The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (2023)

This article covers nine of the best Surface Pro drawing apps worth downloading and using for work, study, or just for passing the time and having some fun. These Microsoft Surface drawing apps support both touch and Surface Pen functionality and range from a kids video game and sketching app to a flashcard program that supports handwriting and the best note-taking app with stylus support.


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Best Artistic Sketching Surface App: Autodesk SketchBook

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (1)

What We Like

  • Massive selection of professional digital sketching tools.

  • The app’s full functionality is now unlocked for free for all users.

What We Don't Like

  • Autodesk SketchBook can be very intimidating at first for casual artists.

  • Lacks a full fullscreen option when in Windows 10’s Desktop Mode.

Autodesk SketchBook is by far one of the best Surface drawing apps with its massive list of features and digital art tools that are so often required these days by professional designers, architects, and creators.

The Windows SketchBook app previously locked many of its features behind a premium membership. However, it has dropped that paid tier completely, with its full functionality now being accessible within the app for free. Anyone can use this drawing app’s 190 customizable brushes, rulers, and unlimited layers without paying a dime or even signing up for an email list or account membership.

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Best Surface Pro Drawing App for Making Mandalas: Spirality

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (2)

What We Like

  • A unique drawing app that does something most other art apps can’t.

  • Easy to use for adults and children alike.

What We Don't Like

  • Spirality has a very specific use case that definitely won’t be for everyone.

Spirality is a Surface Pro drawing app with a difference. Rather than acting as a blank canvas for users to draw on, Spirality implements its unique workspace that allows for the creation of genuinely impressive spiral mandala designs using simple gestures and strokes.

The digital creations may look complex, but these drawings are surprisingly easy to make and only require you to drag your Surface Pen or mouse in various directions across the screen to render results. Those who prefer more control over their art can also draw freehand while the full spectrum of colors is available to choose from via the top toolbar. Impressively, you can export all creations in Spirality as still images, animated GIFs, and movie files. Every single feature is also completely free, with no in-app purchases required at all.

(Video) Top 5 Windows Store drawing apps 2022

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Best Digital Note-Taking Surface App: OneNote

What We Like

  • Microsoft OneNote is completely free to download and use.

  • Good combination of drawing and writing with touch and traditional typing.

  • All notes can sync to the OneNote iPhone and Android apps via the cloud.

What We Don't Like

  • The multiple navigation layers of notebooks, sections, and notes can become unwieldly and confusing.

  • Manually switching between drawing and typing makes sense though feels unintuitive at first.

Microsoft’s OneNote app is an absolute powerhouse of a tool that allows for creating notes on one device that you can sync to the cloud via your Microsoft account and accessed almost immediately on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, a Mac, or another Surface Pro.

The ability to quickly switch between traditional keyboard typing and drawing with a finger or Surface Pen makes OneNote one of the best note-taking apps for stylus fans. The various sorting and share options work well for those who want to collaborate with friends or colleagues. You probably won’t be making any high-quality artwork in OneNote, but if you’re just after an app for scribbling down some handwritten notes, it’s hard to beat.

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Best Note-Taking App With Stylus Focus: Microsoft Whiteboard

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (4)

What We Like

  • A streamlined UI that’s very easy to use.

  • Sharing the workspace with others is incredibly simple.

  • Easy for kids to use.

What We Don't Like

  • This drawing app may be too simple for some adults.

    (Video) Testing 5 Free Windows Drawing apps

  • Microsoft Whiteboard isn’t ideal if your project requires a lot of text.

If you’re after a super-simple drawing app for your Surface Pro or another Surface device, you really can’t beat Microsoft Whiteboard. This app features a streamlined interface designed for those who prefer to use a stylus, such as the Surface Pen, though it also works well with a mouse and basic touch controls.

The pen size and color options are easy to access along the bottom of the Microsoft Whiteboard screen. They are also a large enough size for children to interact with without accidentally selecting the wrong function. Whiteboard has some additional line and chart tools and some solid import support for PDF files and images from the Bing search database. The app’s main claim to fame is seamless syncing between devices and an easy link sharing feature, allowing multiple people to work on the same digital workspace simultaneously across multiple Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

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Best Drawing App For Pixel Art and LED Displays: Expressive Pixels

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (5)

What We Like

What We Don't Like

  • Windows 10 S users will need to switch to Windows 10 when using Expressive Pixels.

