Canvas — Drawing and Pencil or Pen support

as a teacher, I can’t tell you how badly I’m rooting for this feature. This feature allows whole community of students who are using pen-first notetaking apps to migrate to Obsidian.

Devs, if you are reading this. Please consider making it.


This is a must for me. I’d pay more for good iPad and Apple Pencil support as it’s my preferred way to take notes and brainstorm!


Yeah, this is the last piece to the Obsidian puzzle that I feel is a “need”. The rest after that are all wants :stuck_out_tongue:


Correct me if I’m wrong but since Obsidian is built in Electron it could concievably support pen input similar to other online canvas apps (eg. Miro), and accommodate all kinds of touch/pen input methods. Of course, it must be a massive undertaking in any case.


This is the one feature I need the most, out of all the apps I use.

If it were added, I would fully migrate to Obsidian for all my note taking needs. I am sure that many iPad + Apple Pencil users will join me.


Use case or problem

It would be great to be able to draw on the canvas, either on a specific type of card, any card, or it’s own layer over the whole canvas. These could be ink strokes (see e.g. OneNote, storing the paths of the ink strokes as vector data) or even just a raster image like a png file (like MS Paint).

This allows for a lot of possibilities like drawing diagrams, arrows, and quick notes by hand. The Obsidian canvas starts to look something similar to OneNote.

With these features it may also be possible to directly markup a markdown document (no puns intended here!), like drawing strikethroughs, underlines, arrows, and notes on a layer over a render of the document/card. This has it’s pitfalls of any rendering variability, or the underlying document being edited and then the ink no longer anchoring consistently as originally drawn.

Proposed solution

Here are a few different options:

  • a card type that has ink capability, with options for an opaque background & color picker, or a transparent background (useful for overlaying the card on top of others)
  • ability to add a layer to any card to allow inking/drawing on top of other content
  • ability to add a layer over the whole canvas which can be drawn on

For all options, the ink/paint could be either

  • ink (vector paths of the strokes like One Note)
  • paint/raster (pixels of the strokes like MS Paint)

Pen/stylus support should be included for drawing (e.g. Wacom tablet, Microsoft Surface Pro pens, etc).

Current workaround (optional)

For drawing in general, we can embed a png file and edit it in MS Paint or similar (related to Canvas - option to reload file(s) like images)

For marking up another card, it can be screenshotted and marked up in MS Paint or similar.

There’s also the excalidraw plugin for Obsidian which can do many of these things, but it is a different solution than the Obsidian Canvas.


Obsidian isn’t exclusively a Mac app, so I retitled this topic to be a little less iPad focused, so similar topics can be merged here. Drawing in the canvas isn’t planned (as far as I know), but it’s obviously a very popular idea.

Related plugin idea: Freedrawing on notes AND/OR Canvas w/ styluses


Apple Pencil support is also essential for me when working with Obsidian on iPad. Basically all my productivity tools from classic apps like the Office suite to pure web apps I use support the Apple Pencil and drawing even in the browser.
For Obsidian to get Apple Pencil support would be one of the greatest addition in terms of productivity that I could currently wish for.


I also believe iPad and Apple Pencil for Canvas would be amazing. The feature has an incredible potential and, since it lives inside Obsidian, it could be what Apple Freeform can never become.

I also understand how complex it would be to build, and I’m grateful to the team for building Canvas, which is already great as it is now! :slightly_smiling_face:


I definitely need canvas functionality on iOS. Hopefully this support will be added.



This thread is about drawing/pen support. Yes Canvas is coming to mobile. It’s already in the Insider builds.


Relevant to this FR from the reddit AMA

Question was

  1. Canvas is a huge step forward. A propietary yet open file format that allows for visual mapping. I’ve been rooting for so long for something that would let me have visual sorting as Treesheets allows me to. In a whiteboarding environment, I usually consider five features as mandstory: writing, linking, embedding, drawing, and a malleable environment. Canvas fulfills four out of five. Is a pencil tool for canvas being considered, as frameworks like tldraw are providing primitive yet open tools for the matter?

Response from CEO

  1. We do not think of Canvas as a drawing tool, more of a sensemaking tool — so our priorities are different than that of TLDraw, Figma, etc. We do plan to make it easier for plugins to be built on top of Canvas, so it could potentially be implemented by the community
1 Like

Thank you! Sincerely, a Samsung Galaxy S8+ user who loves his S-Pen.

I think this is the complete body of the canvas


I know the CEO is against it, but not including drawing and allowing me to replace my use of Apple Notes on the iPad with Obsidian prevents me from converting to Obsidian entirely.

They should reconsider their position. Drawing is clearly an important part of peoples workflow. And the iPad is just someones auxiliary device, there are millions of children that can only use an iPad through their school.


This is the biggest pain point I currently face on Obsidian. Not being able to make sketches with my iPad. It’s super important for me to synthesise information through sketching out how information correlates. The current canvas is nice, but can’t get close to making proper sketches.


I agree with the sentiment here. Brand new to Obsidian, and so far I am really loving it. I used OneNote before and loved the “whiteboard” aspect of it. Would be AMAZING to have the best of both worlds here in Obsidian.


Yes, yes! Drawing is the only thing canvas is missing!

The feature’s called canvas, it has to support drawing of some sort!


Well, canvas is also used for sails, bags, tents, clothes, pencil cases, shoes, cushion covers, awnings, and much more.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. :slight_smile:


True. :laughing: