As an iPad-using artist or designer, you’re spoilt for choice with the various drawing and sketching apps available on hand. But to create precise, quality work, most artists agree it’s best to use a stylus, and with styli becoming even more pressure sensitive and responsive, it’s probably the closest you’ll get to traditional drawing on your iPad.
But don’t think that using an iPad limits you to an Apple Pencil. Here we mention six other stylus options for you, ranging in price from £25 to around £80 depending on your needs. Some connect to the iPad using Bluetooth for accurate pressure sensitivity, palm rejection and other features. Others, such as Adobe's Ink, actually connect to Creative Cloud to work seamlessly with the company's desktop apps.
You'll also find that some styluses have different styles of tip or nib to help you achieve the results you're aiming for. Some are brush-like, while others are like pencils, pastels or pens.
Here's a round-up of the best iPad styluses (or styli) for artists and designers we've seen.
The Apple Pencil works exclusively alongside both current iPad Pros. Although it’s definitely pricey, it’s pretty much essential for any professional artist wanting to create brilliant work from an iPad Pro. It’s meant to act exactly like a pencil - sensitive to both tilt and pressure, allowing you to create artwork with precision down to a single pixel.
The Apple Pencil was designed to expand on the versatility of Multi-Touch, giving artists freedom to sketch, paint and draft ideas on the go. It’s known for its fast response from when you begin drawing to when lines appear on the screen, using twice the data points it normally collects when you use your finger.
Much like almost any stylus you can draw lines of any weight by applying pressure, add shading by tilting your hand as you would with a conventional pencil and rest your palm on the display without fear of ruining your work.
The Apple Pencil can run for 12 hours on a full charge, or if you’ve only got a few minutes, 15 seconds of charging from your iPad Pro will give you 30 minutes of battery life.
Adonit, which is the company behind some of the tech found in Adobe's Ink stylus, also offers its own range of popular and well-built styli. The range includes Pixel, Snap 2, Dash 3, Ink, Pro, Mini 4 and Mark. See all Adonit styli here.
Adonit says its Bluetooth pressure-sensitive Pixel stylus (£69.75 or $74.99 in the US) is the best and most advanced they’ve ever made, so naturally we will feature it here. But if you’re looking for something less expensive, definitely check out the Dash 3 (£43.85/US$38.67). If you want to check out which stylus is best for you, Adonit has a handy comparable table here.
The Pixel offers tip drag and pressure sensitivity for natural drawing across all latest iPad models. Its 1.9mm tip has improved response time, and it holds 2,048 levels of sensitivity for different width and weight strokes.
It also uses palm rejection technology and programmed shortcut buttons such as erase, redo and scroll. Plus, a nifty built in grip sense activates the Pixel as soon as you pick it up after it has first been turned on.
Pixel works on basically any iPad and, as they like to point out, it's cheaper than the Apple Pencil.
Adonit Jot Pro
Another favourite from the Adonit family tends to be the Adonit Pro, which doesn't require a Bluetooth connection to work. It uses a transparent disk to protect your iPad from the very precise tip for ultimate accuracy.
It's made from lightweight aluminium, comes in range of colours – copper, black, silver, blue and rose gold – and has a handy carrying clip.
Ten One Design Pogo Connect 2
Ten One Design's Pogo Connect 2 is another Bluetooth stylus, but this one comes with a built-in Bluetooth beacon to help you find lost pens - and it also boasts months of battery life. It ships from the US, where it costs $79.95, so it will cost UK shoppers around £78.66 including the $10 international shipping fee.
The Pogo Connect 2 comes with a standard rubber tip and sold in a pack of two. But, there are six interchangeable tips that you can buy separately, including note-taking tips, precision tips, a premium brush tip, straight brush tip, and angled brush tip, all of which are pressure-sensitive.
This stylus is compatible with iPad Air 1 & 2; iPad Mini 1, 2 & 3; and iPad 3 & 4, but not with iPad Pro or iPad mini 4.
This Bluetooth pencil works with iPad, iPad Pro and a number of iOS sketching and drawing apps - and we think it’s the most hipster of the list, and definitely the most beautiful.
Made from sustainably harvest walnut wood, gold or graphite brushed aluminium, the FiftyThree Pencil (available offers a uniquely bold tip, eraser, and palm rejection technology when used in conjunction with the brand’s own Paper app for iPad, but it can be used as a non-connected stylus in any other app, such as Adobe Illustrator Draw and Photoshop Sketch.
The pencil completes a full charge in 90 minutes and can last up to a month of normal use.
When we first heard of Sensel’s Morph, it was still on Kickstarter, but even then we thought it was pretty great. Now, after raising over US$442,600 in Kickstarter, the multi-touch, pressure sensitive input device is now out. Although the device can be ‘morphed’ into different forms used with different overlays - such as a devices for music, gaming or even hacking - it also works as an alternative for artists.
Basically, Sensel's Morph allows artists to not be restricted by styli. Create art using your own paintbrushes, pencil and pen over paper, or even your finger, all on a digital art tablet. And don’t worry, if you are in fact a stylus fan deep down, you can still use that.
The Art Overlay provides customisable and re-mappable buttons to improve work flow. Some buttons are preset, but you can change them to see what works best - and you can have buttons on either side, depending if you’re a lefty or righty.