12 Best Digital Art Software for Creatives

Loved by professional artists worldwide, Adobe Photoshop is the gold standard for graphic design and image editing software. But the caveat is that it’s a bit pricey compared to most competitors.
This versatile digital art software offers special rates for learning centers and students. It’s also ideal for Windows users looking for an extensive collection of brushes.
This painting software’s free demo gives you full access to various creative tools for an unlimited time. However, you need the premium version to save your work.
Canvas X Draw has gotten much better than its previous version, thanks to new updates like the “Perspective Tool,” which allows users to draw 3D objects quickly.
While Clip Studio Paint Pro is more popular among manga and comic book artists, it has sophisticated drawing tools to let you create traditional artwork.

What Is Digital Art and Drawing Software?

Digital art and drawing software are programs with tools that turn your computer monitor or mobile device screen into a digital canvas.

Additionally, they come with an extensive collection of paintbrushes (or you can even create your own brushes) and color palettes.

Many of these programs can also emulate different mediums, from oil, acrylic paints, and watercolor to pastels, pencils, and charcoal. But at the same time, they allow users to break away from traditional methods.

With digital art software, you can also manipulate your artwork by adding fillers, layers, and effects that were not previously possible.

How To Choose the Best Digital Art Software

The best digital art software depends on your graphic design style, your skill level, the device and accessories you have at hand, and your budget.

While digital art software comes in all shapes and sizes, the best ones share similar capabilities and features. Thus, I selected my favorite tools according to these factors:

  • They have all the essential tools for graphic design, digital painting, and everything in between.
  • The art software solutions provide a natural drawing experience.
  • The painting software solutions offer a wide range of brushes.
  • They work across a wide range of devices, including tablets and smartphones.
  • Their interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.

The Best Digital Art Software Programs

So, what’s the best digital art software for you? Find out with this comparison guide for artists and graphic designers.

out of 10

Omar's Take

If you’re looking for digital drawing software that’s considered an industry standard, you’ll never go wrong with Adobe Photoshop. It keeps ahead of the competition by constantly adding new features.

Best For:
Professional artists who need a versatile, industry-standard digital art tool
Starts at $20.99/mo
Annual Billing:
Starts at $239.88/year
Free 7-day trial

Adobe Photoshop’s first version was introduced in 1990, and since then, it has dominated the market. Today, professional digital artists around the globe love this versatile tool that boasts a gamut of unique functionalities.

Aside from being a powerful photo editing tool, Adobe Photoshop is perfect for designers who create websites, banners, logos, icons, and product packaging.

However, the most notable thing about Adobe Photoshop is its plethora of cloud-based tools to enhance illustrations, photos, and 3D images.

In a nutshell, Photoshop is the most versatile graphic design, drawing, editing, and retouching tool out there. Plus, it works excellently with drawing pads.

adobe photoshop


Here are some of Adobe Photoshop’s most noteworthy features.

Cloud-Based Tools
Adobe Photoshop has always stayed ahead of the competition. That's because of its constant updates, including cloud-based tools for enhancing photos, illustrations, and 3D visuals.

Paintbrush Tools
If you're doing any type of digital illustration, Adobe is arguably the best tool. It has a wide range of built-in effects that can turn images into paintings.

Advanced and Unique Features
The newest version of Photoshop comes with some cool and unique features:

  • Paint Symmetry mode to create intricate and symmetric patterns
  • Multiple undo levels
  • Frame tool for easy masking
  • Intuitive editing tools
  • Live blend mode preview
  • Useful plug-ins


  • Subscription-only price model
  • Steep learning curve
  • Not ideal for batch work with photos
  • Requires you to have excellent specs


Adobe Photoshop’s pricing plans

Here are Adobe Photoshop’s pricing plans.

  • Photoshop Plan – starts at $20.99 monthly
  • Photography Plan (1TB) – starts at $19.99 monthly
  • All Apps Plan – starts at $54.99 monthly
out of 10

Omar's Take

This cross-platform application has the right blend of performance and features, allowing professional designers and students to create realistic-looking masterpieces.

Best For:
Students and Windows users
$16.58/mo for a subscription; $429 for one-time purchase
Annual Billing:
$199/year for subscription
Free 15-day trial, special rates for students and learning centers, 30-day money-back guarantee

Corel offers different creative software plans, including a drawing app called Painter, a cross-platform application aimed at professional artists and students.

Painter has a subscription-only model and is also available as a one-time purchase.

