Art Education iPad Apps – Which Ones Are the Best?

Apps ipad

Apps ipadMany schools are beginning to redirect money once set aside for textbooks toward technology and purchase iPads. Although some app prices may seem out of reach, they often can purchased in bulk for a fraction of the listed cost.

So what are the best apps to actively engage your students in meaningful art content and help you organize curricular resources? We included our favorites but want YOU to be the judge where they belong on the list!

Please feel free to interact and rank up or down what apps you set as a priority. View as a list or filter by tags such as painting, organization, collage, etc.

Please leave a comment on how you use it in your art curriculum!

The Best iPad Apps in Art Education
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The Best iPad Apps in Art Education

What iPad Apps are most useful for student learning and engagement? We have listed our top apps that promote CREATIVITY and ORIGINALITY. Please help rank the most useful, leave a comment, and add to this list of the BEST apps for art education!


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  1. 1  Dropbox


    Great way to send and retrieve documents and images.

  2. 2  ArtRage


    Lots of great textures and layers for making beautiful artwork. Student example here:

  3. 3  iMovie


    Pricey but it is a fantastic app if you want to do any video production with your students.

  4. 4  Percolator


    Percolator app is useful to create abstracted effects. Nice introduction to using the iPad for younger students. See student sample here:

  5. 5  Amaziograph


    Teach your students all sorts of symmetry applications including tessellations. Learn more and see student samples here:

  6. 6  iMotion HD

    iMotion HD

    Motion HD is an intuitive and powerful time-lapse and stop-motion app for iOS.
    Take pictures, edit your movie and export HD 720p videos to your device or directly to Youtube. See how this was used for claymation:

  7. 7  SketchBook Express

    SketchBook Express

    Is a good drawing app with layers for more advanced interactions. Here is a nice review of the uses in the art curriculum:
    Here is a video overview of the featueres:
    SketchBook Pro offers more layers and additional features including the Photoshop format. Check out this video geared toward kids learning the basics of Sketchbook Pro.

  8. 8  Paper by FiftyThree

    Paper by FiftyThree

    Create virtual sketchbooks for each of your students.

  9. 9  Evernote


    This is great for teachers to use to organize lesson plans or older students to organize resources. Check out this post for more ways teachers can use in the classroom :

  10. 10  Keynote


    Create and share presentations using images and embedded video. See how art students used them at the Art Institute of Chicago:

  11. 11  ArtStudio


    Draw, paint and edit photos. Supports multiple layers for advanced artwork techniques.

  12. 12  Faces iMake – Right Brain Creativity

    Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity

    Great for primary level students and integrates literature and symbolism too. Student examples: Check out our interview with the children's book author that inspired this app:“faces-imake”-3/

  13. 13  Do Ink Animation & Drawing

    Do Ink Animation & Drawing

    Great animation tool useful for elementary art students too. See how it is used here:

  14. 14  WordFoto


    Great way to integrate literacy into your art curriculum. Here are some student self-portrait examples:

  15. 15  Auryn Ink

    Auryn Ink

    While this app could never replace the tactile feel of watercolor, this app does create amazing watercolor effects.

  16. 16  Brushes 3

    Brushes 3

    I would have recommended this app as my favorite last year, but no longer. Brushes has changed their business model so that if you want to get layers, it is only done with an in-app purchase. For schools who do bulk purchases, it will not work. :(

  17. 17  Phonto – Text on Image

    Phonto - Text on Image

    This app allows you to combine photos with text. A great way to combine literacy into traditional art projects. Check out these poetry examples:

  18. 18  30hands


    This free app allows combination of photos along with audio recordings. A great way to reflect on student artwork.

  19. 19  PhotoSync


    PhotoSync wirelessly transfers photos & videos between iPad devices and your computer. PhotoSync also transfers to Dropbox, Picasa/Google+, Facebook, Flickr, and more.

  20. 20  ReelDirector


    Nice video editing app, less expensive alternative to iMovie.

  21. 21  Pinnacle Studio

    Pinnacle Studio

    Likely too expensive to add to multiple iPads – but the video editing Pinnacle app has some AMAZING advanced features that make it definitely worth the purchase on a one iPad classroom.

  22. 22  Videolicious


    Videolicious is great for creating a movie with images. Students describe artwork or learning process and post directly online.

  23. 23  Visualize


    Great for graphic design or collage. Start with an image and cutout specific parts for college effects. .png file can also be uploaded and added. Text and drawing features are also included.

  24. 24  OutColor 2

    OutColor 2

    OutColor allows you to make compelling 3D images from single conventional 2D photographs. This effect is also called the “Out of Bounds” effect where the contents are taken outside the boundaries, presented in creative 3D perspective. Check out this artsy example:

  25. 25  Inspire Pro

    Inspire Pro

    Although this is an expensive app, the oil painting effects are amazing. Great for one iPad or to recommend to students to buy if they have their own device.

Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1997 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa have presented at Illinois Art Education Association Conference on topics ranging from classroom management to technology and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.


  • April 3, 2013

    Nicole Pacitti

    In my opinion, iPads are a huge technological advance to our society, but they also hinder children’s imaginations. When I was little, nothing was better than a blank sheet of paper and colored pencil.

  • July 28, 2013


    Love it! Bookmarking this page. I also agree with the comment above – balance between the iPad and the good old piece of paper and a pencil/pen/crayon!

  • July 30, 2013


    Have to disagree strongly…iPads are simply tools, like colored pencils, paint, clay. iPads do not hinder creativity – poor lessons do! I’ve seen bad, cookie-cutter lessons written for every art medium… yes, including iPads.

  • December 19, 2013


    Learning a program on an iPad on how to slide pictures around isn’t creativity. Putting photos together to make a movie isn’t creativity. They’re both activities. Creation comes from deep within the mind of an artist who sees things like no other person. Creativity includes learning composition directly from drawing/painting out of doors training the eye to understand what is in the foreground, mid-ground and background. Sure, any child can add pre-made effects to make something look different but that isn’t creativity. Doing “art” projects on an iPad is craftsmanship but there’s no real passion. iPads do allow students to make things different and make mistakes, but the true art is in knowing which ones to keep. Using the iPad, the child’s mind is not their own as it is limited by what the iPad’s programs allow it to do. True creativity knows no boundaries.

  • Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee
    December 21, 2013

    Theresa McGee

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I am passionate about creativity too. We purposely wanted to keep certain apps off this list that were just games/activities. And true, some on this list do include pre-made effects that can be applied to an artwork (such as Percolator). While I don’t necessarily view Percolator as a creative app, it does allow children to look at their own artwork through a new lens.
    When you mention: “the child’s mind is not their own as it is limited by what the iPad’s programs allow it to do”, I disagree. When an artist paints with watercolor, the artist is limited by the media itself but learns to work with those limitations in a creative matter. I see painting with the iPad very similar. It’s not about the tools/media you’re given, instead it is about what you do with that media that shows creativity.

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