There are many different software that artists can choose from for creating digital art with their drawing tablet. Some are free, and some require spending a bit of money, and most of them work on both Windows and macOS.
Put simply, nothing beats Adobe Photoshop. This gold standard is consistent with its performance, features updates, and available resources. It is the best drawing software that artists can spend their money on.
Among the open-source free software that doesn’t fall behind on features is Krita. There are numerous brush options, convenient functions, and a customizable workspace. Krita also doubles as an animating software to create simple animations all for free.
Read more about my recommendations on the best paid and free software to use with your drawing tablet below.
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Adobe Photoshop CC
- Monthly subscription at $20.99/month (varies depending on location)
- Compatible with Windows and macOS
- Learn more about the plans here.
Adobe Photoshop is undoubtedly the digital art industry’s gold standard that many professional artists trust in creating illustrations and designs, manipulating photos, and many things more. Its’ edge lies in its high-end functionalities that allow endless possibilities in creating visuals.
Although the cost of this software might raise an eyebrow to some, we need to consider that Photoshop’s features produce professional-looking graphic designs, photo manipulations, image restorations, video edits, and even animations. It’s far more than just a simple drawing software.
It has all the necessary tools that most artists are looking for in drawing software and a lot more interesting features that you can explore.
Like most drawing software, it has a wide range of brush presets for sketching, shading, coloring, etc. You can also create your own brushes and import brush presets from other artists who make them available on the internet.
Other tools such as transform and transform warp are available to seamlessly alter the proportions of our drawings with minimal effort. In Photoshop, you can transform multiple layers at once regardless of layer type. It also allows you to warp proportions more accurately by defining your own gridlines and selection points.
Adobe Photoshop now uses artificial intelligence in its latest updates such as the Object Selection tool which automatically selects objects in a given scene or illustration. This is handy in manipulating photos, as well as manipulating illustrations that you want to tweak without making too much effort.
Another recently added feature is the Paint Symmetry mode that allows for drawing perfectly symmetrical drawings and its content-aware fill workspace to enhance our editing experience.
The subscription also includes the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. It ensures that the application is continually updated and that you can enjoy lots of extra features in the Photoshop plugins library. It also allows you to access shared data, assets, brush presets, and other resources across all devices.
For beginner artists who are looking to try out Adobe Photoshop, this Youtube video by Trent Kaniuga- a professional game designer who used Photoshop in his works on Fortnite, Overwatch, and a lot more, might be able to help you.
Other paid drawing software that I recommend include:
- Clip Studio Paint – this software caters especially to artists creating manga art and comics. The two versions: PRO and EX and they are both compatible with Windows and macOS. It has nifty features such as webtoon canvas settings, timelapse feature, 3D drawing figures that are editable, and much more. Price: One-time purchase of $49.99 for PRO or $219 for EX. Also available as yearly or monthly subscription.
- Affinity Designer – this software is especially recommended for MacOS users as it won the Apple Design Award on WWDC 2015 and has improved a lot since then. It is also available on Windows, with features such as instant vector and raster switching, live effects preview, advanced grid controls, and a lot more. Price: One-time payment of $49.99
- Corel Painter – available for both Windows and macOS users, the highlight of this software is its Brush Accelerator tool which ensures smooth workflow when drawing. Despite its simplicity, it has all the bells and whistles such as over 900 brush presets, brush customization, color options, and more. Price: One-time payment of $429, with additional payment for upgrades.
In contrast to Adobe Photoshop which requires monthly payments to keep using it, the 3 software mentioned above only requires you to pay once. With Clip Studio Paint future updates are included in the price, but that doesn’t apply for Affinity Designer and Corel Painter.
- It is Free
- Compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux
- Learn more here.
Krita is loved by many professional and amateur digital artists, not just because it doesn’t break their bank, but also because of its extensive features.
I would say that this is definitely the best free drawing software that digital artists – both beginner and expert should use.
Like most drawing software, Krita has multiple brush presets. What is interesting about its brush functionality is that it has nine brush engines that are highly customizable from its shape, particles, to its color smudging, and more.
Customizing your own brushes might be a bit overwhelming for beginners but importing brushes from other artists is another option that you can use in Krita.
You can make use of unlimited layers and enjoy all the necessary features that illustrators need such as brush stabilizer, transform tool, and multi brush tool.
You can customize the look and set-up of your workspace for different preferences or priorities in features. You can easily drag around whichever docker to whichever portion of the workspace you want it. You can also choose not to show dockers you don’t deem necessary and to show dockers that you want to appear.
What’s even more impressive about Krita is that it not only functions as an illustration but also as an animation software. Frame by frame, you can create simple animations with this amazing freeware. A bonus for artists who also have a knack for animation.
Other free drawing software that I recommend include:
- Sketchbook – this software is perfect for beginners who are looking for free, simplistic drawing software that won’t overwhelm their senses as they run the application. It has loads of brush presets and drawing tools. This program is compatible with Windows and macOS.
- MediBang Paint – this software is remarked by its extensive cloud functions, wherein you can log in to import resources from other users and participate in their artist community ArtSTREET. It has features such as screentone filters and frame borders which are perfect for manga artists. It is compatible with Windows and macOS.
I love all the products that I review. At no cost to you, I may receive a commission if you buy through a link on this page. Read more here.