4 Best Sketching Software In 2024 (Ranked and Reviewed)

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Top Choice

Adobe-Fresco-Icon

Fresco

Runner Up

CLIPStudio

Best Value

Photoshop

Best Usage

Krita Logo

Krita

Whether you prefer to draw digitally or physically, you always need to carry around tools for a quick sketch. Carrying pencils and sketch paper often means carrying around a bulky bag.

However, your phone or a tablet can work perfectly for a quick sketch and some notes while not taking up as much space.

But you can’t just grab a device and start drawing. You need a software to work with. The best sketching software will let you make a quick and painless sketch that you can refer to whenever.

Because ideas are often fleeting, you need something that you can pull up quickly and have all the tools and brushes you need right at your disposal. 

Depending on what you’re looking for in your sketching software, there are several options to try out. This article will discuss some of the most popular choices and their pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about which one works best for you. 

Check out this list of the Top Drawing Programs!

Key Takeaways

  • Adobe Fresco is often considered the best sketching software
  • Krita is a great free tool that offers many professional-level features
  • Clip Studio Paint is great for those who like to try out new assets and brushes regularly.

What Is the Best Sketching Software?

There are several different tools out there that claim to be the best for sketching and digital art as a whole. Many are easy enough to use and have quality features that make them excellent for beginners or professionals.

Even if you ask around, you’ll find that there are no agreements on which tools are the best. Every artist is just a little different and has different preferences and needs when it comes to their art. 

However, some tools are a little better than others. These are the best software for sketching and digital art. This article will cover the top four in-depth, as well as a brief introduction to Corel Painter. If none of these sound like quite what you’re looking for, the others on the list are also worth checking out. 

1. Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco is an app focused on drawing. It’s got everything you need for drawing and painting, including digital brushes, and tools to improve your drawing experience. 

Key Features:

  • Images saved in the cloud
  • Made for mobile use and works perfectly on the go
  • Works with many different art styles
  • Updates frequently to work with all the latest devices

User Experience:

Adobe Fresco is cross-platform compatible and is made to work with mobile devices first and foremost, unlike many of the other products you’ll find around. The software doesn’t need much power, so it works smoothly even on mobile devices.

Cost:

Adobe Fresco by itself is free. There are some different ways to purchase it if you want to use it alongside other Adobe products, such as the Creative Cloud All Apps. But there are cheaper options if you just want a couple of other Adobe Products instead of the whole bundle.

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Fresco:

Like:

  • Many brushes, pens, and pencils that look and feel incredibly life-like
  • Is available for mobile devices
  • Free for iOS and Windows desktops
  • Very smooth and lag-free
  • Works with raster and vector art

Dislike:

  • Doesn’t work with Chrome’s operating system or Android
  • There are a limited number of brushes and you can’t make your own
  • Can’t change paper textures

Scoring:

Adobe Fresco gets a solid 9.7 out of 10 based on the notes above. The main downside of Adobe Fresco is that it’s not available on all mobile devices. Though you can use it on Windows, Android devices are out of luck. This can be an expensive switch for free software.

2. Clip Studio Paint

Originally, Clip Studio Paint was known as Manga Studio. Its main purpose was to be a tool for manga and comic artists. This makes it one of the best tools out there for drawing and sketching. Of course, with the name change came new features and layouts that make it perfect for all kinds of art, but it still excels at its original purpose. 

Key Features:

  • A variety of brushes for the perfect sketch
  • Adjustable stabilization on brushes to create smooth, steady strokes
  • Models if you need help getting the angle or shape of someone just right. 
  • Many layouts, tools, and panels to set up Clip Studio Paint how you like it.

User Experience:

Most people who only want to draw or sketch do not need the EX version. The EX version is mainly for those looking to make comics specifically. Otherwise, the much cheaper option has everything you need. 

The brushes are amazing, and the community features allow you to try out all sorts of unique brushes and tools to make your drawing just a little bit easier. Many of the brushes are even better than Adobe’s.

It’s a bit overwhelming to learn at first and there are so many community tools and built-in ones that it’s hard to know what’s actually good and what you’ll use.

Cost:

There are two versions of Clip Studio Paint. You can get the Clip Studio Pain PRO or the EX. The Pro version offers tools for creating single-page comics and illustrations, as well as 24 frames of animation.

This version costs $49.99 for a one-time purchase. Or, if you can’t afford it, you can pay for a subscription, which starts at $0.99 a month. 

The EX version offers all the same features as PRO, and then a few more. You get features and tools to help you with multi-page projects, and you get unlimited frames for animation. This version costs a one-time purchase of $219 or a monthly subscription of $2.49 a month. 

