5 Best Digital Art Software for Stunning Visuals

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Top Choice

Photoshop

Runner Up

CLIPStudio

Best Value

Procreate

Best Usage

Adobe-Fresco-Icon

Fresco

Digital art is blowing up in a big way with new artists. Many people, even older professionals, are starting to shift to the digital world because of how easy and accessible it is.

Digital art and software programs make it easy to save all of your work, and it’s a lot cheaper in the long run than buying new supplies constantly,

Because of how popular digital art has become in the last few years, many companies have tried their hand at creating digital art software. With this has come many excellent software, but also many that should be avoided. 

With how many are on the market, narrowing down which to choose from is sometimes difficult. Lucky for you, we have handled most of the load and narrowed it down to the top five choices.

Keep reading to find out which digital art software we recommend and which might be best for you. 

Check out this list of the Top Vector Graphic Programs available today!

Key Takeaways

  • Adobe Photoshop is widely recognized as the best digital art software, but several other options work just as well. 
  • There are similar software on the market including Adobe Fresco and Corel Painter 2023. 
  • Even the best software has its cons and downfalls, so it’s important to take everything into consideration before making a final decision.

What Is the Best Digital Art Software?

There are many different digital art software out there, ready to be used. With the wide range of quality, price, and availability, it is difficult to choose. 

With how overwhelming it can be to choose, we have narrowed it down into an easy list for you. These are some of the top options for digital art software, but we will only focus on the top five today:

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has endless capabilities. While being well known for its photo editing potential, it is also an excellent digital art software. It doesn’t matter if you’re drawing, painting, or sketching, it is perfect for any of your needs as a digital artist. 

Adobe Photoshop works well with a wide variety of digital devices including Windows and macOS computers as well as a variety of drawing tablets. Like many other Adobe applications, Photoshop is industry-standard for its uses, so you are ready to jump into the field once you get the hang of the software.

Photoshop Key Features:

  • Has a large variety of settings, features, and tools to customize your usage of the application
  • Professional, top-of-the-line digital art program with capabilities in sketching, drawing, painting, and other forms of digital art
  • A useful purchase for other reasons as well including picture editing, animation, graphic design, and more

Photoshop User Experience:

Adobe Photoshop is for any of your digital art needs. It works on a variety of devices and offers a variety of different artistic styles to choose from, making it perfect for matching any of your needs.

With such a wide variety of settings, features, and tools, any artist will be able to settle in and customize the application to their needs. 

Check out this article where i compare Photoshop with Fresco.

Like many Adobe programs, Adobe Photoshop is expensive, and this is its biggest downside. Adobe products can be intimidating to purchase or commit to because of the high cost, especially for newer digital artists or even experienced ones looking to try new software. 

Monthly subscriptions are a pain for many people. They are even more of a struggle when the monthly cost is as high as it is for Adobe Photoshop. Thankfully, there is a free trial available to test it first. Once you see how much the product has to offer, you will realize it is well worth the cost. 

Photoshop Cost:

Adobe Photoshop costs $22.99 per month and it is a monthly prescription with no single-time purchase option. This price matches many other Adobe products in both quality and price. 

Like many other Adobe products, Adobe Photoshop is part of the Creative Cloud All Apps package. With this package, you gain access to over 20 different software. Each comes with extra cloud storage to accommodate all the applications and it only comes down to a monthly cost of $59.99. 

While the price may seem like a lot, when you compare it to the price of a single application, you are getting a huge discount. All Adobe applications are compatible, meaning you can even use multiple applications to help you with your digital art or use the other programs for any other needs you may have. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:

Like:

  • Great for a variety of different devices that are used in the making of digital artwork
  • Can gear your experience toward your tastes using the endless features, tools, and settings
  • Useful for all types of digital art including drawing, painting, and sketching, and is also great for photo editing or other side projects
  • Part of the Creative Cloud All Apps bundle that also collaborates with all other Adobe applications in the bundle as well as extra storage

Dislike:

  • Monthly subscription only, even with the Creative Cloud All Apps bundle
  • Pricey

Photoshop Scoring:

While Adobe Photoshop is expensive, its price tag matches its quality. It is an industry-standard program that beats out all other digital art software on the market. With how many options are available and how well it handles a variety of art styles, it gets a 9.8 out of 10

2. Clip Studio Paint

As a vector graphics-based digital art software, Clip Studio Paint is usually best for things like 3D artwork or animation. The shapes and lines created through the vector graphics also make it perfect for illustration work involving a lot of precision like comics. 

However, even outside of vector graphics, Clip Studio Paint excels. It is excellent for sketching, concept art, graphic design, drawing, and painting. This is all thanks to its amazing amounts of features.

Even with this many features, every program has its downsides, and this program is extremely difficult to understand at first. 

