Top 5 Tattoo Design Apps To Improve Your Workflow

Explore the top 5 tattoo design apps that offer powerful tools and features to help both beginners and professionals.
Explore the top 5 tattoo design apps that offer powerful tools and features to help both beginners and professionals.

Are you an aspiring tattoo artist looking for ways to make your design process more efficient and convenient? If you are trying to achieve this goal by trying out digital design tools, our research will help you navigate the variety of tattoo design apps and find the one that fits you most.In this article, you’ll find 5 tattoo design apps that can assist both beginners and pros in transitioning from traditional pen-and-paper to digital art. We compared features made available by each tattoo design software, their learning curve, compatibility, and prices. We also recommend checking out several practical tips that will help artists avoid common pitfalls associated with digital design.

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The team of creators behind InkMatch has created many helpful guides for young tattoo artists, including advice on how to practice your tattoo designs. Feel free to check it out alongside other essential topics!

Why Do Artists Need Digital Tattoo Design Tools?

Why Do Artists Need Digital Tattoo Design Tools?

The advancement of digital technologies has greatly affected the lives of creators in many spheres, and tattoo artists are no exception. For them, the biggest shift happened at the stage of design creation. An old-school way of drawing a tattoo is by using multiple sheets of tracing paper for different design steps.

Ultimately, the choice between digital design and pen-and-paper is a matter of personal preference, and many artists still prefer the traditional approach. It is also true that getting used to tattoo design software takes time, and you might feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. But despite that, incorporating tattoo drawing apps in your workflow offers a range of very significant benefits. Here is the list of key considerations:

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 If you are already sure that you want to work digitally, you can jump straight to our review of the 5 best tattoo design apps.

🚀 Faster design process

Tattoo creator apps allow artists to streamline their processes, which can save them a lot of time. Tattoo artists can cut corners as they have everything they need in one place. You can easily switch between projects or design layers and access all kinds of helpful features, including color palettes, custom collections of brushes, templates, and many more.

😉 Increased convenience

Creating tattoo designs on your drawing tablet or computer is more convenient than pen-and-paper in many ways. The most obvious benefit is that tattoo design apps allow you to limit the use of tracing paper. In fact, it is not uncommon for busy artists to run out of space to adequately store all the tracing paper they use. Instead, you can safely keep all the working materials on your hardware or cloud storage. This also means that it is much easier for an artist to create several versions of the same design without the need to recreate sketches every single time.

On top of that, the undo feature makes the tattooing process more forgiving, as you can always revert any changes you’ve made so far. This is especially beneficial for younger artists, who can edit the same part of the design over and over without wasting lots of tracing paper.

😉 Increased convenience

🔎 Improved precision

Of course, tattoo artists can edit sketches made on paper, but tattoo design apps give you more freedom in that regard. The ability to zoom in and work on minute details ensures that every line, curve, and shading is perfect. This can be helpful in many scenarios, especially when working on intricate ornamental or geometrical designs that require perfect symmetry.

💼 Better portability

In case you plan to work on tattoo designs outside of your studio or even consider becoming a traveling tattoo artist, digital art tools will provide the portability you require. Not only do you cut down the amount of supplies to carry, but you can also get easy access to as many reference materials as you want. There is no need to print anything out—you can just copy and paste images or templates into the design project in one of the tattoo design apps.

5 Best Tattoo Design Apps for Ink Professionals

Let’s start by saying that there are many tattoo design apps available, and the choice between them depends on a wide range of factors. For example, when we were trying to pick the best tattoo design app we compared user interfaces, feature variety, pen stabilization, learning curve, and more. However, most of these aspects are at least to some degree subjective, so we recommend getting some first-hand experience before making a commitment.

Procreate

Logo and user interface by Procreate

Logo and user interface by Procreate

Advantages:

✅ Easiest app to learn

✅ Large number of design features

✅ Seamless user interface

Downsides:

🤔 Available for Apple users only

Availability:

🤖 macOS, iOS

Price:

💸 one-time, $12.99

Currently, Procreate is the most popular tattoo design app by a noticeable margin. Procreate’s success can be explained by its seamless user interface, extensive library of brushes and drawing tools, and comfortable stabilization. Also, this is one of the best design apps for starting tattoo artists, as it can be navigated intuitively and has a gradual learning curve with numerous guides available online. Overall, Procreate is a powerful tattoo design software that is considered by many an industry standard.

With that said, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind. First, and probably the only objective disadvantage Procreate has, is that it is Apple-exclusive. If you don’t want to purchase an iPad or already use a different brand, you won’t be able to use it and will have to use a more accessible app like Sketchbook. The second potential reason to pick another app is if you dislike Procreate’s pen stabilization (even though most artists are content with it). In this case, you should consider Clip Studio Paint, as its stabilization settings are quite a bit different.

Sketchbook

Logo and user interface by Sketchbook

Logo and user interface by Sketchbook

Advantages:

✅ Most straightforward interface

✅ Collection of essential design features

✅ Gradual learning curve

Downsides:

🤔 Might lack some advanced features

Availability:

🤖 Windows, Android, macOS, iOS

Price:

💸 free of charge

Although Sketchbook is not as popular as Procreate, it is still a versatile tattoo sketch app known for its simplicity and flexible design toolkit. It is available for Mac, Windows, and Android, making it accessible for a wider audience. Sketchbook’s big advantage is that it grants you access to all the essential drawing features free of charge. Also, while there is not as much educational content available online compared to Procreate, you should be able to find enough tutorials to help you master this tattoo design app.

