Drawing/PaintingPhotoshop CS6: Photoshop CS6 Price: $700 ($200 for Students) Type: Image Editing Photoshop is the standard program for image editing and painting. Although its mainly directed for editing, its brushes are very customizable and it is a very flexible program for you to use. There are also stripped-down, cheaper versions of Photoshop, known as Elements, that come with only a few features. Plugins:MagicPicker ($14) and Coolorus (Beta) (requires internet) As someone who started out with software that had dedicated color wheels, I was rather disgruntled when I got Photoshop. These two plugins give you color wheels. Coolorus works very nicely - along with normal color wheel functions, it lets you set your color wheel to complementary colors and the like. MagicPicker is another a color wheel - the full version is $14. I am using the old version, but supposedly the new version is faster. I have only had trouble with it in Photoshop CS3 - it works fine in CS5; supposedly there have been changes as to how it works in CS3 since I tried. It works from CS3-CS6. Corel Painter 13:Corel Painter X3 Price: $400 (students can find it for as low as $80) Type: Digital Painting The leader in natural media emulation, Corel Painter offers many different realistic media types, such as Oil Paints, Pastels, Pencils, and Pens. It has customizable brushes. Corel Painter Essentials is the stripped-down version of this, and offers only a few brushes. Furthermore, although it is not impossible to add new brushes to the Essentials versions, it is difficult and sometimes does not work well because Corel did not intend for people to add brushes. Somewhat of a resource hog. GIMP:GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program Price: FREE Type: Image Editing Platform: Linux/Windows Video: YouTube - How to Draw A Realistic Eye with Gimp TUTORIAL Gimp is an open-source image editor with many features like Photoshop's. It's very versatile, having customizable brushes, and has the perk of being free. GIMP Paint Studio: GPS at Google Code If you want to use GIMP for painting, make sure to download this wonderful brush/brush preset pack. GPS 2.0 is for GIMP 2.8. The manual is in Spanish, but adding the pack is a straightforward affair. UPDATE 07-28-12: Gimp 2.8 was released recently. It brings the ability to tag brush presets and has more options for customizing brushes. However, it seems to pressure sensitivity seems to be broken on some tablets. When Gimp 2.8 is initially installed, your tablet isn't enabled, so go to Edit-->Input Devices, and changed your tablet's pen/eraser from 'Disabled' to 'Screen'. Krita:Krita Price: FREE Type: Digital Painting Platforms: Linux/Windows Krita is currently has a stable release. It is becoming a very nice little program. One thing of note is its ridiculously configurable brushes (each brush can have its own pressure curve!). It is nicer than Gimp for drawing/painting, since it was designed with that in mind, unlike Gimp (which seems to be image editing-oriented). Give it a spin if you can. If you've used Alchemy before, you'd be pleased to note that Krita has some familiar brushes and the ability to enable horizontal/vertical symmetry. It works without any problems on the two tablets I've tried. There are several different versions of it - one tablet-device oriented, one for desktops. Mypaint:MyPaint Price:FREE Type: Digital Painting Platforms: Linux/Windows Video: YouTube - Kristen Stewart. portrait in MyPaint (timelapse) Mypaint is a very simple drawing and sketching program. It has a fairly spartan interface compared to other programs, but has layer support and customizable brushes. I don't know if it works properly in Tablet PC's, but if it does, it will be excellent for sketching - the interface is filled with the bare minimum, leaving you with a clean canvas. This program is more suited for sketching because it has an unlimited canvas. You can't set canvas size - the canvas just stretches out endlessly, making it great fun for sketching. This is my favorite program for doodling because of the canvas - I just continue panning/zooming out as needed. The Linux versions of Mypaint are further along, and have new symmetry features and some other tools (line tools and the like, I think). There's an unofficial 1.1 out there for Windows that may work for some people. Brush Packs: There are several brush packs available on the Mypaint Wiki. Most are already included in Mypaint 1.0 - I just recommend you add the Concept and Design pack. Mischief:MadewithMischief Price:$129 Type: Digital Painting/Vector Platforms: Windows/Mac This is an interesting vector/digital painting software. Functions just like a spartan drawing software (most akin to Mypaint, actually - infinite canvas) except that it uses vectors, so you can zoom in/out/pan nearly infinitely and and the files are exceptionally small. It's a very young software - still on the 1.02 release, and a bit pricy for the feature set, but I suspect concept artists may find it useful. It might be worth a look at in a version or two. Do try the trial before you buy it - while it runs a bit buggily on my desktop, it refuses to run at all on my Surface. It seems there is a Surface Pro