iPhone and iPad

Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet

Tim Brookes 10-01-2014

Pssst… someone’s only gone and designed the Adobe Illustrator of iOS vector drawing apps, then forgotten to put a price tag on it. That’s what I first thought when I downloaded the free iPad vector drawing app, Inkpad.


Vectors are infinitely scalable drawings made up of common shapes and complex paths, and the iPad lends itself perfectly to the art of vector imaging. Unlike freehand drawing, vectors can be scaled, edited and modified with ease for pixel-perfect results.

Vector Graphics

Vectors refer to a special kind of graphic, one that is scalable to any desirable size. Vector graphics are comprised of a set of paths and instructions which the editor (in this case Inkpad) translates into an image. There’s a fairly common set of tools for working with vectors, including the bezier pen tool for plotting arbitrary paths and the basic square, circle and other geometric shapes.

Working with vectors requires a slightly different approach when compared to raster image editing. Drawings are still made freehand, though there’s plenty of opportunity to change, tweak and tidy as you go. The format suits certain types of drawing better than others, with technical drawings like maps or house plans being perfect suitors, with photographs being the perfect example of an image type that doesn’t translate well into vector format.

Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet inkpad full

Because of the differences between raster and vector graphics, many of you reading might start out wondering where to begin. I’d always recommend a tutorial or two to get you up to speed, and there are few better resources than the vector tutorials on tuts+. If you’re spoiled for choice, how about one of their top picks from 2013? Simply pick a tutorial and recreate the subject, learning all the while about paths, boolean operators and the joys of semi-transparent gradients.


The iPad is a surprisingly good fit for a vector drawing app such as this. While freehand drawing apps like Paper Introducing Paper, A Simply Beautiful Sketchbook App [iPad] Paper by Studio Fifty Three (iTunes link), which is admittedly a rather un-Googleable name for an app, is the ultimate in distraction-free simplified idea sketching. Your options are ridiculously limited - but that's part of... Read More and the more advanced Procreate Procreate: One Of The Most Beautiful and Powerful iPad Art Apps Available Today Let's set the expectations at the outset here: this is not a post about how I used iPad app Procreate to create amazing artwork, because who cares. Read More  demand a stylus, Inkpad doesn’t (but knock yourselves out). Drawings don’t occupy hundreds of megabytes, and can even be exported to the common .SVG format for further editing on a Mac or PC, or in another iOS vector app.

Inkpad for iPad

You should have guessed it by now, but Inkpad is a vector drawing program for the iPad. Not only is it blisteringly fast, stable and iOS 7-ified; it’s also completely free. This is by far the most puzzling aspect of the software, because from where I’m sitting, this is a very capable vector graphics tool.

Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet full select

The app contains the usual array of tools one comes to expect from Illustrator, Inkscape and the like. This includes a bezier pen tool for plotting shape paths, a selection of geometric shapes and a tool for adding text to your images. There are also dedicated tools for modifying the size and rotation of shapes, particularly handy for working quickly.


Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet operators

These tools allow you to construct a variety of shapes, after which you can link, mask, subtract and intersect to your heart’s content using the path tools in the bottom left corner. While the path tools on offer are extensive, don’t expect Adobe-levels of functions and buttons.

Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet layers

You can draw on an unlimited number of layers, with independent transparency tools for each layer. There is also a shadow tool for applying a drop shadow to shapes, right next to the colour picker that supports solid fills, strokes and gradients. There’s even a swatches panel for your saved colours, and an eyedropper that can spot gradients as well as colours.


Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet stroke

There are a handful of options under the cog icon, with snap-to support for edges, grid and paths off by default. Finally, when you’re ready to export you can choose .PDF, .PNG and the fantastic .SVG format, the latter of which is an editable file you can continue to work on later. Dropbox can also be used to export and import work, so you can work on a piece from multiple locations (you can also import fonts via Dropbox too).

One of my favourite Inkpad features is the ability to import images from your Camera Roll. You can add an image to your bottom layer, switch layers to trace its outline then add the rest of the detail afterwards – a popular technique when working with vectors.

A Compelling Package

Whether you’re a designer looking for an excuse to buy an iPad, a keen artist with years of vector experience behind you or a complete newcomer to the world of bezier curves, Inkpad is perfect for your vector drawing needs. It’s one powerful, simple and minimalist app perfectly suited to professionals, hobbyists and complete beginners alike.


Download: Inkpad (Free)

Have you tried Inkpad? Let us know what your favourite iPad vector graphics apps are in the comments, below.

Image credit: PlaceIt

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  1. creativemf
    April 27, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Yes - apparently only real designers can find this app! I found it two years ago when I got my 1st ipad and I thought - I'm gonna make this contraption USEFUL. The app is indeed impressive. The creator is a very clever software veteran named Steve Sprang > https://github.com/sprang - If you can design you will do AMASING things with this one!

  2. Luis
    March 15, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Yes its free and great! One thing i cant do is the noncircular radial gradients. Ron letkeman says he did his illustrations on inkpad and has directions including "squashing the circle" but when i attempt to do it, the radial gradient stays circular :(

  3. vian
    November 25, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I can't find Inkpad on App Store.
    Anybody know what happen with Taptrix Inc. also the developer Steve Sprang?

    • Fenrir
      January 17, 2016 at 3:20 am

      I don't know what happened, but it seems like the app just imploded on itself or something, because everyone talking about in august 2015 says it's great and amazing and free, and everyone in november 2015 say they can't get it, and NOBODY ANYWHERE is talking about why it's gone or what happened...and nobody seems to have been talkind about it since 2015 at all...

  4. Anonymous
    August 17, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I mainly use Inkscape to create vectors when on a pc, and Inkpad is probably the closest clone in the App Store to that in terms of functionality. Although it does lack a few basic functions, such as Gaussian blurs or non-circular elliptical gradients, there are a few things it does even better than Inkscape, my favorite being compound masking. And yeah, it doesn't hurt that it's free.

  5. Max
    May 20, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Hi, Tim! I work as marketer and it is one of my best find in App Store ever. Do you know something as simple on Mac?

  6. Zoromalik
    March 2, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I am jersey designer, I love idraw and inkpad, the only one that I need is Corel draw powerclip for them will make you easier for put in your design inside the path

  7. zoo
    July 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    This looks like a great app as photoshop elements the home version has no vector tools and now that I have discovered my ipad can do great drawings there will be no stopping me. However I never got to grips with the photoshop pen tool creating paths so I really need an easy tutorial for this inkpad app. I found one on You tube which had an annoying finger in way and the demonstartion was way too fast. Great little FREE app but looking forward to more help with it as I am not a designer.

  8. Kyem G
    January 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Just downloaded.. And yes, I think its pretty useful for artists and engineers too on the go.. I still have not started anything new in it except drawing a few stupid lines, but I was trying to see how those six demos has been created.. It seems that a person need not be an artist to draw something from his mind... Just know the shapes and you are done.. and the layer facility like photoshop is awesome... I use paper by 53 for free hand drawing but I never had bought any in app purchase as I don't have credit card and my dad doesn't allow to use his one, so I get restricted to just one tool and now this one will help to do something more as its totally open source funded by Mozilla... Nice and useful indeed... lets explore!!!