Best iPad for Procreate in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: May 24, 2022 •  Guides

I guess that for anybody who knows me there’s no secret that I absolutely love the Procreate digital illustration app on my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. So I wanted to write a brief guide about the best iPad models and Apple Pencil for Procreate. Let’s have a look!

Photo: Iva drawing on her iPad Pro - © Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva drawing on her iPad Pro – © Art Side of Life

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If you’re in a hurry and want a quick recommendation, here’s my top pick for the best iPad for Procreate:

My Pick
NEW Apple iPad Pro (12.9", WiFi, 512GB)

The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

Apple M1 Processor for Next-Level Performance :: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light and Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit and Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


Buy Now on Amazon
My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Buy Now on Amazon

Table of Contents

For sure, there is no digital tool – hardware or software – that has done more to advance my art or to make it faster or easier than Procreate has.

In fact, I often say that my process, since discovering Procreate, and getting an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, is ten times faster than it was before, and I can do so much more so much better, and with so much less effort.

So in this article, I’ll try to answer a couple of basic questions.

How Much Does Procreate Cost? Is it Worth Buying It?

Procreate is, without question, the best art program available for the latest generation iPad with Apple Pencil, and yet it is very affordable – only $9.99 (one-time payment) – so, if you already have a compatible iPad, you absolutely should get this great app. There are no recurring subscription fees, which makes Procreate one of the best and most affordable drawing programs!

With a little effort and learning you will find, like me, that it totally transforms, accelerates, and optimizes your art process, inspires and enables you to do more, and actually improves your artwork.

Why is Procreate Such a Great Program?

Graphic: Procreate App in Apple App Store
Graphic: Procreate App in Apple App Store

The promise of digital art seems quite strong and compelling.

It is, after all, what everybody’s doing, isn’t it? It’s what all commercial and fine artists today are working on, and the way of the future? So, naturally, any aspiring artist buys a big laptop and subscribes to Adobe Creative Cloud to have access to serious art programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Then, if they didn’t invest hours and hours in studying how to work in those programs full of tools, options, and settings, they just stare at the screen. They click on a couple of tools, try to draw whatever comes to their mind, giggle a little, click some more and then reach for their sketchbook worrying that their creative inspiration might run away if they don’t draw something meaningful.

Procreate is different though. 

It is an incredibly powerful program, with all the tools and options you would ever need, and yet it is so intuitive that you can just sit down with it the first time and start making art. 

You have a canvas (and various canvas sizes), brushes, pens, shapes, the color wheel, and so you are immediately in the familiar creative territory.

Using Procreate on my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is simply such a joy!

Photo: Iva drawing in Procreate - © Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva drawing in Procreate – © Art Side of Life

Yes, Procreate is indeed a detailed and complex program that you will eventually need to spend some time really learning, and in fact the sooner you really know all it can do, the sooner you can take your own processes and artwork to the next level.

But any artist can pretty much immediately start making beautiful things, and finally, understand and realize the promise of digital art.

Some of the best features of the latest version of Procreate, in my experience, are:

Yeah, when you see even this very short and incomplete list of the best features of Procreate, it can seem like an impossibly complicated, difficult, and intimidating program, and for sure a really good course or deep self-study will reveal more and more that this marvelous app can do.

But the best feature of Procreate is in fact ease of use.

It is simply a way to paint and draw that is familiar and comfortable for anybody, even if they’ve never used a computer for more than emails and browsing the web.

Without having to worry about Isometric Guides or Clipping Masks, you can sit down and make a beautiful drawing or painting immediately!

Are there any downsides to Procreate? 

Well, yes, if pressed I would have to say that it does not allow vector work, although this can also be an advantage. 

Vector work is great for creating high-resolution, small-sized, clean, and sharp images like logos and such, but it is not an intuitive process – especially for people who work well and naturally in traditional media like painting, pen and ink, colored pencils, and such.

Procreate, on the other hand, is a raster-based, or pixel-based, program, which is more reminiscent of physical painting and drawing. 

Yes, pixel-based files are much larger, but they are also much richer, more detailed, more colorful and realistic. 

Anyway, I can do 99 percent of what I want and need – for my own work and for clients – with Procreate, and if I really need to work with vectors I can simply use Illustrator on my MacBook Pro

But when I’m painting or drawing digitally I am always using Procreate on my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, and I love it!

One of the most powerful and important benefits of Procreate is its portability. Well, I guess this is more of a benefit of the iPad itself, but I really consider Procreate and my iPad Pro as a single tool, which is always right there with me wherever I go.

