The iPad is blessed with several excellent apps for drawing and painting using tools that mimic the look of real art supplies. Of the ones I’ve tried, my favorite is Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro–and it just got an extremely meaty upgrade to version 2.0.
The user interface is much improved over the original version that shipped the same day as the first iPad–for instance, you can pin toolbars to the sides of the screen. On the iPad 2, it supports a high-resolution 2048-by-1536 canvas. You can shuttle files back and forth using Dropbox. And while I haven’t tried this yet, Autodesk says the app is better at sharing images with the Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android versions of the program.
There’s also a SketchBook Store that lets you download and install additional drawing tools, such as fancy pencils. (So far, all its offerings are free.)
The iPad isn’t my dream digital art device, mostly because its technology doesn’t allow for anyone to build a pointy, pressure-sensitive stylus of the sort you can use with a Wacom tablet. Even so, once you get the hang of drawing with one of the blunt, non-pressure-sensitive styluses that are available–I like this one–it’s addictive. And SketchBook Pro, like many iPad apps, is a bizarrely good value–it’s $4.99, vs. $79.99 for the Windows/Mac desktop version. If you like to draw and have an iPad, you need this software.