The Surface Pro is a top-of-the-line tablet created by Microsoft that is designed to replace your computer. It comes with a keyboard and makes your life easier on the go. However, being used like a computer is not all that it’s good for.
The Surface Pro is also an excellent option for use as a drawing tablet thanks to its sensitive touch screen. It is great for digital art including drawing, painting, and sketching. If you are interested in digital art, you need to find the right software for the job.
There are dozens of digital art software out there varying in quality, price, and specialty. Finding out what works with a Surface Pro and what will fulfill your needs can be taxing.
Thankfully, we have done the heavy lifting for you. Keep reading to find out the best drawing software for the Surface Pro and which might be the best fit for you.
Check out this list of the Top Vector Graphic Programs available today!
- The best drawing software for the Surface Pro is Adobe Fresco, but several other Adobe applications are a good fit for it too.
- Aside from Adobe applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint is another excellent software.
- Further down the list is Corel Painter, which has its downfalls, but is still a great option if you have the budget for it.
What Is the Best Drawing Software For Surface Pro?
There are many different digital drawing software on the market that are compatible with touch screens. Finding the best for a Surface Pro can be a challenge, however. Thankfully, there are many different software you can explore.
All of the ones listed below will work well with your Surface Pro, each having every tool you might need for a digital drawing application. These are some of the top options for drawing software for Surface Pro, but we will only focus on the top five today:
- Adobe Fresco
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Clip Studio Paint
- Corel Painter
Adobe Fresco is a drawing application designed for touchscreen devices like the Surface Pro. At the basic level, it is completely free and the premium version is still cost-friendly. It has access to the world’s largest brush collection and allows for endless possibilities.
Thanks to its large variety of options, Adobe Fresco is great for a variety of different artistic styles. It’s a great transition app from physical art to digital thanks to its life-like feel and ease of use. It is great for both beginners and advanced digital options because of its range of customization.
- Drawing program with numerous features
- Free at the basic level with a premium upgrade available
- Designed for watercolor, painting, drawing, and creating other art
- Hundreds of different colors, brushes, text, and textures for you to choose from
- Lifelike feeling for art creation
Adobe Fresco has a great variety of brushes and different tools that are accessible even at the free level. It feels natural to use these different options, making for a great transition between physical art and digital art.
It is fully customizable and easy to pick up, unlike many other Adobe applications, and is designed with newer digital artists in mind while still having advanced options available.
While it is one of the easiest Adobe applications to pick up, it still does have a bit of a learning curve that can be difficult to grasp. The other issue users have is that while the free version does have many options, you do have to pay quite a bit to unlock everything.
At the basic level, Adobe Fresco is completely free. It allows you access to a large selection of different tools and customization options. It still has everything you need to be successful with your art. To unlock all of the features, you have to pay a monthly cost.
The premium version offers access to new brushes, fonts, colors, and shapes. To access the premium plan, there are a few different options you can consider. First, you can use the premium version for a 30-day free trial.
After that, you pay $9.99 per year to continue using it. Compared to other Adobe applications, this is extremely budget-friendly.
Another option is to access the premium version through the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Plan. Through this plan, you gain access to more than 20 different Adobe applications as well as increased storage, more fonts, more templates, and the ability to collaborate between all of the different Adobe applications. This costs $59.99 per month.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Fresco:
- Free to use at the basic level
- The premium version is budget-friendly
- Plethora of different brush options
- Easy to use and learn compared to other Adobe applications
- Compatible with many different art styles
- Designed with touchscreen devices like the Surface Pro in mind
- Still has a bit of a learning curve
- Cannot access all of the options without paying
Adobe Fresco is the perfect application for the Surface Pro as it is designed for devices like it. At the free level, it has endless options and works with multiple different art styles.
The premium version is still extremely cheap while unlocking a plethora of other options. For these reasons and more, Adobe Fresco easily earns a 10 out of 10 rating.
Adobe Photoshop was originally designed for photo editing on computer interfaces. It has since evolved to be a leader in the digital and graphic design world. Professionals and beginners alike flock to this application to help with their work and improve their art.
The amount of features and tools lets users control every aspect of their work with incredible detail. The price is high and the learning curve is steep, but these downfalls are well worth your time and energy.
- Fully customizable experience with hundreds of features and settings
- An industry-standard application used by professionals and beginners alike
- Diverse uses from photo editing and 3D design to painting and drawing
- Intuitive design while still having a huge amount of options
- Not specifically designed for touchscreen devices
Adobe Photoshop is an industry-standard application across all of its different uses including photo editing, 3D design, and different art styles. It is highly recommended for both beginner and advanced artists to use, being well worth the cost according to many users.