This software emulates real-world art with its jitter reduction and static bristle brushes, complemented by its function that allows strokes and dabs to look hyper-realistic.

This downloadable app is available on Windows and Mac. Plus, it’s compatible with popular software like Photoshop and Wacom-enabled devices.

corel painter


Here are Corel Painter’s notable features.

Massive Collection of Paintbrushes
This drawing/painting software allows you to create custom brushes and palettes and import these from other artists.

Additionally, it has over 900 brushes, including blenders, textured brushes, pattern pens, and dab stencils.

Unique Functionalities
This digital art software converts photos to digital paintings and uses images as “clones” to paint a canvas. In addition, its “Brush Accelerator” mode allows users to paint significantly faster by optimizing CPU/GPU settings.

Symmetrical Illustrations
With kaleidoscope and mirror painting tools, you can reproduce brushstrokes on the opposite side of the canvas, helping you to create symmetrical illustrations easily.


  • Lack of advanced features compared to competitors
  • Occasional functional bugs
  • A bit pricey


Corel Painter’s pricing plans

Here are Corel Painter’s pricing plans.

  • Painter – $199 yearly for a subscription; $429 for a one-time purchase
  • CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2021 – $859 one-time payment
  • CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 365-day Subscription – $439.99 annually
out of 10

Omar's Take

ArtRage boasts a wide range of creative tools that allow you to experiment with textures, blend and smear paint, and create realistic-looking masterpieces.

This digital art software is compatible with S-Pen styluses and Wacom-enabled devices.

Best For:
Android tablets
$59 (one-time purchase)
Annual Billing:
Free version that does not require an email sign-up or Internet connection

ArtRage is an excellent digital art software for Windows and Mac users. Its app versions for iOs and Android are also ideal for professional digital artists who are always on the go.

In addition to collaborative workflow tools, ArtRage 6 boasts an extensive collection of painting features, including pens, pencils, oil paintbrushes, and editing tools such as filters, custom brushes, and layers.

But one unique feature is its “Action,” which allows you to record your work and play it back to recreate your painting.

It also comes with collaborative workflow tools that are excellent for group projects.



Here are some of the notable features of ArtRage.

Affordable Digital Painting Software
All versions are available as a one-time purchase, with the mobile apps and lite versions being particularly affordable.

Multiple Support Options
You can easily find support on the website, including video tutorials, manuals, online groups, and forums.

Extensive Collection of Painting and Editing Tools
With ArtRage, you can paint using watercolors and oils and use advanced features like shading pencils, pastels, and blending modes.

Arguably, its most notable feature is the “Metallic Tinting” that adds reflectivity to your pigments.


  • It’s a bit awkward to handle when using screen brush resizing options.
  • Using intensive brush design tools may result in slow and unstable performance.
  • It’s slower compared to other competitors.
  • The free demo version does not allow users to save their work.


ArtRage’s Pricing Plans

Here are ArtRage’s Pricing Plans:

  • ArtRage Vitae Desktop - $80 (one-time payment)
  • ArtRage Lite - $29.90 (one-time payment)
  • ArtRage 6 - $59 (one-time payment)
  • ArtRage Vitae Mobile - $4.99 (one-time payment)
out of 10

Omar's Take

Canvas X Draw is a versatile all-around painting and drawing tool that caters to beginners and pros alike.

It's simple and easy to use, yet suitable for those who need to create detailed vector illustrations and want access to a wide range of fonts.

Best For:
Drawing and drafting
$99 for a one-year subscription
Annual Billing:
Free 14-day trial

Canvas X Draw is a vector drawing tool for Windows, iPad, Mac, and iPhone users. It works superbly with pressure-sensitive tablets, allowing you to control your digital artwork's line thickness and opacity.

It has sophisticated features, including stunning fonts, color and pattern fillers, a pen tool to draw freehand, and shape tools for precise geometric shapes.

canvas x draw


Here are some notable features of Canvas X Draw.

Regular Updates
Canvas X Draw is not just a versatile digital drawing tool but also a continuously improving software. For example, its developer recently released the “Perspectives tool” that allows users to draw 3D objects easily.

Easy to Use and Learn
Canvas X Draw is a comprehensive drawing tool that’s fast and easy to use and learn. That’s why many aspiring graphic designers include this software in their “essential starter kit.”

Functional Tools
The software has functional brush tools that fill shapes with solid colors, patterns, images, and gradients.

