One of the things I love about my iPad is the ability to transform digital photographs into what I like to call fast art. With the right tools, it's easy to create art on-the-go and transform your photos into beautiful gifts for co-workers and clients. Possibilities include:

How to get started 

Paper by FiftyThree is super simple to use. It lets you sketch, diagram and take notes. You can also sketch on top of photos and rearrange pages. It has its own stylus called Pencil (which is popular, but I have not tried it) With the click of a mouse you can order a Moleskin quality booklet from within the app. Have a look at examples in Wired.

Prisma (IOS, Android)

Prisma is so much fun it can be addictive. Load up your photos in this app and instantly transform them into a wide variety of styles from famous artists like Van Gogh, and Picasso. The one downside is, the art you create is low-resolution, but CanvasPop says it can optimize and enhance your image on Prisma for printing. (It offers Facebook and Instagram prints.) See an example in this TechCrunch review.

Procreate (IOS)

Procreate is a multi-award winning painting app designed for creative professionals. It's  my fave app for creating photo-based art because it is easy to use (after a bit of a learning curve) and it lets me create high-resolution images which I can export into multiple formats, including Photoshop. It can be used to sketch, paint and import photos to manipulate. I especially like to push pixels around to create artwork that blurs the line between the real and the unreal. See examples on my Instagram feed. If you want to print large canvases or wall art, you will need this app to create high-resolution images.

Additional apps to explore in IOS and Android include Autodesk Sketch, and Adobe.


The best stylus by far in my experience is the Apple pencil. If you don't have an iPad Pro, Wirecutter recommends the Adonit Mark. Its durable mesh tip provides a smudge-free writing and drawing experience, with no connection or batteries required.  (Avoid buying a stylus run on batteries as the batteries get expensive.


It's hard to know what printer to go with when there are so many competing reviews. I trust Apple for delivering high quality printed products, but they are pricey. I recently checked out Wirecutter's reviews of online print services and like the thoroughness of their tests. 

Wirecutter's number one choice is Nations Photo Lab which delivers high-quality prints, books, canvas wraps and photo gifts packed securely to avoid any shipping damage. They also offer an attractive gift-packaging option.

Wirecutter's second choice is AdoramaPix. Products range from Photo Books to fine art books to prints on paper, metal or canvas, Handcrafted, professionally inspected, and made of the finest materials, our printed products are made to look beautiful and last a lifetime.

Another choice is Photobooks, Google's new printing service. I haven't tried it but it has received favorable reviews from Wired and Petapixel

All of these services provide you with attractive layouts you can customize so you don't need to know anything about design. Just drop, drag and click. If you are ordering in bulk, its best to buy one first to check quality. 

So, what are you waiting for? Dig in and start creating!