7 Best Drawing Programs for Mac (Free and Paid)

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Top Choice

Photoshop

Runner Up

CLIPStudio

Best Value

Adobe-Fresco-Icon

Fresco

Best Usage

CorelDraw

Macs are a great option for those looking to get into drawing. With your Mac, you have access to compatibility with other Apple products as well as access to a wide range of programs. A Mac is a good overall device for a variety of uses, but drawing especially. 

With something like a Mac, it can be difficult to find good drawing applications, even with so many different options available.

Most drawing applications and programs are originally designed for Windows and Microsoft devices with Mac versions being developed later on. This means additional research for Mac-specific software is required. 

There are a variety of great drawing programs, but finding the best one for Mac and the best one for your specific needs can be difficult.

Thankfully, we have done that research for you and narrowed it down to these helpful options that are fully Mac-compatible while being top-of-the-line drawing programs. With this list, you can find which program best suits your needs and budget with no hassle. 

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

Key Takeaways

  • Many major art software companies have Mac versions, but a few don’t so it is important to check. 
  • The preferred option for drawing software for Mac is Adobe Photoshop, but many other applications, especially other Adobe applications, work just as well. 
  • Besides other Adobe products, programs such as Clip Studio Paint and CorelDraw Graphics Suite are also great options. 
  • A few similar software options such as Inkscape and Sketchbook can be used, but they each have their downfalls that should be considered. 

What Is the Best Software for a Huion Tablet?

There are a variety of different art and drawing programs for Mac devices. Mac devices typically have more limitations as to what programs they are compatible with and even fewer work properly with Mac.

However, there are still many great options to consider. They will work perfectly with your Mac and the Mac versions of their programs are the best of the best. Here are a few of the options, but we will be focusing on the top seven only today:

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is well known for its capabilities in editing photos. However, the possibilities are endless with this Adobe software. It is also excellent for drawing, sketching, painting, and even limited animation capabilities. 

This application is designed for computers, so the use of the application with a Mac is easy. Adobe applications have always been and will continue to be industry-standard, top-of-the-line products. 

Key Features:

  • Industry-standard application for a variety of uses, including drawing, sketching, painting, and animation. 
  • Hundreds of features and tools to make your experience unique to your needs. 
  • Excellent for use with Mac computers and transitioning between different Apple products. 

User Experience:

Adobe Photoshop is good at what it does. It is designed perfectly for every type of computer including Mac even if that is not the type of computer it was originally designed for. The settings and features are endless for Adobe Photoshop and every single one of them transfers seamlessly to Mac. 

The main downside to Adobe Photoshop, like many Adobe programs, is the cost. The cost can be intense for anyone looking to try something out. It can be intimidating for new artists to want to invest that much money into software. This is true even for more experienced artists.  

The monthly subscription format as well as the high cost can seem like a lot to many different levels of artists from new to old. However, most users describe the prices as totally worth it and it matches the quality of the application.

Cost:

Adobe Photoshop costs a similar amount as every other Adobe software. It is a monthly subscription of $22.99. This may seem like a steep cost, but it matches up with all the other Adobe software monthly prices pretty closely. 

There is also an option to combine Adobe Photoshop with a variety of other Adobe software through the Creative Cloud All Apps bundle subscription. This subscription gives you access to over 20 different Adobe software as well as a large amount of cloud storage for only $59.99. 

Again the price may seem like a lot, but it is well worth it when you consider how many applications you get access to that work seamlessly with each other. A variety of different uses are accessible for Mac and other systems. 

For students and teachers, there is also a hefty discount that drops this bundle subscription to only $19.99 a month. If you are worried about committing to any of these plans, there is also a 7-day free trial for all MacOS users. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:

Like:

  • Perfectly designed for Mac products
  • Works seamlessly between different systems and macOS devices
  • Features and tools allow for a fully customizable experience
  • Creative Cloud All Apps Plan allows for easy transitions between Adobe applications with a large amount of storage. 

Dislike:

  • Expensive 
  • Monthly subscription instead of one-time payment

Scoring:

Adobe Photoshop easily takes the cake as the best drawing program or software for MacOS users. With very few downsides, it is easy to see why this choice made the list as number one. While yes, it is expensive, the quality matches the price. We rank Adobe Photoshop a 9.7 out of 10

2. Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint is a vector graphics-based drawing program. The vector graphics make it perfect for things like 3D artwork, animation, and much more. Outside of vector graphics, Clip Studio Paint is also great for other styles of art. 

This includes drawing, painting, illustrating, sketching, concept art, and comics. The possibilities are endless with Clip Studio Paint thanks to its large amount of features. However, with this many features, it can take a while to grasp them and you will need patience to get it down fully. 

