Free Art Software - for new artists or veterans
I recently decided to play with different free legal digital art software. Each of these I have downloaded from the sources posted and installed myself; they all also work with tablets (at least with mine, which is an Intuos 4). I’ve noticed some people asking for free art programs they could use, so I compiled a list with a brief description of what I’ve found. I hope this helps you! (even those who just want something new to try).
MyPaint - If you ever wanted a free version of Paint Tool SAI, I feel that this would be it. I’ve used SAI enough to say that for me, this can replace it. This one also has a very simple and easy to use interface. It offers multiple layers, and layer modes. Unfortunately (and it may not matter to the most of you), it doesn’t have many layer modes to choose from, but it has the main ones most people who do use them use. It uses some shortcut keys that are very useful that most standard paid art programs use, as well as some interesting ones that are new to me.
Sketchbook Pro Copic Edition, created by Autodesk in collaboration with Copic. Pretty top-notch software; Autodesk is know for their 3D industry-standard software Maya and 3D Studio Max. They do have this one program called Sketchbook Pro, which is not free, but this copic collaboration version is. It offers a max of 6 different layers (including the background layer), which isn’t horrible, but can be limiting:
TwistedBrush Open Studio (free edition) is known for having many brushes to select; you do have to pay for the extra brushes, but the basic ones are already pretty standard and cool. The interface is more complex than other programs because it has a bunch of cool features, like masking and transform-warping. The way they are activated is very interesting too! A pop up window will teach you how. Nothing hard. Don’t let the interface spook you. It works with layers, but 32 is the max layers you can have, and that includes the background. The layers also offer a good selection of Layer Modes to choose from, which is also a plus. It’s worth trying:
ArtRage 2 Starter Edition, is fantastic for painting. It feels something similar to Corel Painter; very painty textures, natural color-blending and smooth. It’s very easy to use. I’ve been having fun with this one for those reasons. I love to paint. Of course you can draw with it too. Choose the canvas texture you want, and have fun with it! Only downside is you don’t get to use layers. That’s a pay feature. It’s not very expensive though. 59USD for the pro version, and 29USD for the regular version:
Pixia is originally a Japanese program that has been translated. The interface isn’t the most obvious. It’s not as easy as ArtRage, but if you bother yourself, you can learn it fast enough. It has a good feel and offers layers and a good selection of layer modes. It’s worth giving this one a try:
Gimp has been around a good while. It offers the layer feature along with layer modes which is always a very cool thing! I also found that it shares similar shortcut keys as some other paid programs I use, which makes it all the more easier to use if you’re an art program veteran:
Open Canvas version 1.1 is freeware. While it doesn’t feel as cool as version 4, or some other free programs, it can do it’s job. It offers layers but no layer modes. You can network with other people and have everyone draw on the same canvas though. I never tried that feature myself, but have a go with it:
Project Dogwaffle 1.2 Is a pretty cool program. The brush customization is pretty intricate, and it seems you can create your own brushes as well! It also has a good couple of filters to choose from which most freeware don’t offer, so play around with it and see how you like it.: