As per Statista, the global art market value in the world reached $64.12 billion in 2019. The art and drawing industry is growing at a good pace. Art forms such as drawing, printmaking, crafts, photography, painting, and graphic designs are in great demand.
To help designers create modern designs and to uplift the growth of the visual art industry, drawing software offers a powerful and easy medium to draw and color different modules. They offer a realistic simulation of colors and help to have a natural drawing experience.
In this article, I will discuss the top 25 drawing software with key features, pricing and functionalities.
Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our comparisons and recommendations. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.
But, before we begin, let’s understand what is meant by drawing software.
What is Drawing Software?
Drawing software is a computer program used to design and create drawing and arts for personal and business purposes.
These include tools to perform tasks like editing, cropping, adding lines, charts, and graphs.
Now, let’s discuss the top drawing software to create stunning graphics and comics.
Best Drawing Programs For 2021
Let’s take a look at the compilation of the best drawing software for 2021 for both beginners and experienced designers:
1. Adobe Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud)
Adobe Photoshop CC is considered the top drawing program in the industry. It offers a set of easy to use tools like the zoom tool, move tool, marquee tool, and others to create stunning illustrations and 3D artworks.
Founder Thomas Knoll launched it for Windows and macOS in 2013.
- You can create designs for websites, games and apps.
- With editing features, you can transform an image completely by removing or realistically adding objects.
- Comes with powerful types of paintbrush tools that provide excellent control over the art.
- In “Creative Cloud Libraries”, you can save, share and browse different assets.
- Offers up to 100GB of cloud storage.
- Needs a high-end system.
- It is expensive.
- Consumes lots of space.
Adobe Photoshop CC offers a monthly subscription that costs $52.99 and also offers an annual subscription cost $599.88. These plans include the latest updates, 100GB cloud storage, and Adobe Portfolio.
CorelDRAW is a complete graphic design suite that features a collection of powerful tools needed for faster vector illustration and photo editing.
It was launched in 1989 by Michael Cowpland with the aim to provide users with a platform where they can create excellent vectors and drawings.
- Comes with copyrighted-free content, including clipart, images, templates, and fonts.
- Supports use of stylus pens.
- Offers time-saving tools like symmetrical design, vector mosaic generator, and shadow effects manipulator.
- With collaboration tools, you can invite clients to review and edit your work.
- With AI-powered PowerTRACE, you can optimize the images.
- Supports extensive file-formats, including over 100 graphics and image formats.
- No support for importing AI files.
- Slow bitmap editing (slowly opens).
- The “Print Preview” of CorelDRAW is not good as compared to the other tools.
CorelDraw offers a monthly subscription at $198, which includes photo editing tools, vector illustration, collaboration tool and 7 fully-featured tools ( Corel PHOTO-PAINT, Corel Font Manager, and 5 more). The lifetime subscription costs $669 and includes the same feature as in the monthly plan.
Paintstorm Studio is a professional digital painting software that offers a set of powerful paint tools such as stroke post correction and full controlled mask-brush to take your painting skills to a new level. Prerna Chhabria launched this software in 2005.
It is supported for Windows, macOS, iPad and Linux.
- It enables you to create a custom panel for drawing.
- You can customize the brush according to your need.
- It’s easy for you to work with a close gap feature when filling and selecting an object.
- Offers canvas dimensions in sizes, including inches, mms, cms, and PPI.
- Supports drag and drop layers between canvases.
- Brushstrokes do not happen in real-time, making it difficult to draw.
- The program should be quit once opened because there is no option to hide the tool on Mac.
Paintstorm Studio costs $19 (one-time-fee).
Affinity Designer is a professional creative software for fastest and smoothest photo editing. You can create logos, icons, and UI designs with the help of both vector and raster design tools.
It was launched in 2014 by Serif for platforms including macOS, Windows and iOS.
- Supports 1,000,000% zooming.
