The Best Drawing Software Artists Need in 2022

Nero Peña Image
Nero Peña

Updated: December 03,2022

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Want to create digital art that pops? 

Time to get your hands on the best drawing software, then.

We’ve assembled 10 great tools for bringing your artistic concepts to life. Novice or pro, you’ll find something here that suits your skill level and style!

We looked at:

  • Features
  • Color management
  • Device compatibility
  • Ease of use
  • Price

We know it’s hard to choose from many drawing apps, so we also prepared a buyer’s guide to help you decide.

Let’s begin!

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Best for: Mobile users
Adobe Fresco logo

1. Adobe Fresco

  • Free
  • Built-in brushes
  • Adobe integrations
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Digital painting
Rebelle logo

2. Rebelle

  • Realistic brushes
  • Scalable artworks
  • Granulation effects
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Character art
Clip Studio Paint logo

3. Clip Studio Paint

  • Brush presets
  • Automated rendering
  • Cross-platform support
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Professionals
Adobe Photoshop logo

4. Adobe Photoshop

  • Rich toolbox
  • Multi-purpose
  • Great color management
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Playing with brush styles
Corel Painter logo

5. Corel Painter

  • Many brush variants
  • Photoshop integration
  • Wide compatibility
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Users of all backgrounds
ArtRage logo

6. ArtRage

  • User-friendly
  • Custom brush designer
  • Hyperrealistic paintings
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Vector art
Affinity Designer logo

7. Affinity Designer

  • Vector and raster enabled
  • Brush stabilizer
  • Unlimited artboards
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Art novices
Krita logo

8. Krita

  • Totally free
  • 100 pre-loaded brushes
  • Vector and text tools
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Computer art
Inkscape logo

9. Inkscape

  • User-friendly
  • Accessible art tools
  • Object manipulation
Visit Website Full review
Best for: Users on a budget
PaintStorm Studio logo

10. PaintStorm Studio

  • Customizable interface
  • Preset brush strokes
  • Great color correction
Visit Website Full review

Best for: Mobile users

1. Adobe Fresco

Free

Built-in brushes

Adobe integrations

It’s no secret that Adobe is a powerhouse of multimedia apps, but somehow it has always lacked in the mobile department. 

Well, not anymore – enter Fresco.

It’s the top drawing software designed for touch and stylus devices. Available on iPhone, iPad, and Windows, art rookies can use the app’s free toolbox to unleash their creativity.

Just download the app and you’re all set to create!

tool box

The app offers an amazing collection of built-in brushes. What makes it extra special are the live ones. They respond like real paint on paper! You’ll get that natural watercolor or oil painting look on your artworks.

What’s more, there are two extra brush types to choose from – pixel (raster) and vector.

Such flexibility allows artists to play with various forms of media and file formats. You’ll be able to also use the app for designing graphics like:

  • posters
  • illustrations
  • photo collages
  • sketches
  • comics

That’s why it’s the best digital art software!

You can also bring any boring static image to life by adding animation. Through frame-by-frame or path technique, it’s easy to apply motion to characters and objects.

Even better, you can add to the brush collection by importing your favorite Photoshop brushes. You can also download custom Kyle T. Webster brushes. They’re a staple for artists at major production houses like Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks!

That also means Adobe Fresco can work seamlessly with other Adobe apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. If you have a Creative Cloud subscription, all your projects are synced to your account.

Those two features, however, are only available on the premium version. A monthly subscription costs $9.99/month, with a 30-day free trial.

Like most drawing apps that are free, the program is very much beginner-friendly. Its simple interface contains all the essentials that artists and illustrators need for their workflow. 

Professionals, on the other hand, might find the freeware a bit too basic. In that case, Rebelle or Photoshop would be a better option.

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Best for: Digital painting

2. Rebelle

Realistic brushes

Scalable artworks

Granulation effects

When hunting for good paint programs, Rebelle is one of our top recommendations. 

It prides itself on being the first painting program with physical color mixing based on traditional pigments. That covers the full RGB color gamut, so you can mix hyperrealistic colors that pop!

Here’s your workspace:

workspace

You can use a blank canvas, or paint over an image via a quick file import. Once you’re ready to paint, these are the features you’ll find useful.