  • Scrolling content with the mouse wheel is oddly slow which can frustrate.

Expressive Pixels is a free app designed by Microsoft for creating pixel art and animations on Surface Pro and other Windows 10 devices. Users can create brand new pixel artwork, edit existing ones, or download others made by other users via the integrated online community tab using just a mouse or stylus.

Pixel creations can be saved locally as GIF or PNG files or exported to connected LED displays, tech, smart clothes, and accessories like LED goggles and masks. Many major third-party manufacturers of LED devices are supported, such as Adafruit, Sparkfun, and SiliconSquared, while drawing, editing, and exporting artwork straightforward and easy to understand. You'll need to log into your Microsoft account to download Expressive Pixels.

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Best App for Learning to Draw With a Surface Pen: Sketchable

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (6)

What We Like

  • Lots of tutorials for first-time digital artists and Surface Pen users.

  • A UI that’s designed to work on a Surface Pro with a Surface Pen.

What We Don't Like

  • Some of the advanced features are locked behind a $24.99 paid upgrade.

(Video) Surface Pro X - 4 great drawing apps for Microsoft's New Windows 10 on ARM device

Sketchable is up there with Autodesk SketchBook as one of the best Surface Pro drawing apps within the Microsoft Store app store. Sketchable boasts a massive selection of brush types, color options, and tools to help you create some genuinely professional-grade drawings and uses a UI designed to be navigated and controlled with a stylus. It is worth mentioning that Sketchable locks some of the more advanced tools behind a one-time $24.99 paid upgrade. All of the basic drawing and painting features are free.

What sets Sketchable apart is its strong focus on educating and training new users on using the app and making the most out of all of its features. Many high-quality Sketchable tutorials are available to watch directly from within the app. The official website hosts a free comprehensive manual that can be downloaded and read in addition to various artist spotlights showcasing what you can create using just this app and a Surface Pro.

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Best Surface App for Drawing on Flash Cards: Index Cards

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (7)

What We Like

  • Very easy to create sets of flashcards in a variety of styles and looks.

  • Cards can sync to the free iOS and Android apps for studying on the go.

  • Great support for both typed and handwritten content.

What We Don't Like

  • A $30 upgrade is required after 14 days if you want to use more than 50 cards.

  • The price of the upgrade is completely hidden until you choose to buy it.

Index Cards is a comprehensive Windows 10 flashcard app that lets you create an unlimited number of cards and card sets. The app naturally supports words typed with the Surface keyboard though its main draw is its support for words or images drawn via touch or a connected stylus.

The support for handwritten and drawn content sets Index Cards apart from similar apps in the Microsoft Store app store. This extra functionality is handy for those studying languages like Japanese and Mandarin, emphasizing writing characters as much as reading them. The ability to sync all created cards to free iOS and Android smartphone apps is also great. It’s worth keeping in mind that free users will be restricted to just 50 cards after the initial two-week free trial is over.

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Best Completely Free PDF Surface App: PDF Reader by Xodo

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (8)

What We Like

  • PDF Reader by Xodo is completely free to use and has zero ads or upgrades.

  • Very easy to create new PDF files and convert other file types.

    (Video) Microsoft Surface Pro: The Best Apps For The Surface Pen

  • Good support for drawing and handwriting for notes and signatures.

What We Don't Like

  • There’s no fullscreen option while in Windows 10’s Desktop Mode.

PDF Reader by Xodo is one of the best Windows 10 apps for reading, creating, and editing PDF files. It’s also completely free with zero in-app purchases and no pressure to upgrade to a premium version. You can open PDF files with just a few clicks, and there are built-in features that allow for the creation of new PDF files from a blank canvas or by importing an image. Users can capture photos from within the app too.

There are many editing tools available and some solid support for drawing and handwriting with a Surface Pen or other such stylus. Signing a PDF file with a handwritten signature is a breeze.

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Best Drawing Video Game on Surface Pro: Draw A Stickman

The 9 Best Drawing Apps for the Surface Pro (9)

What We Like

  • Players can draw any character they want to play as.

  • Gameplay is simple and intuitive.

What We Don't Like

  • No local or online multiplayer options.

  • Lack of support for Xbox Achievements and leaderboards feels like a missed opportunity.