- You can easily switch between vector and raster workplaces with one-click.
- Can handle thousands of objects.
- Supports undo/redo for over 8,000 steps.
- Comes with an autosave feature to avoid work loss during unexpected shutdowns.
- Offers two types of interface, dark and light.
- Doesn’t support plugins for designers.
- You can’t save the past used filters.
Affinity Designer costs $49.99 for lifetime access in which you get 1,000,000%, zoom at 60fps, 64-bit multi-core optimization, hardware acceleration, and infinity undo/redo.
PaintTool SAI lets you create anti-aliased drawings with a simple yet powerful interface. It was launched in 2006 by Systemax Software with a simple yet powerful UI capable of performing complicated tasks like extracting colors from the images and converting photos into realistic arts.
- Offer 16-bit ARGB channels to create precious compositions.
- Comes with high data protection.
- With its color management tool, you can create any color you want.
- Have some lagging issues while running on your system.
- It doesn’t offer powerful filters as compared to other tools.
PaintTool SAI costs $50.81 with a lifetime licence, and this plan includes all features such as layer tools, drag tool, data protection, and selection tools.
SketchBook is a free drawing software with a surprising number of available options like brush tools, pens, pencils, soft/hard eraser, and you will get all of these in the free version.
Autodesk Inc created it in 2016 for platforms including macOS, Microsoft, Windows and even for Android and iOS devices.
- Allows editing from anywhere using an android app.
- Supports over 190 brushes with customization functionality.
- You can export your artwork in formats including JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, and even PSD.
- SketchBook can handle 100 mpx canvas that feels like traditional drawing.
- It scans the imported images and provides transparent backgrounds and lines that are ready to be filled with colors.
- Doesn’t offer canvas size adjustments.
- It lags while working on low-end systems with less RAM.
SketchBook comes with a free plan for a lifetime.
Krita is a lesser-known software for drawing that comes with a free version, which means there are no in-app purchases like other tools. It was launched in 1999 by founder Matthias Elter.
- The brush stabilizer feature helps people with shaky heads.
- With the drawing assistance feature, you can easily create perfect shapes.
- Offers over 30 dockers for additional functionality and light/dark themes.
- You can customize your brush using over 9 brush engines with a huge amount of settings. These engines include Shape engine, Color Smudge engine, Particle engine and filter engine.
- Supports PSD format that lets you open and saves to PSD format.
- Requires Windows 8.1 or higher.
- Doesn’t offer auto-save functionality.
Krita is free to use.
Sketchable is a drawing tool that is only available for Windows. You can download it for free from Microsoft Store. You can use Sketchable for creating notes, editing pic, or painting an art or masterpiece. It is offered by Silicon Benders.
- Offers a super-fast interface to work.
- Works best with Surface pro devices.
- With “Color Picker”, you can pick your desired color from images or other graphics.
- You can pick any shape and mast off a section that can’t be edited.
- To match your wrist movement, it offers “Canvas Rotation” that orient the canvas.
- Doesn’t offer any cloud file storage.
- There are no built-in collaboration tools.
- Doesn’t support bitmap editing.
Sketchable is free to use.
Medibang Paint is a drawing software specially created for desktop users with all the essential tools and features that you need to create illustrations and comics. It was found in 2015 by Hideyuki Takashima, who is the current CEO of the company.
- Offers advanced brushes like Mapping Pen, Watercolor, and GPen.
- With various comic-centric features, it helps manga and comic artists.
- Comes with 800 ready-to-use backgrounds for free.
- With the “HVS” bar, you can create custom colors. It is available on the left side of the canvas.
- You can fill the small gaps between areas using the close gap feature.
- Displays annoying ads every time you open the tool.
- Offers no live chat or phone support.
Medibang is free to use in which you get everything you need to make exceptional digital arts like brushes, layers, and pens.
Mischief is a fully-featured drawing app that has a scaled-down version that you can download for free. You can run Mischief on both Windows and Mac. It is provided by Foundry.
