across other Apple devices you own.

Start storing and organizing your Apple files.

#caption#Image: Playbook
#alt#Image of the word “Playbook” in black on a white background.


  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? An online cloud storage site for managing files.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to store and share files for free.
Why you’ll love it

Playbook is changing the game of online cloud storage. They really differentiate themselves by being a place where you can easily organize and view your files.

In Playbook, you can create Boards, which are your folders for organizing your files. Within them, all of your files can be viewed as thumbnails, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.

You get 100GB of storage to start, and with a professional portfolio, you can apply for 4TB of free storage. That’s not a bad incentive for updating your portfolio site.

Start organizing your files with Playbook.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Creative Cloud
#alt#Image of a white abstract cloud inside a rainbow gradient-colored rounded square.

Creative Cloud App

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? An app that helps you keep track of your Adobe apps, file libraries, fonts, and more.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who use more than one Adobe app and manage a lot of files.
Why you’ll love it

While using Adobe is industry standard, it's no secret that they have a lot of programs. This is where having the Creative Cloud App can help.

You can view all of your files across your apps and even share them with collaborators.

One of the best features of the app is the Learn section, which has several tutorials that you can watch on every Adobe program.

The Fonts section is where you can explore and manage your font collection. With a simple tap to download, your fonts will be available in all of your Adobe programs.

Essentially, this app connects all the other software tools in the Adobe suite.  If you’re using more than one app, don’t forget to take advantage of this powerful (and free) tool.

Get the Creative Cloud app here.

#caption#Image: Dropbox

#alt#Image of the Dropbox logo on a white background.


  • Price: Free or from $9.99/month.
  • What is it? A cloud storage service that lets you store your files, share them, and collaborate with others.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want to access and sync their files across devices.
Why you’ll love it

As a digital artist, it's easy to accumulate a large number of files. And if you're not organized, you won't know where they are. Dropbox offers simple cloud storage that you can access across devices.

With the choice of a personal or business plan, you can get the amount of storage and functionality that fits your needs. Whether you have photos, videos, or design files, you can store them all securely. If you ever need to use them again, you can download them straight from the cloud. 

Have a school project? Dropbox files and folders can also be shared easily with classmates. Need to download your files on the go? You can use the Dropbox app on your iPad to quickly and easily upload and download files from your account.

Sign up for Dropbox today.

07. Photography apps

There are so many different ways to capture moments, but when it comes to editing those moments, you need a solid workflow.

Check out these apps for photo editing.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Photoshop for iPad
#alt#Image of a person holding an iPad running Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop for iPad

  • Price: $9.99/month via Adobe Photography plan.
  • What is it? An app version of the classic desktop program for editing photos and designing with pixel brushes.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who use Adobe Photoshop for desktop and want a mobile workflow.
Why you’ll love it

The desktop version of Photoshop that we all know and love has been reimagined for the iPad.  The interface feels familiar, and you have access to a lot of the classic tools.

You can create composites and retouch your photography with ease. Photo editing in Adobe Photoshop for iPad is a bit more precise because you can use your Apple Pencil to make edits.

With the power of the Creative Cloud, any files you create on the iPad can also be accessed on your desktop program.

To get this app, you have a few options.  The app is available as a single purchase for $20.99/month.  This also gives you access to Adobe Fresco, a popular art and illustration tool, and 100GB of cloud storage.

You can also purchase this app as part of the Adobe Photography plan for $9.99/month, which gives you access to Photoshop and Lightroom for desktop and iPad, but this only offers 20GB of cloud storage. See how it stacks up against Adobe Fresco and Procreate in our comparison article.

Download Photoshop for iPad and enjoy a free trial.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Lightroom for iPad
#alt#Image of an iPad running Adobe Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom for iPad

  • Price: $9.99/month for a single app subscription.
  • What is it? An app version of the classic desktop program for processing and editing photos.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who use Adobe Lightroom for desktop and want a mobile workflow.
Why you’ll love it

Adobe Lightroom for iPad is a program that lets you edit and organize your photo files more efficiently.

A unique advantage of editing your photos in Lightroom is that you can edit raw image files, which means more refined edits.