There is an immense amount of different options, settings, and customization options that allow you to focus on exactly what you want.
Check out this article where i compare Photoshop with Clip Studio Paint.
The array of brush options replicates any type of art you may want to dive into with ultimate control over each. From pixel to vector graphics, Adobe Photoshop has them all.
However, every application has its downsides. Adobe Photoshop is expensive and not always the best option for those wanting budget-friendly software. On top of that, because there are so many different options, it can get overwhelming quickly for those not used to the application.
There are three different payment plan options for Adobe Photoshop. The first is to buy the application by itself. You can either opt for a monthly plan at $22.99 per month or an annual plan of $263.88 per year. This gives you access to all Photoshop features and updates as well as 100 GB of storage.
There are also two different bundle options you can select for cheaper prices. The first is the Creative Cloud Photography Plan which includes Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop with access to all features and upgrades as well as 20 GB of cloud storage.
The last option you can choose is the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Plan for $59.99 per month. This plan includes access to over 20 different Adobe applications, including Photoshop, as well as extra features and fonts, early access to the latest upgrades, and 100 GB of cloud storage.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:
- Variety of uses for both digital art, but also photo editing, 3D design, and graphic design
- Huge amount of tools beyond many other applications on the market that allow you to get extremely detailed with your work
- Industry-standard application with frequent updates, helpful customer support, and community assistance
- Works well with the Surface Pro
- Great for seamless workflow
- Complex to learn and overwhelming for beginners
Adobe Photoshop is an innovative leader in the world of digital artwork with its detailed tools and amount of features.
It lets any artist from beginner to advanced have total control of every step of the creative process. Beyond digital art, it can be used for multiple other uses, making it worth the investment if you are interested.
However, the price is high and the immense amount of features leaves beginners in the dust when trying to navigate the program. Because of this Adobe Photoshop is left at a rating of 9.5 out of 10.
Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics software designed specifically for graphic design. It is great to use for logo creation and 3D artwork, offering a variety of brushes and other tools to make your experience fully customizable down to the last detail.
It is a pioneer when it comes to graphic design and its vector brushes. While it is good at what it does, having vector graphics only can feel limiting to some artists based on their style.
Check out this list of the Top Sketching Software.
- Vector graphics based with the ability to make vector graphics brushes
- Designed for graphic design with a variety of different text options
- Vector graphics allow for the creation of 3D artwork
- Variety of different brushes, tools, and features to help customize your experience\
- Integrates well with other Adobe applications through the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps bundle
Adobe Illustrator is another Adobe application not originally designed for touch screens but rather for computers. It still works well with touch screens, having integrated its software to accommodate. The transitions are flawless from computer to touch screen and back again if you ever need it.
Adobe Illustrator is mainly focused on graphic design, however, its ability to create different vector brushes and its capabilities with 3D artwork make it a diverse artwork medium.
This is also one of its downsides, unfortunately. It is more limited than other applications on this list with its drawing and painting capabilities.
There are four different payment options when purchasing Adobe Illustrator. The first three are all similar. All three of these plans include Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Express, and Adobe Firefly as well as some other benefits.
These additional benefits include 100 GB of cloud storage as well as access to different libraries, the latest features, and tutorials.
The first of the three is $34.49 per month. The next two are either $22.99 per month for an annual subscription or $263.88 for the annual subscription upfront.
The next option is the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Plan. This plan includes over 20 different Adobe applications, including the ones listed above, for $59.99 per month. This also includes 100 GB of cloud storage, additional access to different features, quick access to upgrades, and tutorials.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Illustrator:
- The amount of helpful and detail-specific options available
- Variety of features, tools, and settings
- Simplistic user interface that integrates well with the Surface Pro
- Perfect for graphic designers geared toward vector graphics
- Limited in use beyond vector graphics making it less customizable than other drawing applications
Adobe Illustrator does compare well with the other applications listed with the huge number of different features and settings. It allows for specific and detailed work to be created with ease and efficiency.
However, vector graphics are the main medium of this software, making it limiting for other art types. Because of this, Adobe Illustrator receives an 8 out of 10.
Clip Studio Paint is a vector graphics-based software that still gears toward a variety of different art styles and can accommodate each one. It is known for being great for anything from drawing and painting to animation and 3D art. This well-rounded application cannot steer you wrong.