- To help you in creating detailed artworks, Mischief offers an infinity zoom feature.
- With an infinity canvas, you can create and add as many elements as required.
- Offers multi-touch support functionality.
- Offers a limited number of brushes.
- Customer support is not helpful.
Mischief is free to use.
Procreate was created by Savage Interactive in 2011 for iPad. It is more than a drawing software that enables you to do digital painting with realistic graphics. You can download Procreate via Apple app store.
- Lets you import custom fonts.
- Supports Apple Pencil devices.
- Offers advanced tools such as P3 wide color integration, Eyedropper, and unlimited palette library.
- With the pencil filter, you can customize your adjustments like creating lines wherever you want.
- Offers advanced filters like Blur, Chromatic Aberration and Noise.
- Only works on Apple devices.
- While working, the screen does not look natural as a pen or paper.
Procreate comes with a one-time fee that costs $9.99.
12. YouiDraw Drawing
YouiDraw drawing is an online vector graphic design tool that works on HTML5 canvas. The best part of YouiDraw Drawing is that you don’t need to install any software in your system, it enables you to start drawing directly from your browser from anywhere in the world.
- Provides tons of designs, including t-shirts, posters, and gift cards.
- No need to install any software.
- Offers hundreds of styles to apply, including gradient and artistic.
- Offers different vector shapes and icons for arrows, social, game, sports, design, transport and web.
- With the “Freehand Draw” tool, you can draw any shape you want.
- Does not work if you have a slow internet.
- Does not offer any real layers for custom art works.
YouiDraw Drawing offers a free plan. However, you can also go with monthly and yearly plans that cost $9.99 and $99.99 in which you get all the features like file uploads, no watermark, support google drive and dropbox.
MyPaint is a beginner-friendly painting and drawing software available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. Martin Renold founded it in 2008. MyPaint comes with basic to advanced features like full-screen mode, brushes and pencils to help you create desired artworks.
- Support full-screen drawing so that you can just focus on your drawing.
- To speed up the working process, it offers shortcuts and hotkeys. These shortcuts will save your precious time.
- Supports infinity canvas size for every type of device by using which you can add as many objects you want.
- Supports Pressure-sensitive graphics tablet support.
- MyPaint reports whenever bug detects (Integrated bug reporting).
- It releases new and upgraded versions very late.
- It lacks some of the most essential and basic tools like cut and fills.
MyPaint is free to use.
14. Flame Painter
Flame Painter is a drawing tool that allows you to create original looking paintings with advanced procedural brushes. You can download it for both Windows and Mac platforms. Peter Blaškovič created this excellent tool in 2009.
- You can create photorealistic effects to prepare stunning images showcasing your creativity.
- You can have as many brushes you want of various styles like Ribbon, Flame, and Fuzzy.
- It allows you to import vector images in SVG format.
- You can also export your work into Photoshop.
- Supports multi-touch gestures for moving and transferring the layers.
- Doesn’t offer the option to import PSD brushes.
- Have some lagging issues while working with pen strokes.
Flame Painter costs $71 for a lifetime.
15. Epic Pen
Epic Pen is a screen marker and annotation tool for Windows that lets you write and draw on any other software, videos, and presentations. Apart from its ease of use, it is also a lightweight tool that anyone can use whether students or professionals.
- Offers a very easy-to-use interface with minimal concussion options or settings.
- Supports multi-touch input.
- Because of its lightweight configuration, you can jump from software to software on your system without any lagging.
- Supports full pen support while working with drawing tablets and other devices.
- With the screenshot crop tool, you can crop any of the screenshots available on the canvas.
- Doesn’t support integrations with PowerPoint and Word.
- Only supports PNG format for exporting the screenshots.
Epic Pen comes with a pro plan that costs $25 in which you get a screenshot crop tool, shapes, text and arrow tool, white/blackboard, and 24 colors.