The new NanoPixel Technology on Rebelle 5 removes all the pixel limitations to raster graphics. You’re free to zoom as far you need into the canvas, in real-time, to see intricate details. That also means you can export up to 16x larger artworks without compromising the quality.

Its brush capabilities are far superior to other drawing platforms. The digital stencils offer lots of creative potential for designing patterns. You can make your own templates, too, for efficiency on similar projects.

The line stabilization is particularly impressive. It’s the key to achieving smooth lines and brush strokes!

If watercolor art is your style, you’ll love the program’s DropEngine. With it, you can apply gorgeous dripping effects to your artwork. Pair it with the Blow tool and let the paint flow in varying directions. 

You can also modify your paper’s texture to control the watercolors’ behavior. From oil and acrylic impasto to granular stroke effects, you can achieve that lifelike art aesthetic.

The best part? 

There’s even a time-lapse feature for screen-capturing your artistic process!

That said, Rebelle is one of the best drawing programs for professionals. Hobbyists can maximize the app too, but it might take some getting used to. Good thing there’s a limited free demo available on the website. 

If the program suits you, you can purchase the program for a one-time fee of $89.99.

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Best for: Character art

3. Clip Studio Paint

Brush presets

Automated rendering

Cross-platform support

If you love creating characters for games, manga, or webtoons, Clip Studio Paint is your go-to application software

It’s one of the best drawing programs for PC and mobile devices. It supports almost all platforms, so you can get creative with your laptop or smartphone. Whichever device you’re using, Clip Studio Paint reflects every nuance of your pen. 

It even goes up to 8192 levels of pen pressure detected by drawing tablets like Wacom!

Once you get to the interface, notice that the workspace is quite similar to Photoshop’s:

interface

Here, you get access to a wide variety of painting styles like oil paint, watercolor, or cel-shading. They’re customizable, too! You can use the pre-rendered brushes or add custom textures for a more traditional look. 

There are multiple palettes for selecting, testing, and managing your colors. That includes:

  • circles and sliders
  • similar colors
  • midrange colors
  • color history

Unlike other sketching programs, it allows you to sync devices for better functionality. For example, you can connect your main computer to your smartphone and enter Companion mode. This way, you can use your smartphone as a digital paint palette for color mixing!

When it’s time to draw, the pencil and pen tools are your weapons. They produce realistic-looking lines, so you don’t get that artificial, computer-generated look. For a smooth experience, you’re free to adjust the pen stabilization and pressure.

Character drawing in this software is even easier thanks to AI posing. You can just scan images and let the program automatically pose your 3D drawing figures to match them.

If you’re sketching tens or hundreds of manga pages, batch processing is key! You can arrange and reorder your pages as you view the entire document. That’s less time and errors working on individual pages for you.

It would have been complete if there was a text manipulation tool.

Regardless, Clip Studio Paint is a great tool for budding cartoonists. At just $50, you’re getting an investment that’s easy on the pocket. Plus, it has a generous six-month free trial!

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Best for: Professionals

4. Adobe Photoshop

Rich toolbox

Multi-purpose

Great color management

Photoshop is the king of graphic design, image editing, and 3D modeling. With that much versatility, it’s no surprise that it’s also among the best programs to draw on computer – professionally.

Drawing here is all about creating vector shapes and paths

You can use the Shape, Pen, or Freefrom Pen tools to draw vector lines and objects. They are resolution-independent, thus more scalable. You’re free to create a library of custom shapes and outlines – the possibilities are endless!

Paths, on the other hand, let you turn outlines into selections. You can change a path’s shape by editing its anchor points. 

It’s a lot of technical work, since Photoshop is one of those pro-grade drawing tools for PC. When you get to the workspace, you’ll find a massive toolbox with plenty of room for applying effects and filters:

shape and pen tools

But as we’ve mentioned, you only need a few key tools to draw – the Shape and Pen tools. You have the opportunity to draw in three different modes.

Shape Layers allow you to create multiple shapes on individual layers. They are usually meant for creating computer graphics and web pages, but also for sketching. You can easily move, resize, align, and distribute them to various areas.

Paths let you create a selection, mask, or fill and stroke with color to create raster graphics. It’s the same as using a painting tool like Rebelle.