Clip Studio Paint Key Features:

  • Vector graphics-based software makes it better for 3D art such as animation, graphic design, and defined illustration
  • Sensitivity response on tablets and other digital art devices is excellent and makes it perfect for any detailed work
  • A great many tools, features, and settings that allow for a customized experience

Clip Studio Paint User Experience:

Clip Studio Paint was originally designed with a certain art style in mind. It is a vector graphics art program, making it best for 3D art, animation, and comic books.

Since its making, it has evolved well past its previous design to make it great for any kind of illustration work, including drawing, painting, and sketching with perfect detail. 

 People are often scared away from Clip Studio Paint because the initial setup is intense. The complexity of it can make it very frustrating to new users. Once you start to figure it out, however, the ability to customize everything is extremely helpful, making it a breeze to access everything you need to excel at your style of choice. 

The possibilities are endless for any art style. The settings for a variety of types of art are extremely useful, but they are even better for artists focusing on animation and 3D art. 

The text options, various layering options, and animation capabilities make it easy to understand even for new users. The sensitivity of the program makes it feel like old-school art, bringing back that same feel of paper and pen while having all the benefits of digital artwork. 

Clip Studio Paint Cost:

Clip Studio Paint has many different purchase options for you to choose from so that you can pay what you want when you want. Options include monthly, yearly, and one-time purchases.

With each of these purchase plans comes two different types of Clip Studio Paint, either Clip Studio Paint PRO or Clip Studio Paint EX. 

Clip Studio Paint PRO is the downgraded version of Clip Studio Paint as it comes with fewer features. For this version, you can choose from three plans. You can pay $0.99 per month, $26.99 per year, or make a one-time purchase of $49.99. 

Clip Studio Paint EX is the upgraded version of Clip Studio Paint. It comes with advanced features plus all of the original PRO features.

For this version, there are also three different plans. You can pay $2.49 monthly, $76.99 yearly, or make a one-time purchase of $219

Both different types of Clip Studio Paint come with a free upgrade to the next version of the application, 2.0 to 3.0. They both also come with three months of free use if you start with a monthly subscription. Meaning you can test out the product before fully committing. 

What We Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint:

Like:

  • Many different purchase options for you to choose from as well as different versions so you can pay for only what you need
  • Vector-graphics based, making it perfect for animation, 3D art, or comic book-style digital art
  • After the initial learning curve, masking and layering as well as developing animations is much easier than on other applications

Dislike:

  • The learning curve at the beginning is very steep and off-putting for new users
  • Even before the learning curve, it is known for being difficult to set up on most devices

Clip Studio Paint Scoring:

Clip Studio Paint is an excellent digital art software, especially if you are interested in vector graphics. It holds up well against Adobe Photoshop in terms of tools and features, both being excellent at a variety of art styles.

However, with the steep learning curve and difficult initial set-up, it falls behind Adobe Photoshop, getting a score of only 9.0 out of 10

3. Procreate

Procreate is an iPad-only application designed to be loved by a variety of digital artists. Its interface is simplistic, being easy to pick up for anyone new to the application or to digital art itself. The tools, features, and settings are incredible while only costing a one-time fee of $12.99

However, because it is an iPad-only software, it is inaccessible to many different digital artists. And while the simple interface may be great for beginners, professionals can feel held back by the limited range of customization. 

Procreate Key Features:

  • One-time purchase rather than subscription-based
  • Unavailable for any Windows or Android products and is available for macOS products only
  • Very intuitive and easy to learn for beginners

Procreate User Experience:

Procreate is well loved thanks to how easy it is to use and learn for new digital artists or anyone new to the program itself. The simple interface makes it accessible to everyone with full access to all tools without having to search for them too hard.

In addition to being simple to understand, Procreate is also cheap. It is a one-time purchase, leaving people to believe it is well worth the purchase, even if it lacks the features other software may have. 

List of the Best Procreate Courses to get up to speed.

The main issue people have with this application is that it is limited to macOS products only. Many digital artists use Windows or Android products for their drawing pens, tablets, or computers nowadays, so this can be extremely limiting. 

While ease of use is great for beginners, professionals can feel limited as they want to move on to new things. Many believe it is geared more towards newer digital artists while some argue that the simplicity makes it perfect for professionals to focus on the basics. 

Procreate Cost:

Unlike many other digital art software, there is no subscription option for Procreate. It is a one-time purchase of only $12.99 on the Apple App Store for iPads. This is for access to all the features and tools as well as free upgrades anytime a new version comes out. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Fresco:

Like:

  • One-time purchase of only $12.99 rather than subscription-based
  • Intuitive design that is easy to pick up
  • Wide variety of tools, brushes, and features

Dislike:

  • Only available for macOS products such as the iPad
  • Can feel limiting to professional digital artists

Procreate Scoring:

Procreate is renowned for being an excellent digital art software. It is cheap while still providing state-of-the-art features, tools, and settings that are amazing for any digital artist.

Its drawbacks of being iPad-only and constraining make it drop down the ranks, giving it a rating of only 8 out of 10

4. Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco is a digital art software specifically designed for drawing tablets. It is meant to be accessible to as many aspiring digital artists as possible by making the basic version free. Even at the basic level, Adobe Fresco still has endless options for customization and creation. 

