Best Free Digital art Software

04.11.2021 15 1338
Best Free Digital art Software

Nature of digital artwork

Forms of digital art

What does digital art software mean?

Factors influencing the choice of software

Best free drawing software

Final words

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ


Any professional or amateur in the field of digital art understands that the process of creating an art object is a complex process consisting of many elements. One of the key points among them is a high-quality and consistent selection of software. The digital art market today offers many options for programs that help creators in turning their craziest ideas into reality.


In this article, you will find a selection of the best programs according to many sources. This list has collected a huge variety of different best free drawing software that meets the needs of any digital artist who creates art objects in different formats.


With these tools, you will be able to achieve any results and make a masterpiece out of your head a reality.


Nature of digital artwork

The very first obvious step for us will be to study the essence of the product that we want to create using digital art software. Creators can use canvas, brushes, and oil paints for their compositions, while digital artists create something else. Digital art is a creative project made up using digital tools, including digital painting, hand-drawn environment, CGI, etc. This term was first used in the 1980s with the advent of the first drawing software.


There are two types of digital art - the first one was originally created using only digital technologies, that is, using computer technology. For instance, virtual 3D models or animation projects. The second is physically created and later digitized according to the canons of the digital world. For example, a painting drawn by the American artist Banksy was transformed into a digital art object and put up for sale on the NFT market (by the way, the physical equivalent of this painting was later destroyed as a manifesto of equal value of physical and virtual art).


Forms of digital art

We have already studied a piece of the origin and general characteristics of digital art. Now we can learn more about specific representatives of this area so that the term does not look so blurry.


It is also necessary for the artist to be sure exactly what to expect from the creation of digital art software.


  • Digital painting. Here you can draw a parallel with classical painting. As an ordinary designer paints his pictures with oil paints, watercolors, or gouache, the digital creator uses an abundance of techniques and tools presented in digital devices to simulate the visual relief and texture of paints. The creation process and materials are different, but the result is similar - the use of perspective, 3D elements, distortion, imitation of different styles (cubism, abstraction, still-life painting of a real person).
  • Digital photography. This is a kind of copy of reality. The artist takes an image of the real world (obtained from a satellite, scanner, camera, or mobile phone camera, and other devices for recording existing events) and uses them to create his masterpiece. The final product can be in the form of mixed images, collages, images processed with filters and effects, etc. This kind of art makes it possible to remove the separation between real and fantasy in order to look at existing things through the prism of the author's unique vision.
  • Sculpture. The most vividly different form of digital art from its physical counterpart. It consists of several complex preparation stages, such as design, modeling, and construction. 3D shapes imitate real objects or form completely new shapes. Sculptors are usually proficient in geometry and spatial thinking.
  • Digital installations. A 'live' digital copy of museum exhibitions or real-life objects. It implies the viewer's immersion into art and reaction to its interactions. Digital installation is a great way to give immortality to the collection of iconic museums around the world. By transferring works of art and the museums in which they are exhibited to the digital environment, you can no longer worry about their safety in terms of natural destruction or intentional technical damage. Digital installations can also become an excellent ground for restoring layouts of disappeared geographical locations based on the available descriptive archival data.
  • Videos and animation. Giving an art object the characteristics of a living object in the form of motion capture or animation episodes. Allows you to record an object of art not only in space but also in time. It is relevant for some events, the memory of which needs to be perpetuated in history. It can look like an exact copy of an object or an event recorded on a video camera or a copy of an object by recreating its individual parts from memories, either completely identical or with the addition of alternative visual elements.
  • Internet and networked art. This category includes works by artists inspired by the information flows of the World Wide Web of the Internet. At their core, these objects consider the functioning of complex computing structures within the network, and the main purpose of this illustration is seen as an opportunity to show something complex in a simplified way for understanding.
  • Mixed Media. This is a kind of combination of elements of digital art, which are fundamentally different from each other in nature. The existence of Mixed Media gives creators the opportunity to give the viewer new sensations, pieced together from the impressions of interaction with individual elements. It can be a painting that contains animation elements or a 3D sculpture integrated into the installation of some popular museum. No boundaries of fantasy.

What does digital art software mean?

At this stage, when we have already figured out and understood for ourselves what we want to create, so far to answer the main question - how will we do it? Or rather, with the help of what tools. And then free drawing software comes to help us. But before forming a list of them, let's figure out what the expression `digital art software' means in general.


Digital painting software is a virtual space program on your computer, laptop, or tablet that simulates an art workshop. It has all the necessary tools to implement your wildest ideas and perform in digital format things that are sometimes impossible to dream of. The programs have a different interface and a set of materials, but they are all similar in their goal - to help the creator release a finished product in the field of digital art.


