Apple pencils are expensive so it’s tempting to look for an alternative. Are there cheaper third-party styluses that will perform well or do you need an Apple Pencil for Procreate?
You don’t need an Apple Pencil for Procreate but without one, you’ll struggle to get the best results. The Procreate app uses pressure-sensitive technology which requires an Apple Pencil to function properly. Professional artists will use an Apple stylus. Logitech Crayons are a cheaper alternative but lack the pressure sensitivity mode.
Having said that, you can always draw with your finger. It’s the cheapest option and to be fair, the app is very hands-on. Using touch gestures is part of the user experience but in no way can drawing with your finger replace your Apple pencil.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
What is the Best Stylus for Procreate Artwork?
There are 3 different styluses that work with Procreate. Two versions of the Apple Pencil and one alternative stylus from Logitech.
- Apple 1st generation pencil
- Apple 2nd generation pencil
- Logitech Crayon pencil
The 1st and 2nd generation Apple Pencils are designed to work with the Procreate App and provide the user with a natural and intuitive way to create digital art. The cheaper Logitech Crayon stylus pen is designed to work with newer Apple devices and is another great option.
All three pencils will allow you to draw and paint stunning digital art with greater precision and accuracy.
The 1st generation Apple Pencil first appeared on the scene in 2015. Three years later the 2nd generation pencil was released. Both pencils work in exactly the same way with identical capacities. There are minor differences between them.
The most obvious difference is the charging mechanism. The 1st gen Pencil has a lightning connector and slots into the charging port of your iPad, while the 2nd gen Pencil attaches to the side of your iPad and charges automatically.
Apple pencils are not interchangeable, which means you must buy the correct pencil for your device. The original Apple gen 1 works with older iPad models while the Apple gen 2 works with the latest Apple iPad models. I’ve listed the models further below.
There are subtle design differences in size and texture between the two Apple styluses, both related to the charging mechanisms, but the 2nd Gen pencil has one major feature lacking in its predecessor, it has a double-tap function. More about that in a moment.
Your third option is the Logitech Crayon. It’s suitable for All iPads after 2018, iOS version 12.2 or above, and uses Apple technology.
It’s the cheaper option but lacks the pressure sensitivity function only available with Apple Pencils. That’s a major compromise if you require a more natural drawing experience.
N.B. Please note that Apple Pencils and the Logitech Crayon are compatible with the Procreate iPad app only. They are not compatible with the iPhone, meaning you can’t use them with Procreate Pocket (the iPhone version of Procreate).
Buy a cheap stylus, there’s no advantage to buying a fancy pencil with additional features.
Now let’s have a closer look at all three pencils individually.
Apple Pencil 1st Generation
The Apple Pencil 1st Generation features pressure and tilt sensitivity, allowing users to draw, write, and paint with precision. It’s comfortable to hold, with a slim profile, and a solid, substantial feel.
The tip of the Pencil is made of a special material that provides a smooth, responsive feel when drawing or writing.
The Apple Pencil 1st gen is smooth, rounded, and slightly longer than the Apple 2nd gen pencil. If anything it’s slightly longer than you expect. It needs the extra length to accommodate the lightning connector.
These are the specs for the Apple Pencil 1: (source)
- Length: 175.7 mm
- Diameter: 8.9 mm
- Weight: 20.7 grams
How to Connect and Recharge Your Apple Pencil 1st Gen
The Apple Pencil is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. To charge it, remove the end cap and attach the lightning adapter (supplied), to use it with your iPad lightning cable. Alternatively, simply plug it into the lightning port of your iPad.
It must be said that charging your pencil by plugging it directly into your iPad is an accident waiting to happen. It’s a surprisingly clumsy design concept considering it’s from Apple.
Your Pencil will begin charging immediately and will be fully charged in about an hour.
To pair the Pencil with your iPad, turn on Bluetooth on your device and press the pairing button on the Pencil. The Pencil will then be connected to your iPad and ready to use.
You have three small items that are very easy to lose. An end cap, a spare nib, and an adapter. Another design quibble that’s been addressed with the Apple 2.
In all other respects, but one, it’s equal to the Apple 2nd gen.
The 1st Generation Apple Pencil is compatible with the following iPad 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
Apple Pencil 2nd Generation
The 2nd gen Apple Pencil is slim with a flat edge on one side, which makes it easier to grip and incidentally prevents it from rolling off surfaces.
