Searching For The Best Digital Art Software

In this article we go over just a few digital art software titles that are the best for beginners who want to learn this style art. Read my reviews on some of the best software brands in digital art, photography and animation that are the most popular picks among professional artists.

Editor's Picks

Best For Artists

Top Pick Corel Painter 2020 digital art software

Best For Animation

Clip Studio Paint EX digital art software

One great thing about all these art programs is the tutorials not only provided by the software companies but also online video training can be found easily. This also makes it possible for a beginner to learn. If you do not own any of these programs then be sure to read the label to ensure you are getting the full program and not just the upgrade.

If you are looking for the 2021 versions of Painter click here.

Best Digital Art Software Reviews

Working digitally with drawing and painting was a very fun learning experience for me. Using the diverse selection of tools and learning what each tool does took me hours just on the beginners version of Corel Paint (Corel Painters Essentials 7). This is the tutorial version and most affordable to prepare you for the actual paint program. To get the most out of any of these programs a drawing tablet should be used as it is easier to use a pen to make precise strokes rather than the mouse.

Best for Artists

#1. Corel Painter 2020

This is the most popular digital art software and could very well be the best choice among professional artists. Produce the most organic feeling paintings and drawings. Little heavy on the money side but excellent value makes me want to get this one. Corel has come a long way.

Pros:

  • Uses graphics card for improved brushing
  • Works on Mac and PC
  • More refined tools
  • More organized user interface
  • Offers a huge variety of mediums and brushes
  • Create brush sets
  • Much more…

Top Pick Corel Painter 2020 digital art software

Cons:

  • Need a decent processor and gpu to run more efficiently
  • Expensive
  • Fairly steep learning curve

Final Thoughts

The new brush accelerator is nice if you have a powerful enough computer to run it. This seems to be a performance option you can choose inside the software. Best for the more experienced to the professional artist familiar with Corel Painter. Good thing there is Corel Essentials for the beginner. 

Best for Professionals

#2. Corel Paintshop Pro Ultimate 2020

Corel is getting better with their photo editing software which makes this a possible alternative to Adobe Photoshop. This is a window’s only program and is a one time payment versus Photoshop’s monthly subscription.

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • One step photo fix
  • Supports Vector Drawing
  • Convert still life to animation
  • More tools than Pro Version
  • 8 more features added since 2019

Corel PaintshopPro Ultimate 2020 digital art software

Cons:

  • Windows only
  • Lacks in some areas that are noticed if you have used Photoshop 

Final Thoughts

Corel Paintshop has come a long way and is fast becoming a go to photo editing tool. Seems to work best if used together with photoshop since one software has some features the other may lack. If you already have Paintshop you can upgrade for an even better price than buying making it more expensive for the beginner.

Best For Manga, Comics and Animation

#3. Clip Studio Paint EX

Research shows this software to be a very professional tool for comics and manga. There is a pro version that is a little cheaper but I chose this one because you get the ability to create an entire comic book if you wanted to. Animation is another awesome feature.

Pros:

  • Great for comics
  • Easier to learn than some other programs
  • Multiple brush styles and mediums
  • Good value for the money
  • Turn photos to line art
  • Too many features to list

Clip Studio Paint EX digital art software

Cons:

  • Little higher priced
  • License for only 2 devices(not so bad)

Final Thoughts

I was very impressed with this digital art software. Though it is geared more for comics a lot of the other features for drawing and painting are in there letting you create paintings in different mediums and on various textured papers. Easier to learn due to all the learning tools from books to video tutorials built into the software.

Best For Beginners

#4. Corel Painter Essentials 7 

Corel gears it’s Essentials to beginners making this an excellent choice for someone getting started in digital art. In 7 there are alot of added features for a very affordable cost. Supported on pen tablets with pressure sensitivity. Once you learn this you can graduate up to Corel’s flagship painter programs and use more efficiently.

Pros:

  • Brushes feel natural
  • Realistic results
  • New assortment of brushes
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • AI for human touch
  • Covers more art mediums
  • Mac & PC versions available

Corel Painters Essentials 7 digital art software

Cons:

  • Unable to create brushes
  • Designed mostly for beginners

Final Thoughts

This digital art software lets the new digital artist get a taste of what the pros are using in the more expensive Corel apps. Misses some features such as creating and saving different brushes but overcomes this with a large library of brushes to choose from.

Best For Watercolor And Acrylic

#5. Rebelle 3 

This software focuses on watercolor and acrylic styles of painting which can aid the beginner with learning different painting techniques with these two mediums. For PC or Mac download. Excellent for professional artists looking to go digital.

Pros:

  • Various paper backgrounds
  • Good learning tool
  • Easy to use
  • Realistic blending
  • Affordable

Rebelle 3 digital art software

Cons:

  • Limited to mostly watercolor and acrylic
  • Need a more powerful graphics card

Final Thoughts

My initial perception of this software was not so good but through research I have seen this as a major contender in the digital art industry. Has a lot of different functions and the ability to do line art. Being able to change paper adds to the realistic effects you can create. Overall good value for the price.

Digital Art Programs Q & A

1. What Software Is Best For Digital Art?

Photoshop is still considered to be the best digital art software among professional graphic artists. Even though it is a subscription based program it is still very popular today. Photoshop is also considered to be the industry standard for graphic design and digital art.

2. What Is The Best Free Digital Art Software?

Though there are many free art programs to choose from the most popular seems to be Krita. Microsoft Paint 3D is also good for beginners in digital art.

3. What do Artists Use For Digital Art?

As with most things with art adequate tools are needed to achieve the best possible results. Artists can use anything from a drawing pad to a graphics tablet to create digital art. Both types need or come with stylus or pens that are pressure sensitive. Software is needed when using these tools.

