Although there are ways to try Adobe Photoshop for free, long-term use can be expensive. Photoshop alone costs about $ 240 per year (if you bill them to you annually) and Illustrator is just as expensive. But Adobe’s popular titles are not your only option. The following solutions are highly competitive with Illustrator and Photoshop, but will not break the bank. Take a look at our top pick: Inkscape. Inkscape has professional level editing tools and plenty of guidance on how to use them, including video tutorials and written manuals.
And if Inkscape doesn’t fit your digital drawing needs, be sure to check out our other favorite free drawing software options below.
Since its introduction in 2003, Inkscape has been the prospect of more widely used vector-based drawing software. Seventeen years later, it is still a great professional-grade alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It is supported by an international community, which can get you started, and help with any problems you may encounter with open-source software.
Like Illustrator, a digital artist near Inkscape needs to create photo-quality images. Your basic toolset includes straight lines, freehand lines, shapes, 3D boxes, bezier curves, spiral, and more. You can fill layers, color, and even have an effect on your drawing such as blurs, bevels, shadows, textures, glitter, and so on.
There are plenty of lessons and video-based tutorials out there, and you also have access to manuals and quick references, including information about keyboard shortcuts and command line instructions. All that – and without any monthly fees.
This is another vector-based drawing tool that you can download or use online for free. It has a very neat interface, with the layer listed on the left, your artboard sitting in the center, and the settings for the items you select on the artboard you see on the right. The toolset appears at least until you click More shapes Button on the toolbar to reveal 28 other designs.
At its heart, Vectra is great for creating business cards, typographic logos, posters, and other designs that don’t include a lot of details. This is supported by text created by built-in interpolation using paths, layers, filters, and importing images. You can also find tutorials that will help you recreate Google‘s Android icon, create a YouTube channel background image, create Superman and Batman logos, and more. All designs can be exported, printed and shared on Facebook, and / or Twitter.
Pixlr X or Pixlr E
Although it is primarily known as a simple and free online photo editor, you can still use Pixlr X to create new images. The interface itself is simple and easy to navigate and allows you to edit photos, create images, and add a variety of “elements”, which is Pixlr’s collection of overlays, borders, shapes, and stickers.
If Pixlr X is too simple for you and requires more features, the good news is that you don’t need to upgrade to the premium version of the service to do advanced editing. You can just use Pixlr E. Although it is not easy to navigate, Pixlr E is still free and gives you more than features and customization. For example, you can customize the size or style of paintbrushes and pens that you use in addition to their size and opacity. Other features of Pixlr E include blur, sharpen, smudge, create gradients and include color changes such as vibration, saturation and temperature. And you can still access the tools and effects shown in Pixlr X.
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
This free, open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop has been around since 1995 and you need to edit your photos and import your vector-based art for additional effects and realism. You can also generate stunning digital pictures from scratch. It is a device that every digital artist should not live without.
Overall, GIMP provides two main components: Your artboard serves as a central window and a rectangular toolbox that can “float” to the desktop, or stick to the edge of the central window. You can create another “floater”: a packing tool that you can cram such as layer, brush, color channel, path, and history. If you want to streamline your editing / designing process then it is very easy.
But the toolbox is where your artistic arsenal really shines, giving you tools for painting, using a pencil, blurring, sharpening, blurring, cloning, erasing, and more. There is also a path tool for basic vector-based line construction if you do not want to install a secondary vector-based program. Want loads of visual effects? You have a huge library at your disposal. GIMP also supports community-built plugins.