Software List
|8 min read
kabocha's avatar
By kabocha   |   
31 18 3K (1 Today)

Welp, let's face it: choosing art software can be a major pain if you don't know what's out there.

So, here's a list of stuff. Enjoy!

Just because I have something on this list doesn't mean that I know how to use it very well. Evaluate the options at your discretion.
Feel free to comment with recommendations or corrections.


Windows Runs on Windows
MacOS  Runs on MacOS
Linux Icon ultramini Runs on Linux
  Ubuntu Icon mini Specifically for Ubuntu
Exclamation Point Limited Support / Unsupported; use at own discretion

Free Drawing Software

Bullet; Blue Artweaver Windows (Has paid version)
Bullet; Blue Autodesk Sketchbook Windows MacOS (Has paid version)
Bullet; Blue FireAlpaca Windows MacOS 
Bullet; Blue KolourPaint Linux Icon ultraminiExclamation Point 
Bullet; Blue Krita Windows MacOS Linux Icon ultramini
Bullet; Blue Medibang Paint Windows MacOS 
Bullet; Blue Mischief Windows MacOS (Has paid version)
Bullet; Blue MyPaint  Windows MacOS Linux Icon ultramini
Bullet; Blue PictBear Windows Exclamation Point
Bullet; Blue Pixia Windows
Bullet; Blue Project Dogwaffle 1.2 Windows Exclamation Point (newer versions are paid and supported)
Bullet; Blue RealWorld Paint Windows
Bullet; Blue SmoothDraw Windows

Free Image Editors

Image editors are more generalized, but often work for drawing.
Bullet; White GIMP Windows MacOS Linux Icon ultramini
Bullet; White Windows
Bullet; White Pinta Windows MacOS Ubuntu Icon mini 

Free Vector Software

Bullet; Blue Inkscape Windows MacOS Linux Icon ultramini
Bullet; Blue Karbon Windows MacOS Linux Icon ultramini (Windows & Mac may be buggy)
Bullet; Blue Skencil Linux Icon ultramini
Bullet; Blue Xara Xtreme Linux Icon ultramini

Paid Drawing Software

Bullet; White ArtRage Windows MacOS - Under $50
Bullet; White Clip Studio Paint  Windows MacOS  - $50 for "Pro", $220 for EX - Goes on sale every few months or so for $25 and $87 respectively.
Bullet; White Comic Life Windows MacOS  - $30
Bullet; White Corel Painter Windows MacOS  - $400+
Bullet; White Corel Painter Essentials Windows MacOS - Under $50; may have student discounts
Bullet; White Flame Painter Windows MacOS  - Personal: $30; Professional: $90 -- there ARE significant feature differences
Bullet; White MyBrushes MacOS - Under $30
Bullet; White OpenCanvas Windows  - $60
Bullet; White Paint Tool SAI Windows - 5400JPY (Depends on exchange rate; usually around $55)
Bullet; White Rebelle Windows MacOS $60

Paid Image Editing Software

Bullet; Blue Affinity Photo Windows MacOS -$50 - perpetual license
Bullet; Blue Corel Paint Shop Pro Windows - Under $100

Paid Vector Software

Bullet; White Affinity Designer  Windows MacOS  - $50 - Perpetual License
Bullet; White Serif DrawPlus Windows - $25 -  LEGACY SOFTWARE, BUY AT YOUR OWN RISK
Bullet; White Xara Designer Pro Windows - $300

anonymous's avatar
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AFuniversCat's avatar
AFuniversCatHobbyist General Artist

Just asking: are you Kabocha-chan on clip studio asset?

kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Yes, that's me!
AFuniversCat's avatar
AFuniversCatHobbyist General Artist

cool i used one of you'r materials!

kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Oh, awesome! I hope they're useful! I have tons more over on my website, if you'd like more, actually!

