If you already own a compatible IPad, buying Procreate for $10 is great value for money. But what if it was the other way around? Is it worth buying an IPad for Procreate? Does it ever make sense?
It is worth buying an Ipad for Procreate. Hobbyists and beginners should buy the cheapest standard iPad 10.2 or a refurbished model and have fun. Professional artists should invest in an Ipad Pro model with a large display and more storage space.
Apple likes to tie you into Apple products, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Procreate is exclusive to Apple IPads. I knew this, but even so, I bought an iPad just to use the Procreate app.
I had to do some homework and this is what I found out, let’s jump in.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
Is Buying an IPad for Procreate Worth the Investment?
The Procreate app is the least of your worries. It only costs a few bucks in the Apple store. It’s the device itself that will hit your pocket. How much you can afford to pay will sway your decision.
There are 4 different models to choose from:
- iPad Mini
- iPad Standard
- iPad Air
- iPad Pro
At the budget end, the cheapest device for a beginner will be a Regular Apple 10.2-inch iPad with a price tag of $300 in the US or £300 in the UK.
That means you can get up and running with a new hobby for as little as $310 in the US or the same amount in Pounds Stirling, here in the UK.
In the great scheme of things, it’s not a huge amount of money. Many people will have that kind of disposable income but wait, there’s a catch. There had to be.
You’ll need a stylus to use Procreate properly and that will add to your outlay. A standard Apple iPad will use a first-generation Apple pencil and that will add another $99 to the price. OUCH.
The Real Cost of Procreate on a Budget
Expect to pay $300 for a new iPad, $9.99 for Procreate, and $99 for the Apple Pencil. That’s £300 + £9.99 + £89 for Brits.
You can get the price down by buying a refurbished iPad and pencil or buying the Logitech Crayon stylus.
Personally, I bought a refurbished iPad and a new 1st generation Apple pencil. More about that later.
Now it’s important to say that all the compatible iPads will function very well and if you are price-conscious, you’ll still enjoy a superb experience.
For some artists and designers buying a top model for Procreate will be overkill. The optimal model will depend on what you intend to do with it.
At the other end of the scale, the best iPad money can buy, is the iPad Pro 12.9 2021 1TB+ and that will set you back an eye-watering $1749.00 PLUS you’ll still need the second-generation Apple pencil to go with it. That’s a huge difference in price.
Sure you get all the latest bells and whistles, a larger screen, greater storage capacity, and more processing power, who wouldn’t want that? But should you buy the best iPad for the Procreate App alone? For most of us, I think not.
Only a top professional artist or graphic designer will need the extra size and efficiency of an iPad Pro, and what’s more, they can justify the purchase price as a tax-deductible expense.
I think most people will worry about the initial cost, but there are other factors to consider, such as the best size and storage capacity. I’ll mention them briefly.
What Size iPad is Best For Procreate?
The screen sizes range from 7.9 inches, for the iPad Mini (2019) to 12.9 inches for the latest iPad Pro. I suspect most people will feel more comfortable with the middle-range sizes. Standard iPads are 10.2-inches.
Standard iPads are portable but heavier than the other non-Pro models.
If you will be using an iPad every day as a commercial illustrator or designer, you’ll prefer to have the largest screen you can afford. You are unlikely to use it much outside your workspace.
If you are a hobbyist, however, a 12.9-inch model is too big to carry around comfortably. If portability is important, there are smaller 11-inch iPad Pro models.
The smallest iPads are the iPad Minis, the 5th generation 2019 model is the smallest at 7.9-inches, and the 6th generation 2021 Mini is 8.2-inches.
They are super portable and the newer iPad Mini 6th gen is much more powerful than a regular iPad, it’s more like a Mini Pro.
It’s an excellent choice and has many advanced features but most artists will be frustrated by the smaller screen size.
Having said that, I bought a refurbished iPad Mini 5th gen, and that’s because I travel a great deal. Size and weight are a priority for me, and so too is the danger of losing my device along the way.
I’m very conscious that I can be carrying around tech worth many thousands of dollars and that makes me worth robbing!
Everything is a compromise and preference will always depend on your situation.
How Much Storage Do You Need For Procreate?
Running out of storage is a hassle you can do without, so having more storage will make your life easier. Having said that, it’s important to remember that you can always back up your files and store them elsewhere.
If you’re buying an iPad mainly for the purpose of using Procreate, you will have extra space available to you that might’ve been used for photos and videos.
