Are you looking for the best free drawing software to create amazing paintings on your PC with a stylus, mouse, or touchscreen? Choose one of the following digital art software to create realistic simulations of a grunge effect, watercolors, oils, pastels, charcoal, etc.
Top 13 Free Drawing Software
- Clip Studio Paint - Ideal for rendering and inking
- Adobe Illustrator - Full-featured vector-based drawing tool
- Paint.NET - Easy-to-use interface
- GIMP - Open source
- Corel Painter - For professional digital drawing
- Krita - Supports layer editing
- Mischief - Custom color palettes
- Inkscape - Supports a variety of formats
- Microsoft Paint 3D - A collection of paint effects
- Artweaver Free - Easy-to-customize brushes
- PixBuilder Studio - Portable and Standard versions
- Gravit - All the necessary features and effects
- MediBang Paint Pro - Over 800 pre-installed backgrounds and templates
On this list, you will find a variety of vector programs for Mac, Windows and Linux that allow you to recreate the effect of watercolors, oils, pastels, charcoal, etc. You can use some of the available tools to work on 3D projects, create three-dimensional models, add custom textures, apply filters, add 2D elements and prepare your files for 3D printing.
Some of the options are suitable for creating pro-level illustrations, while others were designed for children who don’t have advanced drawing skills. Their toolsets are suitable for users with different levels of experience, so make sure to learn more about the supported features to select an option that suits your needs best.
1. Clip Studio Paint - Our Choice
Ideal for rendering and inking
- Brushes can be customized
- Excellent vector tools
- Great coloring options
- Large user base and community
Verdict: Clip Studio Paint is one of the most popular professional drawing tools for PC. The program was designed for creating illustrations, animations, manga, and comics. Currently, near 5 million people use this program.
Many professional artists and illustrators prefer using this free drawing software as it provides superior flexibility and freedom. When creating manga or comics, you can do the same things as on paper. However, you have more advantages thanks to digital technology. The program has a huge selection of drawing tools. The latest version also includes animation features, which makes her one of the best free art programs.
This program can be considered a worthy competitor to Photoshop. Now, many artists opt for Clip Studio Paint since it is more universal in many aspects.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Full-featured vector-based drawing tool
- Multi-page artboard publications
- Tools to create website wireframes
- Various custom effects
- Fast sharing
- Requires learning
Verdict: Adobe Illustrator is commonly used vector-based drawing software. The program includes a wide range of tools for drawing, color management, and working with visual projects. Due to a layer-based system, the software offers a non-destructive process of creating and editing your drawings.
Since Illustrator integrates with other Adobe applications, you get a wider functionality. Thus, you can use Adobe Fonts to make your project unique. Besides, there is a wide range of custom effects such as 3Ds, etc.
Illustrator offers adjustable vector drawing tools, letting you create various types of graphics and illustrations such as logos, web graphics, branding elements, packaging, etc. Once the project is ready, you can export it to any Adobe software to enhance it further. Besides, the software allows you to share a project directly on social media.
Easy to use interface
- Convenient and simple to use
- Lots of functions and effects
- The interface is well-organized
- Online support and useful tutorials
- Brushwork is limited
- You can’t correct text after applying other effects
Verdict: The program’s interface resembles a standard drawing tool integrated into the operating system. However, in terms of functionality, Paint.NET is far ahead. This free digital art software perfectly copes with the task of drawing volumetric models, moving objects, and transparent structures.
Because of its simplicity, Paint.NET is perfect for aspiring artists. Besides, it can work quickly even on low-powered devices. Paint.NET supports layers and has many effects. There are tools for blurring, styling, sharpening, and noise reduction. If you wish, the program features can be expanded using plug-ins. Additionally, this free paint program allows you to get images from the scanner and enhance it.
In the latest version, the developers have improved the overall performance and reduced memory usage, which allows you to work on several projects at once. A streamlined interface has convenient icons and supports Aero Glass for Windows 7 and Vista.
- Graphics Tablet Support
- Individual file storage format “.xcf”
- Ability to open PSD files
- Creates plug-ins
- A bit difficult
- There are fewer features compared to paid analogs
Verdict: GIMP is a powerful, flexible, customizable open-source editor supported by many Wacom tablets. This free painting software has many tools that are available in Photoshop: layers, masks, color grading, smart selection, brushes, filters, and tons of other features. The other tools can be added by using third-party extensions. However, the interface and hotkeys are peculiar here.
Initially, this product was created as a free alternative to Photoshop. However, the functionality of the software allows you to create drawings from scratch. This best free drawing software includes different “soft” and “hard” brushes with variable features, the possibility of layer-by-layer drawing processing, smoothing and other effects, as well as many additional tools.
