Technology advances over the last few decades have seen more and more designers and artists ditch pen and paper and turn to drawing on laptops, tablets, and mobiles.
To do this, you need to have good drawing software, but these can often be expensive. Luckily, there are also free drawing software solutions out there – but how do you find the best free drawing software?
Are there any good free drawing software?
You may think that free drawing software wouldn’t match up to commercial options, but that’s actually not the case. Sure, the first free digital online software were pretty basic, but the top modern solutions offer professional-grade drawing, designing, and painting capabilities.
For example, the best free drawing software offer a wide variety of realistic brushes, so you can accurately reproduce ink, pencils, pastels, oils, charcoal, watercolors, and much more. You can customize brushes and even create your own to get the effect you’re looking for. The top software also offer a wide variety of other features to help you bring your designs to life – some even allow you to create 3D models!
That being said, you need to be careful when selecting free drawing software to ensure you’re choosing the right one for your needs. The selection of brushes, user experience, customizability, features, and compatibility are just some of the various aspects you need to consider when choosing a software package.
Luckily, you don’t have to do it on your own – we’re here to help guide you through the process. We’ve reviewed the best free drawing software for 2021, picking out the best solution for different requirements. All you need to do is read our reviews, choose the software that best suits your needs, and get drawing!
Krita – Overall Best Free Drawing Software for Windows 10 and Mac
While there are many decent free drawing software out there, Krita is one of the few open source solutions that offers genuine professional-grade quality and is our pick for the best free online drawing software.
This software is suitable for different kinds of drawing and it offers a fantastic array of tools to help you develop your work. For starters, it comes with over 100 pre-uploaded, professionally-made brushes that offer a fantastic variety of effects. You can add stabilizers to your brush to help smoothen your drawing out if you have an unsteady hand.
There are also nine unique brush engines, each with a range of settings you can use to customize your brushes. The brush engines are designed for specific tasks, such as the Color Smudge engine and the Shape engine.
Krita is particularly popular among comic and manga artists, partly thanks to the handy vector and text tools that allow you to create comic panes. You can easily drag and drop word bubble templates, create your own shapes by changing the anchor points, and add text with the text tool.
Other interesting features include the wrap-around mode for easily creating textures and patterns, layer management, and the ability to import brushes and texture packs from Krita community members to expand your tools.
Another benefit of using Krita is the wide range of productivity features designed to help you draw more efficiently. For example, the Drawing Assistant tool has nine assistants, ranging from drawing ellipses to perfecting vanishing points, to help you perfect your work.
Krita also stands out as the only dedicated free art drawing software that offers HDR drawing. You can open, save, edit and author HDR images, offering professional-level drawing and effects possibilities.
Krita is very user-friendly, which makes it suitable for beginners as well as professional artists. The interface is very well designed, flexible and intuitive, and you can customize the dockers and panels and create your own shortcuts to create a smooth workflow.
In addition to being the best free drawing software for Mac and Windows 10, Krita doubles up as an animation suite as you can convert your drawings into 2D animations.
SketchBook – Best Free Architectural Drawing Software
SketchBook is a free drawing and painting software developed by Autodesk. It’s a high-quality platform that helps designers, architects, and concept artists quickly sketch ideas and produce fully realized illustrations.
Like Krita, SketchBook is a professional-level drawing software that’s packed with excellent features. Autodesk also regularly adds new features to keep improving software and providing artists with more tools.
For example, one recently added feature is Perspective Guides. There are four to choose from – 1 point mode, 2 point mode, 3 point mode, and fisheye mode. These guides have snapping toggle, vanishing point lock, and horizon line visibility, allowing you to create illustrations from a variety of perspectives. This is particularly useful for architectural drawings.
Another new feature is the Curved Ruler tool, which allows you to draw curves and sweeps. This is just one of many Ruler tools designed to help you produce high-quality designs.
These are just two of the many useful features available. Others include four symmetry dimensions, unlimited layers, predictive stroke, and a copic color library. There are over 140 brushes that you can tweak, and you can also create your own brushes or import them.
One of the best things about SketchBook is that, unlike many other free digital drawing software, it’s available on mobile. You can download the app for free on iOS and Android, and make use of the full range of features to help you create professional-quality drawings on your mobile or tablet.
The app has a 4.8 rating from over 32,000 reviews on the Apple App Store, which shows users are extremely satisfied with it.
SketchUp is also one of the most easy-to-use free drawing programs, with a clean, well-designed interface that’s simple to get to grips with. There’s also a range of helpful learning and support materials available if needed.
MyPaint – Powerful Free Drawing Software with Active Community
MyPaint is a popular open-source painting and drawing software that offers an array of high-quality tools.
This software was initially created in 2004 by Martin Renold, originally for personal use. As other artists came across it, they requested features and it has been in constant development ever since, with the software still being added to now.
MyPaint isn’t as professional-looking as other free art programs like Krita or SketchBook, but it’s a decent platform that offers everything you need to make quality drawings.