( <- here's how to install them manually)
AFuniversCat's avatar
AFuniversCatHobbyist General Artist

I used the rain brush and yes, it did an awesome work!

erosarts's avatar
erosartsProfessional Traditional ArtistFeatured
Xara might be worth adding to the vectors list.  I haven't used the "extreme" version, but I have consistently grabbed the free, basic program for every installation of Linux I've used because the 3D effect filters create such superior results so quickly.  It's fantastic for logos and titles.

Also, on Linux, I've had about the same number of difficulties with bugs and instabilities on both MyPaint and Krita.  They're awesome paint simulators, but... eh.  I just know my way around GIMP so much better, I use that for most things.  Although, in my experience GIMP 2.8 is best left alone for now; every time I open a Text Tool dialog box, it crashes on me... and I didn't seem to be alone when I looked up comments about it.
kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Interesting!  Xara had come up, but I hadn't seen much about it.  Now that I know it's used by folks, I'll definitely add it to the list.

Are you primarily Linux, or do you run it as a VM/secondary OS?  Just curious!

The stability of some of the later releases of MyPaint has been a point of contention for me... I can't use MyPaint 1.2 because it keeps flickering between the tooltip and the mouse pointer, and it drives me nuts -- so I've been sticking with an older release.  Then again, I'm on Windows and not using a Linux distro at this point in time...
I feel like the more they add to some of those applications, the less stable they get. >_>;
erosarts's avatar
erosartsProfessional Traditional Artist
I don't know if folkS use Xara.  But I know I do!  :)  So... at least one person.

I only use Linux these days.

Last time I tried to use Windows for anything, it was such a "friendly" experience, I couldn't make it work as a computer.  Any menu you might want to access because you know what you're doing has been concealed in some unlikely spot in a hidden folder.

I think code never gets subtracted from any of this software.  Only added.  And every addition creates a greater possibility that some minor bug will grow into a greater problem somewhere down the line.
kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Shh, if there's one, there's at least another! :D

And which distro, if you don't mind my asking?  I'm primarily RHEL/CentOS, which does what I need, but I also tend to work only on the terminal if I'm on Linux.  Very task-oriented, there.  I like pre-unity Ubuntu, too, but the only computer I have running that is something like 10 years old now.

HAHAHA Windows... Friendly.  I only use it at this point because I've got so much paid software that WINE won't like that it's not worth it.  I'm trapped!

And that's a good point.  I wish they would go through and reduce it to the essentials, but that would require effort.  I feel like MyPaint in particular doesn't really need to be feature-rich - I got used to treating it like a sketchpad, really. >_>;;
erosarts's avatar
erosartsProfessional Traditional Artist
I have only used Ubuntu and Kubuntu.  The Unity GUI for Ubuntu IS unnecessarily bloated (it's what I use, though); first time I installed it on a machine it was like the machine was completely broken by all those extra shiny graphics and transparent backgrounds.  And why would the Linux community do that?  It makes no sense to me.

If I could run a computer with nothing but line items in Terminal... I probably would.  But it's been... more than several years since I was hip enough to run any computer that competently.

The only thing I have to run in WINE is CorelDraw (and 11 works almost flawlessly in WINE), because I have one client who needs everything to be a CDR for his silk-screening operation.  CorelDraw, if you haven't used it, is my vote for worst vector program ever developed.  Fortunately, I made THE discovery which allows me to work in Inkscape and import all my vectors in CorelDraw without errors, and that is this: CorelDraw generates a curve value of 0 even for a straight line, whereas Inkscape only generates a curve value for a curved line.  So if you want to import an SVG into CorelDraw, you need every line to have a curve value, even if it is straight; this magic trick allows CorelDraw to flawlessly import SVGs every time.  And that is my personal computing discovery of which I am more proud than any other thing.
kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Yeah... Unity confuses me sometimes.  It's like, ok, so I switch to Linux for something which is a little less bloated than windows, but then.... Bloat?

It's part of why I don't hate CentOS, but I'm not sure how much of Canonical's software will run there, so.... Eh.  I guess I'll have to play around and see one day!  VM Testing banzai!

