iPad apps for surface pattern design

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You have the iPad. Now which apps should you use?

iPad apps for surface pattern design


Last week we took a close look at the iPad Pro, and used feedback from seven lovely designers to discuss the pros and cons of using one for your design work.

Today, Sarah Haffner and I highlight our designers’ favorite iPad apps and offer links to great resources for those of you who want to do your own research on this topic. Guys, we’ve included links to 19 articles in this post…it’s like we are serving up a super-sized blog post this week. Enjoy!




Designers recommendation: Adobe Draw

Adobe Draw is a favorite among illustrators. A big reason is because of the way it interacts with Adobe Illustrator and the ease with which you can transfer files over to your laptop. It has a clean interface and it’s pretty simple to get going with this app…great for newbie designers who want to jump right in.

Useful Articles:

Adobe Illustrator Draw Review by Matt Lawrence – This is the best review we could find of Adobe Draw. It gives a good overview of the pros and cons of the app.

Review Adobe Draw by Stayf Draws (Youtube video) – If you want a lot of detail, and specifics on exactly how the app works, check-out this video.

iPad Vector App Roundup by Brad Colbow (Youtube video) – I like this guy and how he presents his reviews. He is not a fan of Adobe Draw as you’ll hear in this video, but does offer some alternatives you may want to check-out.



Designers recommendation: Procreate

Based on our research, Procreate is pretty hard to beat. People seem to love it. The app offers a wide variety of brushes and textures, a user-friendly interface, and an active online community with a plethora of online tutorials that highlighting many aspects of its functionality. It’s easy to export Procreate files into Adobe Photoshop for editing and you can create time-lapse videos of your design work to share on social media.

We would highly recommend that you consider purchasing this app for your iPad. From everything we’ve read, you won’t be sorry.

Useful Articles:

Procreate for iPad App Review by ThoughtCo. – This is a good general overview of Procreate. The article highlights its pluses and minuses and even talks about how it works on other devices and how you can get help for the app.

Review: Procreate 4 by Creative Bloq – A good overview of improvements that were made to the latest version of Procreate. Spoiler alert – it’s all good. This review gives the app a rating of 9 out of 10.

Review: Procreate for the iPad by Brad Colbow (Youtube video) – Brad again! We really like his reviews…this one is great. If you aren’t in love with Procreate, by the time your done watching this video you will be.



Designers recommendation: Amaziograph

While this app may not appeal to serious designers, it does appear to be a lot of fun to play around with based on our research. It’s pretty cool how the app mirrors your movements, creating a relaxing, almost meditative feel to the process.

In a nutshell, this app is simple to use, does what it says it will and is offered at a low price point. Based on this it may just be what you are looking for if symmetrical patterns are your jam.

Useful Articles:

Quick Look: Amaziograph for iPad by iPad Insight – This article does a good job of summing up the app and providing all of the information you would need to know before purchasing.

Testing out Amaziograph App on the iPad Pro by Jonathan Harris (Youtube video) – This video will help you quickly understand how the app works, and as an added bonus, it’s relaxing to watch!



Designer recommendation: AstroPad

This is another app that several of our designers raved about, with one designer calling it a ‘game changer’. The app allows you to mirror the screen of your main computer so that you can work directly into Illustrator or Photoshop from your iPad. It’s kind of like working on a Wacom tablet, but from the comfort of your couch, and without the challenge of mastering the hand-eye coordination that Wacom requires.

Useful Articles:

With an iPad Pro and AstroPad Studio, I may never Need a Wacom Tablet Again by iMore – Good, thorough overview of the app and its features.

AstroPad Studio iOS App Review by Gadgeteer – Great explanation of how exactly this app works in collaboration with your Mac and other Mac apps. As the author says, ‘it’s like a remote for your Mac’. Now that’s pretty awesome.

AstroPad Review – 1 Year Later by Brad Colbow (Youtube video) – Yes, once again Brad is in the house. In this video he goes into detail about how this app works based on your design style, and highlights what it has been like for him using the app for a year.



Designer recommendation: Adobe Capture

This app links to your Creative Cloud libraries and allows you to take input from your environment, when you are out and about, and incorporate it into your design work later. Using the camera on your iPad, you can take photos and use them to:

  1. create color palettes;
  2. create vector shapes;
  3. create patterns;
  4. create paintbrushes; and
  5. create color schemes for video

I (Jen) have this app on my phone, and like to use it for color palettes. I’m not sure if I would use the app on an iPad, but wanted to include it here because many of our designers do. And frankly – it’s a pretty cool tool that can help you quickly populate your CC library with original content.

Useful Articles:

Adobe Capture CC Review: Four Great Design Asset Apps Rolled into One by MacWorld – Here’s a good, general overview of the app and it’s functions.

Cool App: Adobe Capture CC by ThioJoeTech (Youtube video) – This video isn’t too long, and does a good job of talking about how each of the tools on the app work.



Designer recommendation: Adobe Comp

This app is useful for creating quick layout ideas. It’s helpful if you are thinking of designing business cards or want to do a mock-up for your website. The user interface is pretty good and the app has a lot of shortcuts to streamline the design process.

Useful Articles:

Adobe Comp CC with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil by Adobe Creative Cloud – While this video is put out by Adobe, and is not an independent review, it does a good job of showing you the features of the app and how it works.

Adobe wants to Kill your Desktop by Co.Design – This review talks about the benefits of Adobe Comp and offers-up a pretty positive review.


Want More?

What we’ve given you here is an overview of the apps our designers recommended. If you’d like to dive a bit deeper and experiment with other design apps, check-out these links. There are so many design apps available these days, it’s amazing. Have fun!

19 Best iPad Art Apps for Painting and Sketching by Creative Bloq

10 Apps to Turn Your iPad into a Bad Ass Drawing Tablet by Creative Market

The Best iPad Apps for Design by Digital Arts

Unleash Your Inner Artist with the Best Drawing Apps for the iPad Pro by Digital Trends

Many thanks to the designers who contributed to this post:

Alana Jelinek, Radish Studio

Bea van der Zwaag, Fleur & Mimi

Cara Rowlands, Carabara Designs

Jen Koym, Juniperr

Mandy Leeson, Mandy Leeson Designs

Jojo Fryer, Jo Fryer Designs

Dominique Bousquet

2 thoughts on “iPad apps for surface pattern design

  1. I’m still trying to find which process I like when it comes to the apps to use. I’ve used Adobe Draw with Graphic and just bought Astropad to use on my iPad Pro with PS and AI. Adobe Capture is great, too. So many options it can leave your head spinning! At the moment, I love being able to design in Procreate, take it into Paintstorm to create the pattern, then into Photoshop to see how it all works and finalize the pattern.

    1. Interesting! Someone else told me they take their work into Paintstorm to create the repeat. I’ll have to check it out…once I purchase my iPad, haha!

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