Don't have an eye for photo editing? You can choose from over 150 professional presets that allow you to apply instant edits to your photos.

Lightroom's best features are in how it sorts and organizes your photo files. Using AI technology, it can identify the objects in your photos, making tagging fast and easy.

Check out Lightroom for iPad.

#caption#Image: Serif / Affinity Photo for iPad
#alt#Image of an iPad running Affinity Designer for iPad.

Affinity Photo for iPad

  • Price: $19.99.
  • What is it? An app version of the desktop program built for photo editing and compositing.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want an affordable alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
Why you’ll love it

Affinity Photo for iPad is Serif's mobile version of the desktop program.

With unlimited layers, you don't have to compromise quality when editing your photos. Enjoy the full suite of familiar tools you know from Photoshop, like the Magic Wand, Lasso, and Pen Tool.

Creating stunning composites is as easy as dragging and dropping high-quality images from the built-in stock image library. You can even edit raw images.

Moving over from Photoshop? You can easily import your Photoshop files and brushes into Affinity Photo. The brushes within the app are also completely customizable and shareable.

Get Affinity Photo for the iPad.

08. Drawing apps

One of the best uses for the iPad for digital creatives is drawing! The apps below will help you with all types of creation, from pixel to vector.

Interested in learning about even more drawing apps? You can find a full list of recommendations in our digital artist buying guide.

#caption#Image: Procreate
#alt#Image of a person drawing on an iPad running Procreate.


  • Price: $12.99.
  • What is it? A pixel-based drawing and painting app for iPad.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want an affordable app to create digital art in a simple interface.
Why you’ll love it

The money we invest into our tools is important, especially with the prevalence of the subscription model. For just $12.99, Procreate offers a world of creativity for people who want to draw on the iPad.

As an artistic tool, you’ll find a lot to love about Procreate.  You can use it for everything from drawing and animation to painting 3D models. With a wide range of brushes to choose from, there are a lot of ways to create.

In many ways, this app is the gold standard when creating art on the iPad.  The single-purchase price, as well as the incredible selection of tools, has empowered many digital creatives over the years.

It’s a great fit — whether you’re on a budget or just looking for a powerful app that you can use to create incredible art.

For more about Procreate, check out our in-depth review here.

Download Procreate on your iPad.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Fresco
#alt#Image of an iPad with a drawing of an astronaut created in Adobe Fresco.

Adobe Fresco

  • Price: Free or from $9.99/year.
  • What is it? A cross-platform compatible pixel and vector drawing and painting app.
  • Who should get it? Creatives using Adobe Creative Cloud who want the option of creating with both pixels and vectors.
Why you’ll love it

While Adobe Fresco is a much newer app in the world of digital art, it's already made a lot of noise. Not only can you create with pixels and vectors, but you'll also find the interface similar to other Adobe programs.

The best part about it is that it works well with companion apps for the iPad like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Any files you create in Fresco can be accessed in Adobe Photoshop, and you can send your files to Adobe Illustrator with the push of a button.

You can also customize your experience in Adobe Fresco with windows that you can move around the screen and fullscreen mode, so you’ll have a lot of versatility when setting up your workspace. To learn more about Adobe Fresco, check out our in-depth review here.

Try Adobe Fresco for free today.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Illustrator for iPad
#alt#Image of an iPad with colorful flat style vector cartoon graphics created in Adobe Illustrator for iPad.

Adobe Illustrator for iPad

  • Price: $20.99/month.
  • What is it? An app version of the classic desktop program for creating vector graphics.
  • Who should get it? Creatives using Adobe Creative Cloud who want the option of a mobile workflow.
Why you’ll love it

Using vectors allows you the flexibility to scale your work without losing quality. Adobe Illustrator has long been the industry standard for vector graphics.

Using the mobile app will feel familiar if you've used the desktop version.

Most of the classic features are there, and drawing points in vector is easier than ever with the help of the Apple Pencil.

Files created in Adobe Illustrator for iPad can also be accessed on your desktop through the Creative Cloud for seamless creating, so you can switch workstations without losing progress.

Check out Adobe Illustrator for iPad.

#caption#Image: Vectornator
#alt#Image of an iPad balancing on an angle with a colorful vector drawing created in Vectornator.


