The digital drawing software performs a crucial role in the studio of a modern artist because art supplies are getting expensive every day. It takes a lot of paper and wood to create physical drawing equipment that is not environment friendly so, artists are shifting towards digital art.
So, many artists prefer to use a digital medium to create artwork. The programs give artists some key benefits that they are unable to get in creating the artwork physically.
The benefits of working in the software are immense, and they overthrow the negative points of working with the drawing software. The functions such as undo and layers functionality are some distinct benefits artists get when creating they create art digitally.
Top 10 best digital drawing software to use in 2021
It is the most advanced drawing software available on the market right now. Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based graphic editor that also supports vector graphics and 3D models. It is also a 3D drawing software that you can use to create 3D content.
Its workspace is the best in all of the programs listed here. You can switch from drawing essentials to animation workspace in seconds.
Photoshop offers tools like the pen tool, which will help you mark paths to replicate the same motion as you do with the pen. So, you can draw designs with a mouse.
The Adobe Creative Cloud lets you sync your designed resources from one application to another, and it is a superb functionality for the designers. Who use different applications to create resources and then import them in Photoshop to use them.
- Excellent top of the line functionality
- All graphic formats are supported 3D, Raster, and Vector
- Animation and Creative Cloud to sync your resources
- Very steep learning curve
- Expensive than the other programs on this list
- Demands high system requirements
- Subscription $59.99 a month with CC
- Subscription $20.99 a month single application
Adobe Illustrator is only used to create vector illustrations, logos, and user-interfaces. It is the best tool to create logos and has been used by several designers who work with logos.
As it is vector graphics only so, apart from few raster effects, it has no three-dimensional workspace and no raster graphics processing.
If an artist wants to work with an image (raster graphic), they can import it as a transparent PNG in the illustrator, but it is not recommended since the image will lose its resolution when the vector is magnified.
It is a bit downside for this software, but it is easy to use, and a new designer can easily find his/her way through this software quickly.
The tools are easy to learn for laymen. And there are plugins available for Illustrator which you can use to further extend its capabilities.
- Low system requirements then Adobe Photoshop
- Low size as compared to Adobe Photoshop
- Easy workflow with vectors
- No raster graphics
- No vector animation panel
- Subscription $59.99 a month with Creative Cloud
- Subscription $20.99 a month single application
It is a drawing software from Japanese Graphic design software company Celsys. It is known in the Japanese market as Kurisuta. It is a bit different from Photoshop and Illustrator, and it is more focused on customers who design comics and illustrations.
It packs some amazing features like AI colorization, comic book page manager (very helpful if you create comics), and animation.
AI colorization helps an artist quickly color artwork with an outline and save a lot of time and revisions.
It is a great competitor against premium software due to its low price and high user value. It is compatible with most of the drawing tablets available in the market and boasts 3 million creative users worldwide.
This drawing software is distributed in two versions, one is Clip Studio Paint Pro, and the other is Clip Studio Paint EX. The professional version offers more tools that are used to work the concept art, character design, and illustrations.
The other Clip Studio Paint EX version is used to create manga, comics, and animations.
- It is Cheaper
- Has lower system requirements
- Offer complete tools except for 3d workplace
- Mobile version only available with a subscription
- EX version a little bit expensive
- Full version Clip Studio Paint pro $49.99 (one-time purchase)
- Full version Clip Studio Paint EX $219.00 (one-time purchase)
- Subscription Pro version $4.99
- Subscription EX version $24.99 per year
It has been around for nearly 28 years and offers some unique features that no other program on this list can offer.
The Coral Painter is the most optimized drawing software listed here due to its advanced resource controls. It allows a user to set the performance of CPU or GPU to a specific brush.
Due to these useful new features, it can handle artworks of incredible complexities that have several layers. It also offers users over 900 brushes, which you can later customize to make them suitable for your artwork.
Its pattern brush makes it very easy to create repetitive patterns with coherence in your artwork.
It demands a high spec system but offers a wide range of tools and tweaks to work with, which can make your artwork look a lot better than other programs.
A mobile application is available, but it offers limited functionality as compared to the desktop versions.
- Huge set of brushes
- Excellent Performance optimization
- New Improved color range
- Frame-based animation
- No 3D models support
- First time purchase $429
- Upgrade from a previous version $219
- Subscription $19.99 per month billed annually
It is free to use a professional raster and vector-based graphic editor. It packs a lot of features, and it is incredibly lightweight as compared to programs on this list. At only a 53MB download-size, after Paint Tool SAI, it is the lightest best drawing software.
It is targeted to those users who are comic designers but are looking for something which is both lightweight and free. The MediBang Paint Pro is the right product for them.
However, the ads are served in the application to fulfill the development costs, and no paid version of MediBang Paint Pro is available now. It is available on all platforms, from mobile phones to desktops, and requires no purchase.
The artists can use their cloud services to save and share their art between their different devices like Adobe Creative Cloud. Their other apps make it easy for artists to make comics, illustrations, and graphics from various devices using shared resources.
It doesn’t offer animation functionality right now. It is a feature that will be added in the future if the company secures a large target market of artists, but now, this function is not included.
- It is free of cost
- Extremely lightweight
- Easy to use interface and best for Anime and Comics
- Ads are served in the application
- No 3d workspace
- No 2d Animation support
- Free with Ads
- No option to remove ads
It is another free drawing software from a well-known company called Autodesk.