If you want to use your mobile device, you will expect to pay the same subscription prices above. This allows you access to Clip Studio Paint on one mobile device.

If you want to use two devices of any kind, you can choose the dual plan. For the Pro version, it would be about $7.49 a month. For EX, it would be $12.49 a month.

What We Like/Dislike About Clip Studio Paint:

Like:

  • Plenty of included brushes and tools, but also community-made assets
  • One-time purchase options for Clip Studio Paint on your computer
  • Made for comics, so perfectly set up for sketch artists
  • So many features and more are constantly being added
  • So many different panels to allow you to tailor your layout to best suit your needs.

Dislike:

  • No one-time purchase plan for mobile devices
  • Fairly steep learning curve
  • The keybindings are rather confusing
  • Some key features are missing for certain types of artists

Scoring:

Clip Studio Paint is a great tool for sketching, especially if you’re looking to sketch scenes to turn into comics. The main disappointment with this software is that while you can purchase the computer version of the software for one price, mobile versions of the software are different.

First, they’re not included in the cost of the computer version. Second, you can’t just buy them once, a subscription is needed. 

Related Article: How to Animate in Clip Studio Paint

Because of the added difficulty and fee of using the mobile version, we have to score Clip Studio Paint at a 9 out of 10. It’s not always the best tool to sketch while on the go unless you don’t mind paying extra for it. 

3. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Though Adobe Photoshop is primarily for photo editing, that’s not all you can do with it. It’s a great tool for quick, but detailed sketching, drawing, painting, and even editing of your art.

Quickly make a background for the main focus of your image, get a rough sketch done so you don’t forget what you want to draw, or go into a detailed sketch with the pencil tool at your disposal.

Key Features:

  • History panels to quickly see previous versions of your sketch or drawing
  • Layering features allow you to make quick edits or delete just a small part of your overall drawing
  • Stamps and copy tools to make your sketches that much faster while still getting your point across
  • Retouching tools to fix the mistakes you didn’t notice until the very end

User Experience:

One huge benefit to using Adobe products is that there always at the top of the list for brand-new and innovative features. From adding layering to AI assistance to making your work just a little bit easier while still being yours, Adobe doesn’t hesitate to try new features that will help its users. 

With it being such a popular software for hobbyists and professionals, there is no shortage of helpful tutorials or communities. You can find anything you ever dreamed about thinking of at your fingertips if you take the time to stop and look. 

One of the biggest downsides to using Adobe is the sheer number of tools and features at your disposal. Though, in theory, having more is better, it gets overwhelming rather quickly.

As you get the hang of what you do and don’t like, and you understand the software better, you can create shortcuts and your own toolsets. The beginning is a little rough though. 

The cost is also heavily off-putting, especially if you’re just using the tool for hobbies and not in a professional setting. 

Cost:

It’s no secret that Adobe products are expensive, and Adobe Photoshop is no exception. Just for the app itself, it costs $22.99 a month.

However, if you want the Creative Cloud All Apps, then you’re looking at 59.99 a month. While this does save you money compared to buying just a couple of different apps separately, it’s still a little costly. 

Thankfully, if you’re a student or a teacher, you can get quite a bit of a discount. With a school email, you can get the Creative Cloud All Apps for just $19.99 a month. Also, the software goes on sale on occasion, so you may be able to score a pretty good deal. 

Unfortunately, these are the only payment options. You can’t just buy Adobe products like Photoshop once for a lump sum and call it good. Subscriptions are a must.

What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Photoshop:

Like:

  • Regular updates to offer you the best tools in the field
  • AI tools to make edits, changes, color adjustments, and more easy and painless
  • Available on mobile devices and computers
  • Uses both pixels and vectors for any type of art
  • Easy to make custom brushes
  • Works with all other Adobe products

Dislike:

  • Made primarily for photo editing, and not drawing and painting
  • Expensive
  • Sometimes updates are released without thorough testing
  • Can be overwhelming to learn due to the sheer number of tools

Scoring:

Photoshop is a great tool to have at your disposal. Not only does it help you make quick sketches and drawings, but it works particularly well with photo editing too.

Because it has so many features, it’s a great tool to help you with all parts of your drawing process, from rough sketches to the final touch-ups. It doesn’t matter if you want to draw mostly by hand or completely digitally, Photoshop is a great tool to have around. 

Despite its great features, it sometimes does too much. Trying to change some simple settings for a quick sketch isn’t easy.

Photoshop is great for all artists because it has so many features, but those numerous features sometimes just make it too difficult to learn or edit quickly. Because of these downsides and the cost, Adobe Photoshop gets an 8.5 out of 10.