As such, I can see that Procreate on my iPad Pro allows and encourages me to work more and more often and to see more in the world around me. I can sit down anywhere and just start drawing or painting, with beautiful detail, rich, vibrant colors, and an easy creative flow.

So, if this is kind of what you envision as the “promise of digital art,” you’ll now probably have one of the following questions:

While most recent iPads and Apple Pencil will work with the newest version of Procreate (5.2.6 at the time of writing), it does need PadOS 14.4 or newer to run.

This, in combination with the advances and improvements in the latest iPads, makes lots of artists feel like they want to get a new iPad and Apple Pencil to run this fabulous program, but if you are running any of the below, with iOS 14.4 or later, you are already good to go.

For the full list of Procreate supported iPad models, have a look at the newest update from the team at Procreate who are located in beautiful Hobart, Tasmania – The latest version of Procreate and supported iPad models.

Overview: What is the Best New iPad for Procreate?

  1. NEW Apple iPad Pro (12.9", WiFi, 512GB)
  2. NEW Apple iPad Pro (12.9", WiFi, 512GB)

    The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

    Apple M1 Processor for Next-Level Performance :: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light and Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit and Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. NEW Apple iPad Air (10.9", WiFi, 256GB)
  4. NEW Apple iPad Air (10.9", WiFi, 256GB)

    Best iPad for drawing and Procreate if you are on a budget or you are a student / beginner

    Latest M1 Processor :: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light & Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit & Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. NEW Apple iPad Mini (Wi-Fi, 256GB)
  6. NEW Apple iPad Mini (Wi-Fi, 256GB)

    Best cheapest and smallest iPad I recommend for drawing and Procreate

    Apple A15 Processor for Best-in-Class Performance :: 8.3 inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light and Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit and Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


    Buy Now on Amazon

I could easily recommend any current Apple iPad for Procreate, and they will all work great, but I wanted to offer what I think are the three very best choices on three different levels.

So, for the shortlist, I would recommend the following:

Best iPad overall for Procreate: iPad Pro 12.9 Inch

Best Cheap iPad for Procreate: iPad Air 10.9 Inch

Best Cheapest iPad for Procreate I recommend: iPad Mini 8.3 Inch

Graphic: Best iPad for Procreate Technical Specifications - © Art Side of Life
Graphic: Best iPad for Procreate Technical Specifications – © Art Side of Life

If you want to buy a new iPad and Apple Pencil, or upgrade to the latest generation, I have to say the new models are really fabulous – fast and powerful, with bright and beautiful displays, light and yet with a reassuringly solid look and feel.

My Recommendations For Getting The Best iPad for Procreate

Get The Biggest Screen You Can Afford

To make your Procreate experience optimal, I would recommend that you get the biggest screen size you can afford, but remember that even the smallest iPad screens are sharp, clear, and imminently usable.

I started using Procreate on the now-discontinued iPad Pro 10.5″. I used it in my studio, on the go, on public transport, in the passenger seat in the car, in the parks, cafes, shopping malls … you name it.

When I upgraded to the latest iPad Pro 12.9″, I was a bit worried it will be too big to fit into my backpack and too heavy to draw on the go. But just after a week of getting used to it, I didn’t notice the size difference anymore.

Get Bigger Storage Which Comes With Bigger RAM

 Graphic: Iva's iPad Pro 12.9 with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM allows for 116 layers in Procreate in size A4 and 300 DPI - ©Art Side of Life
Graphic: Iva’s iPad Pro 12.9 with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM allows for 116 layers in Procreate in size A4 and 300 DPI – ©Art Side of Life
Graphic: Iva's iPad Pro 12.9 with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM allows for 56 layers in Procreate in size A3 and 300 DPI - ©Art Side of Life
Graphic: Iva’s iPad Pro 12.9 with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM allows for 56 layers in Procreate in size A3 and 300 DPI – ©Art Side of Life

It is also good you get as much RAM and storage space as you can – especially if you are a commercial or serious digital and fine artist. 

More RAM will let Procreate (and also other programs) run faster, more smoothly, and with more layers.

And the storage space will allow you to keep even very large, complex, or high-resolution files – finished pieces or works in progress – on your iPad.

You could even store a fairly complete portfolio of your work on a larger SD drive.

Get The Apple Pencil

Graphic: Best iPad for Procreate Apple Pencil Compatibility - ©Art Side of Life
Graphic: Best iPad for Procreate Apple Pencil Compatibility – ©Art Side of Life

I also strongly urge you to get the Apple Pencil – I’d say this is crucial, in fact, for ease, control, pressure sensitivity, and for detail. 