Interesting -- I guess mathematically, the way CorelDraw is doing it makes sense, but why define the curve if you don't have it?  Hm.  I wonder if it's something the Inkscape devs know?  I'm pretty sure they could address it for an export.  :D  (I don't really do vectoring much, to be honest!)
linux-rules's avatar
linux-rulesHobbyist Artist
btw, I think Kolourpaint is still supported, just is delivered by the own stores of the distributions, not from any web page. Is the same concept Windows is trying to embrace.
KawaiiTsuyu's avatar
From the list I have tried Paint Tool Sai, Clip Studio/Manga Studio, Gimp, Krita and Photoshop CS6.

In my experience, I think that Paint Tool Sai It's the best for a begginner in digital, because its Interface is easier to understand than the interface of the other programs I have tried. Also when you get used to painted in digital, with this program you can create paintings of profesional quality and It's not very expensive. The only problem for me is the absence of a ruler tool , so when you're trying to do backgrounds with perspective, it's complicated without a ruler tool... Anyways, some people create wonderful backgrounds paintings with this program but I need some rulers for it... Also there a toon of good tutorials on the internet for this program.

Clip Studio/Manga Studio is a great program too (It's the one that I'm using now). It has more options than Paint Tool Sai (so It's a little more complicated to use Than Sai at first but you'll get used to it in a short time) and It's an excellent program for manga/comic creators. It has rulers and perspective rulers too, which is great when you're working with backgrounds. And lots of options for comic panels, dialogue balloons,etc. Also the pro version it's not very expensive. 

About Gimp and Krita, I tried them both and although they're good programs and free, I felt lost on their interfaces (too many options and not very well explained), so I gave up on them. Anyways, some people create wonderful stuff with them and you can do professional quality illustrations with them too, but for me they were difficult to use.

About Photoshop CS6, It's a very good program but super expensive. Her interface it's complicated but there are toons of tutorials on the internet when you can learn. Also you can find lots of resources, brushes and textures. In my experience, It's a great program to paint or adding effects but not so great for drawing.. For Drawing I prefer Clip Studio or Paint Tool Sai rather than photoshop. Lots of proffessional artists work with it amazingly well, but I think that its pricing it's excesive. With Paint Tool Sai, Clip Studio, Gimp or Krita  you can really achieve the same results and its prices are much more affordable for real people.

In conclusion, my favourite ones are Clip Studio and Paint Tool Sai, their prices are not very expensive, they're easy to use and you can achieve proffesional results with them. The other ones are also great programs but they didn't work for me.

My advice to everyone who wants to start in digital is that you have to try all the programs that you can and find out which one works best for you. Maybe what worked for me didn't work for you. Some of the Non-free programs offer a downloadable free trial where you can see how they work and decide if you want to buy them or not.
kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Thank you for this! :D

I've tried a variety of software on this list, and I have to agree with most of your thoughts.  I actually find I like GIMP better on Linux for some reason -- the Windows interface just feels a little clunky.  Nowadays, I only use it if I have to work on a machine where Photoshop is unavailable.
As far as Krita... It's a really nice program, but I've heard reports of instability and such, which hasn't encouraged me to get into working with it too much.

If you ever get a chance, try MyPaint.  I love working with it for drawing and sketching, though it's a little simplistic.
KawaiiTsuyu's avatar
Thanks to you too!Hug 
linux-rules's avatar
linux-rulesHobbyist Artist
Nice you are doing this. I plan to do a very extensive journal about this (is about the icons, in fact). Actually, I have already done some atempts (…).
There is a CS6 option to get legally for free. I'll add to my list those programs I didn't know yet (such as Karbon and Dogwaffle) and link back to this list. Thanks
kabocha's avatar
kabochaHobbyist General Artist
Ah, yeah!  Thank you for making icons available for folks -- I know it's really helpful to some.

And can you provide me more information on a free, legal CS6 edition?  I've heard about CS2 being able to be obtained through adobe for free (though it's a very grey area legally), but not CS6!
linux-rules's avatar
linux-rulesHobbyist Artist
oh, maybe I confused and it was CS2... ^^'

edit: ^^'  yeah…
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