You could just about get away with 32GB if you backed up your files regularly to release more space, but you’ll soon tire of this. Realistically, you’ll need at least 64GB to have an enjoyable time. If you can afford more storage, go for it.
The latest iPad Pro has either 1TB or 2TB of storage. That’s overkill for ordinary users.
The most important consideration should be your memory, expressed as GB of RAM. This is built into your device and determines the number of layers you can make in each model. Sadly Apple is reluctant to publish this information and you have to find it yourself. So I did.
- The cheapest standard iPads from 2019, 20, and 21 all have 3GB RAM, plus the iPad Air 2019 and the iPad Minis 2019 and 2021.
- The iPad Air 2021 has 4GB of Ram and so does the iPad Pro 2015 and 2017. The 2018 Pro models below 1TB of storage also have 4GB of Ram
- The iPad Pro 2018 1TB and the 2020 iPad Pro have 6GB of Ram
- The iPad Pro 2021 models below 1TB of storage have 8GB of Ram
- The 2021 iPad Pros with 1TB and 2TB of storage have a whopping 16GB of RAM.
In my research, I discovered Brooke Glaser on Youtube who explains everything clearly. She calculated the number of layers you can make with a 16-inch x 16-inch canvas at 300DPI (suitable for printing).
Brooke omits this information with her 16″ x 16″ 300dpi examples:
- 2GB of RAM = 4 Layers
- 3GB of RAM = 7 Layers
- 4GB of RAM = 19 Layers
- 6GB of RAM = 25 Layers
- 8GB of RAM = 41 Layers
- 16GB of RAM = 77 Layers
The two standout duds are the Standard 2018 iPad and the Pro 2016 model with only 2GB of RAM. Don’t buy them.
Did you watch the video? If so I think you’ll like Brooke’s classes on Skillshare. You can sign up for a free trial.
The latest premium iPad Pros 1 and 2TB have the new and powerful M1 chip. They have lightning speed, enormous storage, and an enormous amount of memory (RAM). They also have much brighter screens, about 25% brighter.
They also have an enormous price tag and are completely over the top for everyone except professionals.
Can You Use Procreate Without an Apple Pencil?
Technically you don’t need a stylus to draw on the app, you can use Procreate with your fingers.
That’s fine for simple shapes, blocking in color, and gesture controls, but if you want to get the most out of your drawing app you’ll need a stylus, pen, pencil, or whatever you want to call it.
Here’s the rub, only the Apple Pencil is 100% compatible with IPad, and they make you pay for the privilege. Wouldn’t you know it?
There are two Apple pencils to choose from and you have to get the right Apple pencil for the right model. They’re not interchangeable.
The 1st Generation Apple Pencil is compatible with the following models:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation iPads)
- iPad Pro 10.5-inch
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
- iPad Air (3rd generation iPad)
- iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generation iPads)
- iPad Mini (5th generation)
The 1st generation Apple Pencil will cost $99 in the US or £89 in the UK
The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil is compatible with the following models:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th and 5th generation iPads)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation iPads)
- iPad Air (4th generation iPad)
- iPad Mini (6th generation iPad)
The 2nd generation Apple Pencil will cost $129 in the US or £119 in the UK.
I think it’s a waste of time and money to try to learn Procreate without a dedicated pencil. You have next to no choice but to buy one.
Not zero choice, however. There is one alternative 3rd party pen that uses the same Apple technology. You can buy a Logitech Crayon.
The Logitech Crayon is compatible with all iPad models, 2018 (iOS 12.2) and later, using a USB – C port, and costs far less.
You can buy a Logitech Crayon for $69.95 in the US and £49.95 on Amazon UK. You can also buy refurbished pencils and save even more.
There is a caveat, Logitech can do almost everything an Apple pencil can do, except one thing, there’s no pressure sensitivity. That might not matter to everyone, but if you wish to take your skills further you will want that function eventually.
If Logitech can make one stylus to work with all models from 2018 onward, then it begs the question… why can’t Apple? I think we know the answer to that.
One word of caution. There are many Apple stylus-type pencils being sold on eBay and Amazon but they will have limited functionality. They will trigger Pop-up warnings and under-perform. Don’t waste your money.
Is it Worth Buying a Used iPad For Procreate?
Buying a quality used iPad is a great way to save money and get your hands on a premium iPad at an affordable price.
There are a number of things to consider when you’re thinking of buying a used iPad.