The earlier versions of GIMP were incompatible with high pixel density displays. While it was possible to use them, the image quality was hardly satisfactory on high-resolution screens. Thanks to the integration of GTK3, this software now supports high-density screens. The only thing you need to do is to select the resolution of your system.
5. Corel Painter
For professional digital drawing
- Constant updates
- Dozens of tools that imitate real drawing
- Adjustable brushes
- GPU-accelerated brushes
- A trial is available only for 15 days
- Difficult to understand
Verdict: Corel Painter is a program originally created for painting. Its functionality does not provide the solution to a wide range of problems, and this is not a universal program at all. However, for digital drawing needs, Corel Painter is well-developed. This drawing software will provide you with an impressive array of professional tools. Brushes, oil palettes, watercolor palettes, various paper textures are available for you.
The digital drawing software imitates not only the result of applying a particular tool but also the process of working with it. When using a pencil, the line thickness will directly depend on the angle of the stylus towards the screen of your tablet. A brush that has just been dipped in the paint will leave a wider and more saturated mark than a brush that has been painting for some time.
What makes it one of the most convenient free drawing programs is that the developers created convenient categories for brushes and improved a filter search. You can quickly find a necessary brush by alphabet, search for watercolor-compatible filters or select other search options. This software also allows creating custom brushes by adding the wet texture to dry brushes. It makes it easier to create watercolors and achieve various effects. You can experiment with different brushes and materials to get a more creative result.
Supports layer editing
- Up-to-date UI with a nice layout
- Improved OpenGL
- Many brushes
- HDR is supported
- Some lags after updates
- Inconvenient text tool
Verdict: Many professionals prefer this program. The software doesn’t limit the size of the virtual canvas, it depends on the performance of your PC. Krita imitates real canvases and emulates various drawing tools. Its library includes many artistic effects. Therefore, the process of creating digital drawings is as realistic as possible. Besides, this free digital art software works smoothly with layers, contains tools for post-processing and provides a high level of detail.
The newest version Krita 5.0 will come in handy for those who want to create viral TikTok or YouTube clips. It features an in-built video recorder that will help you to document all the steps of creating a drawing. If you are a digital artist, you can record your drawing sessions and share useful tips with your followers.
It is also interesting that initially Krita was developed as a drawing tool, but now the program boasts of many additional functions for editing ready-made digital pictures and can be considered as a competitor of Adobe Photoshop.
Custom color palettes
- Unlimited canvas
- Decent interface
- Many brushes
- Saves PSD files with layers
- Lacks nice standard brushes
Verdict: Mischief was released by a small software development company 61 Solutions. This free drawing software immediately got the attention of digital artists looking for a solution that allows creating raster paintings. The best thing about this software is that it creates images without noticeable pixels.
One of the advantages of this free graphic design software is the ability to get an image with broadly sketched parts and well-detailed other areas. With this software, you can stretch the canvas to the desired size. You can also zoom in. I would also mention multi-touch support, extra docks for brushes, trackpad support for Macs, and two new custom color palettes.
The new version has unlimited canvas and cool scalable brushes. The UI is now panel-based, and its elements are located across the screen. Because of a smaller number of tools, this free painting software provides you with a larger canvas.
Supports a variety of formats
- Open-source software
- A collection of pro-level designing tools
- Extensive community
- Low hardware requirements
- Outdated interface
- Text tools have limited functionality
- Some delays because of the integration with Illustrator
Verdict: Inkscape is the best free drawing software for digital artists and other creative professionals that was released by people with extensive experience in this field. You can use its huge collection of tools and effects that make it comparable to Adobe Illustrator in terms of functionality. The newest version comes with an upgraded search bar that can be opened in the Preferences dialog window. It also allows managing extensions with little to no effort.
This software has a streamlined and easy-to-customize interface, supports node editing, comes with a collection of vector editing tools, filters and effects. It allows you to work with Creative Commons metadata, save your files in various formats, and use a variety of snapping tools. This solution will be especially useful for those who need to add hundreds of images to a single web page.
9. Microsoft Paint 3D
A collection of paint effects
- Easy-to-master interface
- 3D image creation and editing is very easy
- It is possible to share 3D images online
- The creation process can be played back
- 2D objects can’t be extruded
- No 3D capture mobile app
Verdict: Using this free art software, you can accomplish three main tasks: create your own three-dimensional object, place it in the composition and make it animated. With 3D object creation in Microsoft Paint 3D, you can either choose a model to import from the displayed options or draw your own shape and turn it into a 3D model.
The 3D model can be rotated. Besides, you can quickly add animations to it. Paint 3D allows adding a finish and lighting effects to the created 3D image. These 3D images can be easily used with other Microsoft Office programs, like Word, PowerPoint, and the like.
If you use Windows 10, Paint 3D is built into your system by default. If this is not your case, you can download Paint 3D from the Microsoft app store for free. Another thing that I like is that the developers paid more attention to user data security.
10. Artweaver Free
An in-built brush editor
- Many creative brushes
- You can automate the work using scripts
- Small installation file size
- Great painting tools
- Poor work with text
- Problematic drawing with the stamp tool
Verdict: Some users call this free paint program an analog of Corel Painter, while others claim that Artweaver Free is close in functionality to the fifth version of Photoshop. Anyway, this is the best free digital art software that allows you to perform most standard photo-editing operations efficiently. It far surpasses the built-in editors of graphic viewers.
A user is offered a rich set of various brushes (chalk, charcoal, pencil, acrylic fibers, sponge, oil). You can work with layers, import and export graphics in various formats. Artweaver also has all kinds of filters that can be applied to drawings (wind effect, blur, waves, granulation, oil effect, etc.).
Moreover, this free vector graphics software allows you to draw textures. Artweaver also has Plugins Pack that contains many additional filters. The key advantage of the new version is its upgraded brush editor that enables you to test out a variety of brushes.
11. PixBuilder Studio
Portable and Standard versions
- Primitives are available
- Text can be corrected
- Multi-layer select
- Layers can be grouped
- You can’t edit text in-place
- Lack of color swatches
- It’s impossible to delete outlines from primitives
Verdict: PixBuilder Studio is a painting software that allows you to perform all the basic operations with images, including correction and processing. I can’t compare the program with full-fledged commercial image editors, but it competes on equal terms with Paint.net.
The program interface is clear and convenient. It fully complies with the requirements for programs of this kind. It has a large selection of tools for working with colors, manipulating layers, applying various effects. By the way, this painting software supports plug-ins for Photoshop. Perhaps not all, but most plug-ins should work in the program.
The newest version of the software comes with a variety of selection tools. For instance, you can create transparency masks, use a magic wand or lasso tools, create a single-column selection, adjust the color range, or use gradient color transitions. Thanks to it, it will be easier for you to create complex raster shapes and apply effects to the selected areas.
All the necessary tools and filters
- Easy and understandable interface
- It is possible to re-use the same element several times
- Sketch files are supported
- Convenient keyboard shortcuts
- Occasional lags
- The Sketch import works poorly
Verdict: Gravit is a free drawing software that has both online and desktop versions for all major platforms. This digital painting software has a complete set of tools necessary for working with vector graphics. The program supports curves, layers, geometric shapes, various selection and transformation tools, texts and many other functions for manipulating objects.
To prevent data loss, this software creates backups every 5 minutes and saves them to the Cloud. Later on, you can restore every version of the file by browsing through the history of autosaves. Keep in mind that your files will be saved automatically only if you open them from the Cloud. It’s impossible to autosave files that are stored locally.
Gravit can also be used as a raster graphics editor. You can crop your images, add masks, perform blending and resizing, add filters. It is very useful when designing interfaces, creating layouts for web pages and printing products. In addition, the program has access to a huge library of free vector objects.
13. MediBang Paint Pro
Collection of backgrounds/templates
- Very simple interface
- Many patterns and brushes
- Supports various input modes
- Works great with PSD files
- Some annoying advertising when you open the program
- Occasionally slows down
MediBang Paint Pro
Verdict: This is a specialized tool that will appeal to those who create comics, anime, and manga. It is very simple to use. This is the best free painting software for speeding up your workflow since it has a library with over 800 pre-installed backgrounds and anime-themed templates. Besides, there are about 50 brushes and a big choice of free fonts.
I like that thanks to the integration with cloud services, you can upload your works for free and not litter the space on your computer. MediBang also works great with .PSD files, which is non-typical for free paint programs. You will also like the fact the new version comes with a variety of blending features: Soft Light, Hard Light, Hue, Saturation, Color and Brightness.
- Adobe Photoshop CC. Best overall digital art & drawing software. ...
- Corel Painter. Particularly good at simulating paint effects. ...
- Rebelle. Perfect if you want a natural, realistic painting experience. ...
- Artweaver. Best for collaborative art projects. ...
- GIMP. According to the developers, “GIMP is not designed to be used for drawing,” but it's still one of the most powerful options on our list if you know how to use it. ...
- Krita. ...
- Microsoft Paint 3D. ...
- Artweaver 7. ...
- Astropad Studio for Windows. ...
- Sketchbook. ...
- Adobe Fresco. ...
- Adobe Photoshop Sketch.
- Adobe Illustrator Draw.
- Adobe Fresco.
- Inspire Pro.
- Pixelmator Pro.
- Autodesk Sketchbook.