version around the corner.... Autodesk Sketchbook Pro:SketchBook Pro Price: $70 (FREE for students) Type: Digital Painting Video: YouTube - Eagle Speed Painting using Sketchbook Pro and Wacom Tablet Sketchbook Pro has an interface that's made for tablet PCs. It has less options than big image editors, but is intuitive and has layers, customizable brushes, etc. This seems to be one of the best-suited programs for tablet PCs. You don't have to fiddle with any drivers to get it to run - it'll work like a charm right out of the box. Paint Tool Sai: Easy Paint Tool Sai Price: Around $60 Type: Digital Painting A popular software targeted to anime/comic art. Of note are its incredible speed and lightweight-ness - even on the most ancient of hardware, you'll likely have snappy performance. Has fairly nice brush and pen tools, but is rather limited on the editing side of things. Personally, this is my favorite software for smooth linework or simple (flat) coloring. I have found it to be finicky with tablet drivers in the past, which is unsurprising, considering it came out in 2008. Shockingly, this software isn't dead - the 1.2 version came out recently, and the 2.0 version is in the works, bringing what looks to be some perspective tools with it, among other things. Opencanvas: openCanvas4.5+,PGN CommunitySite or openCanvas 1.1 - English version Price: 6800 Yen or FREE Type: Digital Painting/Networking Video: YouTube - Wolf - Digital Drawing in OpenCanvas This program was pretty popular for digital art, but I believe the support for the English version was discontinued recently. The second link I have is for the early, freeware version of this. It's pretty simple - no custom brushes, just a few that are pre-brought. It has support for a few layers. The most interesting part of the freeware version is Networking. It is a feature that - by using the IP address of someone else who has this program - allows you to draw online on a digital canvas! It's incredibly fun if you have a friend with a tablet PC or external tablet, but can be fairly difficult to set up - you'll have to be pretty tech savvy and know your way around routers to fix it if it doesn't work for you straight away. In networking mode, each person gets their own layers. Although how synchronized your canvas's are depends on your internet speed, I've found it tends to be fairly quick. This program also allows you to save 'Event Files' which allow you to view your whole drawing process. Artweaver:Home Price: 29 Euro or FREE Type: Digital Painting Video: YouTube - Car SpeedPainting ArtWeaver [HD] Artweaver is another traditional media emulation program. It isn't as full featured as Corel Painter, but it might be nice to try. ArtRage: Artrage Home $80, $40, or $20 Type: Digital Painting/Natural Media Emulation Video: YouTube - Angelina-ArtRage Yet another digital media emulation program. This one is not as robust as painter - if anything, it's somewhat like a clone - but is more powerful than Artweaver. It has a clean, nice-looking interface, so it might work well with tablets. Having tried the trial for a few days, I can't provide much feedback, but you might want to get a trial and try it out. Its 2.6 version is only $20, making it very affordable. Project Dogwaffle: Project Dogwaffle 1.2 Price: $?? and FREE Type: Digital Painting Video: YouTube - digital painting with freeware edition of dogwaffle I have not tried this program, and I do not particularly like how it looks from videos, but it seems to be a passable digital painting program with many brushes. There appears to be a freeware and a paid version. Twistedbrush:Pixarra : TwistedBrush Digital Painting and Photo Editing Price: $100 or FREE Type: Digital Painting Pixia:introducing Pixia & Phierha Price:FREE Type: Digital painting/ anime art It seems to be a small, limited application intended mainly for manga art. Mangastudio 5/Clip Paint Studio/Illustudio:Manga Studio Debut Software - Anyone Can Create Manga and Comic Art Price: $79 Type:Manga/comic art This program is primarily intended for manga/comic artists, and so has features that are useful for them, such as different pens, screentones, templates, speed lines, etc. The latest version, Manga Studio 5, is a direct translation of the excellent Clip Paint Studio. It feels like a mash-up of Sai and Photoshop, with 3D modeling capabilities and many comic-oriented features. If you want to give it a whirl, you might have to wait for a while - there's no trial version out yet. NEW! SpeedyPainter:SpeedyPainter - a lightweight OpenGL painting application Price: FREE Type:Sketching A very nice little program - it looks a little like Sculptris, if you've used it. It has layers and a simple selection of brushes (couple of shapes, textures, etc). Features of note: It allows you to record and export your drawing process. It has a 'reference view' specifically tailored for drawing from a picture: it displays your canvas and reference side by side and pans/zooms simultaneously on both. It also has a perspective grid overlay. NEW! Black Ink:BLACK INK Price: 34,99 Type: Digital Painting A very young software, focused on brush creation, it seems? Will update when I download the trial or find some information