5 Favorite Things for the iPad Artist

Posted on November 9, 2017

It seems like the holiday season is upon us again and I thought it might be a good idea to "wax poetic" about accessories for my current iPad set up.

Note: Some have affiliate links to sites like Amazom, but not all! These are just suggestions for folks on your holiday list. Clicking on my Amazon links before shopping helps to support the work I do, so it's greatly appreciated! ♥

Since the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil debuted in late 2015, I've been working almost exclusively on these devices for just about all my production work. It was a huge step for me to sell my trusty Cintiq, but adapting to the new eco-system hasn't been all that bad.

For one, I'm still using most of the programs I worked with previously for production work. Astropad Studio allows me to connect to my desktop and use my favorite apps like Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint (formerly known as Manga Studio.) Aside from a smaller workspace, it's pretty comparable to working with one of Wacom's smaller graphics tablets with a way better screen.

Here's a run-down of the accessories I use regularly to get work done!

★ Elevation Lab's Draft Table


[Amazon Link]

Scott bought this for me as an early birthday gift and OMG - it's the best! I previously used a ParcSlope which has a set angle and quite stable, but it wasn't technically built for an iPad -- it was built as a MacBook stand. When I first saw the DraftTable reviews, because of the adjustability of the stand, it looked unstable... but boy was I wrong.

It arrived flat in a box with a cushy palm rest and an Apple Pencil stand, which is awesome in of itself. (I was previously using my old Wacom stylus stand with my +ergo grip.. which is the only reason why it would stand up straight.) This pencil stand was made specifically for the Apple Pencil and protects the nib tip perfectly and keeps it right in reach.

The stand is pretty hefty and made of metal. Not sure if you want to -throw- this into a bag with your iPad, but it certainly is more portable than my previous ParcSlope! The hinges are solid and have 3 height options. Just pull the level you want and snap it into place. Only the tallest option has snap-down tabs to make sure it doesn't collapse in on itself.


It fits both sizes of the iPad Pro nicely and I've also used it as an easel for drawing and painting as well. There's a grippy plastic covering on it, so stuff won't slide around.

All in all, a really fantastic accessory and totally worth the investment!

★ Apple Pencil silicone caps & grips

There are a proverbial ton of these on sites like Amazon, and there's no "one" option that's better than others. Scott uses one with a magnet so he can attach it to the side of his iPad. I just have a tether for my cap that came in a set with a tether dongle to keep the charging adapter attached to your USB-lighting cable and pencil cap.


They're inexpensive and so many to choose from!

I also have a pricier +ergo grip that I got early on to keep me from maintaining a death-grip on my pencil when working. I wrote a post about that earlier in May, if you want to read up about that.

I've also been made aware of Koh-i-Noor felt-type pencil grips via Twitter that are super cheap and fit the pencils perfectly! I've tried a few from my own collection, but many are too narrow for the slightly wider Apple pencil.

Not sure what these are called, but I'll probably be hunting for them the next time I hit an art supply shop.

★ Apple Pencil Replacement nibs


While the Apple Pencil comes with an extra nib, I highly recommend picking up a pack of 4 for about $20, especially if you work on your device regularly.

I've gone thru about 3 so far, since I first got my Pencil back in 2015.

How can you tell you need a new one?
1) You start scratching up your screen.
2) The tip starts to look "clear" under the regular plastic.
3) Your lines start looking bad and the usual trouble-shooting doesn't seem to fix things. But you should probably also notice some wear and tear on your nib anyway.

Which brings me to 4...

★ iPad Screen Protectors

Again - a ton to choose from! Protect your investment with a screen protector. Yes, the glass is strong and with a clean Pencil, you shouldn't have any problems... BUT --

Dust and grime and finger oils and whatever will inevitably get all over your screen. It's those dust particles that can get stuck on your pencil tip and scratch up the surface.

(So in short, no - the Apple Pencil tip by itself will not scratch your iPad surface, but dust particles will.)

The one I'm currently using has a texture to it, which I kinda like -- it has a slightly more "papery" feedback to it which is nice to draw on -- some surfaces are quite slippery and harder to draw on. Major drawback -- it absolutely KILLS the retina resolution... so for some of you, can it be a deal-breaker. I initially missed the crispness of the retina screen, but after a while, I just got used to it.

There are a ton of these out there, but do the research and spend some time finding which one(s) you may prefer.

★ Smudgeguards


[Official site / Jetpens]

Alright.. I wrote about these extensively 10 years ago and I still use them daily.

They're comfortable to wear, easy to wash, and allows your palm to rest on the tablet surface when drawing. I especially like the 2-finger version since my ring finger sometimes touches the screen when I'm drawing.

★ [Bonus!] AirPods


Okay- OKAY. This is not a necessity for iPad artists, but wow - I can't tell you how much I like these little guys. I was super skeptical at first, but after Scott let me borrow his while he went to work, I use them all the time... so much so he got himself another pair.. and this is after he got himself one of the BeatsX.

I have a small collection of headphones and earphones (usually hand-me-downs from Scott, the audiophile of the family...), but as I work by myself most of the time, I don't really bother others if I just play podcasts and music thru my computer speakers. Therefore, I didn't think I would use these as often as I currently do.

While working, I have one in my ear playing podcasts/music. It allows me to walk around, cook lunch, clean up, use the bathroom, etc and stay connected to whatever is playing. I usually can't hear anything when I'm washing dishes, but with these -- I don't miss a thing.

When the battery runs low, it signals with a tone and I switch it off with the other side. Take it out of your ear, the audio pauses. Charging is fast and easy. So is pairing with whatever Apple devices you use. I even take mine with just my watch (series 2, FYI) with some music loaded on it when I go for my walks - leave my phone at home.

It's very much a part of my work flow and take them with me everywhere.

The only time it's -not- great? When you're in -really- noisy environments like airplanes. If you want to block the engine sounds, you might want to bring your noise-cancelling or in-ear-plug types.

It's been a year-long challenge for me to make the full transition from desktop to iPad for all my illlustrations and comics. It's not quite there yet, but with the speed of improvements and modications to both hardware and software, it's just on the horizon, I think.

Some of you are along with me on this journey and if you have any tips and suggestions, please send them my way!

Share this:

Upcoming Events