Draw A Stickman is a unique video game for Surface tablets that lets the player draw their character and then play as their creation for the game's entirety. Once created, the character can be moved around levels by dragging a pen or finger across the screen, while additional drawings can trigger attacks or effects.

For example, the first few levels encourage players to draw fire to burn down trees or trigger explosions to clear paths. Impressively, Draw A Stickman doesn’t restrict players and allows them to draw wherever they want on the screen. If they wish to, players can draw fire all over the screen and burn down every tree in sight. Draw A Stickman is a drawing game that’s a lot of fun for kids and their older siblings and parents.

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What is the #1 drawing app? ›

1. Krita. Krita is free, open-source software that works for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. Like other sketching apps, it's pen-based but is especially useful for creating comic art with premade panels.

Is Surface Pro good for drawing? ›

The new Microsoft Slim Pen 2 has drawing performance almost on par with the Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen. The Surface Pro 8 and the Slim Pen 2 are products I can now recommend without hesitation to professional artists, especially to artists who demand a high level of accuracy for their line art.

What Microsoft program is best for drawing? ›

Top 10 Drawing Apps for Windows
  1. Microsoft Paint 3D. Price: Free. ...
  2. Microsoft Fresh Paint. Price: Free. ...
  3. MyPaint. Price: Free. ...
  4. PAINT.NET. Price: Free. ...
  5. SKETCHABLE. Price: Free, but offers in-app purchases. ...
  6. Autodesk SketchBook. Price: Free trial, $85.00 per year. ...
  7. Adobe Photoshop CC. Price: $20.99 as a single app. ...
  8. Clip Studio Paint.
30 Aug 2022

Is there procreate for surface? ›

No. Procreate is not available on Mac or Windows, to begin with.

Does Microsoft have a drawing app? ›

Part journal, part canvas, Sketchable allows you to scribble a note, snap and edit a pic, import and augment an image, or paint a masterpiece easily sharing it all with your friends and family. Open the app, pick a tool, pick a color, and delve into a limitless world of creativity.

What app does everyone use to draw? ›

Best Free Drawing Apps for Digital Artists
👍 Adobe PhotoshopWindows, MacLearn More
ArtrageWindows, Android, Mac, iOSLearn More
ColorcinchWindows, Mac, iPad, AndroidLearn More
Adobe Photoshop SketchWindows, MacLearn More
1 more row
21 Oct 2022

What is the drawing app that everyone is using? ›

The free Adobe Photoshop Sketch ranks among the best drawing apps for giving users a set of expressive drawing tools. Users can choose from utilities that mimic a graphite pencil, ink pen or marker. The app supports a variety of Bluetooth styluses on the market such as Adobe Ink, Pencil, and others by Wacom and Adonit.

What drawing app do most artists use? ›

If you're a digital artist, you should check out one or more of these drawing and painting apps for your device.
The 9 Best Drawing and Painting Apps for Digital Artists
  1. Procreate. Art with Flo. ...
  2. Astropad Studio. astropad. ...
  3. Sketchbook. ...
  4. Clip Studio Paint. ...
  5. Inspire Pro. ...
  6. Zen Brush 2. ...
  7. GIMP. ...
  8. Paintstorm Studio.
12 May 2022

Is iPad or Surface Pro better for art? ›

While the Surface Pro is best for those who need a laptop in addition to just a drawing tablet. The iPad Pro and iPad Air is lighter, more portable and can run unique apps such as Procreate app, which is arguably one of the best apps for digital art.

What tablet do artists use for drawing? ›

When it comes to creative pen tablets, the Wacom Intuos Pro is the standard for professional digital artists as well as aspiring pros. The Intuos Pro's reputation precedes it, and for good reason: on a connected Mac or PC, it lets you easily draw and paint digitally, as well as retouch photos.

Is Surface Pro better than Wacom? ›

Tablet And Work Area

In hindsight, it's even broader than the Mobile Studio Pro that is so well-celebrated. Here, the Wacom Cintiq wins against the Microsoft Surface Pro, which is much smaller in comparison. But when it comes to the resolution, the Surface Pro is a clear winner.

What is the easiest drawing software to use? ›

Best drawing apps for beginners
  • Procreate.
  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch.
  • Adobe Illustrator Draw.
  • Adobe Fresco.
  • Inspire Pro.
  • Pixelmator Pro.
  • Assembly.
  • Autodesk Sketchbook.