Other notable tools

  • Transparency effects
  • Enables the use of PDF as a background
  • Image crop with memory reduction


  • Occasional bugs
  • Limited ability to blend layers (photos, colors, and text)
  • Some users prefer the former individual purchases to the current annual subscription


Canvas X Draw’s pricing plans

Here are Canvas X Draw’s pricing plans.

  • One-Year Subscription – $99
  • Buy It to Own – $299 (one-time payment)
  • Special Rate - for companies needing more than 10 licenses
out of 10

Omar's Take

This program works excellently with Wacom tablets because it offers around 9,190 levels of pen pressure. That’s why it has become the favorite digital artwork solution of artists who are obsessed with intrinsic details.

Best For:
Wacom tablet users
$49.99 for a one-time purchase, $219.99 for a full package (Clip Studio Paint EX)
Annual Billing:
Free 6-month trial

Clip Studio Paint offers sophisticated drawing and painting tools that allow users to create modern and traditional-looking masterpieces. However, it's more popular among manga and comic book artists.
Another notable feature is its wide selection of watercolor, gouache effects, and brush tools that let you create sharp and realistic digital paintings.

 Clip Studio Paint Pro


Here are some notable features of Clip Studio Paint Pro.

Sensitive to Pen Pressure
I highly recommend this digital artwork solution if you want something that supports more than 8,190 pen pressure and thousands of customizable brushes to capture your personal style.

Features to Support Your Personal Art Style
Clip Studio Paint is an affordable software for anyone who’s into digital illustrations, character art, comics, and concept art.

Realistic Painting Effects
The software offers a wide selection of watercolor and gouache effects to create realistic digital paintings and a collection of brushes that work well for watercolor painting.


  • The interface is a bit complex to use.
  • There are too many unnecessary options.


Clip Studio Paint’s pricing plans

Here are Clip Studio Paint’s pricing plans.

  • Clip Studio Paint Pro - $49.99
  • Clip Studio Paint Ex - $219
out of 10

Omar's Take

Professional artists who use iPads love Procreate’s extensive selection of brushes, wide format support, and affordability.

Best For:
iPad users
Annual Billing:

Professional artists love Procreate’s extensive selection of brushes, wide format support, and affordability. However, it comes with a notable limitation—it only works on iPads and has limited mobile versions for iPhones.

Also, this tool only works best with the Apple Pencil. But if you're already an iPad user, this is a logical and affordable choice.



Here are some of Procreate’s notable features.

Packed With Powerful Tools
Procreate is a drawing and digital design app perfect for detailed artwork, thanks to its wide selection of brushes, typography tools, templates, and blend modes.

3D Painting Tools
The iPad-compatible app supports 3D painting with its special paintbrush tools and texturing functions to add details and depth to your characters and environments.

Continuous Autosave
With this feature, Procreate records your work and turns it into a time-lapse video you can share in your drawing and painting tutorials.


Compatible only with iPad devices


procreate pricing plan

You can purchase Procreate with a one-time payment of $12.99.

out of 10

Omar's Take

Affinity Photo is an affordable Photoshop Alternative that’s fairly easy to use. It offers sophisticated tools ideal for layer-based digital artwork and drawing.

Best For:
Free Photoshop alternative
$40.99 one-time payment for Windows and Mac, or $11.99 on iPad
Annual Billing:
Free 10-day trial, free with a purchase of the Affinity V2 Universal License

One of the best drawing apps and editing tools out there, Affinity Photo works on iPads, macOS, and Windows. Unfortunately, it has no Android version as of this writing.

Meanwhile, its interface and features are somewhat similar to Photoshop and easy to use.

Affinity Photo supports RAW images, does layer-based digital artwork or drawing, and offers sophisticated tools despite being an affordable Photoshop alternative.

Affinity Photo


Some noteworthy features of Affinity Photo.

More Accessible
Affinity Photo is much more accessible than Photoshop because it’s compatible with macOS 10.9, Windows 7, or later. Plus, it only needs at least 2GB RAM to perform.

Photoshop-Like Features
Affinity is often seen as an affordable Photoshop alternative because they share similar features. Additionally, it has excellent Photoshop compatibility.


  • Lacks some high-end features you can find in Photoshop


Here are Affinity Photo’s pricing plans:

  • macOS – $40.99 (one-time payment)
  • Windows – $40.99 (one-time payment)
  • iPad – $11.99 (one-time payment)
out of 10

Omar's Take

When it comes to hyper-realistic artwork, it’s hard to think of other digital art programs that can beat Rebelle 6 Pro. It’s known for its excellent drying, diffusion, and color-blending effects.

