14 Best Free Drawing Software for 2023

Drawing only with a pen and paper is fine – but drawing on a tablet is the future.

Creating visual image files across all operating systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS, is easier than ever using a mouse, sketch pad, and stylus. Artists at any skill level can make artwork for marketing, advertising, and graphic design projects when they lean into the wide range of drawing software available. 

But what if you’re a designer on a budget? That’s where free drawing software comes in handy.

Best free drawing software

The list below contains real user reviews. In the context of this list, vendors that offer a free trial are considered free. To be included, a solution must:

To qualify for inclusion in the drawing category, a product must:

  • Allow users to create artwork from scratch using a variety of realistic drawing tools, such as digital pens, markers, and paintbrushes.
  • Provide extensive variants of drawing tools, such as stroke size, brightness, and customizable color palettes.
  • Be able to export completed drawings into one or more file types.

*This data was pulled from G2 in April, 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. Sketchbook

Sketchbook is an app created for drawing and painting with ease, allowing digital artists and illustrators to use professional-grade features and tools within an intuitive user interface. Users can work on the go, so no matter when a great idea sparks, Sketchbook brings it to life.

What users like best:

“Sketchbook has a long list of fun features used when drawing. Perspectives are one of the most enjoyable to play with. You can develop ideas and concepts easily and quickly when creating a sketch. It can be used for so many different applications. Editing blemishes in photos isn’t too hard either.”

Sketchbook Review, Dustin A.

What users dislike:

“I use Adobe Sketchbook on my Mac and my iPad interchangeably. I wish there were a more seamless transfer of my work between them. There could be greater support for Apple pencil for Sketchbook on iPad.”

Sketchbook Review, Somnath B.

2. Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco is bound to become the user’s favorite drawing and painting space, as it offers a wide range of brushes to choose from, a long list of fonts, and motion path effects for added dimension. Best of all? Users can try Adobe Fresco for free with a 30-day trial. 

What users like best:

“I love that Adobe Fresco gives pretty realistic brush options – everything from wet mediums on textured canvas to your traditional brush pen for simple lettering. There are many options and ways to customize the tools to your liking, which I enjoy because it gives my creations a recognizable feel.”

Adobe Fresco Review, Haley D.

What users dislike:

“The brushes are a bit more limited than other program options. I wish there were more controls on the vector brushes for shape and smoothing curves.”

Adobe Fresco Review, Holly A.

3. Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint is a painting tool for Manga drawing. From cartoons to animation to character art, this tool provides brushes for every style with smooth strokes, customizable 3D reference models, and cross-platform compatibility. Clip Studio Paint is free for iPhone users and offers free trials that range based on the device. For example, iPad users can try free for three months, while G for Galaxy users get six months free.

What users like best:

“The most helpful thing that caught my attention was how many brushes were available for my use. Yes, other drawing software offers brushes, but the difference with clip studio was the brushes they provided were so similar to what you would find in a traditional setting.”

Clip Studio Paint Review, Shem E.

What users dislike:

“Only some people use Clip Studio Paint, so the tool isn’t collaborative-friendly. You’d have to convert your file to another program for another person to look at or edit the file.”

Clip Studio Paint Review, Stephanie L.

4. Painter

Whether you’re an experienced artist or just starting out, Painter is a great drawing tool to consider. Features include over 200 free brushes, the ability to create your own textures and patterns, and compatibility with both Mac and PC devices. Plus, Painter comes with a 15-day free trial.

What users like best:

“User interface is very easy to use and has excellent tutorials you can use as a jump start if you’re new to the software.”

Painter Review, Hisham H.

What users dislike:

“The work area is quite elaborate. If you don’t have a very large screen, the many windows may seem too close together, which can be annoying. In addition, the selector for the brush size is rather boring. A ‘window’ system, like the one used by Photoshop, would be simpler. In addition, if Painter is closed while a screen tablet is in use, it will no longer be visible on the primary computer screen even if it opens correctly.”

Painter Review, Alessandro C.

5. Krita

Krita is a free painting and sketching program delivering features like an intuitive user interface, over 100 brushes, built-in vector tools, and powerful 2D animation. It also offers customizable layouts, so there’s no limit to what you can create.

What users like best:

“The best thing about Krita is its intuitive layout and a vast array of brushes. Its animation capabilities are also some of the best I’ve seen, especially in a completely free and open-source product.“

Krita Review, Moiz F.

What users dislike:

“The lack of tutorials. The IOS is not user-friendly for those using other illustration programs.”

Krita Review, Angelica A. A.

6. PaintTool SAI

As a high-quality and lightweight drawing software, PaintTool SAI is a perfect option for creating digital art. Its simple but powerful user interface makes it easy for beginners to learn while providing advanced features for experienced artists. PaintTool SAI offers users a 31-day free trial to get started.

What users like best:

“The various tools available are plentiful, and I can gradient down to fine details for a greater breakthrough of my art to the naked eye. I actually prefer this program over Photoshop.”

PaintTool SAI Review, April M.

What users dislike:

“I think that you need more variety in the range of effects in the brushes that you can offer and that the formats are compatible with other software.”

PaintTool SAI Review, Leonardo P.

7. YouiDraw Drawing

Looking to create stunning vector graphic designs without downloading new software? Consider YouiDraw Drawing. Working on an HTML5 canvas with Google Drive offers users many design templates, freehand drawing tools, and a vector shapes library. Artists can get started with YouiDraw Drawing for free.

What users like best:

“I love the similarities to Photoshop, which makes it easy to convert. I mostly love that it’s FREE!”

YouiDraw Drawing Review, Brittany S.