  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A vector-based graphics app for the iPad.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want a free alternative to classic vector apps.
Why you’ll love it

Who said that you have to pay for quality apps? Vectornator shatters that illusion. They've shown us that you can get a premium drawing app experience for free.

Its sleek presentation and intuitive interface make it possible to jump into the program without feeling overwhelmed.

Not a fan of plotting points? Vectornator uses color coding to make sure you always know where your paths start and end. Check out our comparison article for Vectornator, Adobe Illustrator, and Affinity Designer.

Download Vectornator for free.

#caption#Image: Serif / Affinity Designer for iPad
#alt#Image of an iPad running Affinity Designer for iPad with a drawing of a detailed lion.

Affinity Designer for iPad

  • Price: $19.99.
  • What is it? A vector and pixel-based graphics app for the iPad.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want an affordable alternative to Adobe Fresco.
Why you’ll love it

Affinity Designer is similar to Adobe Fresco, but it’s available at a fraction of the price.

This means you have two modes that allow you to create in raster and vector. Unlike other apps, you can achieve an impressive level of texture with vectors in Affinity Designer.

And with over 200 brushes to choose from, you'll never run out of ways to create.

Affinity Designer also features additional add-ons, including icon and stock image libraries, so you’ll have a ton of resources at your fingertips for any creative endeavor.

Try Affinity Designer for iPad for free with a 30-day trial.

#caption#Image: Clip Studio Paint

#alt#Image of a laptop, tablet, and phone running Clip Studio Paint.

Clip Studio Paint

  • Price: Free trial or from $0.99/month.
  • What is it? A drawing app for illustration, comics, and more on Android, iOS, and Chromebook.
  • Who should get it? Creatives who want a high-quality drawing app with broader compatibility and 3D modeling features.
Why you’ll love it

Very few digital art programs offer every feature that you could want. Clip Studio Paint challenges that with its robust capabilities for artists interested in a variety of disciplines.

Loaded with a brush library that can capture any effect that you can imagine, you'll be able to draw with realistic textures. Brushes can even be used to create patterns. The brush engine allows strokes to be blended and manipulated with vector precision for easy editing.

Into character design and animation? Thanks to the Version 2 update, you can use references and 3D models within the program to create dynamic poses and action sequences. With a simple workspace, you can use your timeline to see your animation unfold frame by frame up to 10,000 layers. 

Besides the amazing features that Clip Studio Paint has to offer, it's also compatible with virtually every platform, from iOS to Android, making it more accessible.

Try Clip Studio Paint for free.

09. Coloring apps

Ever get stressed from creating? Try these coloring apps to transform coloring into a form of relaxation. Want to do more coloring? Check out our full list of coloring page recommendations for Procreate.

#caption#Image: Lake Coloring
#alt#Image of a partially colored tiger coloring page from the Lake app.

Lake: Coloring Books & Journal

  • Price: Free or Premium ($9.99/month).
  • What is it? A coloring app featuring drawings created by over 100 artists.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to use coloring as a way to relax and reflect while supporting fellow creatives.
Why you’ll love it

Lake is an app that lets you use coloring to relax and refresh your focus. What makes it unique is its collaboration with artists who get to feature their work inside the app.

The journal is also a nice feature that lets you use your mood as a way of choosing your color palette. This is meant to help you be in tune with your emotions and provide you with a coloring page to fit how you're feeling.

It's also nice to know that while Lake is free, if you do choose to upgrade, part of your subscription fee will go to support the artists who have created work for the app. Enjoy Lake and other digital goodies in our Paperlike Essentials: Back-to-School Kit. 

Download Lake for iOS.

#caption#Image: Happy Color
#alt#Image of a partially colored red and pink rose with color by numbers sections.

Happy Color: Color by Number

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A coloring app featuring color-by-number pages.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to relax and create beautiful art without worrying about getting the colors exactly right.
Why you’ll love it

While there's beauty in creative freedom, sometimes a bit of extra guidance is nice. Happy Color offers the relaxing effects of coloring without the guesswork.

Each color is numbered to correspond with a number on the coloring page. You can easily tap to fill sections with color, so you don't even have to apply any pressure to the screen.