It’s shorter than the 1st gen pencil and about the same length as a real pencil, so it lies more naturally in my hand. It’s the same weight as the Apple 1, with the same solid feel.
Charging mechanisms aside, the main difference between Generations 1 and 2 is the touch gesture controls.
The Apple 2 has a built-in double-tap feature. By default, it is set to erase. A double tap near the pencil tip will activate your eraser seamlessly without having to go back to your eraser menu.
You can customize your command if another feature is more convenient. This can make your workflow much more efficient.
To change your tool settings, simply go to Settings > Apple Pencil and choose one of the following commands:
- Switch between the current tool and the eraser
- Switch between the current tool and the last used
- Show color palette
It’s a very nifty and convenient time saver.
These are the specs for the Apple Pencil 2: (source)
- Length: 166 mm
- Diameter: 8.9 mm
- Weight: 20.7 grams
How to Connect and Recharge Your Apple Pencil 2nd Gen
There is no lightning connector with an Apple 2 pencil, instead, it charges inductively (wirelessly) by placing the flat edge of the pencil along the right side of the iPad. It is held in place by magnets.
With Bluetooth switched on, the charging is automatic.
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)
This is a much smarter and more convenient design than the 1st generation and comes at a higher price.
The 2nd generation Apple Pencil will cost $129 in the US or £119 in the UK.
Both pencils should have about 12 hours of battery life before they need recharging.
As for functionality in all other respects, they are identical. The pressure and tilt functions are equally as good. The nibs are the same, there is no drawing lag, and they both draw to the same pixel-perfect precision.
Logitech Crayon (The Official Apple Pencil Alternative)
The Logitech Crayon is a chunky stylus compared to the sleekness of both Apple Pencils. As an old-school artist used to drawing with a traditional graphite pencil, I would not consider using the flat edge design. It reminds me of a clumsy carpenter’s pencil.
My preference aside, it’s slightly lighter and shorter than the Apple Pencils.
The Logitech Crayon is compatible with all iPad models from 2018 (iOS 12.2) onwards including 10th Gen iPad.
Logitech uses Apple technology and as a consequence, it has the palm rejection feature which makes using the app so much easier.
A Logitech Crayon costs less than an Apple pencil, but then again, you get less. Having no pressure sensitivity might not matter for a beginner but it’s a feature you will miss as your skills progress.
These are the specs of the Logitech Crayon: (source)
- Height: 163 mm
- Width: 12 mm
- Depth: 8 mm
- Weight: 20 g
How to Connect and Recharge Your Logitech Crayon
You don’t have to worry about pairing your Logitech Crayon. Make sure you’ve disconnected any previous digital pencils, turn the pencil button on, and start drawing.
There are two Logitech Crayons available. The older model has a push on/off button, hold it down for a second, and when the green light comes on, it’s ready to use. The newer model has an on/off slider.
The older Crayon charges via your iPad lightning cable while the newer Crayon has a USB-C charging port. Both have flip end-caps.
It takes about 50 minutes to reach full charge and has about 7 hours of battery life.
These models are compatible with the Logitech Crayon: (source)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th Gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen)
iPad Pro 11-inch
- iPad Pro 11-inch (4th gen)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd gen)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd Gen)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (1st Gen)
- iPad (10th gen)
- iPad (9th gen)
- iPad (8th gen)
- iPad (7th gen)
- iPad (6th gen)
- iPad Air (5th gen)
- iPad Air (4th gen)
- iPad Air (3rd gen)
- iPad mini (6th gen)
- iPad mini (5th gen)
This short Udemy course will help you to get started
What are the Advantages of Using an Apple Pencil with Procreate?
The Procreate app is designed to work with an Apple Pencil. If you want to get the most out of your Procreate drawing app you’ll need an Apple stylus. You have no choice.
Let’s be honest, we all know that Apple ties you to its own accessories. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming to make Apple products compatible with other brands.
Even Logitech Crayon is not 100% compatible and it uses Apple technology. If you want to use Procreate you must grin and bare it and pay up.
You will get the satisfaction of knowing that everything will work properly with Procreate and without a glitch.
You will get the following features:
- Pressure Sensitivity – Draw thicker or thinner lines according to the amount of pressure you apply.