Is sketchbook or Procreate better? ›

Procreate works best for professional artists who plan to utilize an iPad. However, if you're using windows, then Sketchbook is the better choice. If you enjoy drawing on a piece of paper and then transferring/converting the sketch into a digital drawing, then SketchBook is also the better choice.

Do real artists use Procreate? ›

Procreate is used by professional artists and illustrators, especially freelancers and those who have more creative control over their work.

Which is better Procreate or? ›

Adobe Photoshop is the best pick for professional photo editing and graphic design. But Procreate is better for illustration and is also far more affordable than Photoshop. Procreate has a one-time fee that allows you to purchase the software and store it on your device.

Is Microsoft draw free? ›

This is a free app with no ads. This app is designed for ALL AGES.

Is SketchBook free on Microsoft? ›

Download SketchBook

This full-feature version of SketchBook is free for everyone. You can access all the drawing and sketching tools on desktop and mobile platforms including steady stroke, symmetry tools, and perspective guides.

Does Microsoft have a drawing tablet? ›

Built on top of the Windows Ink platform, Sketch Pal leverages the strengths of the Surface hardware: low pen latency, tilt support, and pressure sensitivity to empower artists to have more control over their canvas.

What do Tiktok artists use to draw? ›

Which art apps are good for Tiktok?
  • Procreate.
  • FireAlpaca.
  • MyPaint.
  • Sketchbook Pro.
  • Sketch pad.
  • ibis Paint X.
  • Krita.
  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch.

What app do art Tiktokers use to draw? ›

Procreate on the App Store.

Why is Procreate so popular? ›

Loved by creative professionals, Procreate has everything you need to create expressive sketches, rich paintings, gorgeous illustrations and beautiful animations. Procreate is the complete art studio you can take anywhere, packed with unique features and intuitive creative tools.

What app do professional illustrators use? ›

Adobe Illustrator does it all. Although it might not be entirely beginner-friendly, if you start with AI and get stuck into learning how to use it, it's a skill you're going to benefit from for life.

What drawing painting app is highly recommended for beginners? ›

1. Procreate. Procreate is a professional drawing app designed for mobile devices. Its wide range of brushes and tools, advanced layering system and finishing effects ensures a natural and fluid painting experience.

Can I use Illustrator on Surface Pro? ›

The Surface Pro 8 is the only tablet in the market capable of running the full version of Adobe Illustrator.

Do professional illustrators use iPad? ›

Believe it or not, but the iPad is not just for watching movies, taking notes, or snapping some pictures. Today iPad is a professional and very powerful tool used by many artists, illustrators, and designers. iPad paired with Apple Pencil can unleash your creativity and help you design your next masterpiece.

Is an art tablet worth it? ›

As drawing tools, graphics tablets make it possible for you to do practically anything, even stuff that you might have found difficult to do on paper. If you're looking to do lots of hand drawing and want to take your art work to the next level, then it's hard to go wrong with graphics tablets.

What is the most used drawing tablet? ›

The most popular mainstream tablets available—including the Apple iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra—can serve as powerful and feature-packed drawing tablets in their own right, and can be used on their own with drawing apps.

Which tab is best for digital art? ›

The best drawing tablets available now
  1. Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle. The best pen tablet comes with some excellent accessories. ...
  2. Apple iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) ...
  3. iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) ...
  4. Wacom Cintiq 22. ...
  5. XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen) ...
  6. Microsoft Surface Pro 8. ...
  7. Wacom Intuos Pro (large) ...
  8. Huion H430P.
25 Oct 2022

Is surface or HP better? ›

However, the Microsoft is a tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard, while the HP is more of a traditional laptop with a 360-degree hinge. The Microsoft provides a better user experience overall because it has a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, and a more responsive touchpad.

Is HP or Surface Pro better? ›

The storage performance in terms of speed and capacity is more appealing for the Surface Pro compared to the HP Spectre. Hence, it wins this section. While both are technically not gaming laptops, they both offer a decent graphics performance.

Which Surface Pro is the most powerful? ›

Surface Pro 8 – The most powerful Pro – Microsoft Surface.

