Turn Ipad Into Drawing Tablet For Mac

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As I mentioned earlier that the app is meant to turn your iPad into a graphics tablet, it’s worth noting here that Astropad itself offers no drawing tools as such, but simply offers a gateway to the interface of say, Adobe Photoshop for example, thereby not limiting your options and letting you use it with your favorite drawing tools. Astropad can help any aspiring artist take their effort. Jun 20, 2014 'Air Stylus' Turns Your iPad Into a Drawing Tablet for Your Mac - MacRumors 'Air Stylus' Turns Your iPad Into a Drawing Tablet for Your Mac Air Display developer Avatron Software today launched Air.

You can absolutely use a tablet as a drawing pad. There a couple of things you need to take into consideration, though. Not all tablets are created the same and while all of them can be used as a drawing device, some of them are much better than others.

Which characteristic determines whether a certain tablet is a good substitute for a drawing pad?

The pen pressure sensitivity feature.

There are two kinds of touch-screens out there:

1) The first one recognizes the source of the movement, whether it’s a finger or a pen, as a simple blob. This basically means that no matter the angle or intensity of the touch, the outcome is always the same: either a perfect circle or a line with the same width all along the stroke.

Take a look at the image below to see what I mean:

Now, if you’re not really an artist and is just looking for a device that will allow you to sign documents or even create simple sketches, this will work just fine.

2) The second one is much more sophisticated and is able to recognize the amount or pressure applied by the user onto the drawing area. This pressure-sensitivity feature allows the artist to create much more complex structures by changing the thickness of the lines as the pressure increases or decreases.

Take a look at this image to understand what I’m saying:

How to turn a tablet into a drawing pad?

In case you have a regular tablet that was not designed specifically for the purpose of drawing, all you need to do is installing an app and you’re good to go.

The best one I’ve come across so far is called VirtualTablet. By installing this app in your device, not only will you be able to draw straight on the tablet (even with your fingers), but you can also see the strokes directly on the screen of your computer.

Why would you want the drawing to appear on the computer instead of the tablet screen?

Because this feature allows you to edit the images you create with more powerful software such as Adobe Photoshop.

As I’m sure you know, regular tablets don’t have a lot of spare memory so it’s literally impossible to use them with professional image editing software. This is why it’s such a good idea to use the VirtualTablet app to link the tablet to your computer.

Here’s a pro tip

Once you install the VirtualTablet app, you will be asked to choose which kind of connection you would like to establish between the tablet and the PC. There will be three options:

  • Wifi;
  • Bluetooth;
  • Tethered.

Even though it may be tempting to use the first two options because they’re wireless, they will most likely work with a bit of a lag. That’s why I strongly suggest you to pick “tethered”.

In order for the tethered version to work you will obviously need a cable to connect the tablet to the computer, but it’s totally worth it because this way you’ll get a lag-free connection.

If you’re looking for a tablet that can be used with a digital pen and that also offers the pressure sensitivity feature mentioned above, there are some pretty good options at reasonable prices. Among the most popular ones you will find:

Apple iPad Pro


This tablet is, without a doubt, the most popular one. It’s the highest rated product in its category and some claim that the second place lags far behind. This device is the perfect combo: tablet + drawing pad and it’s widely used by artists all over the world.

Have you ever seen those really clean sped up videos on Instagram in which people create amazing illustrations from scratch?

They are almost always created with the iPad Pro.

Here are some of the specs that make this tablet such an awesome choice:

Screen size

11 inches (29.4 centimeters), which is definitely enough to allow you to fully express your creativity.

Ability to multi-task

Many other tablets do not allow the user to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. You have to pick between listening to music or drawing. With the Apple iPad Pro this is not an issue, the tablet is able to process various requests without losing performance.

Apple pencil

This is where Apple shows why it’s a technology leader. Their digital pen works extremely well and it literally gives this tablet a whole new meaning because it turns what should be a simple entertainment device into a working tool capable of creating amazing artwork.

Battery life

The battery will last for a full 10 hours on a single charge. I’m sure that some people would love to use the tablet for an even longer period, but you must agree with me that 10 hours is still a pretty impressive feat, especially when you consider that the device allows the user to run several apps at the same time.

Two cameras

A 12 MP camera that shoots 4K videos and a TrueDepth camera.

The 12MP camera is particularly useful because it totally obliterates the need for a scanner. As someone who’s interested in drawing, I’m sure you need to scan images from time to time. Artists and designers like to work with raw materials like pen and paper. While this is great for practice, it’s not ideal when it comes to turning an initial sketch into a professional piece.

So, instead of worrying about finding a scanner or even buying one, simply use the camera that is already built into the tablet and you will be able to digitalize your artwork instantaneously.

Microsoft Surface Pro

This is a much more robust device. To be totally fair, it’s not even a tablet, it’s a whole computer that runs on the Windows 10 operating system.

The greatest advantage of the Microsoft Surface Pro is that it has all the perks of a regular computer coupled with the features of a professional drawing tablet.

If you’re looking for a tool that will allow you to work just like on a desktop, but that will also allow you to create artworks on a professional level, I highly recommend this one.

If you would like to read more about this tablet, make sure to read this article in which I analyze the Microsoft Surface Pro more deeply.

Among its main features you will find:

Screen size

Ipad Drawing Tablet

At 12.3 inches (31,2 centimeters), the Microsoft Surface Pro is slightly larger than the iPad Pro. Even though the difference in size isn’t substantial, when it comes to drawing tablets, size does matter.

The larger the screen, the better the experience for the end-user.

Battery life

This computer/tablet can go on for more than 13 hours on a single charge. As I’ve mentioned before, the fact that the iPad Pro lasts for a whopping 10 hours on charge is already rather impressive, but Microsoft has managed to create a battery that’s even more powerful and reliable.

Everyone hates to see their cellphone, tablet or laptop dying in the middle of an important task, right? With the Microsoft Surface Pro you won’t have to go through this ever again in case you remember to charge it while you’re sleeping.

Operating system

Most people are very familiar with the Windows operating system. It’s easy to use, it’s backed by thousands of pages online regarding common issues and it’s most likely the simplest system to format in case things really go wrong.

I love the fact that Windows offers a particularly intuitive interface and allows the users to substantially configure their device when needed.

While most other tablets work like black boxes, meaning that the user doesn’t really know what’s happening on the background regarding configuration, the Windows Surface Pro allows you to maintain what works and to change what doesn’t.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

This is one of the more affordable alternatives. Although Samsung has been releasing products that are of increasingly higher quality, they still have some catching up to do both with Apple and Microsoft.

I wouldn’t consider this particular tablet to be a robust device because it only offers the most basic specs you would expect. Regardless of that, if you’re looking for a cheaper way to get your foot on the door and start creating right away, the Samsung Galaxy Tab could be a good idea.

I would like you to know that I’m not a fan of Samsung’s cellphones. I think they’re overly fragile and their batteries tend to heat up much more than I would consider to be safe. That being said, I’m the happy owner of an older Samsung tablet and I was quite surprised by the quality of the product they put on the market.

To sum up, I’m not a big fan of Samsung’s cellphones, but their tablets are better than you would expect, especially if you take into consideration the fact that these devices tend to be much cheaper than their counterparts.

Here are some relevant aspects of this drawing tablet:

Screen size

10.5 inches (26.6 centimeters), which makes it the smallest one the list. Although it’s only marginally smaller than the iPad Pro, I still have to mention it.

S Pen

Comes with a stylus (pen) that allows the user to use this device just like a regular drawing tablet made specifically for artists.

Curiously, the pen seems to feel a bit more comfortable than the one that comes with the iPad Pro. This is a very personal remark you should take it with a grain of salt.

Book cover keyboard (optional)

You have the possibility of getting a keyboard together with the tablet, but since it’s an add-on it will cost you a bit more.

As I always mention in the articles, whenever you have the opportunity to purchase a keyboard with your tablet, do it! The keyboard will bring your device to whole a new level because it’s not only useful when you’re writing, but also while you’re drawing to the fact that you can use if for shortcuts and hotkeys.

Another detail worth mentioning is that when you use a physical keyboard, you don’t lose any of the space on the screen that those horrible digital keyboards take.


Even though tablets can be used as drawing pads, unless they have been specifically created for this reason, you will end up losing some functionality.

If you just need a drawing pad for very basic use or to create simple sketches, an app such as VirtualTablet will do the trick, but if you want to go one step further and get the best possible experience from the combo tablet + drawing pad, make sure to purchase one of the options mentioned in this post: iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The Retina display of your iMac or Macbook is an ethereal feature, prized by artists, movie lovers and designers alike. The one thing that makes it better?An extended version of this display—a second screen. If you don’t want to spend extra cash for new hardware, there’s a slick new way to build a second monitor.

Sidecar is a groundbreaking new feature in macOS Catalina (version 10.15) that lets you sync your iPad and Mac screens like never before. Combine both your favorite devices into one seamless experience that can amps up productivity and convenience by leaps and bounds.

The feature is quick and easy to use. According to your needs, your iPad can be turned either into a portable mirror display, or used as a secondary extended display. If you and your friend want to comfortably watch the same movie without hunching over a single screen, Sidecar lets one person enjoy it on a Macintosh system and the other on an iPad. Got an important presentation? Draw, edit and pull focus on your iPad, as others view it on a larger Mac screen.

System requirements

  • A compatible desktop or laptop computer installed with macOS Catalina. Most Macs from 2012 and beyond can run Catalina, but not all work with Sidecar
  • An iPad running on iPadOS 13
  • You have to be logged into the same iCloud account on your iPad and Mac
  • If using a wireless connection, the devices must be within 10 meters (approx. 33 feet) of each other
  • If using a wired connection, use a USB-C to USB-C cable to connect the new model iPad Pros. Use the USB-C to Lightning cable to connect Lightning port-equipped ‌iPad‌s

Sidecar compatible iPads:

  • iPad Pro: 11-inch, 12.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch
  • iPad (6th generation or its later versions)
  • iPad Air (3rdgeneration) & iPad Mini (5th Generation)

Sidecar compatible Macs:

  • MacBook (2016 or later versions)
  • MacBook Pro (2016 or later versions)
  • MacBook Air (2018 or later versions)
  • iMac Pro
  • iMac (2015, 2017 and later versions)
  • Mac Pro 2019
  • Mac mini (2018 or later)

How does Sidecar work?

Sidecar uses the Continuity feature provided by Apple. The initial connection is established via Bluetooth,after which data is transferred through a point-to-point Wi-fi connection.

This is a low latency connection, meaning you’ll only experience small delays when sending events from one device to another. There is virtually no drop rate, and Sidecar works with both wired and wireless connections. The wired connection helps reduce delays that crop up from a weak internet connection. If using a wireless connection, make sure your Mac and the iPad have their Bluetooth, Wi-fi and Handoff features turned on.

Read – Five Fantastic Features of MacBook Touch Bar

Using Sidecar to turn your iPad into a second screen: a step-by-step guide

First, you need to activate the Sidecar option on both Mac and iPad.

  • Browse your Mac’smenu or desktop dock to find ‘System Preferences’
  • Tap on ‘Sidecar’
  • Under ‘Connect to’ click on ‘Devices’
  • Select your iPad from the dropdown menu

Turn Ipad Into Drawing Tablet For Mac Desktop

If you can’t find your iPad in the list of devices, then plug your iPad into the Mac using a wired connection with a Lightning or USB-C cable.

Use the ‘Sidecar Preferences’ option on your iPad to turn off Sidecar, or to change its left-right positions. A ribbon lists all of Sidebar’s keyboard controls on one side of your iPad screen. This is if you want to use an Apple Pencil.

Here are all the key controls and their respective functions:

Integrate your Apple Pencil

To work with Sidecar, a first or second-generation Apple Pencil (depending on your iPad) will act as a mouse to carry out tasks like selecting, clicking or dragging items across the screen. The pencil works best when used with design applications like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. You can explore your creative vision with these apps by transforming your iPad into a graphics tablet for your Mac. Sketch out art, edit pictures and paint new wonders, courtesy the interactivity of the pencil and your Mac’s crisp retina display.

To customise the Apple Pencil options for Mac, go to System Preferences >Sidecar> According to your drawing habits, select/deselect the checkbox for ‘Enable double tap on Apple Pencil’, and ‘Show pointer when using Apple Pencil’.

Design lovers, take note

Apple announced a list of art and editing softwares that are compatible with Sidecar. As more users work from home, their options and their accessibility may see major upgrades:

  • Affinity Photo & Designer
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • CorelDraw
  • Cinema 4D
  • Final Cut Pro
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Painter
  • Motion
  • Maya
  • Substance Designer and Painter
  • Sketch
  • Principle
  • ZBrush

The speed and convenience of Sidecar make it a thoughtful and compelling release. In the coming months, we’re sure more and more people will start mounting their iPads next to their Mac screen. For more information on Sidecar, see Apple’s official release.

You may also love to read – How to Resolve Common Problems in a MacBook Air, Pro Trackpad Issues