In terms of usability, MyPaint is a simple, distraction-free platform that makes drawing and painting online easy. The full-screen mode is designed to declutter the interface, hiding tools so you’re just using your brush to help you focus. You can then reveal the hidden tools with ease as you need them.
It boasts a versatile and customizable brush engine. There’s a range of standard brushes that emulate traditional tools like pencils, ink, paint, and charcoal, and you can also make new brushes to produce different effects.
Other features include layers, a color wheel, and blending. One of the highlights is the pressure-sensitive drawing feature, allowing you to draw on your mobile or tablet.
In fact, the software has been used by many notable artists. For example, digital illustrator and concept artist David Revoy has used MyPaint for a variety of projects, which shows its quality. There are also MyPaint communities on sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt.
In addition, there is an active community forum on the MyPaint website. Here, you can share tips and illustrations with other users, and you can also ask for help with any issues you may be experiencing.
Although originally designed for Linux, MyPaint now also has Max OS X and Windows ports, so it’s available to anyone.
Microsoft Paint 3D – Best Free 3D Drawing Software
Microsoft Paint 3D offers all the drawing and painting features of the classic Microsoft Paint, with added 3D features.
This allows you to import 3D models, such as people or animals, or alternatively draw your own shape and convert it into a three-dimensional model that you can rotate and view from various angles.
Once you have your shape, you can choose from a range of finish options, such as gloss, matte, dull metal, and polished metal. You can also paint the 3D model’s surface and apply lighting effects. Another nice feature is Magic Select, which lets you create cut-outs from pictures and wrap them as stickers onto your 3D models.
You can even position multiple models at different depths and combine them in the scene. If you have a 3D printer, you can then bring your drawings into the real world.
Unfortunately, you can’t control the thickness of the 3D effect, so it’s not as realistic as the likes of SketchBook, but it’s a very easy way to create fun designs and models.
The most recent version of this free art software has some cool new features, such as a Tube brush that you can use to create long ribbons or short dollops of volume.
In terms of brushes, there are some nice options but a smaller range than the likes of Krita, SketchBook, and MyPaint. So, we recommend Paint 3D more to beginners and casual hobbyists rather than serious artists.
Clip Studio Paint – Best Free Drawing Animation Software
Clip Studio Paint is a commercial software that offers a free option. However, you can use the platform for free for 6 months and enjoy full functionality, so it’s certainly worth considering.
This gives you access to a wide range of fantastic drawing features. One of the most impressive aspects of Clip Studio Paint is the variety of applications it supports. As well as painting and drawing, it’s designed for 3D character art, design illustration, animation, comics, and manga.
There’s an unlimited amount of painting styles, as you can customize and add textures to your brushes. The software is also packed with presets, such as user-favorite brushes, so you can get drawing straight away without spending time customizing the interface.
There are six color palettes so you can select, test, and manage your colors, including palettes for similar colors, midrange colors, and your color history. It’s also simple to eyedrop colors from other applications – even semi-transparent colors.
One of the highlights is the impressive AI colorization feature. Simply select color hints and the AI will color your art, allowing you to easily compare and test color schemes in seconds.
Clip Studio Paint is a powerful software that produces very realistic art, thanks to features like accurate color mixing, running paint, and wet watercolor brushes.
Finally, this software also scores high in terms of usability, with smart fill tools that fill spaces without spillover even when there are gaps in the line. Clip Studio Paint is definitely one of the best free art software – the only reason it isn’t higher up our list is because it’s only free for six months.
Artweaver Free – Best Free Drawing Software for Collaboration
Like Clip Studio Paint, Artweaver offers both paid and free offerings. There’s no limit to how long you can use the free version, but it does have a more basic functionality than the Plus version. However, it’s still a great option as one of the best free drawing programs.
Artweaver is regularly updated and the most recent version, Artwear Free 7, has some great features and numerous improvements on the previous version.
For starters, it has improved brush handling and adjustments, making the brush handling process very user-friendly. There’s a range of realistic brushes to choose from, and all the brush settings are found in one place. You can preview brush strokes with the brush selector, and it also keeps a history of recently used brushes.
This software is super easy to get the hang of, with simplified preset handling. All presets and selectors are combined into one media pallet, and you can easily import presets as there’s just one import dialog that is capable of importing all supported preset files.
The interface is also customizable to help you optimize your workflow. For example, you can customize palettes to hold shortcuts, brushes and presets, you can resize, arrange and dock presets, and there are also different color themes to choose from.
One of the best things about Artweaver is its collaboration features. The software allows you to work simultaneously with other artists on the same document over LAN or the internet. You can chat with other artists, create teams, and also link teams together, so it’s a great option for professionals.
Artweaver Free now also supports the Windows Ink Pen interface, which is used on many mobile devices, as well as the commonly used Wintab interface.
If you like Artwear Free and want to upgrade to Plus, it costs just $41 to do so and comes with enhanced functionality, 64-bit performance, and free technical support.