And finally, you can use Fill Pixels to paint directly on a layer.

So, if you’re in search of good computer drawing programs, Photoshop is an easy pick. That is, if you’re looking to create artworks professionally. A monthly subscription will cost you $20.99, which you can try for free for seven days

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Best for: Playing with brush styles

5. Corel Painter

Many brush variants

Photoshop integration

Wide compatibility

As the name goes, Corel Painter is a tool dedicated to digital painting. 

With its many brush presets, you can unleash your inner Picasso and create stunning artworks. Its sketching abilities make it a good drawing software, too!

To start, you can paint from a blank canvas or over an imported image. You’re free to create your own brushes, textures, palettes, etc. Or, you can just enhance your work with brush packs like:

  • Fluid Brushes - for smooth brush strokes with opacity control
  • Thick Paint - for adding depth and texture that resembles that of traditional media
  • Watercolor - for using paint that flows, absorbs and evaporates just like the real thing
  • Liquify - for applying multiple brush effects
  • Airbrushes - for refined and realistic brush strokes

And many more!

What also makes it the best software for drawing is its wide compatibility. You can use your Mac or Windows PC to create your artwork. If you have a drawing tablet, you’ll be happy to know that it captures every stylus tilt, rotation, bearing, and pressure control. It’s all about that natural painting experience!

Corel also works seamlessly with Photoshop. You can easily import your layers, transfer documents, or preserve all file contents. 

What about color management? 

Aside from accurate mixing, its Color Selection feature is particularly impressive. You can use pair the Magic Wand with the Selection Brush tool to select portions of an image based on color. 

This makes changing your artwork’s color, lighting, and textures much easier!

For accuracy, the computer drawing program fast-tracks image placements and ensures center alignments. You can also use square bucket keys to quickly resize brushes as you paint. Its precise gradient filling tools allow for a smooth painting experience, too!

Unfortunately, the program isn’t free. You will need to purchase Corel Painter via two options:

  • Full version - $429 one-time fee
  • Annual subscription - $199/year

Good news is, there’s a downloadable 15-day free trial, so you can take the software for a spin before buying it. 

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Best for: Users of all backgrounds

6. ArtRage

User-friendly

Custom brush designer

Hyperrealistic paintings

ArtRage offers a blend of traditional tools and digital utilities to support a wide range of artistic projects. If you’re shifting from print to digital and in need of a good drawing tool, this is a good match. 

On the program, the custom brush designer is the perfect place to start. Use it to create your own unique tools and special effects, depending on your artwork. If you’re not one to start from scratch, you can just choose from the built-in brushes:

custom brush designer

To get that realistic painting look like the one above, there are many brush packs to choose from. For example, watercolor and palette knives will let you smear paint, blend colors, and create natural textures easily.

Like most drawing programs, you can organize your paintings into layers and groups. That way, it’s easier to apply individual edits, micro-filters, and blend modes.

You can start with a blank canvas, or import an image to draw over. The latter option is great for art novices and kids who want to improve their drawing skills. You can either use the image as a reference point, or as a tracing image to guide your strokes and coloring.

Speaking of that, ArtRage can help with your color choices, too! 

It automatically displays a variety of complementary colors, so you don’t have to mix and match every time.

The customizable interface also makes ArtRage a beginner-friendly PC drawing app. It makes your creative process even easier by providing comprehensive guides. For example, you can maintain a solid composition – thanks to the grids and perspective layout tools.

So – how much does it cost?

You can purchase ArtRage for $59, then it’s yours forever. 

There is a free demo you can download from the website. All features are unlocked, but you won’t be able to save files.

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Best for: Vector art

7. Affinity Designer

Vector and raster enabled

Brush stabilizer

Unlimited artboards

Much like Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer works as a drawing and designing software. This $50 app supports both vector and raster graphics editing, so you can use it to create digital art with image manipulation on the side.

On the program, you can design a simple logo or a complex illustration, like this: 

image manipulation

Vector art, though, is its area of expertise. It has a comprehensive toolset for creating digital illustrations – the best of them are the Pen and Node tools. They have a stabilization setting that lets you glide through the paper, achieving smooth outlines.

