Can You Use an iPad as a Drawing Tablet?

Create an artistic masterpiece on your iPad's touchscreen.
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There are a number of apps that turn your iPad into a drawing tablet, though the best solutions vary depending on whether you'll be using it for simple doodling or full graphic design. Apps like Doodle Club, Drawing Pad or Brushes 3 are ideal for creating scribbles, sketches and other hand-drawn art on the iPad. If you're more interested in turning your iPad into a graphic tablet to aid in designing or photo editing on a computer, go with a solution like Air Display or MaxiVista.

1 Doodle Your Cares Away

There are several doodling apps available in the App Store that will get your creative juices flowing and your fingertips scribbling. The free Doodle Club app and the paid Drawing Pad and Brushes 3 are all good options that encourage the creation of hand-drawn concepts from scratch. Each app offers a variety of features, including coloring pages, brush and pencil collections, stickers and a color picker. You'll get a handful of each with Doodle Club, but the options and tools are more plentiful with one of the paid apps.

2 Share Your Screen

A doodling app won't work if your aim is to turn your iPad into a graphics tablet that can control an editing program like Photoshop or Illustrator on your computer. While you also won't be able to use the iPad to control the software on your desktop screen like you would with an expensive graphics tablet, there is a creative alternate solution. You'll need to employ an app -- and complementary software -- that mirrors your computer's desktop onto your iPad so your toolbar or canvas can be dragged onto an accessed on its touchscreen.

3 Configuring the Mirroring

A mirrored desktop works by way of an app on your iPad that communicates wirelessly with software on your computer. Air Display, for example, is available for both PC and Mac. MaxiVista is only PC-compatible, though it offers tools to combat screen lagging that Air Display does not. Both solutions extend your desktop so you have space to drag your toolbox or a touchscreen canvas for your design work.

4 Using the iPad as a Graphics Tablet

Install both the app and software, and then allow a few moments for them to establish a connection and initiate mirroring. Launch the design software on your computer and drag it onto the portion of your desktop mirrored on your iPad. Use your finger or a stylus to draw, edit, enhance and create. The reverse also works well, too -- move the canvas back to your computer instead and use the iPad's display to house your tools and maximize the available workspace on your desktop.

5 Limitations of the iPad

While mirroring your computer's screen to your iPad will equip you with an almost-free alternative to a separate graphics tablet, the iPad can't support all of the same features you'd find with a Wacom or Huion device. This is primarily because the iPad operates on capacitive touch, which doesn't allow for pressure sensitivity or gesture-driven brush strokes. With a good stylus, however, you can gain better control over your strokes and may not even miss the full-features of an expensive graphics tablet.

Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.