3 PRO iOS Apps for Design and Illustration


Since 80’s Apple has been promoting its products as platforms for creative people such as artists, photographers, video-makers, and so on. Today, their main course remains the same, but the model line has grown a lot with iOS phones and tablets since 2007. Their devices proved to be indispensable artistic instruments, especially after Apple Pencil announcement. So, this piece is about 3 must-have apps for designers and illustrators.

Procreate 4 – Intuitive Digital Canvas

You will fall in love with this app for hand-drawn illustrations from the first start. It shows off with a close-up view on 4 highly detailed professional illustrations. These samples are done with soul so that any artist could feel their palms itch from a strong urge to have fun in Procreate.

Let’s move on to features. The first killer one is rotatable canvas. It’s very comfortable to rotate it anyhow by simply swiping your forefinger around the thumb. Try any other similar-goal apps and you will find separate tumblers instead of a simple gesture.

Gestures are various and adjustable, by the way. Open layers panel with 3 fingers down-swipe and merge layers by simply holding them at the same time; double tap to call context menu and tap 2 fingers to undo the last stroke. That’s incredibly fast.

As in any other app, you will start from creating a canvas to choosing the suitable standard one. To rush forward, check out the thin left edge panel of app’s interface. This slider allows you to change brushes’ thickness, transparency, and color right at the moment of stroking. Try to hold any brush on the canvas and change parameters with your free hand. I swear you’ll be surprised.

Brushes. They’re gorgeous. Numerous pre-installed brushes sets are adjustable. You can change any parameter and create a new brush out of photograph elements or new random shapes.

– Incredibly intuitive interface for artists (and it’s not a cliche sentence);
– Endless customizability of tools;
– Various gestures make the process more natural.

– I’m not an artist, but this app made me think that I could be!

I’m just glad to see such a professional piece of software for iOS – that’s a true vector of tablet development.

Astropad Standard – Throw Your Digitizer Away

This one is not an independent software for iOS as it is made to replace stationary digitizers by Wacom and similar-to-it-devices. Astropad Standard costs about 15 times less than Wacom Cintiq. If you already have an IPad or IPad Pro, of course. Otherwise, it’s going to be a good joint purchase because 11-inch IPad Pro with Apple Pencil costs almost the same, but there’s a huge “but” here.

IPad is a thousand time more mobile and functional than any digitizer on the market. Its screen supports multi-touch, stylus and Lightning/USB or even wireless Wi-Fi connection with an auxiliary application on Mac. Last IPad’s touch-screen also discerns 2048 degrees of pressure, which is equal to Wacom’s pads.

Talking about the usability of app’s interface, I’d like to notice, that it comes more ergonomic to use IPad plus computer keyboard. However, you can get accustomed to on-screen keyboard and use the same shortcuts and functional buttons. Astropad doesn’t require any specific plugins to work with Photoshop or Lightroom. It automatically adjusts the working area to tablet’s display, so you won’t need to waste nerves resizing the visible area.

The response time of application doesn’t lag noticeably. For the test, I used my 11-inch IPad Pro connected to 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with touch bar. Astropad reports that response time equals 2-3 millisecond delay via USB cable and up to 5 milliseconds via Wi-Fi network. I’m not sure, that this result would remain the same with big projects, but I didn’t find any negative comments from active users. The only task which freezes system for a second is active area moving. The picture takes a short while to render. I found out, that this problem may be solved by switching to non-Retina display in app’s settings. The whole image becomes slightly softer but renders unnoticeably.

That’s a bit of shame, but it’s impossible to link Astropad with PC. Some users would not enjoy the yearly subscription fee, especially those, who don’t use the app frequently.

– Multiple touch-screen gesture settings help customize the working area as needed;
– Almost no lags via Wi-Fi and ultimately fast response via USB;
– No plugins needed for specific software;

– IPad is not connectable to PC.

This iOS software unloads the working desk and provides quite close-to-pro experience.

Word Swag – Pocket Visual Content Maker

Any active social-network user, small business owner or social media designer needs a neat smartphone/tablet full-circle design app. Word Swag is focused on the fast creation of impressive sharable pictures with stylish texts.

App’s functionality is very simple but gives a perfect result. The most common scenario looks quite like this: take a photo (let it be a forest), load it into the app, choose one of the offered text designs and voilà! A great piece of visual content for Instagram is ready to be published. It’s a perfect solution when you are bound to prepare an album of daily posts for your social media accounts, but you’re out of inspiration. Word Swag’s ABC tools and presets make the process 100 times faster and results look very professional. You may notice pictures made in this 7 years old app in many promoted blogs, especially when it comes to inspiring contents. I’ve even seen Instagram accounts with 100000+ subscribers which post pictures made in Word Swag only.

The app is available for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. There’s no difference between app’s interface and usability on these platforms. I would say, that it provides an even more intuitive user experience than any social network application. As you finish making an image, the app provides Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Email share buttons. All images are saved to iPhone’s camera-roll automatically.

– Extremely simple app, which produces worthy content;
– No watermarks (Remember Retrica?);
– Share-from app feature.

Advanced social media users may complain if they notice basic templates.

Such a tiny and cheap design helper will come in handy for anyone, who publish images every day.

Bottom line

Here it is – the mighty-3 of any professional designer, who wants to clean up the workspace from wires and bulky gadgets. Take your artistic studio anywhere with Procreate and Astropad. Let Word Swag inspire your subscribers at the everyday basis. Go mobile!

Author’s Bio: Daniel Wilson
I’m not a professional designer, but I cooperate with them every day at Freepps.top. Sometimes they’re overloaded, so authors roll up their sleeves and produce designs for articles. Such hard-tests proved these apps to be one of the best design tools for the most spread mobile OS. Work is good, but we all need rest too. Check out these Entertainment Apps and have fun!