As you tap each color chip, the matching sections in the image will highlight, making it easy to see where to tap.

There are hundreds of coloring pages to choose from, and the app also features licensed art from major animated movies.

Download Happy Color for iOS.

#caption#Image: Pixite / Pigment App
#alt#Image of an iPad with a partially colored Mandala in the Pigment coloring app.


  • Price: Free or Premium ($4.99/week).
  • What is it? A coloring app featuring color-by-number pages.
  • Who should get it? Anyone who wants to color to relax with a lot of coloring pages and brushes to choose from.
Why you’ll love it

Who says that adults can't have fun with coloring? Pigment is taking coloring to the next level. Each user gets a profile, and you can follow other people to see their coloring pages and get inspiration.

While some coloring pages are only for premium subscribers, there is more than enough to choose from for more casual users.

Pigment gives you color palettes to start you off, and their color libraries are updated weekly.

Take your time coloring with their brushes or fill sections with the paint bucket. You can even do pattern fills to add more personality to your work.

Download Pigment for iOS.

10. Art communities

Being creative can sometimes feel isolating. Joining an art community is a great way to connect with other creatives from around the world.

#caption#Image: Creative Mornings
#alt#Image of a black speech bubble with the words "Creative Mornings" inside of it in white.

Creative Mornings

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A global community of artists giving talks and hosting events for their local Creative Mornings chapters.
  • Who should join? Anyone who wants to connect with local creatives in their area or learn from creatives globally.
Why you’ll love it

Creative Mornings represents the largest face-to-face creative community. With over 60 countries and 200 cities making up Creative Mornings, you're bound to find someone to connect with.

Browse the site to find your own local chapter, and if you don't have one, you can start your own. Each chapter hosts events where creatives will speak on their chosen topic to engage the audience and get them thinking.

You never know what might spark your next creative breakthrough. There are over 10,000 past talks for you to choose from and watch.

Search for a Creative Mornings event in your area.

#caption#Image: Goodtype
#alt#Image of the words Goodtype in black against an orange background.


  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A global community of lettering artists who want to improve their lettering.
  • Who should join? Anyone who wants to connect with fellow letterers, improve their lettering, and stay up to date with community workshops and events.
Why you’ll love it

Goodtype was founded in 2013 and has since grown into a global community of lettering and type-obsessed creatives.

When you join the Discord group, you'll connect to other lettering artists who want to learn, improve, and grow.

Goodtype is a great community because it focuses on progress, not perfection, and you can level up your work, whether you're a professional or a beginner.

Throughout the year, they host several workshops, events, and community challenges designed to help your lettering journey. Being in the community Discord group will make sure you don't miss out on any updates.

Join fellow lettering artists on the Goodtype Discord.

#caption#Image: Adobe / Adobe Discord

#alt#An image with text that says "Participate in events, chat with peers, get feedback on your work, and connect with mentors and pros!" on a 3D shapes background.

Adobe Communities

  • Price: Free.
  • What is it? A global community of creatives who want to learn about specific Adobe programs or from other creatives and their careers.
  • Who should join? Anyone who wants to connect with fellow creatives, hear how they're using Adobe software, or wants career guidance as a creative.
Why you’ll love it

Finding like-minded creatives that you can relate to is a wonderful thing. The creative community is global, and Adobe programs are at the heart of a lot of the art that's created every day.

In an effort to connect creatives, Adobe has a number of Discord servers ready for you to join. You can choose based on the programs that you use or what you want to learn more about. 

Not only will you be able to learn alongside other creatives, but you'll have access to mentors and professionals through events and feedback. 

If you like the thought of connecting to a global network of artists, you'll get a lot out of joining one (or all!) of these communities.

Connect with other creatives on Discord today.

Wrapping up

As you embark on a new school year, you want to ensure you have all you need to succeed. Between free digital resources (like those in our Paperlike Essentials: Back-to-School Kit), supportive artist communities, and the best drawing apps for the iPad, you're ready to have your most creative year yet.

And while you're creating on your iPad, don't forget your Paperlike. Not only does it offer better resistance for a more natural drawing experience, but you'll also get the most out of your digital creating experience.

Best of luck in the new school year!

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