There are other styluses that support drawing on the iPad, but the experience with Apple Pencil is just out of this world and at the time of writing, there is no worthy alternative.

Photo: Iva showing her iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2nd Generation - © Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva showing her iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2nd Generation – © Art Side of Life

All the iPads on my list support Apple Pencil 2nd Generation which is an amazing upgrade from the previous generation! The “invisible button” activated with a double-tap anywhere on the pencil is awesome and so useful!

Photo: Iva showing the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation Double-Tap Feature - ©Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva showing the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation Double-Tap Feature – ©Art Side of Life

Get Other Useful Accessories

Photo: Iva's iPad Pro and Procreate Accessories - ©Art Side of Life
Photo: Iva’s iPad Pro and Procreate Accessories – ©Art Side of Life

I love the feeling of drawing on paper! The texture, the subtle sound of a pencil or pen on paper, and the control it gives me to express my ideas. So naturally, I wanted to recreate the same feeling while drawing in Procreate on my iPad. After testing different options, I chose the matte Paperlike screen protector with the paper texture:

My Pick
Paperlike for iPad Pro 12.9 Inch

Matte Screen Protector for Drawing, Writing, and Note-taking like on Paper


Buy Now on Amazon

One important note. Depending on how much you draw, the matte paperlike screen protector will use Apple Pencil’s tip quite fast. I draw in Procreate on my iPad every day and I have to change it every 2 to 3 months. So don’t forget to get yourself a set of original, extra Apple Pencil tips:

My Pick
Original Apple Pencil Tips (4 Pack)

I recommend you get them if you use a matte Paperlike screen protector


Buy Now on Amazon

Also very nice to get is the Magic Keyboard – it protects your new iPad and also helps you use it as a full-fledged mobile computer, which is great for working commercial artists who need to do administrative tasks, billing, email, social media and other communications. And the trackpad on the Magic Keyboard is really good, and useful with Procreate.

If you don’t need the keyboard, though, I’d recommend you get yourself a protective case that supports the magnetic charging function for the Apple Pencil.

I am using the ESR case with a pencil holder below and have a felt sleeve for extra protection. But that’s just me being me – extra careful!

My Pick
ESR Case for iPad Pro 12.9" Case

iPad Pro Case with Pencil Holder, Soft Flexible TPU Back Cover, Auto Sleep/Wake, and Multiple Viewing Stand Modes


Buy Now on Amazon

At the same time many of us are on a budget, and so have to ask not just “which iPad should I buy for Procreate” but instead “which iPad can I actually afford for Procreate?”

And so, let’s not just find out what are the best iPads for Procreate, but what are the most affordable iPads for Procreate as well:

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 Inch Screen Size

My Pick
NEW Apple iPad Pro (12.9", WiFi, 512GB)

The best iPad for drawing and Procreate

Apple M1 Processor for Next-Level Performance :: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light and Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit and Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


Buy Now on Amazon

The best of the best, the iPad Pro is the most useful and powerful mobile art tool I know.

The newest liquid retina screen creates incredibly rich, sharp, bright and contrasty graphics. They not only make the creative process easier and more effective, the beauty of the big display – and my work on that display – actually inspires me and encourages me to become better and better.

Apple’s proprietary M1 processor in the newest iPad Pro is far faster than most laptops out there, and never lags or crashes, no matter how big or high-resolution my artwork is.

And the pen-to-screen interface is nothing short of superb, with a great feel, real physical control, great response and flow, and extraordinary levels of precision.

For my money, the Apple iPad Pro is not just the best iPad for artists on the market today, but the best standalone drawing tablet available today, period!

Best Apple Pencil for iPad Pro and Procreate

Although there are other styluses that support drawing experience on the newest iPad, Apple Pencil’s compatibility and feature set are crucial if you want to enjoy the full experience of Procreate on your iPad.

All models on my list for the best iPad for Procreate support and are supported by the amazing 2nd generation of Apple Pencil:

My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Buy Now on Amazon

Apple iPad Air 10.9 Inch Screen Size

Affordable
NEW Apple iPad Air (10.9", WiFi, 256GB)

Best iPad for drawing and Procreate if you are on a budget or you are a student / beginner

Latest M1 Processor :: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light & Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit & Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


Buy Now on Amazon

I might have just as easily recommended the smaller iPad Pro 11-inch as a less expensive alternative to Apple’s top-of-the-line 12.9-inch model.

