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Top 5 Digital Painting Applications

Know of any other painting applications? Link to them in the comments below.

There’s something special about traditional painting. Whether it’s mixing the colors, squeezing paint from the tubes, pushing paint around the canvas, or even finding those stray paint marks that end up on the side of your face. There is also the cleanup, the danger of certain pigments, and most importantly the cost to replenish your stock that might make you think of giving digital painting a shot. Aside from the cost and health saving benefits, digital painting also offers freedom to experiment, collaborate easier with other artists, and contributes to a growing movement of artists creating powerful and dynamic digital works of art.

There are many image editors, such as Adobe Photoshop, that are very capable for digital painting especially with the right brushes, but in this list we are going to focus on those programs that were designed specifically for recreating the look, feel, and techniques of various methods of painting.

"Catching Fireflies" by Katie Crumpton (painted with Corel Painter)

1. Corel Painter (win, osx)

Easily one of the most well known digital painting apps, Corel Painter has been setting the standard for decades. This drawing and painting app is loaded with features. More than 100 natural media brushes, texture painting, glazing brushes. layer blending, photo painting, gradients, perspective and composition tools, and the list goes on. The latest version is less resource intensive than previous versions, but you might notice some lag with some of the brushes, such as watercolors. It’s also the most expensive application in this list, but also the largest in terms of features.

Notes: Photoshop PSD and brush support. Wacom multi-touch support. 

2. Artrage (win, osx, ios, android)

This digital painting program, made by artists for artists, boasts natural painting tools that “feel like the real thing”. Along with the painting and drawing tools, Artrage also has layers and blend modes, tracing images, stickers, and even symmetrical tools. This is also the only painting program that has an iPad, iPhone, and Android app.

Notes: Import and export PSD files, automatically save backups of paintings.

3. Krita (win, osx, linux)

This free and open source painting app, is made by artists and perfect for those doing concept art, texture and matt painters, and those looking for a painting app that has some truly unique tools. Along with unique brush engines for maximum control, there is also a brush stabilizer, pop-up palette, layer masks, and even a wrap-around mode that makes creating patterns a snap.

Notes: HDR support, opens PSD files, online training and a free resources.

4. Escape Motions Rebelle (win, osx)

This award winning app features one of a kind painting tools that create realistic watercolor, acrylic, and dry media while utilizing color blending, wet diffusion, and drying. One of the coolest features is the ability to tilt the canvas. So if you’re using wet media, you can actually simulate dripping. Very fun!

Notes:  Customizable interface, fullscreen mode, and multitouch gestures.

5. Mischief (win, osx)

Launched in 2014, Mischief was made with the idea that drawing/painting digitally should be just as fun as on natural media. This lightweight app (7mb install) has two very unique features; an infinite canvas and it’s actually a vector app. So much like Adobe Illustrator you are using beziers and curves, but you don’t have to worry about using a pen tool, or anchor points, you can just paint and enjoy the infinite zoom, endless canvas, and the ability to export files as large as you need them.

Notes: Free version with essential tools, paid version with full experience and export PSD’s.

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Art historian, burrito enthusiast, and Email Marketing Specialist here at Redbubble.