Best Software Programs for Digital Painters and Concept Artists

There are countless software packages that can be used to create digital art but it’s really difficult for the people who want to get into the digital art to pick the one that fits best their need. So, I did a quick research and compiled a list of some excellent software programs that contain tools for digital painting, image-retouching, graphic designing etc. Some of them can be used for multiple tasks, some focuses only on one aspect.

You can easily pick one based on your requirements and navigate through the button below the description to read more about the software.

  1. Adobe Photoshop CC

    Adobe Photoshop CC

    Adobe Photoshop is one of the most powerful software programs that has been used by many industry professionals. It’s a favorite tool of photographers, digital artists, matte painters and graphic designers.
    Photoshop comes with a robust toolset that helps user to perform multiple tasks such as photo editing, digital painting, 3d texturing and so on.

    You can make adjustments to your image through its amazing and precise adjustments. Its layer feature helps user to organize their designs into separate layers and layer groups. Its unique blending modes let you blend layers together to create countless painting effects.

    You can add styles to your layers through predefined styles. You can also create and apply your own styles and save them as a preset to use them later. It has filter gallery with lots of cool filters inside to transform your images into a creative piece of art.

    You can now create 3d objects with the help of its 3d feature and even import 3d models from other applications directly into the Photoshop for texture painting purposes. This software is also available as a mobile app.


  2. Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2015

    SketchBook Pro

    Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro is a wonderful software with very simple and tidy user interface. It offers lots of powerful features such as Flipbook Animation that allows user to draw frame by frame to create cool animations. It has powerful perspective tools to help you create complex perspective drawings efficiently.

    You can also create a set of custom brushes and colors swatches of your choice. You can now work symmetrically with your designs using SketchBook’s symmetry tools. You can choose between the SketchBook Pro 7 and SketchBook Pro 2015 as per your requirements.


  3. Corel Painter 2015

    Corel Painter 2015

    Corel Painter is an awesome painting software that offers some unique and artistic tools for the users. It has a variety of particle brushes that help user to create cool looking smoke, fire, glowing trails and abstract patterns without much effort.

    Brush Tracking utility of the Painter lets user change the behavior of the brushes. Jitter Smoothing allows user to add some variation to the brush parameters like brush spacing, flow, rotation and more. The User Interface of the Painter is fully customizable so that you can easily arrange palettes the way you want.


  4. Made With Mischief

    Made With Mischief

    The Foundry’s Made With Mischief is another great software for the artists with nice and simple user interface. One of the great features is its infinite canvas with unlimited space and zoom.

    The artwork created in Mischief is resolution independent so you can scale your artwork with having worry about the quality. Besides a regular plain canvas you can also use a textured canvas for painting. You can export any part of the canvas with any size and resolution. Mischief is an ultimate solution for digital painters and illustrators.


  5. Black Ink

    Black Ink

    Black Ink is another wonderful software with unique set of tools and clean user interface. It’s non-realistic brushes are ideal to create some artistic stuff. It offers a great node based controller system which provides a unique way of brush creation and customization.

    Black ink is optimized for performance and uses GPU rendering engine so you will get highly responsive user experience and don’t have to worry while working with images having high resolutions.


  6. Clip Studio Paint

    Clip Studio Paint

    Next in the list is Clip Studio Paint with some great tools for artists and illustrators. Some of its major features are Frame Border tool that helps user to create frames for story boarding and comics design. It’s Symmetrical Ruler comes in handy while working with symmetrical designs.

    You can add and manage multiple pages and pages type with pagination. It has tons of great brushes to achieve any kind of style such as water color, oil painting, pencil and pastel etc. CS Paint’s Brush tool has a correction function that automatically corrects the bad lines and strokes.

    It has a Story Editor that edits lines in group. It has support for 3d objects and contains 3d characters with customizable clothes, hair styles and expressions. CS Paint is am awesome software for comic artists and illustrators. This software is available for Windows and Mac OS X platforms.


    1. Krita


      Krita is a free yet powerful software with simple user interface and painting tools. It offers some great features such as Wrap-Around mode which come really handy while creating tileable textures and patterns. Krita’s brush engine allows user to create great brushes with different behavior and styles.

      You can easily set up different types of layers such as raster, vector, filter, Programmatic, group and file-backed layers. Each of these layers has visibility, edit lock, transparency lock and alpha locking settings.