Factors influencing the choice of software

1) Budget. The digital art software market demonstrates a huge variety of price categories from absolutely free (or free in the basic package, but with a surcharge for additional functions) to programs equipped with professional quality features of functionality, for which developers set the appropriate price. In this article, we will consider the best free drawing software exclusively


2) Specialization. Some programs are suitable for any artist, regardless of the field in which he creates art. For narrowly focused creators, the basic functionality of standard programs will not work; they will need software with a specific set of elements tailored to a specific area, whether it's painting or manga illustrations.


3) The format of your device and operating system. The field of digital art involves working on various kinds of devices, and each artist chooses the right one for himself based on personal and professional considerations. The software for creating works of art must meet the technical characteristics of your device and be compatible with all its configurations.


Best free drawing software

Well, we have finally reached the list of these programs. Choosing the right one for you is quite difficult. After you have marked all the unsuitable options, try to focus on the reviews and experience of other users on the network (and maybe even the experience of some popular blogger in this area). This way, you can find a case similar to yours and understand whether that particular program is suitable for its solution or not.


A list of the most popular and high-quality free drawing software with a full description and analysis is presented below in this article. Let's first divide them all into categories to optimize the selection process, and then we will present you with a list of all these drawing software with a description.


By budgeting options


All the software presented in this list are either completely free, or have a free basic package of standard picture editing tools, or have a bargain in the form of a free version or a free trial period.


By specialization and built-in tools


1) Free drawing programs for professional artists who are looking for premium tools, such as realistic brushes, texture packs, burn tools, customizable brushes, vector graphics manipulation features, etc. They are also searching for a program that supports pressure-sensitive drawing and supports multiple platforms (to create mixed media using elements from different programs' universes, for instance, comic creation + animation tools of the digital drawing) and other advanced features.


  • Photoshop CC
  • Procreate
  • Paint Tool SAI
  • Adobe Fresco
  • Clip Studio Paint
  • Corel Painter


2) Free programs for beginners or for people who are engaged in digital art for fun. Such people are usually interested in the basic packages, pen tools, brush tools, painting tools, text tools, and the simple interface of the drawing apps.


  • ibisPaint
  • Clip Studio Paint
  • Paintstorm Studio
  • GIMP
  • Krita
  • MediBangPaint Pro


By the format of your device and operating system


1) Software for PC or laptop (the whole program adapted or available desktop version)


  • Clip Studio Paint (Apple/Windows)
  • Paintstorm Studio (Apple/Windows)
  • Corel Painter (Windows/Apple/Linux)
  • Paint.NET (Windows)
  • MediBang Paint Pro (Apple/Windows)
  • Krita (Windows/Apple/Linux)
  • Mischief (Apple/Windows)
  • MyPaint (Windows/Apple/Linux)
  • Microsoft Paint 3D (Windows)
  • Artweaver Free (Windows)
  • Photoshop CC (Apple/Windows)
  • PixBuilder Studio (Windows)
  • Gravit (Windows/Apple/Linux)
  • GIMP (Windows/Apple/Linux)


2) Software for a graphics tablet


  • ibisPaint (iPad)
  • Clip Studio Paint (iPad/Android)
  • MediBang Paint (iPad/Android)
  • Paintstorm Studio (iPad)


3) Software for mobile phone (smartphone)


  • ibisPaint (iOS)
  • Clip Studio Paint (iOS/Android)
  • MediBang Paint (iOS/Android)


1) Adobe Photoshop CC

This list does not have a rating system, but if it had, then Photoshop from Adobe Systems Co., Ltd., leading digital publisher, would definitely be in the first place. This is a fairly old program, but for the entire time of its existence, it has no competitors. This list does not have a rating system, but if it had, then Photoshop would definitely be in the first place.


This is a fairly old program, but for the entire time of its existence, it has had no competitors. This program is a kind of benchmark for the rest.


It is suitable for any actions related to vector graphics (PSD files). Alas, raster graphics are not yet amenable to it, but for these purposes, there is its relative Adobe Illustrator software. Why a relative? Yes, because they are both aimed at creating images, but in different file formats, and they are both included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite ($9.99 per month for the whole package). Such a subscription makes it possible to move your favorite tools and interactive buttons between programs, as well as have access to one single file storage.


An important remark here is that the program is not free, but there is a free version (or free trial period) with all the features for seven days for newcomers. To use it, simply register on the Adobe website and get your personal private Adobe ID.


