Painting Programs for Artists

There are a number of different painting programs out there, each with its own quirks, and it can be hard to decide which to use. They all have their pros and cons, so this post will give a quick overview of four popular painting programs.


Adobe Photoshop

Price: $699 for CS6 or $49.99/month for CC (30 day free trial available)

Adobe Photoshop seems to be the go-to program for artists these days. If you plan to get a job in the industry at a company, it would definitely pay to know Photoshop. With dozens of useful tools, it’s easy to see why this program is so popular. Additional customized brushes and textures can be made or downloaded from other artists on the internet.

There has been some controversy over the change from CS6 to Creative Cloud, so do your research before buying! Depending on how you are using it, the difference can be huge.

Favorite feature: Versatility (great for photo editing and short animations, too!)

Downside: Very expensive


Corel Painter

Price: $399 for X3 (30 day free trial available)

Corel Painter is often the program used by professional artists who don’t use Photoshop. It is the only one on this list that I have not used extensively, but seems to have a good number of tools and some beautiful brush textures. If you’re looking for an alternative to Photoshop, give Painter a try.

Favorite feature: Brush textures

Downside: Can be harder to find tutorials for


Paint Tool SAI

Price: ~$50 (30 day free trial available)

Paint Tool SAI is a Japanese made painting program and my personal favorite. With an easy-to-understand interface and a great selection of brushes, this is a good program for beginner digital artists who want the painting abilities of Photoshop without the price tag. A license can be obtained from their website for 500 yen, which comes out to about $50 depending on the currency conversion.

Favorite feature: Very customizable brushes

Downside: Only good for painting



Price: Free

GIMP is a great program to download if you are just getting started in digital art or if you want a customizable program. It’s open-source software, so you can get into the nitty-gritty of the programing and change it to your tastes. The downside is that if you don’t know your stuff, it can be hard to make certain things work. There are plenty of tutorials available online, though, so with a little research, GIMP can be a powerful tool. It’s often referred to as a “free Photoshop,” and many of the tools are the same. It can be a little less user friendly, but becomes quite useful once you get used to it.

Favorite feature: The price! The tools are very handy, as well.

Downside: Difficult interface


As you can see, there are many different types of programs out there that you can use for art. This post only scratched the surface, and there are many others out there. The program a painter uses can help or hinder their craft, so try them out and find one that fits you well!