6 Best Drawing Programs for XP Pen

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Top Choice

Adobe Photoshop Icon


Runner Up

Adobe Illustrator Icon


Best Value


Best Usage


Though the brand’s name is XP Pen, the product is actually a pen and a tablet. It’s a great product for artists, professionals, and beginners alike.

But you need more than the tablet to get started. You also need some art software. There are many options out there, but they can leave you frustrated or are of poor quality. 

What you need is something that works well with your XP pen and is quality software that will have all of your work coming out exactly like you want it to. Software that has plenty of settings, doesn’t break the bank, and possibly works with other software for a seamless transition is the best option. 

Thankfully, there are a few options out there. If you want to know which ones are the best, read the article below. It provides an in-depth review of all the best software so you can decide exactly which one fits your needs best before investing money and time into a product. 

Check out this article where I compare Photoshop and Illustrator.

Key Takeaways

  • Most major art software works well with the XP Pen. 
  • Though we prefer Adobe Photoshop as our favorite one, Adobe Illustrator is a great option as well. 
  • Corel Draw and Clip Studio Paint also have a lot to offer, including one-time purchases. 
  • Though lacking in some features, Krita and Sketchbook are good runner-up software if you need something cheap. 

What Is the Best Software for an XP Pen?

There are many kinds of software out there for art. Unfortunately, not all of them can work directly with your XP Pen and Tablet. Or, some of them work, but not well. If you’re looking for the best of the best to choose between, you’re in luck. 

There are several great options to choose between. They work seamlessly with your XP Pen and tablet and are full of useful features to let you create your art however you want. These are some of the top options for XP Pen software, but we will only focus on the top six today:

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Many people think of Adobe Photoshop and think of photo-editing. However, Adobe Photoshop is a great option for drawing and sketching as well. It’s a brilliant software with hundreds of settings to benefit its users.

Setting up an XP Pen with Photoshop is an easy process. It involves some downloading of drivers, and then it’s ready to go. Drawing on the XP Pen tablet is just as easy. You can adjust settings to your preference, including the types of brushes it uses automatically and the pressure sensitivity. 

Key Features:

  • Easily adjusts to the XP Pen to provide a seamless experience from the computer to the tablet and back. 
  • It’s the industry standard if you’re looking to make drawing into a career. 
  • Hundreds of settings and features to make work exactly like you want it to. 

User Experience:

Photoshop feels like it was made for drawing tablets. Everything works as smoothly on the tablet as it would on the computer, if not better. There are no limits to your features, settings, or quality when you use a drawing tablet. 

The biggest issue is that it’s a bit of a pain to use at first. The numerous settings make it a great drawing software for everyone.

On the other hand, the settings make it overwhelming and confusing. It’s sometimes hard for new users of the software to continue to push and learn when the software is so confusing. 

Once they do, though, it’s an amazing product. There’s not much negative to say about it except the first few uses and the price. Another great benefit is the cloud software, which gives you access to every software you might need for drawing and photo editing. 


The cost of Adobe Photoshop is a bit steep. You can get Photoshop by itself for $20.99 a month. You get 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe Fresco, Adobe Express, and Photoshop of course. 

They have a photography plan as well for $19.99 a month, but it doesn’t really work well for artists as it doesn’t have all the features you need.

If you want more than just the Photoshop software by itself, then you can get the Creative Cloud plan. It’s a bit pricey at $54.99 but provides over 50 different apps and software to use, as well as all of the other features. 

If you want to try it out but aren’t ready to invest, then you may be happy to note that there is a free trial. Give Adobe Photoshop a try for a few days and decide for yourself if it’s worth the investment. 

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:


  • Works seamlessly with tablets like XP Pens
  • Works with a variety of devices for seamless transitions and interactions
  • Lots of plugins to help you out
  • Creative Cloud with Photoshop gives you access to all the software you could need


  • Prices are a bit high, especially for beginners
  • It’s a bit confusing to learn all of the tools and be efficient with your art


There’s not much to say about Adobe Photoshop. Thanks to it being an industry standard, seamless communication between devices and other Adobe products, and the ease of use on the XP Pen, it has to be a 10 out of 10

2. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is great in many ways. Though this software and Adobe Photoshop are from the same company, they have vastly different features. While Adobe Photoshop works well for photos, editing, and realistic artwork, Adobe Illustrator is focused more on vector graphics and graphic design. 

If you want to do more technical artwork, like creating typography, logos, and designs, then Adobe Illustrator is a great app and beats out Photoshop in some ways. 