4. Krita

Krita

Krita is art software made by artists. There are a wide range of features and tools right at your fingertips. Despite this, it’s highly cost-effective, constantly making updates, and not hard to learn.

Though the community that uses Krita is small compared to those that use other software, every member is helpful and kind.

Key Features:

  • Easy grouping and categorization of your work and tools
  • A fantastic and helpful community
  • Brush stabilization features for better sketches, and later, drawings
  • Allows for high-quality art
  • Good for those drawing and painting

User Experience:

People are quick to assume that Krita is limited and poor quality because it’s free. However, this isn’t the case. It’s software that has every tool and feature you might need right at your fingertips.

It doesn’t just match up to other software you have to pay for. In some ways, it exceeds even the high-quality products recommended above. For example, the community is amazing, and the flexibility and customization are top-tier. 

Check out this list of the Top Video Editing Tools for GoPro.

There are some downsides, such as rater large file sizes, a bit of lag, and occasional crashes. However, if you’re a bit patient and don’t push your device too hard, Krita’s an easy system to get the hang of. 

Cost:

Unlike other software on this list, Krita is completely free. On top of that, it’s open source. It’s run as a public project owned by those who contribute to the tool.

And by free, it means free. Though you can donate money if you want, there’s no need to pay for anything. No tools, features, or brushes. No secret fees. And no free trial before you have to pay a lot of money to keep using it. 

Krita and the artists behind it say that the software is and will always be free.

What We Like/Dislike About Krita:

Like:

  • Krita is free and open-source
  • Plenty of brushes to choose from
  • You can load and create your own brushes for quick additions to any sketch
  • The interface is customizable to best suit your needs

Dislike:

  • Krita is sometimes a bit slow to load up compared to other software
  • There’s little information provided when new updates are made
  • Lack of tutorials due to it not being as popular as other software

Scoring:

Krita is a great tool and definitely wins some bonus points for being free. However. It’s not perfect. The frequent updates that cause changes to the software without informing anyone about what is changing do solidly knock it down a bit.

Because of this, and the chances of the software crashing being higher than with the other software on this list, Krita gets an 8 out of 10.

5. Corel Painter

Corel Painter

Corel Painter is another great option, though not quite good enough to make it to the top four. As the name suggests, it’s mainly made for painters. However, it does have brushes that make it great for drawing and painting as well. 

It has some amazing features. One of the most important for sketching is the fluid painting. This is the brush’s ability to switch between opacity based on your pen pressure. The amount of control Corel Painter offers over the pressure and the smoothness in the transitions is quite impressive. 

The main reason Corel Painter isn’t in the top flour is because it tends to have a lot of bugs. The customer service for the company isn’t great.

Any time they roll out a new update, there are bugs to contend with. While this is rather normal, the length of time it takes to fix these bugs, if they ever get fixed, is rather long. 

There are workarounds, but for software you’re paying for, it’s a little frustrating to deal with, especially for the price. Many artists say that Corel is the best option if you’re looking to try a more traditional art style, but it’s not worth it at full price. They recommend waiting for sales before purchasing. 

Best Sketching Software FAQS

What Tools Do Sketch Artists Need?

The answer to that depends on whether you’re going fully digital, fully physical, or a mix of the two. It’s always a good idea to carry around pencils and paper for quick sketch ideas while you’re out and about. A pencil sharpener and an eraser is also a good idea. 

For digital, good software for sketching and a device to sketch on is all you need. A tablet, graphics tablet, phone, or touch-screen laptop are all good choices. You can use just one or have a mix based on your needs for that day. 

What Software Do Most Digital Artists Use?

There are many different software that digital artists use. There’s no one tool that’s inherently the best for everyone. That being said, Adobe tends to take the cake, due to its huge database of tools and features, and the seamless compatibility between all Adobe products. 

Adobe Photoshop is still the most popular software amongst all digital artists and is the industry standard for almost any field of art. 

Do Professional Artists Use Krita?

Krita is a popular tool amongst professional artists. Almost any kind of artist can use Krita, but the artists that use it most include book artists, illustrators, concept artists, and those in the VFX industry.

Conclusion

While having the right software can help you an artist, it’s not the tool in the end that makes the artist. As long as you have the skills and practice as an artist, you can use almost any tool to make your art. So go with what you like. 

If you’re looking to work for a big company, or want to feel truly professional, you may feel that you have to use a big, expensive software like Adobe Photoshop.

While many companies do use this program, many software are relatively similar. Once you pick up the general layout of one, it’s easy enough to switch between different programs. 

So use what you want, or what you can afford. Getting more expensive and beefier software may provide you with nicer tools or additional features, but it’s not going to be enough to make you into an amazing artist and a professional if you don’t have the skills to get started.

Related Article: What is Concept Art?