Key Features:

  • Fully compatible with the Mac
  • A variety of features that allow for full customization
  • Excellent sensitivity responses that make it great for detailed work

User Experience:

While Clip Studio Paint has a large variety of options to allow for different art styles, it is mainly designed to be used in the creation of animation and comics. 

The initial setup of Clip Studio Paint is very complex and often frustrating for many users. However, once you get this initial frustration out of the way, you can easily access the variety of options for animation and comics as well as other art styles. 

The animation capabilities, text features, and multi-layering options make art like this accessible to even new users. It combines an old-school feel of pen and paper drawing with high-technology aspects to create a perfect blend for users. 

Cost:

Clip Studio Paint has a variety of purchase options. This includes a one-time purchase or a monthly subscription for the basic version. There is also a one-time purchase option for the next level of Clip Studio Paint. 

For the basic level of Clip Studio Paint, you can either purchase it once for $49.99 or you can subscribe monthly for only $0.99.

The next level of Clip Studio Paint is Clip Studio Paint EX which unlocks even more features and options for further customizable capabilities. This is a one-time purchase of $219.99

What We Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint:

Like:

  • There’s a one-time purchase and the subscription version is also extremely cheap. 
  • Perfect for animators or comic artists while also working well for other art styles. 
  • Layering and masking are complex for the art while still being easy to understand. 

Dislike:

  • The initial learning curve is extremely difficult for any new users. 
  • It is known for being difficult to set up on most devices including macOS products. 

Scoring:

Clip Studio Paint is a strong contender to Adobe Photoshop. It is specialized for animators and comic artists while still having a large variety of other options for art. However, with how difficult it is to understand for beginners, it can be intimidating and scare off users. For this, it gets a score of 9.5 out of 10

3. Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco was originally designed with drawing tablets in mind, primarily Windows systems. However, over the years it has become more accessible to a variety of systems and devices including Mac. 

Start learning Adobe Fresco today with this list of the Top Adobe Fresco Courses!

It has a large variety of brushes and is perfect for any illustrator or digital artist. The possibilities are never-ending. The variety of features and settings coupled with the cost make Adobe Fresco strong competition for the best drawing programs for Macs. 

Key Features:

  • Hundreds of texts, textures, drawings, and painting options
  • Free at the basic level and has several tiers of payment. 
  • There are plenty of features that make customization easy. 

User Experience:

Adobe Fresco is known for how well it handles different devices and its cross-compatibility with other platforms. It makes transfer between devices or even between different software relatively easy. 

Adobe Fresco functions well and is known for being easy to understand and learn rather quickly. The cost makes it easily accessible to a variety of artists of different cost needs as well as skill levels.

Even with the basic subscription, there is a large variety of tools, features, brushes, colors, and text that make it easy to use. The subscription just improves the experience more. 

Cost:

Adobe Fresco has two different tiers of cost. The basic version is free to use. It has a plethora of features and brushes, however, it is not nearly as many as the paid version and it also comes with very limited cloud storage. 

Upgrading to the paid version is $9.99 a year. This unlocks the full range of capabilities within the app and also gives you access to a lot more cloud storage.

Another good deal that is offered for Adobe Fresco is the dual plan. The dual plan gives you access to Adobe Fresco and Adobe Photoshop for §1 a month. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Fresco:

Like:

  • Free to use to a point
  • Large variety of brush options
  • Easy to learn and use

Dislike:

  • Cannot make your own brushes
  • No option to import brushes from other applications

Scoring:

Adobe Fresco is a good application for Mac with a lot of good features, tools, and settings. However, it is limited in capabilities as it takes away the full customization abilities that a lot of other software has. For that, Adobe Fresco receives an 8 out of 10

4. CorelDraw Graphics Suite

CorelDraw Graphics Suite is slightly different from the classic CorelDRAW application. It is more specifically designed to be accessible for Macs. Although it was originally designed for Windows, this version of the application has made its mark on the Mac world, matching up to all the other best Mac drawing programs. 

CorelDraw Graphics Suite is a vector-based drawing and editing application. Its primary users are graphic designers. However, the large amount of editing options paired with the vector graphics have made their impact on the drawing and illustration world as well. 

Key Features:

  • Annual as well as subscription-based plans are available
  • Mainly made for graphic designers
  • Originally made for Windows users only, but have recently opened up to Mac as well
  • Professional-level capabilities

User Experience:

The program is well received by Mac users new to the program. The variety of capabilities with vector graphics as well as illustration options makes it captivating for audiences. The design is intuitive and quick to learn for new users. 

However, while the program can be easy to grasp, sometimes actually using the program can get a bit messy. Transferring between different files and conversion of images can get confusing as well as editing certain types of vector creations. 