It has a large library of options for you to choose from as well as access to community features making it easy to customize any type of work. It has an immense amount of features that can be time-consuming to understand, especially on a touchscreen device like a Surface Pro, but it is worth your time regardless.
- Lifelike quality that feels like real art materials
- Hundreds of different options for brushes, tools, features, and textures
- Great for 3D art, painting, drawing, animation, and graphic design
- An easy interface that is great for beginners
- Vector graphics based
Clip Studio Paint is another vector graphics-based software, however, it also has a variety of other great tools. These tools and settings make it excellent for other forms of art such as drawing, painting, animation, 3D art, graphic design, comics, and much more.
However, Clip Studio Paint was not originally made for touchscreen users, making it a downfall for users of the Surface Pro. Because of this, its interface is more confusing than for computer users and can be difficult to navigate.
Even after figuring out how to navigate it, workflow, production times, and processing speeds are known for being slow because of its layout.
Clip Studio Paint has a variety of different payment options including one-time, monthly, and yearly for two different versions.
The first version is Clip Studio Paint PRO, which is the more limited version of the application. The other version is Clip Studio Paint EX which unlocks all of the features of the application.
Check out this list of the Top Digital Art Programs.
For purchase options of Clip Studio Paint PRO, you have three different options. These options include a one-time fee of $49.99, a yearly plan of $26.99, or a monthly plan starting at $0.99.
The yearly plan is limited to a single device. The monthly plan increases based on what features you want and how many devices you have as well as a few other factors.
For Clip Studio Paint EX, there are also three different options. This again includes a one-time fee, a yearly, or a monthly. The one-time fee is $219.00, the yearly is $76.99, and the monthly starts at $0.99. The rules for both the yearly and the monthly apply to this version of the application as well.
What We Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint:
- A large variety of options with access to community-made tools
- An impressive range of art styles can use this application
- One-time purchase option
- Can be confusing for touchscreen users like the Surface Pro
- Slow production time and slow speeds, making it inefficient
Clip Studio Paint is an excellent drawing software for a variety of different systems. It covers a variety of art styles and has hundreds of different tools to accommodate that.
Access to community features and the lifelike quality of the art make it a good contestant. However, it is not specifically geared towards touch screens like the Surface Pro, causing it to be more confusing. Because of this, Clip Studio Paint is ranked at 7.5 out of 10.
Corel Painter is a top-of-the-line digital art program used by various professionals and is known for being one of the best in the industry. The variety of digital art you can do with it is endless thanks to its amazing features.
While this application sounds like it should be at the top of the list, it does have a few major downfalls and one of them is its price. For the basic version of the newest version of the application, Painter 2023, you have to pay a one-time payment of $429. This is the basic level.
There are also various upgrades they recommend bundling on including a brush pack for $179.99. Because it is a one-time payment, that also means you get that version with no updates. You’d have to upgrade to the next version and pay more when the 2024 edition came out.
Surface Pro Drawing Software FAQS
Does The Surface Pro Have Its Own Drawing Software?
Yes, the Surface Pro does come with its own drawing software through Microsoft. The software is called Sketch Pal and is available through Microsoft Garage. It is free for use on any Microsoft device.
However, we do not recommend this application because it is not well-liked by users. Users report losing progress because of unreliable save files, crashing, lagging, and lack of options overall in terms of the artistic process. It is rated a 2.9 out of 5 on the Microsoft Store, so be careful if you do decide to check it out.
What Is The Difference Between Adobe Fresco And Adobe Illustrator?
Adobe Fresco is specifically designed for drawing tablets. It uses both vector and pixel brushes, making the options for art creation endless. It is focused on digital art styles such as drawing and painting.
Adobe Illustrator on the other hand is made for vector graphics. It is designed specifically for things like graphic design and logo creation, but it also dabbles in things like 3D art and other digital art styles.
Is Adobe Fresco Good For Beginners?
Yes, Adobe Fresco at the free level is designed with beginners in mind. The interface is meant to be as intuitive as possible and simplistic for new users to understand. In the premium version, you begin to unlock more options that add complexity to your work, making it great for seasoned digital artists as well.
Which software is best for you depends on what you are looking for in a digital drawing application. Each has its pros and cons, being geared towards different audiences and styles of digital artists.
Picking which one is right for you can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of free trials and hop around until you find a good fit. Any on this list will be a great match with your Surface Pro.