Key Features:

  • There are a wide range of choices for settings and customization.
  • Vector-based work allows for art to be adjusted to various sizes without pixelation.
  • Connects with Adobe Photoshop and other Creative Cloud apps for further customization, editing, and adjusting down the line. 

User Experience:

Adobe Illustrator works just as well as Photoshop on the tablet. Though it is a product designed for use on a standard computer, you wouldn’t be able to tell by using the software. It seamlessly works on a tablet and offers the same number of settings and features you’d expect when using it on your computer. 

There weren’t any tool errors or lack of features when it switched to the pen tablet, except that you get the added bonus of using your pen and mimicking the movements you’d make on traditional paper. 

Check out this tutorial to learn how to wrap text in Illustrator.


If you can’t decide between Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, you can get both with the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan. If you plan to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and a few of the other features, then the All Apps plan is the best option. 

With both Photoshop and Illustrator costing $20.99 a month, buying both separately would cost you $41.98 a month. This is still cheaper than the $54.99 a month, but if you plan on using any of the other 20-plus apps, then you will be saving money with the Creative Cloud subscription.

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Illustrator:


  • The interface is simple and easy to use on the XP Pen tablets
  • Great for artists who prefer vector art and graphic design over traditional art types
  • Seamlessly supports tablets and pen input


  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t have as many settings as Photoshop
  • Not as many options for traditional media-like art as in Photoshop


Vector graphics aren’t for everyone. It makes art look more digital, less realistic, and lifelike. Because it has slightly more limited applications than Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator takes a slightly lower ranking. 

Though it isn’t the best software for an XP Pen, Adobe Illustrator gets a still-impressive 9.5 out of 10

3. ClipStudio Paint

Like Adobe Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint is primarily based on vector graphics. There’s a full asset library as well full of foliage, sketches, patterns, and textures to make art easier and allow you to get the exact image you want without spending countless hours getting every last detail right. 

It’s great for 3D art, images, character creation, concept art, comics, animations, and illustrations. It can do it all as long as you take the time to learn exactly how to do everything you want. 

Key Features:

  • Full compatibility with XP Pen tablet.
  • Offers sensitivity responses and accurate pen placement on your art.
  • Has options for customization. 

User Experience:

While Clip Studio Paint works well for any kind of art, its main focus is on animated art and comics. They have multi-layer options, text boxes, and animation features. It’s a great balance between advanced computer animation software and a classic pen-and-paper feel. 

Everything runs smoothly on the XP Pens and other tablets that connect to your computer. However, the features do fall a little short on mobile devices like independent tablets and phones. 


Currently, you can buy the Pro version of Clip Studio Paint for $49.99. This version is great for concept art, character art, and illustrations.

There’s also the Clip Studio Paint EX version. This is the version that works best for comics and animation, in addition to all the pro features as well as advanced manga, comic, webtoon, and animation features. This version costs $219. 

When you buy these versions, you get the current version, and that’s it. If you want a later version, then you either have to buy it for a discounted price or you have to subscribe to their monthly usage plan. The monthly usage plan offers updates as they come out. This subscription is rather cheap at $0.99 a month

There are rumors that Clip Studio Paint will be moving more to a subscription-based service. At the moment, the company offers the option for a one-time purchase without any updates.

Or, you can buy the version and then pay for updates for less than a dollar a month. It remains to be seen if the system turns fully to subscriptions down the line. 

What We Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint:


  • Offers the ability to do complex work with layers and masks as an option 
  • One-time fee instead of a subscription
  • A great choice for animators or comic book artists


  • The steep learning curve for beginners to digital art can be overwhelming
  • May be switching to a subscription-based service


Clip Studio Paint gets a 9 out of 10. It works best for those who have complex projects to work on or who like to use a lot of layers when they do their art.

It also works really well for those who want to draw animated art or comics. However, it does have limited use for traditional art, which is why it doesn’t rank as high as Adobe’s products. 

4. Corel Draw

Corel Draw is a great product. It aims to compete with Adobe Illustrator. It offers vector graphics software. It was mostly for Windows until recently, when they released a macOS version. This version, if it works out well, will seriously expand Corel Draw’s audience and make them more of a competition against Corel Draw. 

Feature-wise, it’s already a huge competition. It offers a lot of the same features and a great library for customized brushes and tools. However, where it falls flat is its collaboration and compatibility. 

Related Article: Vector Graphics Software for Mac

Key Features:

  • Layers and mask support for complex and detailed projects.
  • Incredibly large brush library. 
  • Expanding its audience and features to be a one-time purchase and competitor to Adobe Illustrator. 