The high cost of this kind of application can also turn people away rather quickly. It is intimidating and considering it is not linked to Adobe software, people often opt to not use it. It is not compatible with many other software and stands alone. 

Cost:

CorelDraw Graphics Suite has two different purchase options. The first is a monthly subscription of $22.42, making it the most expensive monthly subscription within the top four picks.

There is also another adoption for a one-time purchase of $549, again, making it the most expensive single-time purchase on this list. There is a 15-day free trial, if you are unsure about wanting to commit such a high cost to the program just yet. 

What We Like/Dislike About Corel Draw:

Like:

  • Professional-level options for graphic design, illustration, and drawing
  • A variety of different tools and settings 
  • Easy to learn to use thanks to its intuitive design

Dislike:

  • Expensive
  • Lag issues and gets overwhelmed with too many files
  • Upgrades can be a hassle

Scoring:

CorelDraw Graphics Suite is a great program and an industry-standard like the many other programs on this list. It is easy to understand and follow. However, with the amount of lag on Mac devices as well as the high price, it ranks at 7.5 out of 10 on our list. 

Runner-Up Drawing Programs for Mac

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics-based program geared toward graphic design, making it perfect if you are looking for that type of style in your drawing. It is great for any classic digital artist with its ease of use and customizable features. 

Adobe Illustrator costs $20.99 per month like many other Adobe applications. It is also available with the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan for $54.99 a month or $19.99 a month for students and teachers. 

The interface for Adobe Illustrator is easy to understand and use with Macs. Those who prefer vector graphics will find this application accessible with no issues. However, it is expensive as many other Adobe products are while lacking the same level of complexity. 

It is not as customizable as many other Adobe applications and it also does not work very well with traditional digital art styles because of the vector graphics. If vector graphics and graphic design are more your thing, however, this application will work well for you. 

Inkscape

Inkscape Website

Inkscape is a professional-level, open-source software. Meaning that there is a large variety of access to community collaboration to enhance your experience through different extensions and add-on features. 

Inkscape is completely free to use because it has an open-source software license. It is perfect for new artists, those on a budget, or even small businesses thanks to the low price point. 

It is a cross-platform program with a great community. There are a great many tools and features with helpful tutorials on their online platform. However, there are many downsides, especially for Mac users. 

The Mac version is known for having more issues than the Windows version of the program. It has weaker interface visuals and poor formatting. It lags more and the ability to work on complex projects falls behind many other Mac-compatible software. 

The program is great for those looking for a free application. For the price point, it is an excellent application. However, it should be more of a starting point than anything if you are looking for more complex drawing applications.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook is an excellent software that works well with Macs. The software is intuitive and great for those new to both drawing and the application. There is no need to be intimated with this software if you are switching over from another program or just looking to try out drawing on Mac. 

Sketchbook is a cheap one-time payment of $29.99. The price point is affordable and combined with the fact that it is a one-time purchase makes it extremely accessible. 

Sketchbook comes with a wide range of different tools and features. You can create your brown brushes within the program as well as access the large library of brushes Sketchbook has made accessible for users. 

However, the library of tools and options does not measure up to other programs on this list. The software lacks complexity and customization. It is best for beginners or hobby drawers. It gets bogged down quickly if you need to work on multiple projects or want any layering. 

The low price point matches the amount of features it has. However, if you are looking for something cheap and simple, Sketchbook is a great place to start. 

Conclusion

Mac drawing programs are a little more difficult to find. Many drawing applications are specifically designed for Windows before eventually upgrading to a Mac version. However, many of these Mac editions are still great and accessible to a user. 

With a variety of options at different price points and complexities, there is something out there for every Mac user looking to draw.

Make sure you do your research to find which one is right for you. Take your time learning the new system and be patient with yourself as you start a new program while finding the one that best suits you. 

Drawing Programs for Mac FAQS

Does Mac Have Its Own Drawing Software?

No Mac unfortunately does not have its own drawing software. Microsoft devices have their own drawing software called Microsoft Paint, but there is no Mac equivalent.

When Mac was first developing, there was an option called MacPaint, but the idea has since been scrapped and Mac users must now use outside programs. 

Why Is Adobe Photoshop So Expensive?

Adobe Photoshop is so expensive because of its unique features. With this application, there are no alternatives that quite match up to its diverse set of capabilities. The price point matches with the quality of the program and is well worth it if you want to invest. 

Can I Teach Myself Adobe Photoshop?

While it is not impossible to teach yourself Adobe Photoshop, you are better off using tutorials. You can easily figure out the basic features of Adobe Photoshop on your own.

However, if you want to unlock the full capabilities of the application, looking at tutorials is the best option so that you can get the full experience.

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