Make sure your bargain iPad is fully compatible with the current version of Procreate.
These are your choices according to Procreate.com:
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation)
- 11-inch iPad Pro (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation)
- 10.5-inch iPad Pro
- 9.7-inch iPad Pro
- iPad (9th generation)
- iPad (8th generation)
- iPad (7th generation)
- iPad (6th generation)
- iPad (5th generation)
- iPad mini (6th generation)
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad mini 4
- iPad Air (5th generation)
- iPad Air (4th generation)
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPad Air 2
I’ve read that you can use Procreate on some older models by purchasing it as a gift in the App store, sending it to your own email address, and redeeming it. You will be prompted to download a compatible Procreate version.
I’ve not tried this myself, I read about it online. It’s not ideal.
Buy the newest version you can afford. Apple devices have a limited lifespan. Your older iPad might work perfectly well but Apple will almost certainly withdraw support after several years and compel you to upgrade.
If you decide to buy a 2015 iPad for example, you must assume that your support will end in the near future.
Buying a used iPad on eBay, Craigslist, FB Marketplace, and the rest, is a risk. If the device is too cheap, ask yourself why? There is a very real chance that the device is stolen and the Activation Lock has been applied. You cannot bypass this lock.
Not only that, an Apple iPad or iPhone can only have 3 iCloud accounts registered on the device. Wiping the device back to factory settings makes no difference. If the device has 3 accounts attributed already, your Apple ID will not work.
Only buy a refurbished iPad from Apple, or an authorized and reputable 3rd party dealer. You will pay slightly more but you’ll have a warranty and peace of mind.
Go to the Apple Renewed shop on Amazon and see what deals they offer. I saw an Apple Pro 2021 1TB for $999 when I looked.
Battery life is also an issue with used iPads. The capacity diminishes over time. You must accept that it’s a trade-off for getting a cheaper used model. If the battery life is too low you can get them replaced.
Should you buy a used iPad? I did. I bought a refurbished iPad Mini 2019 (5th Generation) and I’m very happy with my purchase. I bought mine from a UK company called BackMarket.
Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate: Final Thoughts
Digital artists and graphic designers are going to say yes for commercial reasons. For ordinary folk, the decision is more difficult.
I’m a professional artist, but I’m old school. I learned to draw with pencil and paper and drawing on a glass screen is alien to me. It takes time to adjust to the new medium.
There is no doubt that there are advantages to making art this way. All you need is an iPad and an Apple pencil and you can simulate any traditional medium, without the mess, expense, and space needed to store everything. You have a portable studio.
Some people embrace tech with open arms, others are more reticent. When I was debating whether to take the plunge I went into my local Apple Store and to my surprise, and delight, they had the Procreate app pre-installed on their demo iPads.
I could play around with it and ask the staff questions.
Then I discovered that my branch offered free Procreate classes too – WOW! I don’t know how common that is but it’s worth checking out.
In my opinion, Procreate beginners will choose to buy the best affordable iPad, be it a standard iPad, or a refurbished model.
This was my logic. I bought a refurbished iPad with a generous returns policy and a warranty. I could try it out, see how I like it, and return it if I was disappointed. If all else failed I could sell it, and get most of my money back, no harm done. It’s not such a big risk.
As it is, I’m keeping mine.
Before you leave, Keep scrolling…
I really enjoyed this course on Domestika. It’s super easy to follow. I know that’s true because I bought it.
Check out my Domestika Review here: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers
Check these Procreate posts out:
- Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts
- How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Duplicate in Procreate: Copy and Paste, Cut and Clone
- How to Make Straight Lines in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Undo in Procreate: Plus Redo Gestures
- Procreate Classes (Course Page)
If you want to know how to sell your art from a market stall, I wrote this guide for you.
These posts are related to business:
- What Kind of Art Sells Best? All The Secrets Revealed
- Is Print on Demand Worth it? The Pros and Cons for Creatives
- Are Online Drawing Courses Worth it? I Chose 5 of The Best For You!
- Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting? I Found Out
- Is Selling on Etsy Worth it? Pros and Cons for Artists and Crafters
- 25 Platforms for Artists to Sell Their Art Online and Make Money
- 19 Ways to Make Money as an Artist Online and Off: No Fluff!
- Drawing Ideas for Adults: 120 Cool and Easy Things to Draw
- Is Redbubble Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists and Designers
This Domestika course is subtitled from Spanish but don’t dismiss it out of hand. It could inspire you