User Experience:

It’s a great product that works well with the XP Pen tablet. It offers a lot of different features. These features offer competition against Illustrator. While they don’t quite manage it, they are making progress. It’s feasible that at some point soon, Corel Draw will be some serious competition for Adobe Illustrator. 

The easier-to-use features make it a great option for beginners. It’s not as confusing and still works perfectly with the XP Pen. The price point does put a bit of a damper on the product. 


Corel Draw has a standard version for $299. It’s a one-time purchase, but it is a little expensive for beginners or people using the product as a hobby.

If someone wants to try Corel Draw but doesn’t want to pay the full price, they offer a limited version for $129. For professionals, they offer a subscription starting at $22.42 a month or a one-time purchase of $549. 

What We Like/Dislike About Corel Draw:


  • Plenty of brush customization
  • One-time fee
  • Very customizable interface
  • Easy to learn


  • Though one time, the fee is very high
  • Doesn’t have a lot of compatibility with other features and software


Because of its lack of compatibility and collaboration, the software only ranks 8 out of 10. While it does have a great set of features and an extensive library, the lack of compatibility with other industry-standard software does severely limit its abilities. 


Those are the four best software available for the XP Pen tablets. These are the best of the best and the ones worth trying out first.

However, if you’re looking for something a little different or want to look at a few more options, then there are two runner-ups worth mentioning. 

Check out this article for the top Photo Management Software.


The first is Krita. Krita does work well for the XP Pen. It’s also a very cost-effective solution. This is because it’s free and open-source.

If you want to get started with digital art but aren’t looking to pay yet, Krita is the way to go. The interface is highly intuitive. Despite being free, it has many features that professional software has. 

It also allows you to understand a little bit of the system that’s common in most software. Most art software has a similar layout, though some features and settings may be moved.

Getting Krita for free allows you to start to learn these settings and get a feel for the general layout before investing in a product with a lot more overwhelming features. 

Sometimes, if you want certain features, there are options for plugins. Unfortunately, some of the plugins are only available as external features and aren’t offered by Krita. The software sometimes lags a bit, too, especially on devices that don’t have a lot of power or have older software. 


Sketchbook is another software that works well with the XP Pen. The interface is intuitive, which makes it great for beginners, or anyone looking to switch software. The brushes are outstanding, with many kinds of pre-made options as well as the ability to create and customize your own brushes. 

You do have to pay for Sketchbook, but it’s a one-time payment, and it’s rather low. The price starts at $29.99, which makes it easily affordable even for young artists. The biggest downside of this software is that it doesn’t have a lot of layering and masking options. 

It works best for simple projects that don’t need a lot of complexity. If you enjoy using layers or want something that can handle a variety of different artwork, then Sketchbook may not be the best option to try out. This is also true if you do comics that use multiple frames and animated work. 

Though the price is cheap, having limited features and having to pay makes it less than ideal. If you ever want to do more complex art, you’re looking at having to buy a second software down the road. 


No one software works best for everyone. Some people have specific needs or desires for their software that might make one more ideal for them than it would other people. Thankfully, there are enough options out there that everyone can find software that works best for them. 

While Adobe Photoshop is at the top of this list, don’t feel disappointed if it’s not your favorite or doesn’t work out for what you need. Any of these six software listed above are great options that won’t break you or mess up your art. Give them all a try and see which one fits your needs best. 

XP Pen Software FAQS

What Software Works With XP Pen?

There’s quite a lot of software that works with the XP Pen. Adobe’s software in particular, works very well with the device.

Does the XP Pen Have Its Own Drawing Software?

XP Pen does provide free software. Some examples include Toon Boom, ArtRage 6, and OpenCanvas. Some of these software are quite good and are worth a try before expanding to paid services. 

How Do I Enable the Pen Tool in Photoshop?

When you use Adobe Photoshop with your XP Pen, it’s sometimes hard to figure out how to use it at first. To access the pen tool in Photoshop so you can take full advantage of your tablet, you need to first select the brush tool.

Then, go to the window tab. Finally, go to brush settings and make sure that the shape dynamics setting is selected. For the control, ensure it’s set as pen pressure. 

After you do this, you should be able to use the pen tool and your tablet without a problem. 

Why Is My XP Pen Not Working in Photoshop?

If your XP Pen isn’t working in Photoshop, the first step is to make sure your pen is charged properly. It may sound silly, but sometimes things happen. You may have thought you charged your pen, but it didn’t charge like you thought. 

If that doesn’t work, try and restart both your pen and the computer. If there’s still no sign of it working, you may need to check for updates on Photoshop, your device, and your pen.