And the 11-inch Pro is certainly a perfect choice for Procreate, but it is not significantly less expensive than its bigger brother, so not really a “budget” option.

The iPad Air, however, with about the same sized screen (10.9 inch) and still featuring the superb Liquid Retina display, is an incredible tool and an incredible tablet – stunningly beautiful graphics, a large working area, a fast processor (though not quite as fast as the iPad Pro), great cameras and speakers and excellent overall fit and finish.

Incredibly light yet solid and sturdy, the Apple iPad Air works flawlessly with Procreate and I think it would be a powerful and invaluable tool for any artist on any level. 

My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Buy Now on Amazon

Apple iPad Mini 8.3 Inch Screen Size

Portable
NEW Apple iPad Mini (Wi-Fi, 256GB)

Best cheapest and smallest iPad I recommend for drawing and Procreate

Apple A15 Processor for Best-in-Class Performance :: 8.3 inch Liquid Retina Display for Superior Color, Contrast, Brightness :: Light and Extremely Strong :: Premium Fit and Finish :: Up to 10 Hours Battery Life


Buy Now on Amazon

Whenever anybody ever says that you can’t do serious, high quality, high resolution, detailed artwork on a smaller screen, I immediately think “they haven’t tried it on an iPad!” 

Of course, the question “will a smaller iPad work well with Procreate?” is valid and good to ask, but the iPad Mini still has that phenomenal Apple Liquid Retina display, a stunningly bright and sharp screen with true and beautiful colors.

Yes, larger screens are easier to work on, and yes, the Mini does have less RAM and a somewhat slower processor, and if you can afford a bigger iPad you should probably seriously consider it. But the iPad Mini tablet does work great with Procreate, and there’s no reason you can’t be working with it on the highest levels.

Some people even prefer the smaller, lighter, and more portable package.

The smallest Apple iPad Mini, with 64 GB storage, is less than 500 dollars, and yet for all its darling tininess and affordability, it’s nonetheless a powerful and fully usable tool for the serious commercial or fine artist, art student, or beginner.

My Pick
Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

Second Generation Apple Pencil :: Best Drawing and Painting Experience :: Compatible with: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th, 4th and 3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation), iPad Air (5th and 4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

Buy Now on Amazon

Bonus: What is the Best Way to Learn Procreate?

Featured
Improve your art skills and learn how to make money as an artist

Learn from my easy-to-follow online classes such as Making Money as an Artist, Color & Light, Color Palettes, Perspective & Composition, Instagram for Artists, and more!

Click Here To Learn More

Everybody talks about two things that make using Procreate so great

  1. One, the incredibly simple, natural and intuitive interface and ease of use, and
  2. Two, the amazing amounts of tools, functions, controls and advanced capabilities

What this means in a practical sense is that, yes, you can easily sit down and figure out how to make a beautiful piece of art with Procreate on your iPad, maybe even without any user’s guides or instructions, but you can also spend loads of time and effort on your own trying to figure out the apparently countless other, higher-level things Procreate will do. And chances are that time and effort will be at least a little frustrating, and you still won’t even scratch the surface.

A much better idea would be to learn from an expert, especially from somebody who is not only a good, clear and effective teacher but has been using Procreate in the real world, and can show you how to fully understand and unlock the true potential of Procreate as an advanced and multi-dimensional tool for commercial or fine artists.

There are lots of teachers and classes out there, and lots of those definitely meet these two qualifications, but I am very happy to offer my own online Procreate courses on the highly regarded SkillShare learning platform, and I am quite proud of them.

I feel like I really get Procreate, on all its levels, and can effectively present its most important and useful features, tools, and benefits. And I hope my enthusiasm makes learning even more fun and productive – I love art, I love drawing, I love teaching, and – in case this wasn’t yet clear – I love Procreate.

Please check out my courses using the links below, and if you have any questions about them don’t hesitate to ask!

Thanks so much for reading my latest article – What Is The Best iPad for Procreate? An In-Depth Guide for Artists – and I encourage you to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles and lots of other resources.

Other articles in the Drawing Tablets series:

If you are looking for free and premium Procreate brushes, here is the complete list of 50+ Free and Premium Procreate Brushes

If you are looking for a printer for your iPad AirPrint, here are my recommendations for the Best Printer for iPad, iPhone and Mac

If you are looking for a mini projector for iPhone and iPad, check out my recommendations here Best Mini Projector for iPhone and iPad

Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur iPad pour Procreate

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help wake up your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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