Its contour tool is just as impressive. If you’re creating abstract objects or offsetting paths, you can apply contour to add more depth to your visuals. Great for designing architectural projects or printed materials!

Like most sketching programs, Affinity Designer offers sufficient composition guides. Scratch that – it has more than enough tools for such. From standard patterns to full isometrics, there are advanced grids and guides to help you maintain a solid composition. 

Here’s the best part – unlimited artboards. You can layout as many screens, pages, and menus as you need, in a single project. Exporting them only takes one click, too!

There is a free 10-day trial, but you need to sign up for an account and verify your email address to use it. Once registered, you’ll get the download link on your dashboard.

With its features, Affinity Designer is truly one of the best drawing applications for creating computer graphics. Drawing tablet support, however, is something the company might want to improve on. 

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Best for: Art novices

8. Krita

Totally free

100 pre-loaded brushes

Vector and text tools

If you’re in search of art programs for your computer that are completely free and open-source, Krita is a good one.

It’s also extremely easy to use, so if you’re a digital art newcomer, this is the perfect entry point.

The interface looks strikingly similar to Adobe Photoshop, but a little easier to maneuver:

interface

One of its best assets is the Drawing Assistant tool. It will help you draw perfect straight lines and shapes. With nine different options, you can easily whip up great visuals – from creating ellipses to drawing curvilinear perspectives.

And the great thing is, you can use multiple drawing assistants at once!

For an easy painting experience, the PC drawing app lets you choose from 100+ built-in, professionally-made brushes. They come with various effects, so you can find a stroke that suits your style

And to keep your lines smooth and sharp, you can add a stabilizer to your brushes. This is a quick fix, especially if you have shaky hands.

The Wrap-Around Mode is also great for creating patterns and recurring visual themes. Once enabled, the image will make references of itself along the x and y axis. This way, you can paint on a single point and watch all of the selections update instantly.

With these features, you’ll be able to create digital artworks at full ease!

You are, however, limited to your computer for usage. Krita doesn’t support other drawing platforms yet, like drawing tablets or smartphones.

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Best for: Computer art

9. Inkscape

User-friendly

Accessible art tools

Object manipulation

Just like Krita, Inkscape is another free and open-source program for vector art creation. It’s the best drawing software for Windows and Linux since it doesn’t require many technical requirements. It runs smoothly on Macs, too.

It’s a vector graphics editor that uses the standard SVG file format. That’s why artists mostly use it to create: 

  • clip art
  • cartoons
  • logo design
  • web graphics
  • data visualization

And many more within the vector realm.

To start drawing, there are three main tools you can use:

  • Pencil - for freehand drawing with simple paths
  • Pen - for creating Bézier curves and straight lines
  • Calligraphy - for freehand drawing using filled paths

Additionally, the computer sketch program has standard shape tools for creating objects. You can build your figures from rectangles, ellipses, polygons, and spirals. 

Although a bit basic, its color management features are still pretty good. Its Color Selector covers most modes, including RGB, CMYK, and the color wheel. The Color Picker tool is also a quick way to change colors and gradients.

If you’re also looking for good drawing programs with text manipulation, Inkscape is an easy pick. Not all dedicated programs have this. So, it’s a pleasant surprise that users are able to add typography to their artworks. 

Professional artists, however, will find these features a bit limiting. Inkscape is a good place to start for newbie artists who are still trying their hand at digital art

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Best for: Users on a budget

10. PaintStorm Studio

Customizable interface

Preset brush strokes

Great color correction

PaintStorm Studio is an easy-to-use and affordable computer drawing program for any digital artform. Be it traditional painting, concept art, manga, or your own distinct style – the possibilities are endless!

The software’s goal is to make professional painting as comfortable as possible.

Its dynamic and customizable interface lets you rearrange your toolbox to your liking, like this: 

dynamic and customizable

You’re free to add or remove panels on the workspace to complement your creative process. Its multi-colored layer structure makes it easy to find and edit individual elements of your art piece.

However, this is the part where we experienced a few bugs. Some panels were unresponsive, and rearranging tools made other UI elements sway around. 

Now, a good drawing tool is measured by its brushes, and PaintStorm Studio isn’t lacking at all. 

There are lots of preset strokes to choose from, but you can make them your own by applying the appropriate configurations. From the brush tip to stroke shape, everything is adjustable. 

