Helpful iPad Apps for Architecture

iPad Apps Architects and Architecture Students Use

If you’re a college student with an iPad then you’d know how helpful it actually is to have one at uni! Aside from not having to print out your handouts and powerpoints and just have them all in one place, you get to save paper usage and at the same time have a lighter carry-on when you’ve got loads of study materials. If you’re a college student who’s also an architecture student, then you must know that the iPad broadens more opportunities for us when it comes to our work.

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As an architecture student, the iPad has been helpful to me in so many ways. It allows me to sketch my thoughts and designs, play out different themes and colors easily, and view my models from SketchUp and plans from AutoCAD if I don’t want to or can’t bring out my laptop.

Although it definitely cannot replace a laptop in architecture school, here are 5 of the iPad apps that I think are extremely helpful for uni (even architects that I know use some of them!)

#1 Morpholio (Trace)

How do you know if it’s helpful? Well, only our professor – an architect – was the one who suggested using this. At first, I chose not to use it as it does cost something, however for the price, it is absolutely worth it! This is something I would see myself using even in the future, after uni.

Morph allows you to sketch in scale. It allows you to view plans in scale. It’s got triangles and rulers which also adjusts according to scale. There are layers that you can use and find it similar to using tracing or hopia paper for sketches and conceptualization.

I’m not gonna lie. It takes some time to get use to the digital space but compared to the traditional pen and paper, this just provides more opportunities making it easier to design your way through. I’m not the only one in class who uses this app. The moment they saw our professor use it, they were sold. Other classmates of mine also wanted the convenience of it if only they had an iPad.

You can check out more about the app here.

#2 Autodesk Sketchbook

Now before I was using Trace, I was already using Sketchbook. Although the downside is, this app does not do scale. What I used to do is to bring my scale with me every time and I would remember the percentage of the zoom feature to adjust and remember my scale. It was hard but still easier compared to traditional pen and paper as I can color, erase, and basically adjust schemes easily.

What I like about Sketchbook that the Trace doesn’t have is the ability to change the opacity of drawing layers. I get to plan floorplan sketches easier when I can adjust the layers as I can easily see what’s on top and bottom of the spaces or floors. Probably the pro of having the traditional pen and paper is not having to choose between the two apps for this feature.

I don’t only use Sketchbook in Architecture though, I also use it whenever I’d like to do art. I draw different people in my spare time (LOL!) and then send it to them as gifts. The tools and features of this app just make it way easier to produce art.

Before I forget, the best part? Free. You can check out the app here.

#3 SketchUp and AutoCAD

An architecture student lives by CAD, modeling software, and BIM! Okay maybe you can do everything manually if your school allows it but exaggeration aside, the two apps, SketchUp and AutoCAD helps me view my models and plans respectively when I can’t or don’t want to bring out my laptop. Now as I’ve mentioned, apps and the iPad cannot replace a laptop for architecture students (not yet anyway), but these two I downloaded for viewing purposes.

The reason why I put these two together is that they normally come together – a CAD program and a modeling program. But if you’re one to use BIM, then you probably don’t need these two.

You can learn more about SketchUp here if you haven’t, and AutoCAD here!

Pro tip: If your school is supported, you can get a free educational license for AutoCAD.

#4 Shapr3D

This is something I don’t hear often but when I actually used it, I was amazed at how useful it can be. You can model and sketch to scale. When you sketch something, it actually turns into a line, or a shape, then later on a form. It is easy to use but hard to get used to, admittedly. But the features are good, I would say. It’s like SketchUp with the ability to trace.

One absolute con, however, is that it is extremely expensive! For me anyway. But, I do think that you get what you pay for. Check it out here.

#5 Procreate

This is an app that I don’t use but placed it here anyway because I’ve seen other people use it and I am in awe! I mean, wouldn’t you be if you’ve seen this video?

Okay, aside from this guy having massive talent, the video just goes to show how far the features of the app can go. Some of my classmates have this too but the reason why I didn’t buy the app is that I already paid for a Trace subscription and I’m not one to throw my money at every great app I see.

The app seems to be helpful as well in terms of design and rendering, however, since I have not experienced using it, I don’t know if you can conceptualize and sketch-to-scale on it. You probably can. Just not sure about the scale part.

Anyway, you can check it out here.

#6 Adobe Photoshop

If you’re an architecture student who has made digital plates already then you’d know that Photoshop is the answer to post-processing. I currently have the 2nd edition of the iPad Pro so I don’t have the privilege, but I’m aware that with the latest iPad, you can actually use Adobe Photoshop – the actual thing!

I know, I know, I haven’t tried using it on the app so why am I placing it here? I realized I just really want to give app suggestions from sketching and conceptualization to modeling/planing, to rendering, and maybe this app can actually help you post-process things.

See more info on the Adobe Photoshop here.

If the following apps have convinced you somehow that having an iPad is actually helpful in college, I have a link for U.S. student viewers from Student Beans to save money for an iPad with a purchase of Beats! Check out the given link if interested.


Here are some of the iPad apps I use and what I’ve seen other people use in architecture school:

1) Morpholio (Trace)

2) Autodesk Sketchbook

3) SketchUp and AutoCAD

4) Shapr3D

5) Procreate

6) Adobe Photoshop

I won’t lie, some of them are absolutely pricey, but know you can get subscription offers and see what can suit you if you want to. They also offer free trials for you to see if it works for you. Don’t buy anything you really don’t have your heart set out on. As for me, I consider them as investments however as I’ve mentioned earlier, I don’t invest in every great app I see. I just base it on affordability and utility, when I think of the long term.

If you’re not yet an architecture student but considering to be one, you can check out my 13 Reasons Why Choose Architecture to help you decide. If you’re an architecture student, you can check out more related posts here.

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