IPad versus Wacom tablet - Pattern and Design

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IPad versus Wacom tablet

There are so many great tools you can get to help with your designing but sometimes it’s hard to know which one is the right for you.

Two really popular tools that pattern designers often use are the iPad Pro and Wacom tablet.

If you’re going to buy only one though, which one should you get?

Tablet options

The Wacom Intuos Pro tablet is really popular amongst designers. It is a drawing tablet that sits on your desk. You then use a drawing pen that allows you to draw onto tablet and your drawing will appear on your computer screen.

If you’re using your iPad, you will draw straight onto the screen just as if you were drawing on paper and your drawing will appear on the screen also

There is also a third option I will mention and that is the Wacom Cintiq. It is similar to the iPad in that you draw straight onto the tablet and your drawing will also appear on the tablet.

No matter which tool you use, all of them are great as they allow the process of drawing to be really fluid. You will be able to draw in a similar way to drawing on paper rather than trying to draw with a mouse.

Pros and cons

Whether you’re using the Wacom Intuos Pro (where you draw down on the tablet and it will appear on your computer screen) or you’re using the Wacom Cintiq (where you draw and your art appears on the screen) both will need to be attached directly to your computer.

So wherever your computer is, that is where you will be using the tablet.

In comparison, your iPad is very portable. So you are able to can sit on your couch and design while you’re watching TV if that’s what you’d like to do.Β  It gives you the mobility to design from anywhere. It can be a great tool to take on holidays for example.

iPad apps

To use your iPad as a drawing tablet, you will need to download drawing apps. Some are free and others are paid apps.

Procreate is a really low cost and popular app. Adobe also has a few including Fresco and Photoshop although you will need an Adobe account to be able to use some of them. Be aware that it’s not the full version of Photoshop. Affinity also has some really popular drawing apps.

These apps will allow you to create your design elements using a variety of brushes and tools (depending on the app) and you are then able to bring them back to your computer to create your pattern repeats.

What is better?

So, which is works better?

The answer to this is that it really is up to your preference and your work process. Personally, for me, I have a way Wacom Cintiq which I use when I’m using iMac but I also have an iPad Pro. I love both but each for different purposes. but if you’re only going to buy one, I think it would

It will also depend on your budget as to which one may suit you better. The Wacom Intuos Pro is the cheapest of the 3 options but if you get an iPad you can also use it for other things e.g. emails, internet, watching Netflix πŸ˜‰etc.

If you do decide to get an iPad my recommendation would be to get the best you can for your budget. I have the larger 12.9inch screen and I love it. I think it’s a great size for designing and I know that I would find the smaller screen more limiting.

Before you invest, think about workflow, what you want the tablet to do and how much you’re happy to spend and that will help guide you.


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  1. Kat says:

    Thank you for this great information. In getting an iPad, do you recommend 256GB or 512GB?

  2. Karen Little says:

    The benefit to using a drawing tablet like a wacom is that you can ultimately work on a large computer screen. Things like brush pallets will not get in your way, plus you can have other applications open and visible.

    Also note that there are other drawing tablets that compete with Wacom that are less expensive and have similar features or ones that are better. Ipads are fascinating. to use but if you have a lot of work to get done, do it on a standard computer. Best you can put two monitors on a standard computer For the absolutly best production experience.

  3. Caron Cavalier says:

    Thanks for that really good advice Rachelle. Was a bit confused before! Cheers, Caron

  4. Andrea Leggett says:

    Thanks Rachelle. That is so helpful.
    One question is, do you you draw direct on your ipad screen or is it covered with anything? I struggle to draw on the screen and some advice is to cover with a matt type film but I’d like to know what you do.

  5. Ir says:


    I have an ipad, but not yet a computer to which I can connect it, can I also design patterns that are suitable with the new illustrator app for the ipad?

    • Pattern and Design says:

      I personally like to take my design elements into the computer as the full programs have more features and I like the control I can have over my designs but you can also create patterns with the Illustrator app.

  6. Pearl Goddard says:

    Hi Rachel!
    Thanks for the info on what type of tablet to buy for designing. Its been very helpful as it’s difficult to know sometimes just what to buy that will be the most helpful as there are soo many different ones now on the market.
    Thanks Pearl 😊x

  7. Nancy says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I’m a non career artist/ former graphic designer. I love designing repeats in I pastels on my I pad but I am wondering if the print market would ever be able to use it.

    • Pattern and Design says:

      Yes you can create pattern repeats and sell them using any media, it’s just finding the right client πŸ™‚

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