on it. FireAlpaca:Simple and Easy - Fire Alpaca Price: FREE Type: Digital Painting Platform: Windows/OS X Seems to be another simple little program - still need to check it out. UPDATE! MangoLabo:MangaLabo Price: Free limited trial or $72.50 for full version Type:Manga/comic art This program has a lot of useful features for comic/manga artists, namely a guideline system, Deleter tones, etc. The GUI is a tad outdated, but it is very functional. There's a 64-bit version now in Japanese. Vector Software Adobe Illustrator:graphic design software | Adobe Illustrator CS5 Price:$60 Type:Vector Illustrator is super stable and with CS5 brought about pressure sensitive brushes. These can be fiddly to activate but they are good. Finally - you can copy and paste journal linework (thanks to Shogmaster for that) into Illustrator. Trying the same in any other vector application produces a jpeg bitmap. I use journal a lot and can copy and paste beautiful black linework into Illustrator. Inkscape cleans the lines up and removes extraneous control points. Inkscape:Inkscape. Draw Freely. Price: Free Type: Vector editing Video: YouTube - Ferrari F458 - Speed Drawing HD A robust, free vector editing program. Inkscape does quite a few things that Illustrator cannot - or that many other vector tools won't and some of the path handling functions are really powerful. That said - Inkscape can crash if it is asked to handle large files. Karbon:Karbon Price: Free Type: Vector editing Platform: Linux A vector software for Linux. Regretfully, I know little about it. Sketchbook Pro Designer:SketchBook Designer - Concept Design and Illustration Software - Autodesk Price: $500 or FREE Type:Raster/vector editing hybrid. This appears to have a minimalist interface similar to Sketchbook Pro, but it has vector editing tools as well as the standard tools. It is available for free for students. Alchemy: Alchemy | An open drawing project Price: FREE Type: Other (sketching/free drawing) Video: YouTube - Alchemy - 5 minutes drawing session Alchemy is directed more for creative, spontaneous drawing, and I can't say I've used it much. I would suggest you look for a video or read about it - compared to other programs, it's rather hard to explain how it works. Again, it is mostly for doodling and beginning drawings - it doesn't have the features of a typical painting program, like layers and brushes. NEW Webchemy: Webchemy: An open drawing project Price: FREE Type: Other (sketching/free drawing) Platform: Cross/Web-app Essentially a stripped down version of Alchemy, in webapp form. Useful for busting out thumbnails or sketches. 2D Animation Adobe Flash Professional: animation software, multimedia software | Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Price: $600 Type: Flash animation Adobe's flash animation program is quite popular, and it can be used for drawing as well as animation (although it is primarily intended for the former). Vectorian Giottol: Vectorian - Flash Animation Tools Price: FREE Type: Flash animation Vectorian Giotto is basically the free version of Flash - the interface and functions are so similar. It even does scripting. Plastic Animation Paper: Plastic Animation Paper - PAPro 4.0 for free Price: FREE Type: Traditional 2D animation Recently, the full version of this program was released for free. It's made mostly for concept animations, and you have to draw each frame of the animation by yourself. It has the fairly standard features, such as onionskinning (which shows the previous and next frames at the same time as the current one). Purportedly rather complicated. Pencil:Pencil - a traditional 2D animation software Price: FREE Type: Traditional 2D animation Another traditional animation program, meaning all frames are drawn manually. This one also allows you to color your frames. Good for roughs, troublesome on anything bigger/longer/more complicated. Synfig Studio:Welcome to Synfig - powerful vector-based open-source 2D animation Price: FREE Type: 2D animation Although it's a fairly traditional 2D animation program, you don't have to draw out each and every frame. 3D ModelingSculptris: Sculptris Price: FREE Type: 3D Modeling/Sculpting Video: YouTube - Head modelling in Sculptris This is one of the few free 3D modeling programs out there. It is also one of the simplest and intuitive ones. Sculptures are incredibly easy to make in this program - there are several simple tools, such as Pinch, Inflate, Crease, Grab, etc. It has a streamlined interface that I believe is reminiscent of Zbrush. Although I am not well versed in 3d programs, I believe it's main attraction is the fact that it can add detail to the 'mesh' itself. You do not have to subdivide the polygons of your sculpture to get more detail - it does so automatically. A word of warning - no matter how good your specs are, if you perform too intensive an action, or have too many polygons, the program will crash. Be sure to save often. I also feel that it will be easier with an external mouse and keyboard attached, but it works well with the tablet pen. Research a bit if a some of the controls or features and confuse you - once you know them, the program is very easy to handle. An absolute beginner can use this