Best For:
Hyper-Realistic Art
Annual Billing:
Free demo

With its unique features, such as wet diffusion, drying, and color blending, Rebelle 6 Pro is arguably the best tool for digital artists looking for hyper-realistic art software.

Another bonus is that it's cheaper than some high-end competitors, including Clip Studio Paint and Corel Painter.

Rebelle 6 Pro


These are some of the fantastic tools you can find in Rebelle 6 Pro:

Tools for Real-World Art Techniques
The art program includes a palette knife effect, a drop engine to make watercolor painting more vivid, oil and acrylic painting tools, and blow effects.

Wet Media Art Tools
Rebelle products are particularly ideal if you’re into wet media art, such as watercolor, oil, ink, acrylic, and gouache, but hate the mess.

Easy-to-Use Interface
An artist named Peter Blaskovic designed this digital art software as part of his experimental drawing projects. That’s why it has an easy-to-use interface and natural painting tools.


Rebelle’s main drawback is that you can’t use it on mobile devices.


rebelle 6 pro pricing plan

The software costs $149.99 (one-time payment).

out of 10

Omar's Take

Adobe Fresco is an excellent drawing tool for iPads, Creative Cloud Desktop for Windows, and Microsoft Surface Pros.

Best For:
Integrating with other Adobe products
$9.99/year for a subscription
Annual Billing:
$9.99/year to access all features
Free version; free to use with a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps, the Adobe Photoshop Single App, or the Adobe Design Mobile Bundle plans

Adobe Fresco comes with sophisticated features and a massive selection of brushes categorized into three groups: Pixel, Vector, and Illustrator brushes.

Compared to other Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator, Fresco is more streamlined and easier to use. After all, the company has positioned it as a user-friendly, versatile mobile digital art app.

adobe fresco


Here are Fresco’s key features:

Real-World Painting Effects
One of Fresco’s most exciting features is the Live Brushes which can recreate the effects of real-world painting with either oil or watercolor.

Sophisticated Drawing Tools
As a digital drawing application for iPhones and iPads, Fresco has different animation options, touch gestures capability, and other functions that speed up your workflow.

Simple and Easy to Use
Adobe Fresco is so simple and easy to use that you can retouch a digital image in no time—you won’t get lost in a maze of tools. But if you need more features, it integrates with more advanced Adobe products.


Adobe Fresco has no Android version.


adobe fresco pricing plan

You can download Fresco for free, but you need to pay $9.99 for an annual subscription to access its more advanced features. However, you’ll get it for free if you subscribe to other Adobe product plans.

out of 10

Omar's Take

Black Ink is a non-realistic GPU-based painting application ideal for advanced digital artists who need a system with collaboration tools.

Best For:
Non-realistic painting
Annual Billing:

Black Ink’s developers are not trying to appeal to traditional artists who want the feel of paint on paper. They designed this art software to cater to comics artists and professionals who need to collaborate with their teams.

Think of it as a non-realistic GPU-based painting application.

This digital art tool is only available for Windows and does not cater well to amateur designers.

On the other hand, it offers significant value for experienced visual artists, thanks to its custom brushes which you can share if you're working with others.

black ink


Here are the features of Black Ink:

Custom Brushes
Artists can create custom brushes and even build their personal collection of these tools to speed up their design process.

Collaboration Tools
Black Ink has collaboration tools to make it easy for artists to work on group projects.

Impressive Performance
This digital software has a GPU rendering engine to help you draw fast with finer details. Aside from its faster performance on diverse picture resolutions, it has preview options to check brush settings.


  • Only available for Windows systems
  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Updates are not quite regular


black ink pricing plan

Black Ink costs $59.00 (one-time payment).

out of 10

Omar's Take

Even though Krita is a free, open-source painting software, it offers sophisticated tools that include an extensive brush collection and text capabilities.

Open-Source Painting Software
Annual Billing:
Free to use

This free digital art software is best used with drawing pads. The only issues are the lack of a mobile version and a dedicated customer support team. However, there’s a dynamic community to back it up and provide support.

Despite being a free painting software, Krita boasts an extensive brush collection, text capabilities, and other sophisticated art tools.



Here are Krita’s noteworthy features:

Extensive Collection of Brush Types
Krita has more than 100 unique brush types with different smudge and shape effects. In addition, you can import texture and brush effects for a more personal art style.

Digital Painting Tools
First introduced in 2004, Krita’s initial use was to provide generic photo retouch and manipulation tools. But since 2009, its developers have started introducing sophisticated painting tools.