It has a large amount of brushes and tools that make it perfect for any illustrator, drawer, painter, or other type of digital artist. All of these factors as well as the cheap cost make it an excellent choice for digital art software. 

Planning to learn Fresco? Check out this list of the Top Fresco Courses.

Fresco Key Features:

  • Various tiers of payment and at its basic level, it is free
  • Has many different textures and texts that collaborate well with the different drawing and painting options
  • Customization is simple and hassle-free thanks to the amount of features available, but they can be limiting at times

Fresco User Experience:

Adobe Fresco is well-loved for being free. Even though the free version doesn’t have all of the same features as the paid version, the available ones are still amazing in comparison to many other programs. 

It is known for being compatible across many different platforms and switching seamlessly between them all. You can transfer information through different software and devices rather easily, which is especially easy with other Adobe applications. 

The main downside of this application is the brush options. While there are a considerable amount of brush options, people find it frustrating that they are unable to change that. You cannot make your own brushes or import others, making the application feel rather limiting at times. 

Fresco Cost:

Adobe Fresco at its basic level is a free application. However, the free version comes with several limitations that many people find frustrating, so you should consider upgrading. 

There are five different options when it comes to upgrading Adobe Fresco. The main plan for the upgraded version of Adobe Fresco is paying $9.99 per year. However, the four other options let you bundle with other Adobe applications. 

The other four options are monthly payments rather than yearly. Your first bundle option is Adobe Fresco and Adobe Photoshop for $9.99 monthly which gives you full access to both applications as well as upgraded storage. 

The next bundle option is the Adobe Design Mobile Plan at $14.99 per month. This option gives you access to four different Adobe applications, Adobe Fresco, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Express as well as upgraded storage. However, this offer is limited to iPad users only. 

Next, you have the Adobe Photoshop Plan for $20.99 a month which includes Adobe Fresco and Photoshop on both desktop and iPad as well as additional storage.

Your last option is one of the best options available, the Creative Cloud All Apps bundle for $59.99 per month. This bundle includes over 20 Adobe applications and a large amount of storage, letting you get the most for your money. 

If any of these don’t suit your taste, there is a seven-day free trial available for you to test out the upgraded version of Adobe Fresco. Then you can see if you want to commit to purchasing the upgrade. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Fresco:

Like:

  • There is a free version available
  • Brush options are immense
  • Relatively easy to learn and use

Dislike:

  • Must pay to unlock all of the options
  • Brushes cannot be created or imported from other software
  • Limited customization options compared to other applications

Fresco Scoring:

Adobe Fresco, like any other Adobe product, is excellent for what it does. As a digital art software, it has a great many tools and features that will make it easy for you to advance your craft.

However, with how limiting it can be in comparison to the other software on this list, it is left being ranked at a 7 out of 10

5. Corel Painter

As its name suggests, Corel Painter 2023 is geared specifically toward painting styles but is excellent for many different forms of illustration.

This includes watercolor, drawing, sketching, and more. Its amazing brush library with endless different shapes and sizes to choose from makes a variety of styles of digital art possible. 

Corel Painter is a one-time purchase of $429. This is the complete price, but unlike our other one-time purchases on this list, there will be no updates as the software progresses. This is the price for the application as is. 

The tools in Corel Painter emulate the feel of real-life brushes thanks to their high sensitivity. Materials such as brushes, colors, and other tools create a customizable experience for you to create professional-level work with ease. State-of-the-art AI is also available to help back you up wherever you need assistance. 

However, the one-time cost is intense. All of the settings, tools, and features you have access to are seamless, competing easily with others on our list. However, not many people are willing to pay that much. It is well worth the price for many professional artists, but most beginners will want to steer clear. 

Because of the price and how that limits accessibility to the application, Corel Painter drops down from our top four to become a runner-up. 

Conclusion

Digital Art software is everywhere for a range of different costs and quality. Finding the best one that works for your price point, device, and needs is a challenge. 

With all of these different complexities, it is easy to get frustrated, but do not worry. There is something out there that will suit every digital artist, new and old. Keep up the search and you will settle down with the perfect one in no time. This list is a perfect place to start. 

Best Digital Art Software FAQs

What Technology Is Best Suited For Digital Art?

If you are interested in getting into digital art, the best technology to use would be a tablet of some kind and a compatible pen. There are specific drawing tablets that are geared towards digital art and those are usually your best bet. 

Is It Difficult To Teach Yourself How To Use Adobe Products?

Yes, there can be a learning curve with any Adobe product. However, once you learn one Adobe product, it is pretty simple to find your way around the others. There are plenty of tutorials online to help you navigate them, so check those out and keep practicing. 

Are There Any Free Digital Art Software?

Besides Adobe Fresco, there are a few different free digital art software. While they may not measure up to many paid applications, they are still worth a look if you need a low price point. Krita is one of the many that exist. 

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