Most PCs will come pre-loaded with some basic drawing software, but these programs are pretty limited. Unlike the best drawing apps for PC, they lack some of the basic features that you’ll need to create professional-quality drawings.
In the past, digital artists were limited to just a few drawing apps — very few of which were well-suited for beginners to digital drawing. Today, there is a huge variety of drawing apps for PC including paid and free options.
Here are some of the best apps for drawing and digital art on Windows machines.
The Best Overall Option: Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator
For digital artists, Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite is the industry standard. These apps include everything you need to create digital art.
The program features digital brushes that can mimic analogue tools or create entirely new effects. Each brush is highly customizable, and you can tweak everything from line weight to texture to opacity to blending.
Photoshop is also great for digital painting if you want to add some color or texture to your drawings.
Illustrator, on the other hand, is one of the best vector-based drawing apps available. Most drawing apps are raster-based, meaning that the lines you draw will be made up of pixels. With vectors, your lines are made up of math-based paths — meaning they can be scaled up or down infinitely without any pixelization or artifacting.
As a result, you can use Illustrator to draw perfectly clean and scalable lines and shapes over a Photoshop sketch.
There are some downsides to going with Adobe. Even the cheapest plan for Photoshop and Illustrator will be expensive.
Right now, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator cost $20.99 a month each. You can also subscribe to the entire Creative Cloud suite for $52.99 a month. This full subscription will get you access to other digital art apps, like AfterEffects (primarily used to create motion graphics, animations and video FX) and InDesign (page layout and digital media design).
The Best Free Drawing App: Autodesk Sketchbook
Most professional drawing apps have pretty complicated interfaces. The function of many tools may not be clear at first, and some basic features may be hard to find. While these complex UIs typically exist because these programs give you a lot of creative freedom, they can also bog down beginners.
Sketchbook is, by comparison, a lot simpler than most other options while still being one of the best drawing apps out there.
While paid versions of the software existed for most of its lifespan, Sketchbook recently went totally free. If you want to get started with digital art — but don’t want to make a commitment to a paid program — Sketchbook is a great app to start with.
The More Affordable Paid Option: Clip Studio Paint (previously Manga Studio)
While lesser-known, this app includes many of the digital drawing features that make Photoshop a go-to for professional artists.
Built primarily for digital comic artists, the app comes preloaded with tools designed to emulate analogue drawing tools like draft pencils and ink pens.
It also features an array of tools designed to emulate painting materials like watercolors, acrylics and airbrushes.
Like Photoshop, Clip Studio’s brushes are highly adjustable — great for if you want a lot of control over the look and feel of your linework.
The app’s vector drawing features aren’t as robust as those in Illustrator, but are still effective if you want to create clean, scalable vector lines.
Clip Studio is a paid program, but you’ll only need to pay once. Clip Studio Paint typically costs $49.99, but goes on sale around most major holidays.
Honorable Mention: Krita
Krita is another powerful free art tool that’s great for beginners.
Like Photoshop and Clip studio, Krita features a robust lineup of brushes and good vector drawing tools.
The program also includes some basic animation features.
Krita is totally free — no subscriptions, up-front costs, or features gated behind a pro license. If you want an alternative to Sketchbook, but don’t want to use a paid app, Krita is another option.
Picking the Right PC Drawing App
These are some of the best drawing apps available for PC. options available. If you’re new to digital art and just want to get started, Sketchbook or Krita will provide a good introduction. If you have some experience, or just want a more robust program, Photoshop or Clip Studio will be better.
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