The first thing you’ll need to get started with digital art is obviously a software. If you’re like me who doesn’t want to spend money every month on Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and tired of looking for pirated versions of the same, I have some good news for you!
There is this misconception that you need an iPad Pro and an apple pencil and a thousand dollar subscription to Adobe to get the best art out. But that is not true. News flash, you don’t really need Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to get started! Adobe is great and has become an industry standard with many companies insisting graphic designers and artists to use it but this shouldn’t stop you from pursuing digital art with other free apps for digital art out there.
As Adobe comes with this ridiculous subscription method which is monthly (yes, there is no yearly subscription!), it can get pretty annoying to start with for students or someone that isn’t serious. There are plenty of other softwares that come with similar options as that of Adobe for FREE!
And by FREE, I mean FREE and not FREE* with some payment needed after sometime. These softwares are free lifetime.
In this post I will be walking you through the different options available and their pros and cons.
4 Free Apps for Digital Art
Note that these apps are in no particular order.
Medibang is available everywhere on Windows, Mac, Linux. If you’re coming from Photoshop or Illustrator, this is very similar to them. It is just simple and does the job perfectly fine.
In this drawing app you can draw pretty much anything but it was traditionally made for manga and comic book sketches.
If you’re into comics, this is the best app. There are a lot of options from comic panel creator tool and comic page management.
If you’re working on a really long book, medibang keeps track of all the pages for you.
It also comes with a cloud service which you can sign up for easily with an email and a username. They’re not spammy and rarely send emails!
This service will give you access to a lot of extra brushes and backgrounds. You can even create your own brushes. It does support pressure sensitivity.
These will be helpful as the default brushes are pretty generic. They do the job, but for something extra, the cloud service is extremely helpful.
They also have a lot of manga/drawing contests and tutorials on how to draw an anime character and what not!
I personally prefer medibang as it is easy to use and pretty similar to Photoshop (~7 day free trail with 10 different user accounts gang!! ) I would 10/10 recommend it to everyone.
Krita is one among the free apps for digital art that has some great features. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
Krita can feel a little cluttered when used on a tablet but with a larger screen it works perfectly fine! This app is geared towards digital painting and visual effects.
It has a lot of tools with that natural effect. They try their best to reflect your drawings like it would appear naturally.
From pencils, pens, blending tools in your painting brushes and inks and different textures, there’s a lot going on here.
There’s a ton of frame by frame animation tools with audio input that you can use along with those infinite brushes available in this app that makes it very easy to use! You will love animating stuff on this as it is very well thought out.
It has shape assist tools, measuring tools and what not! There is a lot to explore here!
3. Autodesk Sketchbook
Autodesk Sketchbook which used to be a paid app is now one of the best free apps for digital art! It is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
If you are traditional artist that is just getting started with digital art, you can use Autodesk as it shows how the brushes look like visually (shape of the brush) unlike other apps where it’s just an icon of a brush.
Sketchbook is a lot more sensitive compared to medibang. If you have shaky hands, it will reflect on paper/screen. There are correction tools to help you out though.
You can also use this for architectural designs with the perspective and grid line tools.
You can also use this for editing your artwork. Not all sketches go as expected, but here you can change it as you want instead of re-drawing the whole thing again.
The only problem with Sketchbook is that you HAVE to make an account to get started. If you’re not into that, check out the other options!
4. Ibis Paint X
Ibis Paint X is a mobile only painting app. It is available on Android and iOS.
Ibis Paint can be considered as one of the free apps for digital art but it does have a minor problem.
The problem with Ibis is that there are ads displayed constantly. Not too annoying if you are willing to ignore it. It is displayed on the top all the time which I find extremely annoying.
You can upgrade to not get ads but there’s also an option for you to view one ad (pretty sure it goes on for hours!) and then you wont get any ads.
If you can get past the ads, Ibis paint is great for a mobile only app. With a lot of features from insane number of brushes for manga illustrations to line art to shapes, rulers and everything else.
Like medibang, this comes with a comic panel tool which you can use. I personally don’t prefer this but you can check it out. The only problem here is you cannot use it on a desktop. Oh the ads!!😉
These apps are really helpful if you want to start freelancing or want to work for someone. Given that there are a lot of scammers, you need to up your game in the freelance world. If you want some tips on how to finesse freelancing, check this out!!
Let me know what you tried out or have been using that I didn’t mention here in the comments down below!! If you liked this post and found it helpful, be sure to join the list by subscribing!! I would truly appreciate that! 🙂