It offers all the necessary tools for sketching to its users, along with limited keyframe 2D animation tools, which bring life to a static sketch animation. It offers fluid sketching and new brush packs are frequently
Designers who work with sketches, product designs, and don’t need to work with 3d or vector graphics. It is a primary tool for them.
However, this drawing software allows you to export a layered PSD file, which you can later use in other applications. It is lightweight and free for use over mobile devices and desktops.
It is a perfect application to use for those designers who work with sketches and have to draft a lot.
- Excellent for Sketches
- Low size
- PSD export functionality
- No 3d support
- No animations
- Free for individual users
- Enterprise License is available for $85 per year
7. Krita Paint
If you are looking for a complete raster graphics editor that is free then, Krita is for you. It offers you all-in-one functionality ranging from layered based art to animating it to make it alive.
It is a bit heavy application as compared to Paint Tool SAI, and the download size ranges between 150 MB to 200 MB. It is paid on some distribution channels such as the Windows 10 Store, but on their site, it is free to download the desktop version.
It works with vectors like Photoshop CC. It is an excellent tool for beginners. It is recommended for those who want to explore and learn digital art without paying monthly fees. It works with all major drawing tablets available in the market, so, using a graphic tablet with Krita won’t be any problem.
If you like this drawing software, don’t forget to support it by donating. It keeps the software development alive, and new features are added frequently.
- Vector and Raster compatibility with both
- Compatible with many platforms
- No 3D functionality
It is an open-source raster-based graphic editor brought to you by the open-source community. It is also lightweight but offers fewer features than other drawing programs such as Krita and Photoshop.
However, its functionality is extended with scripts written in C++, Pearl, and Python, which is excellent for advanced users who want to retouch a batch of images with GIMP.
It is aimed at the target market who works with image manipulation and retouching. It could be used for drawing, but it is an image manipulation program.
It features a layer-based system that a user can use to organize and edit different parts of artwork with ease. Some effects and masks can also be applied to these layers.
The good thing is it is open source and available on Linux, Mac, and Windows, and it can be used as a good light alternative in place of other paid software.
- Open source Free
- Extended features using scripts
- Exports in all major formats;
- Technical knowledge is needed to leverage it
- Steep learning curve
- No cloud connectivity
It is the lightest raster graphics editor mentioned on this list. It is paid and uses significantly fewer system resources as compared to Photoshop and Corel Painter. It has no 3D workplace so; you can’t work with 3d models in this application as you do in the other programs.
It offers full layered-based 2D raster graphics editing with all the brushes and special-effects which are needed to create awesome artwork.
It doesn’t require an expensive GPU or computer to run, but it is only available for Windows desktop, which is a bit downside.
As a starter, it is a good choice to start and experiment with the Paint Tool SAI, but if you are already a pro designer please choose more advanced tools.
- Extremely lightweight, only 2MB
- High functionality
- Layers, brushes, compatible with different popular formats
- No 3d working space
- No vector files compatibility
- Layers functionality limited
- One license sold for $50.81
If you are looking for a precise vector graphic tool that allows you to work with raster graphics, then the Affinity Designer is for you. It gives designers various features that are not even available in the most popular applications such as Adobe Illustrator.
Its 60 frames per second zoom let artists quickly inspect the artwork without any frame tear. It also allows you to zoom up to a million times which is impossible in other applications.
It allows users to fully customize its user interface design to their requirements and display setup. So, they can work without any hassle.
The Affinity designer is a bit difficult to learn but offers much more advanced tools that take the level of your creativity to the sky.
It supports all the industry-standard file formats like PSD, EPS, TIFF, and JPEG. Its live pixel preview mode lets you view your design in pixel mode to see your finalized design in Standard resolution and Retina resolution.
However, it has no animation creator due to which creators have to use other software such as After Effects to animate their designs. It is because of no availability of animation software from the company.
The Affinity Designer was launched recently, but due to its unique features and optimized engine, it has now become a tough competitor against other applications available in the market.
- Offers a complete working environment (raster and vector)
- Precise vector tools
- Unlimited zoom
- Steep learning curve
- Clustered UI which needs proper formatting by the user
- No mobile app for Android
- For a price of 49.99 USD for Mac and Windows
- For 19.99 USD (iPad)
How to select the best drawing software
As a designer, it may be difficult for you to choose what is the best software work with. It is important to choose the right drawing software for your work because every software is different, and it is designed while keeping a specific purpose in mind.
Your requirements come first
You have to evaluate your needs before purchasing. If you are a new user and you are unsure of what software to use then use free ones till you find what works for you.
Staying within your budget is important
To choose the best tool, the do-the-job policy is recommended don’t go for high-end software, instead, resort to a mediocre level of software. The software that works for you while staying within the budget.
Using standard tools is the best
It important because your clients expect you to send a standard document compatible with their programs, so, it is good to use tools that export artwork as .PSD because it is the most popular and used format in the design industry.
Performance on your device
It is also important for a design tool to work smoothly on your device, if it doesn’t work try using a light-weight tool instead.
As an artist, it is up to you to choose what is best for your drawing needs. If you are working with comics, you should go for the software, which gives you a better workflow while working with the comics.
It depends on the type of digital art you want to work with and what tools are best for it. In the article, the best programs, both free and paid, are discussed in great detail.
It will allow you to evaluate your needs better and will help you in choosing something which works and suits your needs as a designer. And it will help you in achieving success as a graphics designer.