In principle, Sketchbook has everything a tattoo artist needs. However, if you are an established artist looking for more advanced features, Clip Studio Paint or Adobe Fresco can be good options.

Clip Studio Paint

Logo and user interface by Clip Studio Paint

Logo and user interface by Clip Studio Paint

Advantages:

✅ Largest amount of design features

✅ Extensive brush collection

✅ Fine-tuned pen stabilization

Downsides:

🤔 Steep learning curve

Availability:

🤖 Windows, Android, macOS, iOS

Price:

💸 one-time, $54.00

Clip Studio Paint is a professional-grade drawing and painting app widely used by illustrators, comic artists, and animators. Of all tattoo design software on the list, Clip Studio Paint offers the most advanced set of tools. Its pen stabilization also feels quite different from what Procreate has to offer, which can be a significant advantage, depending on your preference.

Generally speaking, Clip Studio Paint is viewed as a tattoo design app for advanced artists who know how to benefit from the extended toolkit offered by the app. For beginners, however, the learning curve might be too steep.

Adobe Fresco

Logo and user interface by Adobe Fresco

Logo and user interface by Adobe Fresco

Advantages:

✅ Best in combination with Adobe ecosystem

✅ Well-thought interface

✅ Tools to work with vectors

Downsides:

🤔 Unfamiliar for artists with no experience with Adobe

Availability:

🤖 Windows, macOS, iOS

Price:

💸 monthly, $9.99

On its own, Adobe Fresco is a solid tattoo design app with a polished user interface and lots of helpful features. Most notably, creators praise Fresco’s capabilities when working with vectors. Choosing Fresco as a tattoo design software is a great idea if you are already a part of the Adobe ecosystem, as it will allow you to use your subscription plan to the fullest.

On the other hand, if you have never worked with other Adobe apps like Photoshop or Illustrator, then you will be better off with Procreate as it offers pretty much the same amount of functionalities for a lower price.

Support Tool: InkMatch

User interface by InkMatch

User interface by InkMatch

Even though InkMatch is not a tattoo design app, it is one of the best places to find reference materials quickly and effortlessly. Using the website’s gallery, artists can easily find tattoo designs based on the style, theme, or placement they are looking for. For example, imagine you want to see what kind of lion tattoo design would look good on the client’s forearm. To do it, you can go to InkMatch’s gallery of 30,000 tattoos, type “lion” in the search bar, and set tattoo placement as “forearm.” It is fast and convenient, so why not try it?

Notable Mentions

The tattoo creator apps we have reviewed offer all the essential features tattoo artists need. But there are a few more categories of digital design tools that can also prove very useful. First, we recommend trying out AI-powered instruments. Currently, you can find dozens of websites that offer such services—check out several of them and pick the one that works better for you. Second, tattoo artists who work on lettering tattoos can benefit from tattoo font catalogs. Many tattoo font generators are available online, so don’t shy away from checking them out, too.

Must-Know Digital Design Tips for Tattoo Artists

Must-Know Digital Design Tips for Tattoo Artists

Almost every tattoo artist faces some struggles while transitioning from pen-and-paper to digital tattoo design tools. This is why we prepared a list of 4 simple yet practical tips you need to know to make this shift more smooth.

📝 Always name your layers

Regardless of what tattoo design app you’re working in, you’ll have to navigate multiple layers. At some point, you will inevitably get lost unless you name each layer understandably and concisely.

🔐 Know where your designs are saved

This one can prevent lots of frustrating issues. Properly organizing your working folder means that you won’t have to waste time trying to find the design you need. Also, some tattoo design apps save your working files alongside the software files, meaning that if you delete the app you’ll delete all the designs with it, so be careful!

🖌️ Recreate designs you’re working on

Trying to recreate designs instead of simply copying them from elsewhere is essential to developing your drawing skills. This will help you grow as an artist and be more confident in case a client asks to make changes to the design on the spot.

🖊️ Consider using drawing accessories

Drawing glove and uppercase grip from Amazon

Drawing glove and uppercase grip from Amazon

If you feel uncomfortable drawing tattoo designs on a tablet, there are two accessories that might help you. First, a drawing glove allows your hand to glide smoothly across the tablet’s surface, reducing friction and preventing the skin from sticking to the screen. Second, an uppercase grip is a thick cover that fits over a digital pen, helping you to hold it more comfortably.

Summary

Digital design tools have made the process of creating ink art simpler and more convenient. In this article, we reviewed the 5 best tattoo design apps and looked into their strengths and drawbacks. Procreate, the most popular tattoo design software, deserves its status, but there are other worthy options. Clip Studio Paint and Adobe Fresco can be a good pick for experienced tattoo artists, while Sketchbook is a great choice for beginners that can be accessed from any platform.

We hope our review of tattoo design apps and practical tips will help you adjust to digital tattooing techniques and continue your creative growth.

FAQ

❓ What Design Apps Do Tattoo Artists Use?

We selected the 5 most promising tattoo design apps, including popular apps like Procreate and Sketchbook, and more advanced options like Clip Studio Paint and Adobe Fresco.

💲 Where Can I Design My Own Tattoo for Free?

Sketchbook is a tattoo design app that is completely free. Most other software requires a one-time payment to access all the features.

🧐 Is Using a Tattoo Design App Worth It?

Yes, as we discussed this section, tattoo design apps help you save time and make the design process more convenient.

🤝 What Should You Know When Working in a Tattoo Design App?

Here, you can find 4 practical tips for artists working in tattoo design apps, including naming working layers and using drawing accessories.

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