Guides and rulers also help guide your composition for accurate and balanced visuals. You can set two or three-point perspectives, binding parameters, and ruler positions for uniformity.

Now, the price.

PaintStorm Studio is not free, but there is a limited free version you can download. If you want the full version, you’ve got two options:

  • One PC - $19 one-time fee
  • Two PCs - $29 one-time fee

If you’re on the hunt for cheap drawing tools for computers, this is the most affordable paid option on our list. 

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How To Pick the Right Software

Wondering which drawing application matches your skill set? 

You can take these factors into consideration, so you can spot the right one.

Built-in Tools

As a digital artist, you want to make sure you have access to the best drawing tools for your projects.

The essentials are a must:

  • pen and shape tools
  • preloaded brushes
  • stroke presets
  • markers and perspective guides
  • blank canvas or reference image

Advanced tools can also give you more creative freedom. For example, wet tools like acrylic and watercolor will help you achieve that realistic painting aesthetic. Adobe Fresco and Photoshop also offer animation tools for adding motion to your illustrations.

Color Management 

Another important thing to consider is the program’s ability to achieve color consistency. Shades may vary from one app to the next, so it’s important to find one that stays true to its color. Thankfully, all apps on this list are able to reproduce colors exactly.

Great drawing apps, like Rebelle, also use physical color mixing based on traditional pigments. With this, you can paint using hyperrealistic and vibrant colors.

Ease of Use

If you’re a beginner, you might want to consider programs with simple toolsets and interfaces. Adobe Fresco, Inkscape, and Krita are some good examples.

Now, if art is your passion and you’re on the hunt for professional drawing software, Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter are good options. Their rich toolboxes and complex effects panels offer plenty of room for creativity.

Use Case

What type of artwork do you plan to create?

All programs on this list are pretty well-rounded. Their tools are designed for a wide range of projects.

However, some tools are better than the other in specific creative fields.

If you’re into digital painting, Rebelle and Corel Painter are good programs to look at. They offer great color management, plus many brush presets to choose from.

When it comes to drawing visuals for cartoons, manga, or comics – Clip Studio Paint is your match. It’s the best sketching software for character art.

Vector and raster graphics are Photoshop and Affinity Designer’s forte. So if you want to incorporate images into your artworks, these programs will suit you best.

Compatibility

What’s your drawing device?

If you’re a mobile user, programs like Adobe Fresco and Corel Painter are right up your alley. Some programs, including Clip Studio Paint, also run on drawing tablets like Wacom.

The best art programs for PC are Adobe Photoshop, Rebelle, and ArtRage. They have limited mobile functionality, but their desktop apps are packed with all the tools you need.

Pricing

Thankfully, there are now good drawing programs you can use for free. That includes Inkscape and Krita. These are also open-source software, so development is open to the public.

Now, if you’re looking for an affordable investment, a cheap but good art program costs anywhere between $12 to $50.

Pro-grade software like Adobe Photoshop will cost you at least $20/month.

Wrap Up

Digital drawing apps not only make an artist life’s easier. They also open up bigger doors for creativity and expression.

Getting the right software will depend on your:

  • skill level
  • budget
  • style/esthetic
  • use case

And most importantly, your artistic goals.

When in doubt, just take a look at the options above – you’ll find a match in no time!

FAQ.


What software do most artists use?

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular drawing programs for artists. Its rich toolbox offers endless possibilities to make stunning visual projects, like:

And more!

What is the most user-friendly drawing software?

Adobe Fresco, Inkscape, and Krita are easy-to-use programs for digital drawing. Unlike most graphics programs that are packed with complex tools, these are specifically designed for drawing and painting.

What is the best free art app?

Adobe Fresco is the best drawing software you can use for free. 

GIMP is also a great place to start. It’s a raster graphics editor, so you can create basic digital art and do some image editing on the side.

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Nero Peña

Nero Peña

Nero is an all-around wordsmith with a degree in Communication Arts— not the vicious emperor you might know in history books. He's an avid reader. A frisky writer. A tech enthusiast and occasional binge-watcher. He likes long walks on the beach. Enjoys deep thinking and shallow conversations. Hates ketchup. Panic! At The Disco.

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