Digital art is a form of drawing or editing photos using some form of program on your computer. Many computer operating systems come with a pre-installed copy of Microsoft paint or some alternative. This is one of the more basic examples of a digital art tool. Another tool that you may have heard of is called Photoshop. Photoshop is used for manipulating images or even drawing pictures. It is one of the most widely used tools in the field of graphic design, but it comes with the price tag of $20.99 a month for just Photoshop.
Adobe, the creators of Photoshop, have many other tools available as well, each with their own monthly subscription price. Graphic designers in the field will often own multiple subscriptions due to different work requirements or standards. For a career in graphic design it may be beneficial to own your own copy of Photoshop due to industry standards, but for the average person who may be looking into graphic design as a hobby, or for those unsure of where to start with graphic design, here is a list of the free alternatives available for digital drawing.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) - GIMP is one of the most used and well known free editing softwares around, with many video tutorials available on Youtube to explain how to use the different features. GIMP is also customizable if you have the know how for it. It is available to Linux, MAC, and Windows operating systems. GIMP has been compared to and suggested as a possible Photoshop replacement for many in the industry, and you can have the full access to test it out for free.
Photo POS Pro - Photo POS is a good starter program if you are just trying to start with the basics of photo editing. With this program you have the option to switch between Novice and Expert modes. With the Novice mode you wont have to worry too much about all the possible tools available, and you can just focus on the easier tools to understand, which will suffice for most people. There is a Premium version version available for $30 dollars, but it isn't required to use the program.
Pixlr - Pixlr is an editing tool that is web-based and can only work with an internet connection. However that also means that you do not need to download any software, and can just open the program in your browser. The Unique thing about Pixlr is that there is also a Mobile version that you can use on your phone to edit photos as you take them. Pixlr also supports layers which is uncommon for a browser based tool and adds a lot of options to editing photos.
Paint.NET - Paint.NET was developed as a replacement for Microsoft paint with extra features added in. It has since grown and added in new features for manipulating photos. Paint.NET is an excellent resource for anyone with prior knowledge of paint to dip their feet into the world of Digital Art.
Now Photoshop isn't the only type of tool out there, and while some of these programs can be used to draw and create, their main purpose is the retouching and editing of photos that already exist. Another part of the Adobe suite of products is Adobe Illustrator, which works in Vector Graphics. Vectors, in the simplest terms, allow for you to resize an image without losing quality. In most programs if you attempt to rescale an image, the quality will decrease and look blurry. Here is a list of free alternatives for drawing with Vectors.
Inkscape - Inkscape is one of the best replacements for Illustrator. It is like GIMP in that it's open source, and with enough technical know how, you can edit the program to your liking. The biggest plus is that it offers almost every tool that Illustator does. The program also updates frequently adding new features. The only complaint that some users have is that it runs slower than Illustrator, but that could be dependant on the power of your device and operating system. If you are looking to get into vector design for free, this is a great place to start.
BoxySVG - BoxySVG is a web-based tool much like Pixlr. This also means that you do not need to download anything to use it. It is also one of the simplest programs to use, and can be a great starting point if you would like to give Vector drawing a try.
The last category of Digital Drawing we will mention here is Digital Painting. Many of the other tools can be used to similar effect, but these tools are specific to artists who want to create beautiful and eye catching work, without the hassle of having too many features, and incorporating other features that we have spoken about such as Vectors. With programs specific to Digital Painting it is easier to get effects like watercolor or oil painting. Digital Painting is a newer art form, so most artists elect to use photoshop for it, but there are a few programs centered around the idea like Corel Painter. Here are some free alternatives that can help you get started with Digital Painting.
Digital Painting Options:
Krita - Krita is the most well known free option for Digital Painters. It has a simple interface, and is a good tool for easing artists into the different tools and options available. While it is simple, it is impressively deep and useful for creators at any level. Another useful tool in Krita is the ability to draw animations. There's many tutorials online to help you get started.
MyPaint - MyPaint is a free open source tool, that can uniquely replicate the look of paints, charcoal, and pencils. They also offer the option to download it onto a tablet or smart phone which includes a feature that tracks how hard you are pressing on the drawing for lighter strokes.