2) Clip Studio Paint Pro

This drawing app is very popular among artists as it provides greater freedom of functionality and flexibility of actions. Clip Studio gives the artist the same opportunities as for drawing on paper, but at the same time, there are a huge number of advantages from virtual technologies. Among the advantages of Clip Studio Paint are an extensive brush library, where all brushes can be customized; an abundance of vector tools and great versatility compared to Adobe Photoshop; great coloring options, and an abundance of additional assets to download for free. Clip Studio Paint also contains animation functions, which are in great demand among creators.


3) Paintstorm Studio

Among the best free drawing software, this program can be adapted to both a computer and an iPad. The program was developed by Sergey Komarov and is known for its variety of virtual brushes and advanced palette settings with a built-in mixer. Great for drawing anime-style illustrations. The full-fledged version of the app is paid (Desktop version US$19.00 /iPad version US$12.99), but users have the opportunity to subscribe 30 times reusable (inside the borders of a limited time) for the PC version and a completely free, but with limited functionality version on the iPad. All purchases and subscriptions are available on the official website of Paintstorm Studio.



Open source painting program with plug-ins and a free interesting tool for industrial designers. Among other advanced capabilities, GIMP includes classic universal tools such as layers, masks, color correction, intelligent selection, brushes, and filters. However, if you realize for yourself that some specific painting tool is missing, then you can always download free add-ons and expand your capabilities in digital art. Flexibility and customizability are the main advantages of the GIMP app. Also, the list of pros can include various file formats, text tools, and the ability to open PSD files.


5) Corel Painter

This is not the most versatile program for digital illustrations, but it contains many unusual image editing features that concept artists will appreciate. For example, Corel Painter not only simulates the texture and custom color in the picture but also builds the drawing process as close to reality as possible. This is desirable because of a gallery of your own brushes in collaboration with pen pressure detection. Among other advantages, experts note the user-friendly interface.


6) Paint.NET

This painting software is perfect for beginners digital painters because of its simple interface and affordable format, which will be perfectly integrated even into the most powerful devices. Among the features, it is possible to note the drawing of three-dimensional models, moving objects, and transparent structures. Paint.NET also has an important smudge tool. This software is loved by users for its ease of use, intuitive interface, and a large number of auxiliary video tutorials and instructions that can be found on the official website of the program.


7) MediBang Paint Pro

This program contains any of the drawing tools necessary for comics, anime, and manga illustrations creation among the best free drawing software. The app library contains a huge number of already made layouts and backgrounds on various topics in the style of anime, which will simplify the life of novice artists and help to understand the interface more deeply. However, in addition to the abundance of positive qualities of this software, many users note a huge problem in constantly popping up annoying ads that cannot be turned off.


8) Krita

This option is suitable for those who do not like to limit themselves to digital visual effects. The interface of this software has a huge number of canvases of different textures, the rarest representatives of digital paint brushes for image editing, and the effects themselves. In addition to this, the program boasts access to layers. The high-quality design of this technique is quite a rare phenomenon for free painting software, so professional artists boldly prefer Krita. If we touch on the topic of shortcomings, then this software has weaknesses of intext tools, and image retouching functions. Many artists have noted a huge number of bugs after the update, so be careful with this.


9) Mischief

The next representative of best free drawing programs is Mischief software for both macOS and Windows. In the new version of this software, the main advantage will be ergonomics. It turns out that due to the location of objects and interactive function buttons all over the screen, the canvas for your creativity becomes larger and more accessible. An important feature of the interface can be called such an advanced painting tool as scaling - stretching the canvas to the desired size, scaling brushes. Another important function of Mischief is the detailing of individual areas of the image.


10) MyPaint

Our list of best free drawing software is being updated by another representative - the MyPaint program. Another set of drawing tools for beginner-level artists. The main focus of the functionality is on a variety of customizable brushes. All of them are divided into categories 'Classic 'Experimental' and 'Favorite'. Here, pay attention to a unique function called 'Notepad'. With its help, you will have the opportunity to try new types of brushes and experiment with their use even before you start creating a digital drawing. This is a great opportunity to train self-confidence and creative techniques for artists who do not yet have much experience in drawing apps.


11) Microsoft Paint 3D

Among other free drawing software, this one is suitable specifically for owners of Windows 10 because, like many other basic programs of this operating system, Paint 3D is already built into their computers when purchased. But even for users of equipment based on other operating systems, this software is available for download from the Microsoft app store to any novice artist. This program cannot boast of special image editing tools, but as its name makes clear, it specializes in 3D functionality. There you can also make a three-dimensional image animated. For these purposes, ready-made shapes are loaded into the program, which you can operate with, and in order to animate them with animation, use the adjustment rings that will appear automatically around your object.


