The Best Programs for Illustrators of Any Level

The Best Programs for Illustrators of Any Level
Softonic Editorial Team

Softonic Editorial Team

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Whether you’re an amateur illustrator or a professional in the digital art world, you need the right tools on your PC to create the perfect image.

But selecting the best software isn’t always easy. There are countless programs for drawing and editing images at your fingertips, and each one promises to deliver everything you need to succeed. Which one should you choose?

Regardless of your drawing style, a good illustration program will turn any sketch you have in mind into a true masterpiece. Today’s article contains a roundup of what we consider to be the best drawing programs on the market today. We hope you find them helpful!

What should good illustration software be like?

Before we start our list, let’s go over a few of the characteristics we look for in good illustration software.

It should be versatile- First, a good drawing program needs to be versatile and give the artist full control over the medium. That is, it must have a number of tools and effects that emulate the real media that the author wants to use to create works of art.

It should be optimized for tablet use- Every self-respecting artist or aspiring illustrator uses a drawing tablet. Although there is a wide range of drawing software on the market, not all programs are optimized for use with a pen and tablet.

It should have tool shortcuts- A good drawing program is so complex that its features can seem overwhelming. To make life easier for the artist, the program needs to include shortcuts for both the keyboard and the tablet buttons to perform tasks such as undo brush strokes, create layers, etc.

The best drawing programs of 2020

Without further ado, here is a selection of what we consider to be today’s best programs for creative minds. All of them are accompanied by a description and corresponding download button.

Adobe Photoshop

At the top of our list is a classic among illustration and image editing programs: Adobe Photoshop. Many people are unaware that Photoshop is not only an excellent photo editor, but also an amazing drawing program.

Photoshop has all the tools you need to create professional-quality illustrations. What’s more, it offers a wide range of filters you can use to play with your creations and give them a spectacular look. Of course, as everyone knows, Photoshop has a bit of a learning curve. If you want to take full advantage of this software, you’ll need to spend many hours learning how to use it.

You can download Adobe Photoshop quickly and safely below.

Adobe Photoshop CC DOWNLOAD

Corel Painter

While Photoshop is the undisputed king of photo editing software, Corel Painter has the same status when it comes to illustration. With decades of experience, Corel Painter is the quintessential program for professional illustrators.

One of Corel Painter’s strengths is that this program was specifically designed for drawing and creating any illustration you could imagine. That’s why it offers an impressive selection of color palettes, brushes and drawing tools.

Like Photoshop, Corel Painter is not an easy tool for newbies, so you’ll need to spend hours learning about it before you can start drawing. Of course, the results are well worth all the effort you have put in.

Corel Painter DOWNLOAD

Rebelle 3

Peter Blaskovic is the mind behind Rebelle, a great drawing program that stands out for its versatility and impressive results. Unlike similar programs, Rebelle was created by and for artists specialized in techniques such as watercolor, acrylics, pastels, ink or traditional drawing on paper

Among the strengths of Rebelle, already in its third edition, are its countless tools designed to offer the most realistic results possible. It especially stands out for its color-mixing tools, which you can use to achieve amazing results.

Unlike other programs, Rebelle is very simple and intuitive to use. This program is not only for expert artists, but for anyone who wants to draw. That makes it an excellent option for novice illustrators.

You can download Rebelle quickly and safely below.



If you’ve been working in the digital art world for years, the name Artweaver will surely ring a bell. This is one of the longest-standing and most widely used drawing programs in the sector. The key reason for its success is that unlike other software, Artweaver is truly easy to use.

Boasting a clear and intuitive interface, Artweaver has a countless number of brushes you can use to create the perfect work of art. What’s more, you can design your own brushes and edit them to your liking

An interesting point about Artweaver is that this software was designed for team projects. That is, if you are used to creating illustrations or paintings with other people, with Artweaver you have the option of drawing at the same time with its online mode.

Artweaver’s only weakness is that it’s not a cross-platform program, and it’s only available to Windows users. If this isn’t a problem for you, we recommend that you download it and check it out. We promise that it’s really worth your while!

Artweaver DOWNLOAD


ArtRage is a powerful drawing program that stands out for its ultra-realistic results. This software was designed to turn the screen of your PC or tablet into a real canvas where you can unleash your artistic side.

With many years of experience, ArtRage has finally debuted in its sixth edition, which is loaded with improvements. Among them we find a much larger selection of brushes, an extraordinary system to emulate oil painting, and of course, the possibility of creating your own brushes.

If you have a methodical creative process, you’ll be pleased to know ArtRage has a system to record your actions. This makes it much easier to repeat long processes without wasting time, allowing you to finish your illustration much faster.

Another strong point: unlike programs such as Photoshop or Corel Painter,  ArtRage has a competitive price. Most drawing programs are quite expensive and unaffordable for many. Fortunately you won’t find a triple-digit price tag on ArtRage, so it’s far more accessible to everyone. In addition, there is an even cheaper Lite version!

If you want to try it, you can download the free version of ArtRage quickly and safely below.



GIMP is popularly known as free Photoshop, and for good reason! This software for editing images and creating illustrations has no reason to envy to the most expensive programs on the market

GIMP stands out for being a versatile program you can use to create professional illustrations for free. It has all the basic tools of any illustration program, from its wide range of brushes to the possibility of drawing using layers.

GIMP’s only weak point is its complex interface. This program is quite unintuitive, so you’ll have to invest hours learning how it works. If you can get past its steep learning curve, you’ll be able to use an excellent drawing program without spending a dime.

If you want to check it out, you can download GIMP quickly and safely below.


Paint Tool SAI

Our final recommendation is Paint Tool SAI. Along with GIMP, it is the most widely used free tool for creating digital illustrations and also one of the most popular for novice artists.

Paint Tool SAI is a comprehensive drawing program you can use to create the most beautiful illustrations in the blink of an eye. It includes all the basic tools to create an illustration, but unlike GIMP, it displays them in a very intuitive format. That makes Paint Tool SAI a fantastic choice for novice illustrators or anyone who wants to take their first steps in the digital art world.

Finally, although Paint Tool SAI can be used with a keyboard and mouse, it also has an optimized interface for a graphics tablet. It’s therefore the perfect choice if you want to get used to using one of these devices.

You can download Paint Tool SAI quickly below.


We hope you liked our selection of programs for illustrators. Do you use software we didn’t mention in this article? Tell us about it in the comments section!

Softonic Editorial Team

Softonic Editorial Team

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