4. What Software Do Concept Artists Use?

Programs like Corel Painter and Photoshop are 2 of the most popular software titles used by concept artists. For manga and comics Clip Studio is the go to art program which is also considered to be a great animation tool to breathe life into your graphic art.

5. How Much RAM Is Needed For Digital Art?

Although 4 gigabytes of RAM is sufficient to run most lite graphics software, 8 gigabytes and up is recommended for the best results. Graphics can eat up your RAM especially if you are running more than one digital art program at a time. This can result in delays of on screen applications and possible freezing up entirely which would require a full restart of your device.

Beginners Guide To Some Of The Best Digital Art Software

There are many things to consider before buying a art or drawing program especially for the beginner. There are free digital art software readily available online that can be used to get a basic idea of graphics programs. These tend to be more user friendly and make great starter programs. One that is really popular today is Krita.

But when it comes to buying a digital art or sketching program care needs to be taken as prices can be somewhat high. Below are some handy guidelines you should consider that will help you to make sure you are buying the right software as these programs explore a fairly wide range of mediums and artistic styles.

Time

When I received my first drawing tablet it came with graphics software and I was blown away with all the different tools that these programs had to offer. There were so many tools in fact that learning each tool I realized was going to eat up a lot of time. There are so many things inside these types of art programs that it becomes easy to wander around the program and accomplish nothing. One thing that will help you manage your time with learning is the tutorials that can be found on sites like you tube.

Price

Some digital art software can get expensive which can make for a risky buy for someone new to this type of art medium. Luckily there is not a shortage of learning tools online for the beginner. Some art software is paid for monthly as a subscription or a one time payment.

Some software is only available via download format while others offer a hard disk. While having a disk is nice for a hard copy it is still better to install through a download to insure receiving the most up to date version. Sometimes downloads are cheaper also.

Laptop Or PC

All the digital software in this review require a computer to run the programs. I personally recommend a mid range graphics card at the very minimum especially for the 3D animation software. Some of these titles work on less so be sure to read the system requirements before buying as this could get costly.

Operating System

Many programs only run on certain operating systems and versions of those operating systems. Most of the software on this site overcomes some of these issues through updates. Care should be taken to make sure all compatibility problems are or can be solved before buying.

Digital Stylus in hand

Equipment Needed For Digital Art

Stylus vs Mouse 

The mouse is a very hard tool to use when trying to draw or paint on screen making the lines more jerky and less smooth. I recommend a stylus for overcoming this issue which can incur more cost when beginning in digital art. Styluses or digital pens come with a wide variety of functions and some can be programmed for specific functions within the program itself. They also have different capabilities based on the price paid.

There are decent varieties of drawing pads and tablets out there to help create artwork on your computer screen. Prices go from affordable for the beginner to very expensive for the professional illustrator.

Digital Art Tablets:

Generally more affordable but take a little getting used to due to the pen being on a pad rather than the actual piece you are working on.  If you are a beginner you can check out my review of the Wacom Intuos S tablet specifically designed for beginners.

Digital Display Tablets:

Gives the ability to draw straight on your artwork on the screen itself which helps the artist to adjust from traditional methods to the digital era more easily. This can be more costly than the drawing pads.

Drawing Pad and stylus in holder

 

Memory

Some digital art programs require more modern processors and graphics cards to run more efficiently without lagging. So if you are running an older machine you should try older versions of the program you are interested in to avoid compatibility issues.

What Style Of Digital Art Interests Do You Have?

Knowing what style or medium you are stronger in can help you to decide what digital software best suits you. Many digital art software targets specific types of art mediums such as oil painting or watercolor painting while others offer more flexibility which gives you more tools and options to learn different mediums. 

Some art programs are just 2 dimensional while some are 3 dimensional.

Maybe you are wanting a photo editor to edit your own photos.

I highly recommend finding the best digital art software that compliments your artistic strengths as this will help ensure you like the software you bought and helps speed up the learning process. I have read some reviews where it seemed like the buyer was not well informed as to what type of software they were buying and were disappointed with their purchase.

Easy To Get Lost in digital art

Having an entire art studio at your fingertips can be pretty overwhelming. I have found it hard to stay organized and  easy to get lost in all the different options and features available. Some software is fully customizable which can help in overcoming some of the issues.

When beginning expect to feel a little overwhelmed with all the features and various windows. Explore and experiment to see how everything is positioned on screen and in no time you will be creating your own brushes and textures while arranging the tools you are using to work more efficiently. 

I think it is better to pick a few brushes and textures to practice with so you can get the feel of each individual tool a little at a time.

Once learned though this type of  graphics software can help you to create quicker pieces of work. For example, try to learn how to best draw a grid with the software to use as guidelines. If your not sure what I mean then read my 1st lesson for beginners. Grid Drawing. It just takes a little time and dedication to achieve your desired results.

As you can see, there are a lot of different things to consider before deciding on a software and can be a little intimidating when first beginning. But with a little knowledge you can become better equipped to make a more confident decision before dishing out the cash.

My Choice For Best Digital Art Software

To tell you the truth I would like to have any one of these programs. There are so many features inside each of these products that I have not even come close to scratching the surface of any of these. For this reason I will be creating more detailed software reviews on each individual product in the future.

Corel Painter 2020 is my choice because it hits the criteria artists are looking for in the industry and is a good middle of the board software. This makes for a well rounded digital art program. Updates and brush packs are some great features which will help improve your experience for a long time to come.

Thanks for reading and I sincerely hope these short reviews helped you get a better understanding of this popular niche in art.

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