With the news that Adobe is intending on forcing artists to pay monthly I sat down to compile other choices for digital artists of which there are many. Most cost over $25, some of them are free and even two are online solutions.
I categorized them bitmap and vector. My personal favorite is Sketchbook Pro because of it’s ease of use, superior pencil mimicking and small foot print (how much space it takes up on the hard drive) all which contribute to make it the best solution in my opinion. As you can see it’s relatively cheap in comparison as well.
Below is a comprehensive list of drawing software available to the digital artist in 2013. If I missed your favorite, comment below, explain why and I will gladly add it.
Adobe Photoshop (PC and Mac)- $49 per month subscription
When it comes to drawing programs Photoshop is without a doubt the most well known Right out of the box it’s not the best drawing software but and is relatively decent when you finagle with it a bit. My favorite tools in Photoshop include the Liquify brush and the Free Transform tool
Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (PC and Mac) -$59
Hands down my favorite simply because it’s so easy to use, can be installed on a Motion LE1600 Tablet PC which you can get dirt cheap these days, it’s got some killer drawing tools and you can easily create custom brushes as well as edit the toolbar to your liking.
Corel Painter (PC and Mac)-$199
Painter is an extremely powerful tool but it’s interface has been sorely lacking since it’s introduction back in the early 90’s. Features include mixable paint, dripping watercolors and a brush nozzle that will let you turn any art into a brush. Personally not a fan.
Ambient Design Artrage (Mac/PC/Android)-$49.90
Artrage started out as a winner of a proof of concept software contest for the release of Microsoft’s Windows XP Tablet PC edition. It has since grown into a powerful painting and drawing app and is easy on the wallet to boot. There are many features but my favorite is the mixable paint. Drag one color over another and the two smear! I don’t believe any other program can boast that.
Open Canvas (PC) -$59
Not very familiar with Open Canvas. Anybody? Beuller? Beuller? Beuller?
PaintTool Sai (PC)-$5
PaintTool Sai’s interface to be convoluted and poorly designed and I had trouble even finding out how to make a brush to draw with. It felt like an old program that has not been updated in years.
Artweaver is a relatively decent piece of drawing software and it’s interface is reminiscent of old school Photoshop 5 or 6. It has many of the tools you’d need to sketch but I find it lacking
TV Paint (PC/Mac/ Linux/Android)- $1522.79
A very expensive and powerful piece of software that is much more than a drawing tool. You can storyboard, composite and do particle arrays with it. That said, I find it’s interface and toolset to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen and really would only use it if forced to. It’s pencil tools however are almost as good as Sketchbook Pro’s.
Pixarra Twisted Brush (PC) -$19
Not a bad Photoshop replacement but it’s interface seems a bit cluttered and not so user-intutitive. Does support pressure sensitivity though.
CG Illust (PC)-$80
This online software and being free it’s certainly the right price but I found it to stutter if I drew too fast. Your results might vary.
Sumo Paint (PC , Mac and free ONLINE)-$19
A truly remarkable piece of software that you feel right at home using because it’s essentially the same thing as Photoshop… Online.
Pretty much the same thing as Sumo Paint and free as well. it has pressure sensitivity which works well. Tends to stutter a bit if you draw too fast.
Project Dogwaffle (PC) Free
Project Dogwaffle is an ambitious project of one man who has built it into an interesting array of tools. It’s basically easy to use, can be used to draw with and even has animation and particle plugins. that said, I don’t think i would ever use it in a professional environment but the prive is right.
The GIMP is arguably the most powerful free photo editor available today. With that comes the Photoshop comparisons. Often lauded as the “free Photoshop,” the GIMP does offer many features similar to Photoshop, but it has a steep learning curve to match. Unless I’m missing something though, it does NOT support pressure sensitivity which is a deal-breaker for me.
Autodesk Sketchbook Designer– $75
A capable vector editor similar to Sketchbook Pro
Adobe Illustrator -$49 per month subscription
Long the juggernaut of vector editing, there really isn’t anything that can beat it as of yet. Personally I’m not a fan of it’s drawing tools as well as it’s kludgey interface but if you want streamlined crisp vector art, Illustrator is hard to beat.
Not the greatest painting/drawing tools, but is a great alternative to Photoshop for most people.
Intaglio supports both bitmap and vector but is primarily a very simple Illustrator clone.
A VERY simple vector program.
Inkscape (PC /Mac/Linux)- Free
Currently the only free vector drawing program and it works very well for what it is. Not as advanced as Illustrator but what do you expect for the price?
Vector-based. Used by tons of UI designers.