Powerful Performance
This painting and drawing program is great for creating concept art, comics, and paintings with textured and matte effects.


Krita lacks some of the high-end features you can find in Photoshop.


krita pricing plan

Krita is free to use.

out of 10

Omar's Take

GIMP is a sophisticated free graphics editor with powerful tools you can find in some expensive digital art software. Another bonus is that it’s relatively easy to learn.

Best :
Free Art Program
Annual Billing:
Free to use

Considered the best Photoshop alternative that’s free, GIMP offers functional tools and allows users to change its source code and distribute any changes they make.

GIMP, which stands for GNY Image Manipulation Program, is similar to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. In fact, most Adobe product users will find it easy to adjust to this free digital art software.

So, if you’re not ready to buy some fancy software, GIMP is an excellent choice.

With its massive collection of features, including drawing/painting tools, color correction, cloning, and image enhancement options, it’s a competitive solution that won’t cost you anything.



Here are some of GIMP’s notable features.

Free and Open Source
As an open-source alternative to Photoshop, GIMP allows users to do as many things as its more popular (and expensive) competitor. Plus, it has a decent number of editing tools, layers, and brushes.

Another advantage of being open-source is that GIMP supports plug-ins, which further extends its capabilities.

Feature-Rich Free Art Software
Despite being a free digital painting and drawing software, GIMP offers sophisticated tools that serve professionals, from manga artists and photographers to illustrators and comic book artists.

Additionally, this open-source digital art tool has sufficient editing tools that make it easy to manipulate and retouch images.

Photoshop-Like Features
GIMP and Photoshop both use Levels, Masks, and Curves. These similarities make it easy for users to transition from one product to another. However, GIMP has a slightly steeper learning curve than Adobe products.


  • Has a steeper learning curve than Photoshop
  • Limited third-party plug-ins compared to Photoshop


GIMP is a free-to-use, open-source digital art software that doesn’t require installation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is the Best Digital Art Software?

I ranked Adobe Photoshop as the best digital art software because it’s basically good at everything, from digital painting and drawing to photo editing. No wonder it’s the gold standard for graphic designers across the globe.

Photoshop is also the standard for manual and more extensive retouching work. For this reason, it has a massive appeal to different visual artists.

  • Illustrators
  • Digital artists
  • Photographers
  • Movie effects technicians


Plus, it works across multiple devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. That’s why it remains the most commonly used tool in professional digital artwork creation, followed by Adobe Illustrator and Procreate.

However, as a very comprehensive program, it comes with a higher price tag than its competitors.

So, if you’re looking for digital art tools that are free and quite similar to some of Photoshop’s features, consider GIMP and Krita.

But ultimately, while I consider Photoshop the best digital art software out there, the right one for you really depends on your skill level, budget, the type of project you create, and your tools and accessories.

What’s the Difference Between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator?

While both Adobe products work with images, they have different applications.

Photoshop is ideal for retouching images and creating graphics that require a lot of layers, such as those used in web design.

By contrast, Illustrator is best for creating vector graphics. As a result, this tool is popular among artists and graphic designers who create logos, charts, icons, posters, infographics, brochures, ads, and magazines.

What’s the Best Free Drawing Software for Computers?

Krita and GIMP are some excellent free digital art tools for computers and laptops. Both are excellent in different ways, making it difficult to choose between them.

In a nutshell, GIMP offers more features, although Krita’s capabilities and interface are more polished.

Another thing to remember is that GIMP is more suitable for image editing, whereas Krita is better for digital illustrations.

What’s the Best Painting App for iPads and iOS Phones?

When it comes to affordable drawing apps for iPad and iOS users, I would recommend Procreate, with its extensive selection of brushes and wide format support.

It’s also affordable. You only need to pay $12.99 for its lifetime use.

What Are Some Affordable Software To Use with Drawing Tablets?

Clip Studio Paint Pro, Affinity Photo, and Corel Painter are excellent options to use with a drawing tablet.

What Drawing Software Is Best on a Computer?

Photoshop remains the best drawing software on a computer, followed by Rebelle 6 and Krita.

The Bottom Line

If you have the budget and the right skill set, the general rule is to go for the industry leaders, like Adobe Photoshop.

But for newbies or people who don’t want to invest in fancy software, there are still plenty of free digital art tools, ranging from web-based programs to mobile apps.

I hope this list can help you find the best digital art software for you.

With the right choice, you can create beautiful artwork, eye-catching posters, and stunning ecommerce product images.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents