10 top creative tools and apps for the iPad

Apple’s tablet is tailor-made for touchscreen creativity – as are many iOS apps. Here are 10 of the most inspiring examples

Using an iPad is great for the everyday tasks we all take for granted, but you can do a lot more with your tablet than simply tap out emails or play Angry Birds. In fact, there are a whole host of software tools and apps that will allow you to unlock your inner creativity and produce everything from doodles and drawings right through to minor works of art.

Better still, if you feel you've got artistic tendencies but have never quite been able to channel them in a constructive way, then armed with iOS and an iPad or iPad mini, you'll soon be able to show your talents to the world.

1. Adobe Photoshop Touch

£6.99, itun.es/i6JV6Bh

Although there's Adobe Photoshop Express (free, bit.ly/QUaJZk), if you're looking for extra creative options when working with digital photography, then this is the app to own. Granted, it doesn't have all the sophisticated tools that come inside the full-blown Photoshop package, but there's plenty here to help your productivity. The great thing is that it comes tailor-made for a tablet interface, there's support for iCloud Photo Stream and you'll find some neat new tools inside to boot.

We tend to amass an endless amount of images these days, so having a decent image editor at your fingertips makes sense. Add the fact that you can carry out fingertip editing to all kinds of shots within the easy-to-use interface, and this is an essential for any creative type. What's more, you'll also find Photoshop Touch has a strong emphasis on photo sharing through the usual social networking channels, which means it's both quick and easy to tweak images and let people see them in no time.

READ MORE: bit.ly/11WckUB

2. Penultimate

Free, itun.es/i6JV5VY

This now free-to-download app is perfect for anyone who likes to sketch and make notes on the go. There's a cool little interface that delivers a similar experience to that of writing and drawing on regular paper, but in the convenient environment of your mobile tablet. It's easy to get the hang of, with a decent collection of tools and accessories that allow you to jot down your thoughts. If you change your mind about anything, there's a handy eraser for rubbing out errors or for making quick corrections.

A practical notebook option allows you to store and organise all your different workflow ideas, and then call them up as and when needed further down the line. Alongside being a neat and easy notepad-style app, there's also plenty of back-end power to be had here, and integration with Dropbox and Evernote means all your work can be shared or stored in the cloud for access at a later date.

READ MORE: bit.ly/VQx0IJ

3. ArtRage

£2.99, itun.es/i6JV5V7

If you love painting, then a tablet is the perfect medium for unleashing your creative spirit when you're away from your paints. The ArtRage app is an amazing little chunk of software that has all the tools you'll need to produce exquisite works of art, and all without getting a drop of paint on your fingers.

Open up the program and you're transported into a virtual artist's studio, with an array of oils and watercolours at your disposal and, of course, an unlimited supply of (virtual) blank canvas on which to dabble with your brushes.

The sensitivity and interaction is spot on, and it's possible to blend and brush just as you would in the real world. The whole experience is remarkably lifelike, especially when you use the palette and start applying liberal globs of paint to your work. The blending actions and overall end results are generally top-notch, although this depends on how talented you are in the first place. However, even if you're not quite Picasso, don't despair. This is a real blast, and it's possible to while away hours perfecting your digital canvas.

READ MORE: bit.ly/WYnYqs

4. Brushes 3

Free, itun.es/i6Jk5wb

If it's good enough for someone like David Hockney, then Brushes must be perfect for beginners, right? Well, granted you'll need a small streak of creativity, but the interface on this app provides everything else you need to produce works of art on your tablet. There's a whole range of brushes, complete with different presets, you can select colours with speed and efficiency, and any gaffes you make can be undone in a tap, meaning that you can correct work as you go.

There's also a sort of automated record of how you produced your image, which is a good way to see what design and painting traits you might have, while also amusing others along the way. When you're done applying your brushstrokes, the whole resulting masterpiece can be shared with family and friends using a Tweet function, or via email or printing.


5. Keynote

£6.99, itun.es/i6JV6Bp

This app from Apple can often be overlooked, but take a closer look inside its presentation software and you'll be pleasantly surprised. What's more, if you've ever had to wrestle with PowerPoint, then you'll know just how clunky and out-dated that can be. Keynote is perfect for anyone who wants all the tools to put together a presentation, but also needs to create on the move. If you've been used to working with PowerPoint previously, then this will prove to be a revelation.