What users dislike best:

“The drawing and clicking and moving process can sometimes be clunky. It can be hard to maneuver if you’re unfamiliar or working with a touchpad on a laptop. Once you adjust to that, you’re good to go!”

YouiDraw Drawing Review, Ashleigh D.

8. YouiDraw Painter

YouiDraw Painter is an online painting tool with dozens of customizable brushes and paper textures. Artists can select seven pencil tools, various image tools, and color settings to create their next digital masterpiece. Users can start creating any time – for free!

What users like best:

“We started to use the software with the free version based on the advice of other colleagues. We liked it and bought the tool after the trial period. We are enjoying the plethora of graphic design features. There are countless artistic tools with possibilities to use pencil, pen, brush, and textured papers. The great advantage is that everything works in the Cloud and within a web browser.”

YouiDraw Painter Review, João V.

What users dislike:

“I had problems adding fine details on the canvas due to the erratic movement of my hands over the mouse. Suddenly, I achieved an image different from the one expected, and I must correct it. Another is that several options are not displayed in the work bar and appear within the file menu, which may not speed up your work while you draw. To name a few, the Crop, Undo, and Redo functions.”

YouiDraw Painter Review, Luis Eduardo M.

9. Epic Pen

Epic Pen allows you to draw, highlight, and write over any application on Windows and Mac without interruption. Artists can take advantage of features like an extensive color palette, multi-touch functionality, pressure sensitivity, and ink overlay. Epic Pen Pro offers users a 30-day free trial.

What users like best:

“My favorite feature of the software is how well it marks everything on the screen. Hotkeys are also quite helpful; I have all of them programmed and they function flawlessly. Additionally, the support makes it easier to accurately markup on-screen details.”

Epic Pen Review, Laura H.

What users dislike:

“One thing I didn’t like about it is that the free version has very few features. But there’s also the Pro version option, which has some cool features like a text tool, an arrow tool, 24 colors, and many more. But I think that it’s a bit expensive.”

Epic Pen Review, Bahirith K.

10. Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection

The Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection can create complex scenes, breathtaking 3D animations, and visually stunning 3D rendering. Within this bundle are tools like 3ds Max, Maya, Arnold, Mudbox, and Shotgrid so the possibilities for what artists can create are endless. A 30-day free trial is available for users to take advantage of today. 

What users like best:

“It is one of the best collections of software for 3D art and 3D sculpture. The character generator is one of the best parts I have seen in this collection.”

Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection Review, Shubham B.

What users dislike:

“I don’t particularly appreciate working online because of hacking and cybersecurity. I don’t like having subscriptions or being online to get work done. I’m sure there’s better cloud computing processing, but I don’t like it.” 

Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection Review, Alonzo V.

11. ChemDoodle

ChemDoodle is great for artists looking to create 2D chemical drawings on the web, desktop, and mobile. Features include custom color sets, automatic atom tagging, tons of templates, and carbon nanotube and prism builders. Users can try ChemDoodle for free with a 14-day trial.

What users like best:

“It’s easy to use and multiple functions in one application make it appealing.”

ChemDoodle Review, Farhan A.

What users dislike:

“Some of the functions do not work, such as the cyclohexane button. It should populate the screen automatically with the structure, but instead you must manually draw it.”.

ChemDoodle Review, Trent S.

12. Flame Painter

Flame Painter is ideal for artists looking to dabble in digital art and design using state-of-the-art technology. It offers features like photorealistic effects, precise brush tools, and vector layers. Try Flame Painter for free with a demo.

What users like best:

“Flame Painter provides an easy and enjoyable way to approach image creation. Even beginners can get some nice results from this software.”

Flame Painter Review, Marcelo D.

What users dislike:

“While you can customize the brushes within the pre-set particle systems, I would love the ability to customize physics calculations to experiment with creating self-made particle systems.”

Flame Painter Review, Christopher N.

13. Rebelle

Rebelle is a hyper-realistic painting and drawing software specializing in oils and watercolor designs. It offers paint pigments, color mixing, oil thickness, watercolor diffusion, and NanoPixel technology for artists of all skill levels. Try Rebelle today with a free demo.

What users like best:

“The most amazing real-world digital drawing software I have ever encountered. I used to be an oil and watercolor painter and was skeptical about using any digital drawing platform for drawing. When I discovered a different tool some years ago, I realized that digital drawing apps are not as bad as I thought before. When I switched to Rebelle, I was amazed to see how this small software mimicked the original watercolor and oil color behaviors.”

Rebelle Review, Jagadeesh R.

What users dislike:

“I would like to see additional tools such as symmetry, perspective-assisted drawing, and support for even larger images. If the image size selected is over 5K, the simulation can slow down a bit, causing interruptions in creative flow unless you have a top spec machine.”

Rebelle Review, David M.

14. TwistedBrush Pro

TwistedBrush Pro specializes in media painting, photo edits, and illustrative styles. It provides users with over 9,000 brushes, a large array of color palettes, cloning, all while supporting all image formats. Try TwistedBrush Pro today with a free trial.

What users like best:

“I enjoy the array of different options regarding effects, brushes, etc., and the software is fairly affordable compared to other professional grade art programs I have used. It can be used with either a mouse or tablet with complete ease, and it is overall very easy to pick up on how to operate.”

TwistedBrush Pro Review, Summer H.

What users like best:

“You are not supposed to be an expert within a couple of weeks. Quite confusing tool layouts, not easy-to-use combinations of key shots. The learning curve is very steep.”

TwistedBrush Pro Review, Jagadeesh R.3

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A picture is worth a thousand words

And with these 14 free drawing software tools, you can start creating your next masterpiece – even if you’re on a budget. From beginners to starving artists to professional designers, free digital drawing software can give paid software a run for their money by producing vibrant, colorful illustrations. 

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