and still make something - I'd recommend everyone to give it a try, whether you've dabbled in 3d art or not. Google Sketchup: Sketchup Price: FREE (or $495 for the Pro version) Type: 3D modeling Video:Youtube - Modeling a Tractor This is Google's modeling program. It's very capable and it's not very difficult to get a hang of - the free version is probably more than adequate for most people's needs. You can build simple objects in minutes. There are lots of models and tutorial videos out there to help you out with this program. Even if you're a 2D artist only, you might find this program useful. Autodesk: Autodesk - 3D Design & Engineering Software for Architecture, Manufacturing, and Entertainment or Autodesk Education Community Price: High or FREE Type: 3D/ Vector/ Digital Painting/ Other Autodesk is a company, and they make many popular programs. The only one I have tried is Sketchbook Pro. They have many 3d programs, however. The one reason I include this here is to tell students: if you have a student email (for example, one that ends in .edu, but this is not necessary as long as it is an official school email. I believe that only colleges and universities distribute these, however.) you can get over 20 programs for free. You can receive 3 year licenses for their many programs, which include Maya and AutoCAD and Sketchbook Pro (incidentally, this is how I got a copy). If you are a student, don't hesitate to register and download something. Blender:blender.org - Home Price: FREE Type: 3D modeling/rendering/animation This is an extremely robust 3D program. However, it does have a significant learning curve, from what I have heard. Utilities Tablet PC's have a big draw-back when it comes to drawing - lack of shortcuts. Aside from the buttons on your stylus, and possibly the buttons on your tablet face, you don't have a way to hit a modifier, or Undo, etc. There are some programs that can help you out here. Strokeit Strokeit - Mouse Gestures Price: FREE Type: Gestures Platform: Windows Strokeit is a very small application that runs in the background. Note that you'd probably want to turn off Flicks if you want to use this. In a nutshell: it allows you make custom mouse gestures that can be assigned to keystrokes (and more). Furthermore, these gestures are context dependent - you can have a different set of gestures for every program. To activate a gesture, you hold a designated button - typically the right-click button - and draw a gesture. For the most part, the program works well. (I have had some problems with GIMP in windows, but nowhere else.) For example, my setup in Mypaint: Left Flick = CTRL Z Right Flick = REDO Down Flick = Decrease Size Up Flick = Increase Size Up / = Zoom in Down / = zoom out. S = Save and so on. A must have if you do not want to carry a USB keyboard around. EasyStroke EasyStroke Price: FREE Type: Gestures Platform: Linux This is the Linux equivalent of easystroke. It is just as functional, and everything I said about easystroke applies. I have had a few problems with it, but it is likely I messed something up, being inexperienced with Linux. It crashes whenever I set keystrokes (though they do save). Weirdly enough, where I have problems with Gimp and gestures in Windows, I have slight (annoying, but manageable) problems with gestures in Mypaint with EasyStroke. Modlock Modlock Price: FREE Type: Shortcuts Platform: Windows This software makes a small bar of virtual keys on your screen. As such, you can make them be CTRL Z, Alt, Space, Ctrl, Shift, or other such useful keys. I have not used it much, finding it a bit fussy, but give it a try. Tablet Pressure Curve Tool: Program Page Price: FREE Type: Settings Platform: Windows This program is exactly what the name suggests - it lets you edit the pressure curve of your tablet with a GUI (via a curve). Very nice if you press down hard all the time for dark lines and such. NEW! Lazy Nezumi: Mouse Smoothing Price: $30 (or $15 for students) Type: Mouse Platform: Windows A program that smooths out the path of your mouse as you draw. If you've ever used the stabilizer setting in Paint Tool Sai, it's very similar. AutoHotKey Toolbars: Photoshop Toolbar, Surface Pro/Large Toolbar, ArtDock Price: FREE Type: Shortcuts Platform: Windows If you have a tablet computer with pen and multitouch, you'll love these. By installing AHK and running the script you choose, you'll have a virtual shortcut keyboard on your screen - one that rejects the pen and only accepts touch input. It's very useful when you're using a Surface Pro or any Windows slate tablet. There are more than the three I've linked, and if they lack the program/shortcut you're looking for, you can always pick up some AHK and whip up your own. Of the three I've linked, I use the third most often. If have a tablet with multitouch, I can't recommend these enough. They are pretty simple to customize and add docks for any software you'd like. To add: Win 8 drawing apps, AZdrawing/AZpainter, zbrush, etc. Credits: klachowski - Not sure how I forgot about Sketchup thatcomicguy - Thanks for telling me about MangaLabo doobiedoobiedum - for further info and descriptions for Mypaint, Vectorian Giotto, Synfig, PAP, Illustrator and Inkscape.