Keynote has a clean and simple layout and work area, allowing you to assemble slides with pinpoint precision. Better still, there's a whole pile of sophisticated options for adding content, such as animations and other interactive elements, that will bring your presentation alive. Drop in pictures and images, then export it as a finished package, and your next creative briefing should prove to be a runaway success story. You can even export files in the PowerPoint format if you're so inclined.

READ MORE: bit.ly/V3bC2m

6. Sketchbook Pro

£2.99, itun.es/i6JV5VK

If you're a fan of drawing, then Sketchbook Pro will prove a surefire hit. This incredibly clever application offers up a whole range of professional-level drawing and painting tools that provide power and precision, and the controls are pretty easy to master, too. It has a wide array of canvas options and makes the most of your tablet touchscreen and sensitivity controls. Adding to the fun is a raft of tools that include high-quality brushes, while the capacity for working with layers means that producing multi-layered documents is straightforward.

Pressure-sensitive controls mean that, with practice, you can soon be producing works of art in all kinds of freehand styles, using the collection of everything from pencils and pens through to deluxe brushes. If you need to make more complex tweaks further down the line, then your work can also be exported as layered Photoshop files, so it's one for the pros among you, too.

READ MORE: bit.ly/HAasaN

7. Paper by FiftyThree

Free, itun.es/i6JV5Vb

A tablet device makes a great place to work using a freehand style, and Paper by FiftyThree is just the app that'll help you become even more productive. This easy-to-use program has an enticing interface, making it easy to jot down or sketch ideas and inspiration while you're on the go. If you're a graphic designer, then it's an ideal supplement to your more powerful software tools. However, because Paper is free, it's well worth installing to try out if you're more of a casual scribbler. There's a neat little collection of tool options and a pretty simple colour palette to work with.

Add the fact that the sensitivity of the ink pens and water brush options are very realistic, and you'll be getting creative bursts in all manner of locations. Needless to say, there's also plenty of integration for sharing your creations, and completed doodles, illustrations and other works of art can be delivered to family, friends and work colleagues via the usual channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

READ MORE: bit.ly/OEGpSj

8. Snapseed

Free, itun.es/i6JV6BR

Snapseed is a hugely popular app, and that's for a whole range of very good reasons. If you like to work with digital images in any kind of capacity, then it's a must-have - and the fact that it costs nothing to get hold of makes it even more of a steal. There are oodles of tools for letting you wrangle your shots into shape here, with simple enhance, transform and sharing options sitting alongside a wealth of more powerful tools for squeezing that extra something special out of otherwise lacklustre images.

Perhaps one of the best things about Snapseed is its wonderfully simple interface, although behind that rather humble exterior there are some surprisingly powerful toolbar options. Try snazzing up your images with one of the many filters contained inside, such as simple Black & White and Vintage Film options through to more quirky Grunge, Tilt-Shift and Drama effects. There's also a selection of frames to add in order to make your finished creative session even more impressive.

READ MORE: bit.ly/H0mzrA

9. TouchDraw

£5.99, itun.es/i6JV5VM

While it's possible to create simple design layouts in an application like Apple's Pages, if you're on the lookout for a more potent way of producing vector-style graphics, then TouchDraw is an obvious choice. The app's interface offers up a range of great tools, while still leaving you plenty of breathing space for getting creative on-screen. Anyone who dabbles in illustration will see the appeal in an instant, and it's perfect for producing anything from graphics and logos through to flow charts and complex diagrams.

Once you've mastered the interface, it's then easy to produce libraries of your favourite creations so you can slowly build up a stockpile of your work, to be called upon as and when you need it. Completed works of art can also be exported in many of the usual standard file formats and worked on in other programs too. All in all then, if you have a graphic challenge ahead of you and want to stay mobile while you do it, Touch Draw is worthy of inspection.

READ MORE: elevenworks.com

10. SketchBook Ink

£2.99, itun.es/i6Jk5wt

This might appear as something of a variation on a theme alongside Sketchbook Pro, but there are plenty of alternative options available here for keen fans of drawing freehand. It's actually a little simpler to operate, making it a sound investment if you don't want stacks of tools.

Nevertheless, there's plenty to keep you occupied even though there's a simplified tool set, including the ability to export finished images in a surprisingly high resolution, right up to 101.5 megapixels. That effectively means your crisp and clear artworks can then be printed out and hung up on your walls.

READ MORE: bit.ly/Ws8C1K

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Tags iPadsmartphonestabletsiPhonehardware systemsconsumer electronics

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Rob Clymo

Macworld U.K.
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