12) Artweaver Free

The next drawing software on our list is often compared to Corel Painter or the fifth version of Adobe Photoshop. This is not bad at all, but on the contrary, it can be assumed that the ground for comparison was the fact that Artweaver combines the best drawing tools of these two popular programs. The most striking feature of this free graphics software is the variability of tools and additional properties. For example, brushes with imitation of unusual materials such as chalk, charcoal, acrylic fibers, sponge, etc., or unusual effects for image editing (wind effect, waves, granulation). When using this app, there may be problems with text tools and problems with stamps.


13) PixBuilder Studio

This free drawing software is kind of middling in the market. Of course, it has all the necessary drawing tools and functions, but there is nothing special that is not found in other programs in PixBuilder Studio. Its main advantages will be ease of use and intuitive interface, compatibility with Photoshop plugins, a large variety of tools for experiments with colors, manipulating with layers, applying different effects together. Of the disadvantages, there are again problems in the embedded text.


14) Gravit

One of the few, this drawing software has both an online version and a full-fledged program for offline use on your PC. In addition, this particular application is in particular demand because of the ability to work not only with vector graphics but also with raster graphics. An artist who chooses Gravit for himself will receive a full range of necessary tools to create and edit his masterpiece of virtual art. Think of any drawing tool - you'll find it here! Among the features, pay attention to Gravit's access to a free library of vector objects. This is an extremely useful resource for designing interfaces, printing products, and creating layouts for websites. Among the absolute advantages of the software are a clear and beginner-friendly interface, reusable elements (very useful for creating a series of works in the same style or if you adhere to a specific style /branding to create your projects), and supported drafts to improve your creativity. If we talk about small shortcomings in the feedback for work based on Gravit software, users note the presence of bugs, difficulties in downloading drafts, and some difficulties in using certain functions for large projects.


15) ibisPaint

The latest program for discussion in our best drawing software list is the only app for creating virtual art exclusively using Graphics Tablet, developed by Ibis Mobile Inc. If it seems to you that the program has lost some of its functionality due to its adaptability to mobile devices, then you are mistaken - it has all the necessary functions for simple and advanced drawing. Whether it's manga, anime, or a regular virtual painting, you'll find any necessary drawing tool here. This program is one of those that provides full access to all functions only after a paid subscription for US$2.99 per month, but for basic functionality with some presence of advertisements, you can use the free version of the app.


Final words

Of course, each artist has his own way: in the ideas that he invests in art, in the forms with which he shares art with the viewer, and in the programs that he uses to embody his art in physical form. The main aspect here is not how you create it but why you create it. Any art is designed to make our world a better place, and in what form and with what digital tools it will be possible to do it - it does not matter.


We hope that this article was useful for both beginners and advanced experts in the field of creating digital drawings. We believe that you have found answers to all your questions on this topic, and you will also pay attention to the possible difficulties in using a specific drawing software or a specific drawing tool. Choose wisely, and you will find the ideal program for yourself among the best drawing apps.


Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ


What is the best digital art software?

There is no unambiguous concrete answer to this question because all artists are different and all have their own unique list of needs and requests for the program. All other things being equal, you will have to make a comparative analysis of suitable programs according to various criteria. First, you will need to decide which type of digital device will become your base platform for work: a computer, tablet, or laptop - to understand whether the integration of the program and the device is possible. Secondly, you need to calculate the budget for creating a digital art object in order to explore either the paid or free software market. This article provides examples of free drawing software. Thirdly, you need to understand the specialization of your art, in other words, the genre, since different forms of art need a variety of functions and tools that are not available in all software.


What is the best drawing program for Windows?

The concept of the best for everyone has a different sense because the artist is looking for a program with unique properties for the intended purposes. Among the programs that we have described today, most are suitable for use on computers with Windows operating system support. These include Photoshop CC (or Adobe Illustrator), Clip Studio Paint, GIMP, Corel Painter, Paintstorm Studio, etc. In addition to this, we can highlight Microsoft Paint 3D software, which is built into Windows computers by default.


How to make digital art on Apple Macbook?

With devices manufactured by Apple, the situation is about the same - they support most of the best drawing software. For instance, Photoshop (or Adobe Illustrator), Corel Painter, MediBang Paint Pro, Krita, Mischief, MyPaint, Gravit. Alternatively, If you own a computer with the macOS operating system, but the program you need is not supported by it, you can download a special application on the Internet that will simulate the functionality of Windows for you.


How to create digital art for free?


  • Give birth to the idea of a digital art object in your head and understand what form you want to embody it.
  • Explore information about the tools you will need to implement your ideas.
  • Download free drawing software with all the necessary drawing tools.
  • Get training in basic functionality (usually, it is built into the program, or you can watch the video instructions on YouTube).
  • Get started.
  • Practicing, achieving perfection, and presenting new masterpieces of digital art to this world.
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