ArtRage is a natural painting software with an easy-to-use interface that helps you to create stylish digital arts like vectors and drawing. Andy Bearsley created it in 2012.
- It provides layout grids that help you while painting.
- Offers convenient functionalities like a copy, pasting, and unlimited undo/redo.
- Supports 8 languages including English, German, French and others.
- To create natural color gradients, it offers blend and thick smear oils.
- While painting, you can also use photos and images as references.
- Supports paper dimension only in pixels (no cm).
- While working on large canvas sizes, the software requires high power that sometimes leads to slow response from tools.
ArtRage costs $79 with lifetime access.
ChemDoodle is an excellent chemical drawing software to create 2D and 3D drawings. Thousands of professionals around the globe trust ChemDoodle. ChemDoodle was launched in 2013 by founder Kevin Theisen for Windows, macOS, and mobile devices.
- Offers chemistry-related graphics such as ChemSketch, BioArt, and glassware graphics.
- It helps you in doing complicated drawings like working on implicit hydrogens, ring finding, and stereochemistry.
- Offers a calculator that helps you run through various properties and calculations.
- Using this tool, you can build complex 3D geometries, including prism builders, carbon nanotube, Armchair, chiral nanotubes, and zigzag.
- For user attention, you can easily highlight parts of your chemical structures.
- Price is higher as compared to other tools.
- Only runs on a 64-bit system.
ChemDoodle offers three pricing plans that are monthly, yearly, and lifetime. These plans cost $15, $150, and $750 respectively. In all the plans, you get all the features (ChemDoodle 2D, ChemDoodle 3D, and ChemDoodle Mobile).
Rebelle is a powerful painting software provided by Escape Motions. Using this software, you can create realistic oil, watercolor, wet, dry, and acrylic media artwork with real-world colourings. It comes with Intuitive interfaces like straight lines, rulers, and custom keywords.
- Supports retina touch display.
- It comes with a gallery where you can publish your created artworks and share with the public.
- Provides wet media tools, including watercolors, Acrylics, and Pen.
- The Natural RYB Color Mixing and Gamma Correction helps you in mixing color with each other.
- To create beautiful dripping effects, Rebelle offers a “DropEngine” that comes with watercolors.
- Doesn’t support the Linux operating system.
- There is no oil paint texture.
Rebelle comes with a lifetime licence that costs $90.
Clip Studio Paint is a specially created drawing software for professional artists with over 8k pen pressure level that you can apply to the drawings. It offers support for almost every platform, including macOS, Windows, iPad, and Android. This awesome tool was created by the Japanese company “Celsys” in 2001.
- With AI colorization features, it automatically makes the accurate finish by just providing hints of color on parts of your drawing.
- Supports importing of 3D figures that you can use in your draft.
- You are allowed to add camera movements, timelines, music and sound effects.
- To help you in creating perfect lines, Clip Studio Paint auto stabilizes and corrects wavering lines.
- It allows you to view the 3D object from all dimensions and angles.
- Doesn’t offer good customer support.
- The price between Pro and Ex pricing plans is very high (as you only get OBJ importing and multiple page layouts in the EX plan, but the difference is $170).
Clip Studio Paint offers two pricing plans:
- Pro: $49 (character art, concept art, illustration)
- EX: $219 (for manga & comics, animations)
Vectr is a free and powerful vector graphics software. It is available for both in-browser and desktop. Vectr lets software engineers, social media executives, project managers, and bloggers create different vector graphics with ease. Alan Chan founded it in 2014.
- You can share the URL of your Vectr documents with friends or colleagues to assist in your drawings.
- Allows you to create designs of every type, including logos, cars, presentation, mockups, brochures, and graphics.
- It is a cross-platform application which means it can automatically save and sync your work.
- Doesn’t offer a large number of tools and icons for use.
- You have to sign up to save files.
Vectr is free to use.