- Palm Rejection – When your Apple Pencil tip touches your screen, your iPad will not recognize your palm or fingers. It allows you to draw naturally.
- Tilt Control – Hold your pencil at an angle and shade like a real pencil.
- No Lag Delay – Instant drawing with no delay between the movement and your line.
- Pixel Precision – Accurate drawing down to a single pixel.
Can You Draw With Your Finger on Procreate?
Yes. but the limitations are such that you will not produce anything complex. It’s OK for learning the basics of Procreate, but professional digital artists use a dedicated stylus.
Procreate is designed to work with an Apple pencil and feel natural. To get the best experience from the app, and improve your drawing skills you need the right tools. Simple as that.
There’s no pressure sensitivity or tilt function when using your finger and drawing detail is clumsy and awkward. Your fingertip is too wide to see what you’re doing. Your finger obscures the drawing point.
To have any chance of drawing accurately you must pinch and zoom the screen to magnify the image and work very close-up.
For simple shapes and for making basic graphic art it works, but for anything more complicated you’ll waste your time. Even a cheap Chinese stylus is better than just your finger.
How to Turn the Procreate Touch Actions On and Off
Procreate finger touch actions are switched on by default. It’s ready to go from the start.
If you want to turn it on and off this is the sequence.
- Tap the Wrench icon at the top left of your screen to open the Actions menu.
- Toggle-on Prefs (Preferences)
- Tap Gesture Controls to open a new menu
- Scan down to the bottom left and tap General
- Toggle the ‘Disable Touch Actions’ on or off.
- Tap Done
Are Cheap 3rd Party Pencils Worth Buying for Procreate?
In short, no. You have a costly iPad and you KNOW they block rival companies from functioning with any Apple device. You can’t even buy a generic plug socket with full confidence that it will work.
A cheap Chinese stylus is not fully compatible and what’s more, they can prompt pop-up warnings to annoy you.
Use one to draw simple lines, take notes, and draw diagrams, but don’t expect them to function well as a drawing tool. They lack advanced features, so expect lag issues, no palm rejection, and of course no pressure sensitivity.
Think of it this way. They are pretending to be Apple Pencils. The pen will look similar, the packaging will be almost the same, and they are trying to fool you into thinking they are just as good as the real thing. They aren’t.
Do you really think these companies give a damn if their rip-off stylus works as well as they claim?
For the sake of $20-25 you can experiment on the cheap. But if you can afford to gamble that money, you might as well spend a few bucks more and get the Logitech Crayon. You’ll get a pen guaranteed to perform well.
Do You Need an Apple Pencil for Procreate? Final Thoughts
Why spoil the barrel for a ha’porth of tar? If you are going to use Procreate to its full potential get a compatible Apple Pencil.
I know it’s expensive and I had the same anxiety as you about spending yet more money on another Apple accessory.
Sadly Procreate and Apple tie you in and you have few choices. There are other moderately priced stylus brands that look appealing at first glance and they are viable for many apps on iPad.
The Adonit Note Plus stylus is the other contender that gets mentioned alongside the Logitech Crayon. It sounds like the business, and it claims to be made for iPad and is firmly aimed at digital artists. All good.
The pressure sensitivity even works, but not with the Procreate app.
The Adonit is the same price as the Logitech Crayon but lacks the official endorsement by Apple. Given that’s the case, why choose Adonit?
You’ve bought an expensive iPad, and bought the Procreate app ($9.99 in the Apple Store) so you may as well bite the bullet and buy an Apple Pencil.
Save up and get the right Pencil for your iPad model. I’m glad I did. You’ll soon forget about the cost.
I bought this course on Domestika. It’s super easy to follow for an absolute beginner
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 Use Layers in Procreate: 15 Essential Tips and More
- How to Print From Procreate: Your Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Duplicate in Procreate: Copy and Paste, Cut and Clone
- How to Make Straight Lines in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Make a Stamp Brush in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Undo in Procreate: Plus Redo Gestures
- Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate? I Found Out
- How to Use the Symmetry Tools in Procreate: Step-by-Step
I made a living selling my art for over 20 years. If you want to copy how I did it, I wrote this guide for you.
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This Domestika course is subtitled from Spanish to English but don’t dismiss it out of hand. It could inspire you.