What is a good drawing app that doesn't cost money? ›

Krita. Krita is a digital painting application that's completely free to use. Designed for Windows, Linux, and Mac, this tool has a simple interface that lets users experiment with unusual effects with digital art, like layer masks and color palettes.

Is sketch no longer free? ›

Sketch does not have a free version; however, the license only requires a one-time purchase. With a single payment of $99, you get all the features and a year's worth of updates.

Which is better Photoshop or Krita? ›

The difference between Krita and photoshop is the price and type of art the software creates. For example, Krita is a free, open-sourced option that excels in digital painting & animation art. Photoshop on the other hand requires a paid subscription and has advantages for photo manipulation & image editing.

What is the best platform to draw? ›

Top 10 Drawing Software
  • Sketchbook.
  • Adobe Fresco.
  • Procreate.
  • Clip Studio Paint.
  • ArtRage.
  • Painter.
  • Krita.
  • PaintTool SAI.
8 Oct 2022

› ... › Photo Editing Tips ›

Are you looking for the best free drawing software to create amazing paintings on your PC with a stylus, mouse, or touchscreen? Choose one of the following digi...
Review and compare top Free Drawing Software with features and ratings to select the best free digital art software for the perfect painting.
Drawing apps for PC allow users to create a realistic piece of art with an extensive variety of built-in tools, effects, and colors, which can be exported into ...

Can you turn a Surface Pro into a drawing tablet? ›

Surface Pro Can be used as a standalone drawing tablet , no need to connect to a laptop / pc .

Can the Surface Pro get illustrator? ›

The Surface Pro 8 is the only tablet in the market capable of running the full version of Adobe Illustrator.

Does sketchbook work on Surface Pro? ›

But with Windows 11, Microsoft introduced emulation for x64 on ARM processors, in particular, for the Surface Pro X. Sketchbook Pro does work on this device, but there are a few known limitations.

What apps are available on surface? ›

  • Windows Apps.
  • OneDrive.
  • Outlook.
  • Skype.
  • OneNote.
  • Microsoft Teams.
  • Microsoft Edge.

Which is better for art iPad or Surface? ›

If you are strictly just drawing, sketching and want to use the Procreate app with full portability, then the Apple iPad Pro or Air is ideal. If you need a laptop as well as a drawing device, then the Surface Pro works best.

Does Microsoft have a drawing tablet? ›

Built on top of the Windows Ink platform, Sketch Pal leverages the strengths of the Surface hardware: low pen latency, tilt support, and pressure sensitivity to empower artists to have more control over their canvas.

Does Microsoft Surface Use Wacom? ›

No, the Surface Pro X cannot be used with any Wacom device.

Is Microsoft illustrator free? ›

No, Illustrator is available only as part of a Creative Cloud membership. Start by downloading the 7-day free trial. You can choose a Single App plan with Illustrator only or a plan that includes more apps.

Can surface pros run Photoshop? ›

Yes, you can use Photoshop on a Surface Pro. The Surface Pro comes with pen support and pressure-sensitive pens, which give you great control over your images. You can use Photoshop to edit your photos on the go, and create beautiful, professional-looking images.

Is Photoshop good on Surface Pro? ›

The Surface Pro is a great device for Photoshop. It has a large screen, a fast processor, and a great design. The only downside is that it is a bit pricey. However, if you are looking for a great device for Photoshop, the Surface Pro is a great option.

How do I draw on my Surface Pro? ›

You have to press the undo key the flip key the free transform key the eyedropper. You know

Is SketchBook or procreate better? ›

Procreate works best for professional artists who plan to utilize an iPad. However, if you're using windows, then Sketchbook is the better choice. If you enjoy drawing on a piece of paper and then transferring/converting the sketch into a digital drawing, then SketchBook is also the better choice.

Is Microsoft SketchBook free? ›

For this reason, we are excited to announce that the fully featured version of SketchBook is now FREE for everyone!

Can I install apps on a Surface Pro? ›

You can't download Google Play apps to the Surface Pro by default, but you can run Android apps on a Surface Pro by using a third-party Android emulator. Microsoft announced Windows 11 will support Android apps on the Amazon App Store (which is different from the Google Play store).

What can you do with Surface Pro pen? ›

Write down your to-do lists, keep track of your notes, and draw your ideas. Office lets you create your best work in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. Use your pen to annotate documents, navigate through presentations, and draw diagrams.


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