21. Corel Painter
Corel Painter is a digital art and painting software created by Painter Artist. It is available for both Windows and Mac. With Corel Painter, you get over 900 types of brushes, unique patterns, textures, and gradients to get your job done.
- It enables you to customize textures, brushes, palettes, and patterns.
- With AI and auto-painting features, you can easily convert images into paintings.
- The “Brush Accelerator” tool optimizes your system’s CPU, GPU and memory for better performance.
- For the perfect color palette, Corel Painter offers Mixer, Color Sets, Color Wheel, and Harmonies.
- Supports touch bar on MacBook Pro.
- The zoom tool doesn’t display zoom % until it reaches 200%.
- Slow startup and shutdown.
Corel Painter offers one-time purchase costs $429.
Inkscape is another open-source, powerful, and free drawing tool. It was launched in 2003 by four founders, Bryce Harrington, MenTaLguY, Nathan Hurst, and Ted Gould. Inkscape provides you with a blank template with plenty of drawing tools by using which you can create realistic drawings.
- It offers various shapes, including rectangles, stars, polygons, ellipers, and spirals.
- You can also lock or unlock layers or can also rearrange them.
- Support boolean operations.
- Supports grouping objects in the canvas for ease of use.
- Offers various node editing tools including bezier handles, node alignment, distribution, and moving nodes.
- Because of its complex feature, it’s hard for beginners to learn.
- The design is outdated, and the Mac version has some bugs.
Inkscape is a free software to use.
If you are using an older PC with a low-end configuration, then FireAlpaca is the best digital painting software you can use. Users can download this software for Windows and Mac both platforms. It was launched in 2013.
- Using “3D Perspective”, you can pick 3D objects like a cube.
- Offers built-in comic templates that are ready to use.
- Support up to 10 languages.
- Offers very light performance that means you can even run it on older PCs.
- You can create unexpected and unique patterns using rotational and symmetric pattern brush.
- Doesn’t support brush adjustment (hardness or softness).
- Has no default palettes.
FireAlpaca is free to use.
Similar to FireAlpaca, Leonardo can also run on low-end systems as it takes lower usage of resources that allow it to run smoothly on your PC. Leonardo works on all PCs, including Surface Pro, Pro X, and Book. You can use it for almost all types of work, including drawing, sketching, painting, whiteboard, and tracing.
- It works for both left and right-handed persons.
- It’s very fast as it takes only a second to load the project.
- Supports almost all PC tablets, including Lenovo ThinkPad, Huion Kamvas, Wacom Intous, and Microsoft Surface Pro.
- Leonardo supports English, French, German, Japanese, and Chinese.
- Supports an infinity canvas that lets you add an infinite number of elements and objects to the canvas.
- Doesn’t offer stabilization feature.
- You have to make lots of adjustments every time you open the app.
Leonardo comes with a free plan, but you can also upgrade to the pro version that costs $39 (one-time).
25. Paint 3D
Paint 3D is a 3D painting and drawing software officially provided by Microsoft that you can directly install from the Microsoft app store.
- Enables you to create 3D paintings.
- Have in-built 3D objects like animals, shapes, and even human objects.
- You can easily upload your own creations.
- Supports basic windows shortcuts like copy, paste and cut.
- You can add marble textures that match with the color of the elements.
- You can export your 3D work process in a video format.
- Doesn’t come for macOS.
- There is no email or phone support.
Paint 3D is a free painting software to use.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced painter or artist, you need a powerful drawing tool to take your drawing efforts to the next level. Make sure to compare the features of the tools before you select a drawing program of your choice.
That said, there’s no better software than the king of photo editing software, Photoshop. Get Adobe’s Creative Cloud solution to get access today.
Antoine Bechara is a tech author based in Sydney, Australia. I am a self confessed tech geek and a lover of everything technology. My mission is to bring you the latest news and info on a wide range of products, services and gadgets, and write about tech stories that interest me in the hope of entertaining you.