Apple’s iPad is a powerful and versatile creative tool that allows artists to turn their tablets into portable art studios. If you’re new to finger painting – or digital art in general – it may seem daunting to get started. Here are some of the best iPad artwork apps available today

? Brushes   With a simple toolbar at the bottom of the screen that controls everything, Brushes (£2.99; www.brushesapp.com) has an easy-to-use interface. Options include a colour wheel, a brush menu, undo/redo, and a layer menu. The app’s brushstroke performance is fast, pinch zooming is smooth and it has easy navigation and autosave functions too. Most impressive is Brushes’ automatic recording of the painting creation process – you can even play back the steps inside the app.

Brushes also lets you export your actions as a file, which you can convert to a video via the free companion app, Brushes Viewer.

? SketchBook Pro Autodesk’s desktop digital artwork application goes mobile with SketchBook Pro for iPod (£2.99; www.autodesk.co.uk). SketchBook Pro’s excellent toolset is extensive, with options for drawing straight lines and geometric shapes, and for adding text to your artwork.

There are customisable side palettes for brushes and colours, which speeds up and simplifies your creative workflow. With the iPad 2, you can work at a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels and export your artwork with up to 12 layers in PSD format.

? ArtRage Taking a different approach to painting on the iPad is ArtRage (£2.99; www.artrage.com), with tools that aim to replicate rather than replace traditional painting techniques – and with stunning results. The oil paint brush behaves exactly as you would expect, with strokes that have a natural, textural quality to them. Using the pallet knife, you can easily spread paint around the canvas and blend colours together in an incredibly realistic way. And there are simulations for watercolour paints, an airbrush and pastels, as well as an array of other impressive tools.

? ArtStudio The most desktop-like app of this bunch, ArtStudio (£1.99; www.iphoneclan.com/artstudio) assembles into one collection some of the best features found in mobile painting apps. It has a broad selection of brushes, including an airbrush, a wet brush and a scatter brush for creating patterns and textures. Hidden panels of options for brushes, colours, and layers give you extra choices. And a filter panel lets you make stylised adjustments to your painting, such as Gaussian blur, sharpen, and noise.

? Procreate A painting app built for performance, Procreate (£2.99; www.savage.si/procreate) is incredibly responsive and has a beautifully simple interface. It features a fixed menu around the outer edges of the canvas, offering immediate access to sliders for adjusting brush size and opacity, and it also has undo and redo buttons. The full brush, layer, and colour menus are accessible and easy to see.

Procreate also has some useful extras, including a customisable smudge tool and a brand new tool for creating custom brushes.

? Eazel Adobe makes its first attempt at a painting app with Adobe Eazel for Photoshop (£1.99; www.photoshop.com), and in so doing has demonstrated how the iPad can be used in conjunction with desktop software. Adobe’s unique five-finger interface, which places its tools at your fingertips, is fun, but it can be irritating too, as it requires some dexterity. Eazel is worth a look, but it lacks basic features such as brush choices and layers.

? Inkpad If you want a full-blown vector illustration app, check out Inkpad (£5.49; www.taptrix.com). Using your fingers you can tap and plot Bézier curves with the pen tool, draw geometric shapes, and make path adjustments. Overall, Inkpad is a brilliantly executed tool for any vector artist.