      You can easily achieve symmetry based designs and patterns with its flexible symmetry tools. It supports RGBA, CMYK, Grayscale, Lab, YCbCr and XYZ color models.


    2. ArtRage 4

      ArtRage 4

      ArtRage concentrates on natural painting tools that behave like traditional painting media and let users to add the hand painted look to their digital art work. It lets user to customize the canvas properties such as texture and roughness.

      You can either choose from the available presets or manually create the canvas and save your own preset. The way Oil Brush and Paint Roller tools mix color is very similar to the real-world painting tools. If you love working traditionally then this software is for you.


    3. Pixarra’s Twisted Brush Pro Studio

      Twisted Brush

      Pixarra’s Twisted Brush offers a huge brush library with over 5000 awesome brushes to ease your painting tasks. It has numerous amount of great features such as Adobe compatible plugin support, reference image views, script recording, script to AVI, drawing guides, patters and fractal generation tools, integrated scanner support, dynamic palettes and much more.


    4. Artweaver 5

      ArtWeaver 5

      This wonderful painting program comes with a huge library of realistic brushes. These brushes are easily configurable and can be saved as a different variation with a new category. Its mirror mode helps user to create symmetrical objects easily.

      The Artweaver has a very simple UI with different color themes. All the palettes are resizable and dockable. You can create your own custom palette to hold your frequently used brushes, shortcuts and presets. Its Event Recording feature lets user to record the painting process as events.

      With the help of this cool feature you can replay your progress from start to end. It also offers a web service through which you can connect to other artists and work on a same document as a team. This software is available for Windows 7-8.


    5. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)


      GNU Image Manipulation Program which is also popular as GIMP, is another wonderful tool for painting and other photo editing tasks. It allows full customization of the UI such as widget theme color, widget spacing and the size of the icons.

      You can toggle palettes on and off or make use of full screen mode to get the simple and suitable work area. It also has tools to remove the image imperfections and lens distortions so you don’t have to worry about if you fond of
      creating image paint overs.

      Moreover, GIMP offers support of different input devices including tilt sensitive tablets, USB and MIDI controllers. This software is available for GNU/Linux (i386, PPC), Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista), Mac OS X, Sun OpenSolaris and FreeBSD.


    6. PostWorkshop 3

      PostWorkshop 3

      PostWorkshop 3 is simple software with some really awesome and easy to understand tools. It has over 300 artistic styles and 100 presets that help user to convert any image into a beautiful painting.

      This software uses a unique layering style through which you can achieve countless artistic combinations of your painting. It has node-based graph editor that uses different styles as input nodes and create your own styles. You can even save the final image look as a style and use it on other images.

      It can import JPEG, PSD, TGA, PNG, BMP, GIF, TIF, ABR file formats and export PSD, JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, TIF and TGA files.


    7. Paint Tool SAI

      Paint Tool SAI

      Paint Tool SAI is a simple and easy to use software with minimal user interface. It allows user to create compositions with 16 bit RGBA channels. It offers compatible with digitizer with pressure and fully support Intel MMX technology.

      It also has a special data protection function to avoid abnormal terminations. If you are new to digital art and looking for a cheap and best then you can give this program a try.


    8. My Paint 0.9.x

      My Paint 0.9x

      My Paint is an amazing, open source painting program with a simple UI. All the panels / floaters and UI windows can be hidden with a single click. It offers whole lots of awesome brushes that help user to create cool digital paintings without messing up with settings. Its unlimited canvas feature provides endless space to draw.

      It has a compact brush editor that allows user to easily access frequently used properties and attributes. Brush engine’s performance has been improved and brushes now support Tablet tilt. It’s a great software for novice users and hobbyists.


    9. SpeedyPainter 3.3.3

      Speedy Painter

      SpeedyPainter has a clutter less, simple user interface that makes it easier to concentrate more on the painting / canvas. It has an impressive feature called Reference View that comes in handy while working with references.

      The reference view follows the canvas movements (zoom and pan) and gives reference and painting the same viewpoint. You can record, replay and even export the whole painting process as a video.

      There are lots of great features inside of SpeedyPainter such as canvas flip and rotation, image crop, perspective grid overlay and rich brush library.


    10. If you know any software that belongs to the same category and it’s missing in the above list, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Thanks!